Pop-Up Queer Bookstore Hosts Edmund White Reading

Edmund White with BGSQD owners Donnie Jochum and Greg Newton. All photos by Lee Brozgol.

“I wanted to call this book ‘Paris Gossip,’ but my editor won’t let me,” Edmund White explains, smiling at a packed house before reading an exclusive preview of his soon to be published Paris memoirs. The renowned author, world traveler and one of the first to write about gay culture candidly and for a mainstream audience, White chose the perfect Lower East Side venue to launch his latest work. BGSQD (The Bureau of General Services Queer Division) is a pop-up bookstore, gallery and event space hosted by Strange Loop Gallery at 27 Orchard Street.

Thank You to Our 2012 Sponsors

As 2012 comes to a close, we wanted to take a moment to thank all of the businesses and non-profit organizations who sponsored The Lo-Down this year, either online or in our new print magazine.  Whether they came on board as annual sponsors or placed an ad for a single month, they helped put The Lo-Down on a path toward long-term sustainability on the Lower East Side.

Abrons Arts Center
Altagracia Unisex Salon
American Apparel
Broome Lampshades
City Council member Margaret Chin
Chinatown Restaurant Week
Chinatown YMCA
Community Education Council, District 1
Comprehensive Kids Development School
*Cowboy Pizza
Dr. Shu Ping Rong/Dental
Dr. Steven Kamel/Dental
East Broadway Pizza
East Side Home Improvement
*Educational Alliance
El Maguey Y La Tuna
Erin Rodriguez/Fenwick Keats Real Estate
Espy Display
*Fine Fare
*Fontana’s Bar
Frank’s Bike Shop
Friends of Gulick Park
Grand Street Construction
James Richards Design/Architect
Jonathan Medows CPA
Juicy Lucy Juice Bar
*Halstead Property
Henry Street Settlement
Hester Street Fair
*LES Business Improvement District
Lower East Side Montessori
Lumber Liquidators
Malt & Mold
*M&M Environmental
Morris Faitelewicz
M. Schames & Sons Paint
Museum at Eldridge Street
New Amsterdam Market
*New Museum
Nom Wah Tea Parlor
One Fine Stay
*Pushcart Coffee
*Renaissance Economic Development Corp.
Saxelby Cheesemongers
Seward Park Liquors
Stanton Street Yoga
Steven Lazarus/Mortgage Banker
Ted Glass Design
Unique Hair & Nail Salon, 202 Clinton Street
University Settlement
*Village Zendo
Zarin Fabrics

If you’re interested in learning about becoming a TLD sponsor in 2013, send us an email at ads@thelodownny.com.

*annual sponsor


Morning Reads: $18 Million For 157 Suffolk Street, Gun Legislation, Hating 7-Eleven

$18 million deal; 157 Suffolk changes hands for second time in two years (Real Deal).

Sheldon Silver says microstamping won’t be part of Albany gun legislation (Daily News).

Neighbors hate the idea of a new 7-Eleven on Avenue A (EV Grieve).

The Infamous Stringdusters play the Bowery Ballroom (NYT).


Roumanian Synagogue Buiding, 70 Hester, is Sold

70 Hester Street.

Every old building on the Lower East Side has a few stories to tell.  70 Hester Street has more than most.   It was built in 1860 as the original synagogue of the First Roumanian-American Congregation.  For the past 45 years, it’s been the home (although in recent years not the primary residence) and studio of artists Thomas Nozkowski and Joyce Robins.  Now, the New York Times reports, the building has been sold and its occupants have been given eviction orders.

Good Morning!

Delancey street #lowereastside #les #nyc #newyorkcity

Allen and Delancey streets. Photo by Bahram Foroughi.

Mostly cloudy today with a high of 36.  We might see some flurries around the time the ball drops at midnight.  Happy New Year!

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Brown Cafe at 61 Hester Street is Shuttered (Updated 12/2014)

Brown Cafe, 61 Hester Street.

NOTE: Brown Cafe remains open as a private dining space. Details here.

If you’re a fan of Brown Cafe at 61 Hester Street, you only have one more day to enjoy the little restaurant’s delicious breakfast and lunch offerings.  Owner Alejandro Alocer has made the decision to close the space after tomorrow, following 12 years in business on the Lower East Side.

There’s a notice on the door that reads:

On 1/1/2013 we will no longer operate as a restaurant but temporarily close our doors and focus on the development of our multifaceted projects which include a non-profit food awareness program for public schools.  Both orange and brown (two side-by-side spaces on Hester Street) will remain available for private bookings and events. Please visit www.daydreamerprojects.com to see what we are working on.

Brown is known for its fresh, well prepared breakfast dishes and good coffee.  There aren’t many breakfast options in the immediate area, so it’s a loss for the neighborhood.  On the other hand, gourmet coffee shops (Pushcart Coffee, Cafe Grumpy, Lost Weekend, 12 Corners) have sprouted up in the last few years, creating a lot of competition for brown on the java front.


