I’m very late today because I went to Long Island to pick up slate for the fireplace at The Elsinore, which is quickly approaching completion. I think it will be done the end of next week. On the way back, with literally a ton of stone in the truck, the truck konked out. Luckily, we were on a steep hill and spotted a gas station at the bottom. We just rolled into the place and they went to work right away to fix what was broke. Next door to the gas station was a Dunkin’ Donuts so it wasn’t a complete disaster.
Yesterday, I took a moment to reflect on the birthday of Frank Sinatra, who was born December 12, 1915, and passed in May, 1998. It was kind of ironic to learn on that very day that I will be DJing with DJ Sinatra (no relation) at a Blackbook and Patron party this Wednesday at Stash. Sinatra, like moi, is a 4AM DJ, well known around town and the world at large. Stash is piping hot, pretending to be this little speakeasy kind of joint right next door and to the right of Darby, and to the left and downstairs of Snap Sportsbar. I, like the Yankees, play a Sinatra song to send the crowds out after my game. Good enough for the Yanks is good enough for me.
News comes of the sale of White Noise, one of my favorite spots. I will stop by Friday for Sam Valentine’s bash, which continues to flourish. It will most likely move as new ownership is suffering from "other ideas." Sam is one of the promoters who brings a crowd of rocksters to hear me spin at Hotel Chantelle on Thursdays, where I have been moved from the roof to the lobby. I have hypnotized them into thinking I’m doing well.
Also on the move semi-officially is East Village staple Lucky Cheng’s. Hayne Southern as reported here years ago has been eyeing a Times Square location for her drag and food fest. The majority of her profits come from birthday parties and such, and the new location is far more convenient. It will also provide her with a zillion tourists looking for a real New York experience. These days, they’ve all seen drag queens on TV, and what was taboo a few years ago, is much more accepted in today’s mainstream. As the East Village continues to lose its edge, with rents skyrocketing to Times Square prices, America at large gets a taste, and the girls get steady work.
Also on the move is Dune nightclub in Southampton. The rent is a mere $22,500 per month, which seems fair if you only pay that for the 3 or so months you can actually operate, but that’s $22,500 for 12 months. If you use your iPhone calculator, that means you are spending about $90,000 a month for the season. Plus there’s key money, and it will need some sprucing up, and they’re only offering a 4 year lease. Seems rough, but promotional entities needing to service their big clients during the summer might see it as a must-have. Summer seems far away, as Santa is getting ready to roll, but players know summer will come.
I didn’t get a chance to recap the opening of the Mick Rock photo exhibit at the W Downtown. You, however, can still go there and check out the show without the hordes and all the opening night wristbands and such. The images of Madonna, Bowie, Iggy, and every rock icon imaginable is nothing short of breathtaking. The crowd was an adult rocker crowd, punctuated by notables including John Varvatos, Albert Hammond Jr., Ann Dexter-Jones, Bebe Buell, Betsey Johnson, Caitlin Moe, Chace Crawford, Chaske Spencer, Chelsea Leyland, Frank Tell, Jenne Lombardo, Mark Ronson, Mia Moretti, Michaelangelo L’Acqua, Penn Badgley, Sky Nellor, Skylar Grey, Stephen Baldwin, Theophilus London and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Phantogram performed in the huge tent downstairs which proved to be a rough situation for sound. Around the 3rd track you could actually tell that they were real good. I had a great time and enjoyed my cuddle with my old friend Mick Rock. My crew, which included Lit oncho Erik Foss and Paper guru Carlo McCormick, headed to I Hop for late night pancakes and conversation.
I must note the birthday of my dearest friend Brittany Mendenhall, who is heading into her 2nd Quarter with stars in her eyes, brains in her head, and love in her heart. I adore her and wish her the best.
