Weekend Kids’ Pick

A Christmas Carol runs through December 18 at the Abrons Arts Center.

The Abrons Arts Center is presenting Reid Farrington’s “A Christmas Carol”  through December 18th. They write:

A Christmas Carol is an imaginative and ghostly new show based on one of the most ubiquitous stories of all time by one of the most famous authors in the English language. Created and directed by acclaimed theater and new media artist Reid Farrington (of The Passion Project and Gin & “It”), this exciting work takes the form of a Victorian-era phantasmagoria, conjuring up ghosts of the past, present, and future by integrating media and live theater with the well-known holiday classic. Haunting images from 35 different film versions of A Christmas Carol are projected on moving screens using a modern-day version of the magic lantern. Film clips collide and combine with live performers on stage, eerily blurring the distinction between performance and video projection. Through complex staging and choreography, the show mashes together over 100 years of film history. Performers slip in and out of characters from the Alastair Sim, George C. Scott, and Bill Murray versions , as well as The Muppets and Mr. Magoo variations (and many more) to create an imaginative and new interpretation of the beloved Dickens story.

The show costs $20; students and seniors can see it for $10. Abrons Arts Center, 466 Grand St. (at Pitt).

For more family-friendly events, please visit our Kids page.


Shop Local LES for the Holidays

Holiday shopping can be a drag. But if you keep your dollars in the neighborhood, special treats like complimentary champagne and gift-wrapping and a place to drop your packages and get a free coffee and massage will smooth the way. Following up on last weekend’s “Small Business Saturday” campaign, our friends over at the Lower East Side Business Improvement District this afternoon announced new promotions and special events designed to draw holiday shoppers to local stores.

The initiative takes place Dec. 10-11 and Dec. 17-18 and involves 40 participating stores. The retailers are offering a huge variety of in-store promotions such as discounts and freebies, especially on Sunday, Dec. 11. Throughout both weekends, shoppers will also be welcomed at a “Holiday Oasis Lounge” located at the Mark Miller Gallery and sponsored by Lost Weekend NYC, featuring complimentary gift-wrapping, a bag check station for shoppers to unload and unwind, refreshments, free back massages from licensed massage therapist and “lookbooks” with gift ideas from participating merchants.

See the full list of participating stores and their specials on the BID’s website.

A Word From Our Sponsors

This week’s news and updates from our sponsors:

  • M&M Environmental is featured in a segment on German television about New York’s epic battle against bed bugs.
  • East Side Home Improvement is offering holiday specials, including a full two bedroom paint job for $1600 and a bathtub re-glazing/grouting for $650.


LES Bites: Bowery Coffee, Sorella, Vegan Eats, The Red Egg, Scanwiches

Counter Culture coffee and Doughnut Plant doughnuts are on tap at Bowery Coffee.

Here’s a midweek look at food and restaurant headlines around the neighborhood:

  • A visit to 87 E. Houston St. finds that Bowery Coffee has transformed a vintage lighting store into “a cozy, old-timey place that reinspires the notion of having one’s coffee ‘to stay'”. (Serious Eats)
  • In celebration of the release of Notes from a Kitchen, a new book offering insider profiles of chefs, Sorella’s Emma Hearst hosts a four-course tasting menu on Dec. 7 for $65/person. (Eater)
  • Sorting VIPs from the “GP” (general population) at The Red Egg, whose status as a hot spot is climbing. (Apparently, it’s Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s favorite dim sum joint.) (NY Observer)
  • A new kind of sandwiches–larger than life, in 2D–have arrived at 55 Clinton St. Through Dec. 11, the JS55 gallery is hosting an exhibition of art from Scanwiches, author Jon Chonko’s collection of in-depth looks between slices. (JS55 blog)

Santa Needs Some Help: Answer Letters, Spread Joy

Six-year-old Rakiyah wants a Build-a-Bear. Two-year-old Ayuna wants a dollhouse.

Those are just two of the holiday wishes from kids in the care of our friends over at Henry Street Settlement, who are asking for help checking off their lists. They have 36 letters to Santa, and so far, just over half have been answered. Volunteers can choose a letter to answer and then mail or deliver the unwrapped gift by Dec. 5.