Sketch Released of Suspect in East River Park Attack


Police have released a sketch of the suspect they’re looking for in Thursday’s midday assault of a woman in East River Park.  The man came up behind he 42-year old jogger, pushed her to the ground and tried to rip off her clothes. The woman fought back, screamed and the suspect ran away. She was taken to the hospital but was not seriously injured.

Police think the suspect is a light skinned Latino or black man between the ages of 18 and 25.  At the time of the attack, he was wearing a grey hoodie and green sweatpants. The incident happened at around noon near East Houston Street.

If you can help find this man call Crimestoppers at (800) 577-TIPS.

Hotel Developer Ian Schraeger Buys 215 Chrystie Street For $50 Million

215 Chrystie Street.

The Wall Street Journal reports that boutique hotel developer Ian Schraeger is leading a group of investors who have just bought a vacant lot at 215 Chrystie Street.  The previous owner of the site, Ruby Schron, sold the development parcel for $50 million. The move came just 10 days after the city’s Board of Standards and Appeals approved a 25-story hotel project on the lot at Chrystie and Stanton streets.

As we’ve previously reported, the hotel would occupy the first 17 stories of the building. The top floors would be reserved for luxury apartments.  More from Journal reporter Eliot Brown:

The timeline for the new building just south of Houston Street is unclear, and Mr. Schrager and his partners will likely need to line up additional financing before they can break ground.  But a real-estate executive familiar with the plans said the developer intends to make the hotel part of his new brand called Public, which is designed to be avant-garde but less expensive than many boutique hotels. A prior deal to build an inaugural New York hotel for the brand near Herald Square fell apart.

In September, Community Board 3 voted to support the application before the Board of Standards and Appeals.  Under normal circumstances, many CB3 members would have balked at endorsing a 376 room, 274 foot-tall hotel in the hotel-saturated Lower East Side.  But Schron, who owns 10 Stanton Street, the adjacent affordable housing complex, agreed to extend his government contract for two more decades in exchange for the community’s support. The Journal story noted that Schron and company bought a 99% interest in 10 Stanton and 215 Chrystie in 2005 for just under $10 million.

In October, we reported that the Sperone Westwater Gallery, 257 Bowery, is strongly opposed to the hotel plan because the new tower would block its light.  The gallery plans to file a lawsuit next month to stop the project.



Morning Reads: Silver Wants Early Voting, the F-M Train Shuffle, Gallery Girls

  • Sheldon Silver introduces legislation to set up an early voting system in New York (Daily News).
  • Is it an F or an M train? At the Delancey Street Station you never really know (NYT).
  • End of Century is making the most of its “Gallery Girls” claim to fame (WSJ).
  • More on Tom Cruise’s Lower East Side love interest (Daily News).
  • The twitterati just couldn’t help crushing on Mission Chinese in 2012 (First We Feast).
  • LES alumni report: former Schiller’s manager Dean Jankelowitz persuaded CB2 to approve full liquor at Jack’s Wife Freda (Grub Street).


Living Room Moving From 154 Ludlow; Piano’s Looks to Take Over Space (Updated 5 p.m.)

Image via Piano’s web site.

Along Ludlow Street’s music club row, Piano’s is already the biggest player, and now it looks like their empire is growing.  Documents filed with Community Board 3 show the owners are planning to take over the Living Room space next door at 154 Ludlow Street.

Jennifer Gilson and Steve Rosenthal opened the Living Room more than a decade ago.  Last month Gilson was interviewed for a Columbia University student publication about the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, saying that the storm was a big blow.  They lost at least $15,000 and were in the process of applying for a small business grant through the LES Business Improvement District.

The decision to call it quits on Ludlow was likely in the works long before Sandy.  The names listed on the application are Dave Gelbard, Yoav Kipnes and Fumiko Kobayashi.   In addition to Piano’s, the team runs 7A and Virage in the East Village. It doesn’t appear that big changes are planned. “There will be scheduled performances of live/world music similar to the current method of operation,” the applicants note.  They do not intend to bring in outside promoters.

The proposal will be considered by CB3’s SLA Committee January 7 at 6:30 p.m., at the JASA/Green building, 200 East 5th Street.

UPDATED 5 p.m. Here’s an email blast just received from the Living Room:

Hi Friends of The Living Room. After 15 years in business and 10 years in our current space, The Living Room will be closing the doors at 154 Ludlow St at the end of January.  We will relocate to a new space next spring. We have truly loved having you over these last years. You are a huge part of our history and you made our time here special. Though it saddens us to leave, this is not the end of The Living Room. Although the skyrocketing cost of rent has made it impossible for us to keep our current location, we are actively negotiating a new space. We want nothing more than to keep the music going!  The cost of building a club from scratch is considerably higher than it was when we moved from our first space on Stanton St. 10 years ago,  and so we could use your help to fund the move and construction and be a part of the new Living Room. There are some cool items available with more being added weekly.  Thanks, Jennifer and Steve.

If you would like to support the Living Room, here’s the link.