When I used to spend my time in woodsy places like Yellowstone or Yosemite, I learned that when confronted by a large toothy, clawed animal, the last thing you do is try to run away, as that animal can surely out-run you; the running triggers a hunter/prey response and they instinctively attack. This is my excuse – the only one I have – for being very Steve Lewis at the Nightclub Disrupt Panel at the Dominion Theatre yesterday. The other panelists Michael Gogel, Steven Rojas, and Mick Boogie triggered my predator instincts when they started using terms like VIP to describe a bozo with a black card. Mick Boogie, to a lesser degree – he was just being charming. My canines came out and, well, the rest will soon be posted online and I’ll let you see it then. Moderator Vikas Sapra said I was fine but he smiles too much to be trusted with this sort of question.
One of the things I was putting out there is that computers are a two-dimensional view of people, often with only the information offered by those people or spending patterns or financial history. This rarely gets to the heart of things and lacks…heart. To the geek world, people are reduced to a much more two-dimensional profile than the one-on-one relationship a potential patron has with a good door person or with an owner or promoter. Their jobs are all about knowing their clientele. No, people: a doorman is not just looking for a pretty face, although that never hurts. A VIP is often a person willing to spend money, but that is not the criteria for any place worth this ink.
Another point I put out there was a VIP at Lavo is not necessarily a VIP at W.i.P. or Lit and vice versa. I feel the internet is only as good as the people feeding it and the people feeding it don’t necessarily understand the dynamics or requirements of each venue. Anyway, a lot was said – probably too much by me – and I’ll post it when I get it.
The previous panel of this Social Media Week gathering consisted of Nick Jonas and a moderator. I listened to him, completely enamored. He is charismatic, bright, handsome, and articulate. He is currently on Broadway. He eeks of stardom. Outside for air during the break, a handful of geeky fans waited with cameras. He posed with them all… experience telling him that running would only trigger a predator/prey response. He made them feel special and won me over.
Last night at Hotel Chantelle, I DJed the opening for one of my favorites: Kelle Calco. When we switched over, I told him I had played "Parachute Woman" by the Rolling Stones as I remember his set being very Stones heavy and didn’t want to subject the crowd to the same song twice. This wasn’t an issue; Kelle has changed. His set went everywhere from electro to hip-hop to rock. He offered up some very commercial pop and made it all work. I was impressed and surprised. I asked him about it and he said he now embraces all types of music and totally gets into it. He told me about all the places he DJs and hosts. He is a busy dude.
I hear that White Noise has only a few Fridays left, which means Sam Valentine’s rock fest will end. Sam says he wont throw a real rock party again till he finds a place with stripper poles. Rock is retreating. Nur Khan lamented the Hiro Ballroom reinvention a couple of days ago and the need for a new rock spot. His The Electric Room is setting the standard for rock purity. Lit remains a bastion of rock chops. It will celebrate its 10th anniversary Wednesday with a list of DJs including Justine D, Leo Fitzpatrick, and me. We’ll each get about a half-hour to showcase our rock and roll Hootchie Koo. The Kelle thing threw me off. Maybe he is right: he public wants a mixed format and so maybe that’s what they get. For me, I’ll stick to my roots. Those other genres of music just trigger my yawn response.
2011 rushes into history taking some notable strangers, a few friends, and some cherished concepts with it. I can’t complain about the way it treated me because it seemed to have treated a whole world of people worse. The world seems harder and more dangerous and less forgiving than in years past. Every minor conflict that we were worried about seems to have been worth the worry. The news is rarely good news and we seem to be accepting mediocrity as a nation. A recent trip to Virginia took me past town after town of similar malls and cookie cutter architecture. My New Year’s resolution is simply to still give a damn.
Nightlife has become more of a means to escape for most. There are still wonderfully creative and ambitious people pushing the envelope — celebrating creativity, but a solid decade of reality TV has unfortunately exposed us to our reality. "Boob tube" used to describe the instrument, when now it clearly describes those who find escape or answers or life watching it. I will be out and about tomorrow night popping in here and there, seeing the sights, kissing cheeks and telling bad jokes. I will DJ the last desperate hour of 2011 and a few moments of the virginal 2012 at Goldbar before heading into the streets where I always find comfort.
