My LES: Laura Foulke

MyLES LauraFoulke

My LES For our regular feature spotlighting the people who live and work on the Lower East Side, we talked with long-time LES resident, performer and artist Laura Foulke.

 

 

 

How long have you lived on the Lower East Side?

I moved to Ludlow Street in 1984. I got my place when a friend from college recommended me to the super in her building. It was an out-of-the-way, kind of sketchy street at the time. Being here was living on the edge; it was a frontier. I liked that. Most cab drivers had never even heard of Ludlow Street. You had to ask if they knew where to find Katz’s Deli.

What do you do?

I’m a singer/songwriter and artist. I’m currently in residency at Moscow 57, the Russian restaurant on Delancey Street. I’ve been appearing there weekly since the restaurant opened in February. It’s always a party, and it’s as much fun for a big group as it is for a date. The music from Ellen Kaye, Ethan Fein, Ben Brown and others is first-rate.

I also create an ongoing series of mixed-media installations there; the most recent one celebrates the history of the Lower East Side (up to the traditional boundary of 14th Street) from the 18th century to the present day.

Tell us about your apartment–the good, the bad and the ugly.

The good news is location, location, location. The bad news is, it’s a tiny top-floor apartment that I sometimes tell people is one of the exhibits at the Tenement Museum. It’s surprising how often they believe me.

What’s your favorite spot on the LES and why?

The East River Park is easily my favorite place on the LES in all but the very worst weather. I usually bike across Delancey and then down the river, sometimes all the way over to Battery Park, but part of the fun is choosing alternate routes through the neighborhood. The quickest and easiest way is to ride straight down Allen Street, but if I have time to stop and paint or enjoy a picnic, I like the lawn at Corlear’s Hook, near the old amphitheater. There’s a great view in either direction, and the little point of land there generally catches whatever breeze may be available.

Favorite cheap eats?

For pizza I definitely have to see my friend Salvatore Bartolomeo at Rosario’s at Stanton and Orchard. The pizza is awesome, and there’s no substitute for Salvatore’s cheerful greeting. When I first moved to the neighborhood, Sal and his father had their shop on Houston Street. It was just a sliver of a place with fluorescent lights overhead and a tiny television mounted in the back. They moved to Stanton when Ray’s opened up on Houston.

For dumplings and sesame pancake sandwiches I like Vanessa’s on Eldridge. I also love El Castillo de Jagua on Rivington for its life-saving breakfast, including the best hash browns I’ve ever had, and the amazing arroz con pollo. Souvlaki GR on Stanton combines savory, inexpensive food with the charming illusion that it is located on a Greek island. During the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, when the neighborhood went without power for almost a week, the owners served hot fries from their food truck and let everyone charge up their phones. That showed real class.

Favorite place for a special night?

I don’t eat out that often, and when I do, it’s usually a quick nosh rather than a full-on fine dining experience. I’m much more likely to go out late, to hear music or play a gig myself. The other night, I checked out a great band from Vienna, Nancy Transit, at Pianos. The night before, I had a few late-night drinks with friends in the bar at Arlene’s Grocery, where they were spinning pop hits from the ’80s into the wee hours. Another favored place on the LES is The Back Room, for a bit of swing music and a sip of bathtub gin.

How have you seen the neighborhood change?

When I first moved to the neighborhood, you couldn’t buy Tampax below Houston Street. There was nowhere to buy fresh produce—other than maybe a lime or a spongy tomato—between Houston Street and Chinatown. Arlene’s Grocery was a real bodega. There were several abandoned buildings being used as shooting galleries, and there was a line out in front of my building every day at 3 p.m of people “waiting for the man”—waiting to score heroin.

You could always get a cab going up First Avenue because there was virtually no competition. Laundry lines criss-crossed the street on the upper floors. On Chinese New Year, a lot of the streets would be ankle-deep in pink cherry bomb wrappers for about a week, as kids set off string after string. It was fantastic!

Today, safety comes first, I suppose—but there was a lot of fun to be had from living in a marginalized area.

What do you miss from the old LES?

The old Lower East Side was filled with every kind of person, from Jewish men selling party goods to Cubans and Puerto Ricans who blasted salsa on Sunday mornings. Rents were low, and kids who came up here often stayed in the neighborhood. There were virtually no chain stores or restaurant franchises, hardly any banks and certainly no hotels.