Good Morning!

Men @ Work

Broome Street, November 2012. Photo by Lee Brozgol.

Sunny today with a high of 38.  Snow is in the forecast tomorrow. We’ll  see 1-3 inches and and a high of 34.   Sunny and 32 on Sunday. Enjoy your last weekend of 2012.

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Woman Attacked in East River Park; Police Search For Suspect

Police are searching for a man who attacked a woman in East River Park this morning.  It happened on the running path at East 6th Street around 11:45 a.m.

The victim was jogging when the suspect came up from behind and threw her to the ground. He tried to pull off her clothes but she fought back and screamed, at which point the man fled.  The woman. 41, had some minor cuts and bruises. She was taken to Beth Israel.

When cops arrived at the scene the victim had made it to FDR Drive and Delancey. They are now looking for a teenager who was wearing a gray sweatshirt and green pants.  He has a stocky build and facial hair. The 9th Precinct is taking the lead in the investigation, with assistance from the 7th Precinct.

New Year’s Eve on the Lower East Side – Part 2

Queen Esther & the Hot Five/myspace.

We just posted part 1 of our last minute guide to New Year’s Eve. Now here’s part 2.  If you are feeling particularly joyful, you can begin a day early, on Sunday the 30th, at The Salon’s annual New Year’s eve party at the DL on Delancey Street. With a spectacular lineup of more than 40 performers, including the George Gee Swing Orchestra, Queen Esther & the Hot Five, Gelber & Manning, and DJ Flouer and Ron Sunshine & Band, plus artisan cocktails and a rooftop lounge with a view of the Lower East Side, this party should get you nice and warmed up for the next night’s festivities.

On New Year’s Eve beginning at 5:30 p.m., the Public Theater has a host of events in its newly renovated space to help usher in 2013, including dinner and dancing in the new The Library restaurant, and music and comedy in Joe’s Pub, featuring singer-songwriter Willie Nile, and the twisted humor of Sandra Bernhard.

New Year’s Eve on the Lower East Side – Part 1

Times Square, New Year’s Eve 2012.

The Lower East Side might not be the center of the universe on New Year’s Eve, but it’s a safe bet our nightlife-centric neighborhood will be plenty packed on Monday night.  It would be impossible to run through every bar, club and restaurant celebrating the dawn of 2013, but here are a few options that have been brought to our attention.  We’ve broken this mini-guide up into two parts. Here’s part 1:

  • At the Parkside Lounge, you’ll be treated to “Corn Mo’s New Year’s Eve Extravaganza with Magic,” DJ Mas, an open bar and dinner.  You get top shelf liquor for $75; beer and wine for $50.
  • Sons of Essex will have three seatings, a DJ plus a live feed from Times Square.  Menu options include skirt steak, lobster pot pie and baby short ribs.  Prices start at $65 with the option of adding a premium open bar. The late seating is already sold out but earlier times are available. The restaurant will also be open New Year’s Day for brunch starting at 1 p.m.
  • Libation is hosting a triple-decker New Year’s Eve celebration with dj’s, a five-hour open bar, party favors and balloons. Tickets cost $125.
  • For $175, Beauty & Essex has a premium open bar, passed appetizers, party favors and DJ Neil Jackson and DJ Cheapshot.   There are limited tables available.  Sister restaurant Stanton Social is offering a family-style meal, a champagne toast, DJ’s and party favors for $125.
  • Jazzy rockers Great Cesar will be at Arlene’s Grocery at 10 p.m. Your $40 ticket also gets you an open bar for two hours.
  • Family Recipe, the homey Japanese spot at 231 Eldridge Street is featuring a $65 pre fixe menu starting at 9:30 p.m.  It includes vegetarian  options. There will be traditional soba noodles as midnight approaches, a sparkling sake toast and entrees such as arctic char with an umeboshi sauce, lamb meatballs and lamb chop and a cauliflower steak with olive relish.
  • Fatta Cuckoo, the sliver of a restaurant at 63 Clinton Street, is offering two seatings, at 7 and 9:30.  Owner Leah Tinari tells us there will be a special menu, priced at $65.  The evening begins with passed appetizers, you’ll get two glasses of champagne and entrees such as a mustard crusted pork chop, a rib eye steak or lobster claw and tail tempura over squid ink pastina.  Check out Fatta Cucko’s web site for more details.
  • Still need more inspiration? Quite a few restaurants still have availability on Open Table, including: Tre, the Fat Radish, Bacaro, Antibes, Alias, Schiller’s (8 p.m. only), Salt Bar and SakaMai.


Street Art Group Says Little Italy Mural Painted Over By “Grinch”

If you walked past 118 Mulberry Street (where Umberto’s Clam House is located) over the weekend, you might have noticed  this creation, “Christmasaurus,” from Philly street artist NoseGo.  It was part of a larger collaboration between the Little Italy Merchants’ Association and the Little Italy Street Art Project.  But the mural did not last long.  It’s now been crudely painted over.