My first stop will be Stash, my wonderful creation on 14th and 8th. It is now ready for prime time players, and I will gather with a few friends and owner Matthew Isaacs for a toast to what was and what could be. It’s intimate, colorful confines will do the trick. I will miss GaGa at Times Square for the ball drop and probably Debby Harry at The Boom Boom Room (yes I still call it that). Nur Khan’s soiree at Casa Le Femme might catch me passing through for a second as I believe that the celebrators there will be gorgeous and fabulous. These terms are often mutually exclusive. That is a concept sometimes misunderstood in nightlife. W.I.P. seems to be a place to be with legendary producer Scram Jones Djing. If I am still awake I will head to Pacha for the tomorrow it always delivers. Pacha always is fantastic on New Years Eve. Webster Hall as well. If size actually matters (and I do thank God everyday that it does), these two joints are answers to your what-to-do? questions.
If you still don’t know where to go to find your place in the universe maybe it is best not to do it. The desperation of New Year’s Eve is sometimes a downer. Get some sleep and gather with friends for breakfast. If you must hit the streets realize that most places have been rented out until 2am with four-, five- and six-hour open bars as part of the package. By 2am there will be millions of not-so-hot messes walking and driving. Subways are reliable, packed and therefore safe at all hours. I tell everyone to hire a car and driver from your local car service for your peak hours. They charge 40 to 50 bucks but will wait for you anywhere and whisk you around and take you home safely. Split this with a few friends and it’s very affordable. Taxis will not be an answer. Places like Lit and White Noise, which are essentially mom and pop operations — saloons run by saloon keepers with panache — will often be the best place to enjoy the ride. They will be affordable and usually controllable. Anything goes in the big clubs, and if you don’t believe me ask any experienced security worker or company operator. They dread NYE.
Be careful, have fun and most of all don’t try to pack a whole years worth of partying into a single evening. Carry hand warmers and power bars and a small bottle of water. Stash some extra cash and only use it for an emergency. I worry about you.
After the recent passing of Zelda Kaplan and Steven Greenberg, an experienced club operator asked me last night, "who’s next? …these things always happen in threes." He called me this morning and answered his own query: gaming/casino legend Dennis Gomes has died at 68. He was the co-owner of Resorts Casino Hotel in Atlantic City and was a sort of mythical guru to the industry as a whole. Atlantic City is in shock. I had the opportunity to work with Dennis a few years back. I had developed a fancy dessert restaurant at the Tropicana, which he was operating at the time. He loved it and wanted more from me and my then-partner Chris Sheffield. We hit it off like gangbusters. Thing is, he once was a real-life gangbuster back in Nevada. He was the top dog casino corruption investigator there and his good deeds were brought to the big screen in the Scorsese film Casino.
He was the consummate showman with chickens, naked ladies, and presidential look-a-likes popping out of his extravagant promotional bag of tricks. The projects I was working on with him never materialized, as he suddenly left the Tropicana, and the concepts were too far out there for anyone but him. I won’t tell you about those ideas as I may someday find a place for them. When we met, he was all energy and enthusiasm. He approached everything with a "we can do it" attitude. Once, he asked me if something I proposed "could be done" and I answered " Why not …they put a guy on the moon in 1969." He looked me in the eye and said "I like you" and I was sure he did. We worked fast and furiously. He crunched numbers faster than a speeding bullet train, which he needed so badly to get the New York crowd down to AC. I take the ACES train these days when I go down to visit Atlantic City. I remember him saying it would someday happen. Before there was gaming in Atlantic City, I came down to play in the sand. It was even sleazier then than it was 10 years ago, when people really started to flow there and the prostitutes and crime clashed with the new developments and patronage, and were pushed a few blocks away. Back in the Louis Malle’s film Atlantic City era, I wallowed in the muck and grit, enjoyed the beach and the boardwalk by day, and the harsh bars and dirty denizens of the night. Now it’s all slick and clean and purged of most of it’s demons …as long as you don’t stray too far. Families come and top chefs make wonderous meals and international stars perform. Posh hotels with thousands of rooms sell out. It’s a huge success and Dennis Gomes was a huge part of that.
