Weekend Music Picks

Here are musician Ken Beasley’s top music picks on the Lower East Side this weekend:

Balthrop Alabama Ensemble

BALTHROP ALABAMA – Friday, Dec. 17 | 11:30PM at Joe’s Pub

Balthrop Alabama is the imagined musical paradise envisioned by brother and sister team, Pascal and Lauren Balthrop. They’ve populated their special town with top musicians, an illustrator, and lots of good-time energy. For their annual Christmas show, “A Very Balthrop Christmas” at Joe’s Pub, they’ll be welcoming some special guests like Dawn Landes and The Bandana Splits, just to name a few. $15 // 425 Lafayette Street.

Chinatown BID Supporters Look for Community Board “Clean Sweep”

It’s a big night ahead for supporters of a Chinatown Business Improvement District.  This evening, Community Boards 1 and 2 will decide whether to accept their committee-level recommendations to endorse the proposal.  If they vote “yes”  and Community Board 3 does the same at its monthly meeting next week, it will be a clean sweep in the first phase of the arduous approval process.

In their campaign, the steering committee has said street maintenance and cleaning would be the organization’s top priority. A multi-million dollar grant for this purpose from the Lower Manhattan Development Corp. runs out at the end of the year. This afternoon, BID backers said (if they win the support of all three boards) they will begin raising money for sanitation services for the first six months of the year.  Even under the best case scenario, the business district would not be functioning until the middle of 2011. 

John Cameron Mitchell Will Take Your Questions

Brave Filmmaker/Writer/Actor and all-around artiste John Cameron Mitchell (Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Shortbus) will be on hand at the Sunshine Cinema this Saturday for two Q&A events after screenings of his new film, Rabbit Hole.  The film’s heavy-hitting cast includes Nicole Kidman and Aaron Eckhart as a couple grieving after the death of their young son; Diane Wiest and Sandra Oh round out the cast.  Rabbit Hole was originally a Tony and Pulitzer-winning play with a successful Broadway run in 2006 (starring Cynthia Nixon and John Slattery). Playwright David Lindsay-Abaire was approached to adapt it for the screen by none other than Ms. Kidman.

A Year of Transition for the Lower East Side BID

LES BID President Mark Miller, former executive director Roberto Ragone. Photos courtesy: LES BID.

Earlier this week, the LES Business Improvement District held its annual meeting at Mason Dixon on Essex Street. The organization’s leaders looked back on what was really a transitional year — and looked forward to a busy 2011. They honored former executive director Roberto Ragone, who has gone on to run a BID in the Bronx. 

What the Yelp? Tofu Stand Tops on the LES

You might have noticed this little storefront on the north side of Grand Street, just west of Bowery.  Turns out the Tofu Guy (otherwise known as the Tung Woo Company) is the “highest rated” Lower East Side restaurant on Yelp!  That’s right. Reviewers rave about the fresh, silky tofu pudding served here (the “Best in Manhattan,” they say).

Lately we’ve been spending quite a bit of time trolling Yelp and other web sites — researching food destinations for our new restaurant guideYelp’s credibility problems are, of course, well known. The “Tofu Guy’s” top ranking is based on just 21 (very enthusiastic) reviews.  After the jump, take a look at the top 10 LES restaurants, according to the Yelpers. What do you think? Do these places deserve top billing?

Dog Owners on Edge After Attacks, More Max Fish Tributes, “Let Them Eat Cake”

  • Some dog owners are now carrying weapons after several incidents involving pit bulls in Tompkins Square Park (DNA Info).
  • Max Fish: “a spot where real New Yorkers could hang and feel comfortable.” (NYT)
  • East 1st Street images from 2001-2003 (Bowery 2.0).
  • “Let Them Eat Cake,” at Dixon Place (NYT).

Good Morning!

Bike Polo Park

Photo by C. Merry.

Mostly sunny today with a high of 32. The wind won’t be quite so brutal.