My L.E.S. – Brian Crowley
This weekly feature spotlights a wide variety of people who live and work on the Lower East Side. If you would like to participate in “My LES,” please email us here.
What do you do?
Currently, I’m a stay-at-home dad with my 7-month-old son; he came along at the right time, just as I was opting out of a philosophy doctoral program and academic life. So I do funny faces, funny sounds, and more generally help him explore his place in the world. To keep busy with ‘more adult’ things, I’ve been volunteering with The Friends of Gulick Park and with the core-group developing The Lower East Side Food Co-op.
How long have you lived on the LES?
My wife and I moved here in 2004, but I have been coming below Houston since I was in high school 15 years ago, when I’d occasionally go to the Saturday matinee at ABC No Rio or to help with their Food Not Bombs group. The East side below 14th has always been my part of town.
Favorite block in the hood?
Clinton around Stanton can be beautiful when the trees are blooming. But I also like Orchard from Grand to Houston and Essex between Canal and Grand for the diversity of shops; they reflect a real sense of both history and dynamism in the community.
Favorite date spot in the hood?
Frankie’s Sputino was the last place we went to; good food and good service. Long-term, I’m hoping Gulick Park becomes a great place to have a special time.
Favorite coffee in the hood?
For my regular cup of joe, I hit Roots & Vines on Grand. For much more infrequent espresso drinks, I sometimes hit D’espresso on Stanton.
Favorite slice in the hood?
San Marzano on Clinton has interesting pies; for the quick pizza fix, though, I like the vegetable slice at Pizza Shack on Grand.
Where do you take your visitors when they’re here?
For food I always push B & H Dairy on 2nd Ave, Doughnut Plant, Guss’s Pickles (RIP!), Shopsin’s (mostly to see the menu and the Essex St Market for the vendors and the history), Vanessa’s Dumpling House, Spitzer’s for Beer. Otherwise, I like strolling East River Park and the green-belt pathway for the waterfront views. As you see, I’m park and food oriented. But sometime this year I’d like to take a tour through the Tenement Museum or go on a synagogue tour.
Favorite dive/locals bar in the hood?
I like The Parkside. They have one of those trivia video-game tables from, I’m guessing, the late 80s (at least they did the last time I was there). The questions have never been updated, so my wife and I rack up points in the music category. It phrases questions as if The Talking Heads are still releasing singles.
Favorite LES memory?
Lots of fond memories of walking the streets with my wife, finding which bars have pin-ball games (Niagra, Motor City) or photo-booths (Niagra, Lakeside) and good music. But I think some of the best memories are the first few times I came to the East Village/LES on my own or with friends, the sense of vibrancy and adventure was palpable and alluring.