Dennis was a gentleman and an honest broker. I never worried about getting paid, just impressing and working for a man that "got it." Working with him was an honor. Being in the same room – a privilege and an education. I met his family a couple of times and my heart and prayers go out to them.
Once in a while, someone writes a comment to this column. The process of commenting here is too difficult, takes too long, and as a result we don’t get as many as some publications. I have been trying to change this for a couple of years but I am just a lowly writer. My editor asked me if I had seen a comment on my Steven Greenberg tribute. I read the following by "OHNO:"
"I am truly perplexed about this article, I have never in my life felt so torn about writing the following, but it must be said… I feel like everyone has stockholm syndrome after his passing. He was difficult to be around, especially to work for… unless you had a bit of money. There is still that little "class action lawsuit" thing that is ongoing from stealing from his employees. I pray that this "predatory nightlife" era has finally ended. If you truly know him, you know what I mean. I apologize if I hurt anyone by writing this, I mean no ill will, I hope the man is finally at peace. But god damn… someone has to speak up for all of the people he screwed"
OHNO didn’t seem to receive the respect Steven doled out readily to thousands of people. OHNO hints that maybe he didn’t have enough money to get Steven’s attention. He says Steven was difficult to be around and work for. It seems obvious to me that OHNO didn’t get respect because he doesn’t know the meaning of the word. To come in after a man who has passed and can’t defend himself with this sort of disrespectful statement shows the reasons why Steven obviously dissed and discounted OHNO. OHNO is a classless ass and didn’t "truly know him." He alludes to a class action suit and accuses Steven from stealing from his employees in a tip skimming scam.
I don’t know the merits of the case but I truly knew Steven. He didn’t need to steal to make money. He knew how to make money. I have met hundreds of employees of 230 Fifth over the years and all said they made bank working there. When the cold weather came they would look for work elsewhere and those interviewing them for jobs knew that when the warmth returned they would run off to get their 230 job back. Did he run a tight ship? Of course, but he fed hundreds at a time even when jobs were scarce. I and thousands of others found it wonderful to hang and work with Steven. OHNO is getting his 15 seconds of fame hiding behind an alias. If Steven was alive he wouldn’t have hidden and he probably would have explained away this griping as the laments of an employee he shouldn’t have hired. He’d admit to that mistake. He was a warm, loving, charismatic, bon vivant but is very human and therefore imperfect. Rest in Peace, Mr. Steven Greenberg.
I will be out and about tonight, attending the last Sam Valentine Wild Ones party at the soon-to-close White Noise. I designed the joint with a great deal of help from the friends and family that made that place great. White Noise was a project built with a $25,000 budget and a great deal of bells and whistles, smoke and mirrors, and cheap or free labor. I thad a great run and I will miss it…but not before a blast tonight.
I go out a lot — way too much — but rarely find myself at a place where I truly enjoy myself. I’m always fascinated by the way operators, um, operate, and can linger at a place I don’t like for hours figuring out what exactly it is about it I don’t like, and what I would do to fix it. When David Marvisi and I had a meeting about taking over his disastrous Key Club and turning into what eventually became the very successful Spa nightclub, many were amazed that I was able to open the place a mere 38 days later. It was possible because of previous analysis about the wrongs and how to un-wrong them. The champagne at Winstons Champagne Bar tastes like good champagne should.
At Winston’s the other night, that new champagne spot in the Ganesvoort Park hotel, I had nothing to do but enjoy myself. It was a perfectly appointed room done by my friends over at ICrave design. It’s wonderfully laid out, lit, and functional. Proprietor Michael Satsky gave me the proud parent tour, and I could find nothing wrong. I loved the Napoleon wallpaper and the piano was grand. The staff were wonderful. We sat with Michael’s partner Brian Gefter and sipped what they sell.
Winstons is a place crowded with adults who have nothing to prove and only want to enjoy their success and the comfort of people with a mindset like theirs. It isn’t for everyone, and a look at the Champagne list tells you why. It isn’t overpriced compared to other supposedly high-end spots, but it is costly. Bottles of rare champagnes are available, and I glimpsed one that went for around 17,000 dollars. That’s a lot to pay for grape juice.