Henry Street is also running a “Joy Drive” to collect gifts for seniors, families and teens. Items needed for that project include: lap blankets; gift baskets with toiletries, stuffed animals, games and toys; hats, scarves and gloves; gift cards for clothing; and movie passes.

For details on where and when to drop off donations, check out Henry Street’s website or contact Bernadette Perrette at bperrette@henrystreet.org, 212-766-9200 x259.

Exercise Study Participants Sought; Free Chinatown YMCA Memberships Offered

Columbia University is embarking on four medical studies about exercise, and the researchers are looking for local residents as subjects. Participants will be compensated with small stipends, and also with free memberships to the Chinatown YMCA.

“The baby boomer generation is beginning to hit the age where medical problems with cognition such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease are becoming more prominent, resulting in huge health costs and social strain on families,” says research assistant Stan Berkow, who wrote to us for help publicizing the studies. “Our research is looking at the behavioral intervention of aerobic exercise to better understand the mechanism behind which it helps to deter this cognitive decline and the consequent medical problems associated with it.”

Click through for the specifics.

Morning Reads: Pool Polo, Jeffrey Lewis, Grand St. Bike Lane, Presidential Visit

  • Inner-tube water polo players hold a championship at the Chinatown YMCA. (ESPN)
  • Anti-folk singer and LES homeboy Jeffrey Lewis played the Mercury Lounge Friday night; he talks about art, music and paying the bills. (Capital NY)
  • The 3-year-old Grand Street bike lane–often blocked by ongoing construction of major water system improvements–draws more ire. (Voices of NY)
  • President Obama will make a fund-raising swing through three Manhattan locations tonight, including a stop at Gotham Bar & Grill on East 12th Street, where supporters paid $35,800 a head to see him. (Daily News)


Good Morning!

Pike Street, near Division.

After yesterday’s rain, it should clear up nicely today. Lots of sunshine and and high of 53, but it’ll be windy at times. Tonight the low dips to 36.


Deadmau5 Concert Slated For Pier 36 New Year’s Eve

Previous Deadmau5 concert, via concerttickets.com.

The crowd might not be quite as massive as the one pictured here (photo location unknown) — but the Deadmau5 concert New Year’s Eve at Pier 36 is shaping up to be a pretty big happening.  Deadmau5 (Joel Zimmerman) is a Canadian dance/house/electro artist who’s been packing in huge crowds at concert venues around the world.

Pier 36 is the future home of Basketball City, the privately-run recreation center still under construction at Pier 36, located at the end of Montgomery Street.  Here’s what Joonbug, an event co-sponsor, has to say about the venue:

Ever wanted to play, dance, and rage on 13 million dollars? Thanks to the newly renovated entertainment complex at Pier 36 you can. The immense 65,000 square-foot facility has already proven itself to be the entertainment center par excellence for New Yorkers and tourists alike. It is Manhattan’s newest playground that caters to any type of function and its producer. It boasts a sleek, modern canvas that is transformational responding to the creativity and artistry of each and any event. Whether it is showcasing fashion, music, dance or entertainment, all galas and affairs are executed with a mind-blowing platform. When not hosting high voltage events, the space will manifest its courts located on a single floor accommodating basketball, volleyball, badminton, dodgeball and indoor soccer. Whether it be to party, play or perform, Pier 36 is blazing a trail that will long be known as a New York City landmark for all.

Last week, Community Board 3 member Valentina Jones told other board members she is concerned about noise and crowd control at the pier on New Year’s Eve.  Jones, who also sits on the board of Gouverneur Gardens (the apartment complex across from Pier 36), said she planned to discuss her concerns with Basketball City. It’s possible the matter will come up on December 8th, when CB3’s Parks Committee is scheduled to discuss several Basketball City-related items.


Dino Eli, Owner-Curator, Provocateur, Settles In

Dino Eli, owner and curator of both Dino Eli Gallery and Orchard Windows Gallery. Photo by A. Jesse Jiryu Davis for The Lo-Down

One day this fall, I was meandering south down gallery dotted Orchard Street. and bumped into Dino Eli. I found him doing his customary ritual dance—floating between the eponymous Dino Eli Gallery and Orchard Windows Gallery, a tiny space just steps away. Eli is the founder and curatorial director of both spaces.