The wines by the glass proved to be a great adventure. Loyal readers know I only drink two or three times a year, whenever I have sex, and this was a rare exception. (My Amanda wouldn’t make one for my drunken ass.) I had a blast. I love Winston’s because it is as perfect as it can be without the pretensions and false bottoms so often found at high-end joints. Will my friends at White Noise and Lit Lounge enjoy it? Probably not. It’s for the jet-set crowd that’s already arrived. As I sat there listening to romantic tracks from the 1920s, perusing the beautiful people doing what they do in this timeless setting, I realized that the specialization of nightlife can go backwards to go forward.
Oh, I can still list the bold-face names hanging around, like the always gorgeous Devorah Rose and man about town and billboards Jonathan Chebin … but I won’t.
Tonight I will be DJing on the roof of Hotel Chantelle, which thankfully is enclosed when it needs to be. Weather-wise, it’s such a lovely day … if you’re a trout. I want to give a shout out to two old friends who just got older. Both are ageless and timeless and legendary. Michele Savoia, who I’ve known since before there was a before, is a tailor, among many things. His House of Savoia shop on Essex Street is one-stop shopping for the bon vivant. Rocco Ancarola will celebrate his birthday at Lavo, where he has set up shop and is tearing it up and down.There is no nicer person that I can think of. Always a friend, always bringing a smile, and there for me for comfort and advice when life takes it turns. These gentleman’s gentleman age fine like wine — or good champagne, for that matter — and I wish them everything they want and need.
The weekend was wonderful, with the air as crisp and fresh as the apples we bought at Auntie El’s, my favorite hush-hush spot on Route 17. My day was spent with a couple of bartenders and a doorknob manufacturer at Storm King, the greatest place to spend a day. It’s miles of art strewn about in what looks like an abandoned golf course. Look it up and go. I’ve gone a zillion times, any and all seasons, but enjoy this time of year best, with the fall blooms and changing leaves and light.
We played catch with Osage Oranges and watched a massive flock of Eastern bluebirds play and bathe. They truly were the bluebirds of happiness for my merry crew who hadn’t slept. People like us sleep when we can. The day people dictate to us what times things we want to see are open. We eat when they sleep, in diners which are getting increasingly better at accommodating the more and more of us who must work nights at second jobs because the first ones don’t pay the bills.
Love him to death, but O’Bummer isn’t putting smiles on peoples faces. We need more Storm Kings and bluebirds and jobs. Despite increasing bureaucracy at the buildings department, which delays the openings of job-creating joints, and despite overzealous city regulators seemingly hell-bent on closing places that are feeding our flock, hospitality still keeps many of us alive.
I am building an office and three new joints. Often, when I take on a project, I sign a confidentiality agreement, legally binding my talkative/writing half from blabbing about what the design half is doing. Oh, and the DJ half is too exhausted from my Saturday night gig with Uncle Mike at White Noise to butt in. The Uncle Mike/Uncle Steve show threw rock and roll classics and newbies at the crowd until they screamed uncle. Then we hit them harder. I love White Noise, and you should too. Anyway, getting back to what I was saying. I signed this confidentiality agreement in regards to Noel Ashman’s new project. He told me I can tell you about half of it, so here I go. It’s located between Delancey and Houston, and Christie and Crosby. It’s not too big or too small, and it’s about half way done. Noel says “it will be a private NY lounge bringing back the Veruka/Moomba/Bungalow 8/ feel that has gotten lost with so many bottle clubs that are imitating Las Vegas.” Now that’s the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help me god. He has some “high profile” people backing him, as usual. As I said, I’m the designer, and so the writer Steve Lewis has decided to ask his better half, Steve Lewis the designer, about intent.
Steve Lewis (writer): What’s it like working for Noel Ashman? Steve Lewis(designer): well, it’s always interesting. I helped Noel with his Plumm project, designing the layout until circumstances led me away from the job. I did manage to get a sense of the room, which became invaluable later on when I was tasked to design The Darby. The concept of reversing the stairs to accommodate a second entrance was one of the things I executed based on the Plumm experience. Noel is a trip, and I love talking with him the minute he wakes up, raring to go, at 8pm.
SL (w): What will the place look like? SL (d): Great question! It’s going to be based in the color Blue with many modern and old English Empire references. Noel’s crowd is heavily VIP, so the place will be mostly based around comfortable seating and sight lines that allow people to see each other, but at the same time offers the ability to protect his celebrity friends.
SL(w): Wow, that sounds difficult to pull off. SL(d): It is, but I like working for Noel. He has always danced and dressed to the beat of a different drum. His clubs were always mixed, packed with bold-faced names, and had great music. They were just like the white T-shirts he wears as a uniform, a little bit more laid back and comfortable than the rest of the pack.
SL(w): Can you name some of the celebrity investors or friends that are involved or will be hanging out? SL(d): No, that’s all hush-hush. I’m sure there will be many of the usual suspects, as well as some unusual ones attached. As far as who will come play? I guess the same people you always see at his parties. Noel has his supporters and always will, because they know they can rely on him for privacy and a comfortable place to play. I always enjoyed watching his sports friends playing hard at night, even though they couldn’t for whatever reason do that on the field. I hope he doesn’t get mad at me for saying that.
SL(w): It’s not your fault. It’s mine for asking.
Oh, and by the way I could use a little intern help. The summer’s end sent the ones I had scurrying back to their universities and colleges to unlearn what I taught them. Is there a person out there who wants to help me get this thing done? Contact BlackBook and tell them you need a dark handsome stranger in your life, but will settle interning for a pale, weird looking, strange person until that happens.
The Don Hill saga continues to get stickier. Rumors and innuendo have become accusations, as unpaid employees left unpaid are increasingly motivated to find a way get paid. I was told that the loot set aside to pay employees was being used to pay huge outstanding debts, like rent and purveyors, and that parties were taking money out of accounts faster than could be put in to pay staff.
In my day, staff money or payroll was put in a separate, untouchable account. According to my source, settlements for unpaid wages were offered—though a small percentage. Fingers are being pointed at every bold-faced name, and words like “thief” and “forgery” are being bounced around. I have heard the word “forgery” twice now, and that is disconcerting. Poor old Don Hill is not around to smile and make it right, so the story keeps going. A close friend even speculated that this whole financial affair—the bursting of the bubble—directly led to his untimely demise.
One former employee told me:
“Every night I worked the place was packed and the bar was doing well. They made a conscious decision to not pay their staff. I personally don’t care why the club closed. An employee is not a bill. I never made an agreement to loan Nur and the gang my services. Where were you born?”
The last part the “Where were your born part” was a result of my defending Nur and Paul Sevigny’s role in the affair, and of course their liability. I left off a great deal of the vitriolic stuff because, after all, children have access to this column. The employee then asked me to help them find a lawyer, and concluded with “anyway, I am devoting my life to this until I am reimbursed.” Speaking of Rock and Roll, Friday night I DJed Luke Brian Sosnowski’s birthday bash. The White Noise co-owner’s bash is one where no one asked me to play GaGa, Jay- Z or Rhianna. White Noise is, of course, a house of Rock and Roll, so there was no need to cart any House tracks either. There is a purity to White Noise’s format, which was obtained in a very short time. They make it look as easy as putting on a leather jacket, uncombing your hair, and finding a cool T-shirt to wear. Friday, the joint was banging, and a state of nirvana was attained (the feeling not the dead band), and you didn’t have to sit in a lotus position or go vegan for a bunch of decades to get there. I went on between 12:30AM and 2AM, joining the regular Friday night DJs including the legendary Michael T., and the fabulous and eloquent Samuel Valentine. Their Friday night soiree is called “The Wild Ones” and according to Sam…
“It is the only rock party in NYC at the moment, that showcases Rock N’ Roll music from the legends to brand-new artists. People enjoy this party in many different ways. For example some girls like to get on the bar and dance, others come to chat, meet new people with similar interest in fashion and music, find that hot rocker to take home, and there are the ones that come to rock out to the music and get wasted. NYC needed to have a rock party with a more modern approach to it rather than concentrate in resurrecting acts that are no longer around all night. Come with an open mind to hear some hits you love, and some new tracks yet-unheard of, which we think you should love as well.”