Equal parts impresario and provocateur, he created a stir in May when his Windows Gallery mounted a show dubbed “Porno Paintings” that some LES parents complained about (the gallery is across the street from P.S. 42).

JP’s Food Adventures: Chinatown Veggies

Brown beech mushrooms, king oyster mushroom, daikon radish, bitter melon, eggplants and snap peas. Photo by Cynthia Lamb.

Chinese produce vendors dot our neighborhood, in the form of greengrocers, outdoor stands or pushcarts. You can spot those with the most attractive prices by the brisk business they do. Many vegetables that would be difficult to locate in places without a decent Asian population can easily be found here on the LES.

As someone who often cooks Chinese, Japanese and South Asian dishes at home, I find this bounty exciting. Some of us look at these vegetables and wonder, “What do you do with that?” Before you can begin to answer that question you have to know what you’re looking at. This isn’t always easy for non-Chinese speakers, as so much retail vegetable business is conducted in Cantonese, Mandarin or other regional dialects.

But if you know the English name of the vegetable,  you’re just a few clicks away from finding out how to turn it into something delicious. The search function in your browser bar is, among other things, an index to a huge cookbook. And cooking is what one does with these vegetables; raw veggies are rarely served in Chinese cooking (though they are carved into elaborate garnishes).

This week I’m going to look at some of the veggies available at a typical Chinese greengrocer, identify them and suggest how to cook them. Most are available year-round, but some are more seasonal, being hard to find (and at a higher price) out of season.

Newspaper Truck Smashes into Olympic Diner on Delancey Street

Olympic Diner, Essex and Delancey streets.

This morning customers and employees of the Olympic Diner, 115 Delancey Street, are feeling pretty lucky. You wouldn’t think that would be their reaction following an overnight accident that sent a Daily News delivery truck sailing through the restaurant’s facade.

But when we stopped by a short time ago, they were indeed relieved that the incident happened at 1:30 a.m., when the metal drop-down gates were down and the diner closed. The owner said he hates to think what would have happened if people had been sitting at tables alongside the window when the truck came barrelling through.

Tour the Abandoned Trolley Station Below Delancey

If there was any doubt that the MTA is intent on reactivating the abandoned trolley terminal below Delancey Street, this video will put an end to that. Posted on YouTube about a week ago and by 2nd Ave. Sagas yesterday, the video is basically an advertisement for the 60,000 square foot subterranean “development opportunity.”

In September, James Ramsey and Daniel Barasch went public with their proposal to turn the old terminal into a dramatic underground park. Their contact at the MTA, Peter Hine, was obviously more than a little intrigued by the idea. Ramsey and Barasch were always well aware they would likely be competing against other potential developers when the MTA gets around to issuing a “Request for Proposals.” In the New York Times last week, Hine said he’d love to see “500 ideas.”

Listen carefully to Hine, as he walks through the trolly station. There’s no doubt the cash-strapped MTA’s main priority is extracting as much money as possible from the unused space. He even mentions creating a night club in part of the terminal. Even at this very preliminary stage, it’s clear the transit agency and the community board might not necessarily see eye to eye on how the space should be developed.

Ramsey and Barasch envision some revenue producing elements as part of their “Delancey Underground” project (possibly retail). But their idea primarily centers around reclaiming the abandoned space for public use.


Morning Reads: Music Studio Start-up, Overcrowded Schools, Harvey Wang’s Lower East Side

  • Modern Vintage Records, a production studio, opens for business on the Lower East Side (Business Insider).
  • The Department of Education backs away from a plan to send Tribeca kids to Chinatown (DNA Info).
  • Rep. Carolyn Maloney could stand to gain from the retirement of Barney Frank. On the other hand, she faces some peril in her district (which includes parts of the LES), as anger towards Wall Street intensifies (The Hill).
  • Harvey Wang’s Lower East Side photos – on display at the Tenement Museum Wednesday night – and on the Times’ Lens blog (NYT).
  • Live wrap: Frank Ocean at the Bowery Ballroom Sunday night (Village Voice).


Good Morning!

Photo by Phillip Kalantzis-Cope.

Looks like an umbrella day. We’ll see a high of 63 with occasional rain showers, especiially in the afternoon and continuing into the evening hours.