Check out the images below by Jes Leppard:
Smells like teen spirit! Actually it smelled like a million cigarettes. My travels and travails took me to Circa Tabac, where my pal, DJ Uncle Mike, was offering Smoking Lounge Sundays. Circa Tabac is one of a handful of NYC places where smoking is permitted — and therefore celebrated. Located on Watts Street by that umbilical cord that attaches Manhattan to the hinterlands (otherwise known as the Holland Tunnel), it is the cutest little spot. Sitting there, listening to Mike’s varied tunes, it felt like the old days—before regulations took the edge and threw it over to Brooklyn and other exotic lands.
It was a time when, upon returning home after a night on the town, it was required to have a quick rinse to get the gray residue of a thousand cigarettes out of your hair before passing out.
Many people say that losing the freedom to smoke took the edge out of nightlife. There are, of course, places where determined or irreverent scenesters still light up, but the city did go ape shit over enforcement of this rule. Smoking has basically gone into club extinction, or at least the endangered list, much like the cashier booth or the Drag Queen dancing on the bar. Circa Tabac does have smoke filters and in the warmer months they open big windows, but the place is infused with the familiar smell. The place packs out on most nights, and Mike and others are trying to boost the off nights. It felt good to hear the music, sipping a drink under low lights while whiffs worked their way to the ceiling. Smoking has it’s drawbacks, but it does make a place seem sexier.
Uncle Mike is a familiar figure to Bungalow 8 veterans. He lit up that joint for 4 years, playing everything that ever mattered. Huey Morgan of the Fun Lovin’ Criminals nicknamed the bearded Michael Schnapp, who was at the time working as an A&R guy at EMI records. Mike told me he had a scout who brought him “a ton of shit and nothing worked. Everything sounded the same to me, everything was the same thing. There was a tape left and I asked my scout what was that and he said nothing, just some guys I work with over at Limelight. I said let’s hear it. It was different: strange, good, magical. I liked everything. It was weird hearing something so new that I liked so much. So I took them to meet the boss, and he asks them if they want to make a record. They agree, and he tells me to make sure they don’t starve.” Fun Lovin’ Criminals went on to success, although mostly in England. Huey and Fast (Brian Leiser) were no longer employees at the Limelight, rather celebrities in their own right, but there was never a change in demeanor. They remained true to their school, friends, and the streets they spoke of in their music.
Then Michael—Uncle Mike—became a full time DJ in ’95. “I’m like one of the guys who went the other way. Most DJs leave to become producers, or music company guys. I went from A&R to DJing. He showed me his setup: a laptop with a Serato computer program, his Rane Mixer, and the special case that he carries them in. He smoked while he mixed and told me the people at Circa Tabac are real nice. On Saturdays, he does the early set from 4PM to 9PM over at Brooklyn Bowl. “Anything can happen, from a Pink Floyd cover band to original artists. A couple weeks ago they had this performer, April Smith, doing original rock. Keep your ears open about her. She can really sing.” After the Brooklyn gig he eats and heads to White Noise, where he spins from 11 until close. He tears it up. Next Sunday he’s pushing the First Annual Brooklyn Springtime Guitar Show at Brooklyn Bowl from noon to 6pm. Admission is free. He says it will be “like a combination of 48th street—you know, where Sam Ash and Mannys are located—hipster Williamsburg, and high-end, out of state guitar collectors. There will be rare guitars that go for 10K, plus to everyday beat up rockers stuff. Like a cool guitar strap that Keith Richards would love.” The after party at Circa Tabac will be a smash. A week later he’ll celebrate his birthday at the spot. He is ageless, celebrating a number somewhere between Justin Beiber and me. DjUncleMike.com will tell you more.