The neighborhood was full of artists and musicians, Wigstock was in its inception and nobody had ever even considered corporate sponsorship—for anything. The old-school management style of LES landlords ranged from laissez-faire to Wild Wild West, and there were some epic parties. My neighbors set up an above-ground pool in the back yard for one Fourth of July.

Another celebration featured tenants on both sides of the street strafing each other with bottle rockets through open windows. I also miss the friends we have lost along the way—to drugs, to AIDS, to suicide, to other towns and other ways of life. They made the Lower East Side what it was, and I still see them in all the old familiar places.

Is there a new arrival you love?

I recently had a great evening with friends at Sel Rrose on Delancey St., which is named for Marcel Duchamp’s alter ego, Rrose Selavy. The “Fountain” cocktail is accurately named—it’s enormous, thirst-quenching, and delicious—and the oyster happy hour is one of the best in the neighborhood.

What drives you crazy about the neighborhood?

I don’t seriously mind the clubs, the noise or the fratty congestion of “Hell Square,” but I really dislike the bloodcurdling screams at 4 a.m. which always wake me up in a panic, thinking that someone is being murdered. I also miss having a wide choice of great bars and live music venues in the neighborhood. It feels as though almost every place I liked has closed or moved to Brooklyn. Things are always changing in New York, but it seems as though the past year has been particularly devastating for local businesses.

What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever seen on the LES?

A lot of my LES stories are NSGA (not suitable for general audiences) but recently I was hanging out with my friend Peter Chance when a guy walked down Delancey playing the accordion in a suit and tie, high heels and a unicorn mask. That was a magical moment.

Who’s the best neighborhood character you’ve met and why?

My former neighbor, the late poet and Andy Warhol star Taylor Mead, who lived across the hall from me for many years, was—in a crowded market—easily the most infamous local character the Lower East Side had to offer. Taylor had a star’s sixth sense for media manipulation, and very few personal boundaries, meaning that he was delighted to appear on the cover of New York magazine as the proud occupant of the so-called worst apartment in New York—which it very possibly was.

Taylor was well known for his iconoclastic and occasionally vituperative public persona, but he was a great neighbor, friendly and chatty, and a genuine original of the old school. I was very sorry when he told me last spring that he was leaving the city to live with his niece, and of course truly sad to hear of his death shortly thereafter.

Tell us your best LES memory.

I’ve had a lot of fun over the years—cramming friends into my tiny apartment for dinner parties, painting up on the roof, playing with my band at the Ludlow Café, appearing at Angel Orensanz in the first New York Fringe Festival, drinking at Max Fish. They say if you can remember it, you weren’t there, and I guess that’s kind of how I feel about the great old times on the Lower East Side.

My LES: Victor Fung

 

Victor Fung photo by Traven RiceMy LES

For our regular feature spotlighting the people who live and work on the Lower East Side, we talked with gallery owner and muralist Victor Fung.

 

My LES: Orlando Rodriguez

Orlando Rogriguez photo by Alex M. Smith

My LES For our regular feature spotlighting the people who live and work on the Lower East Side, we talked with bodega owner and lifelong LES resident Orlando Rodriguez.

 

How long have you lived on the Lower East Side?

I’ve been in the LES for over 40 years.

Why did you move here or (if you were born here) why did you stay?

I was born and raised here and I stayed because I love my neighborhood. My family started their lives and businesses here and established their world within.

What do you do?

I helped to create, manage and operate my family’s bodegas and businesses, all of which are in the neighborhood like Stop 1 and E&S Wholesome Foods.

Tell us about your apartment – the good, the bad and the ugly.

I love my apartment. It’s very convenient (it’s on Suffolk Street) –in walking distance to my job and everything else in my life.

What’s your favorite spot on the LES and why?

My favorite spot would be El Nuevo Amanecer. I always order the Pollo a la Mexicana dish and the ambiance makes me feel like I am home.

Favorite cheap eats?  

The Meatball Shop is definitely my favorite place to grab a bite. I love the pasta with the spicy meat sauce and a side of mash.

Favorite place for a special night?

Stanton Social is perfect for a special evening. I like that I can eat dinner downstairs in a nice atmosphere and then finish off with a nice relaxing drink upstairs.

How have you seen the neighborhood change?  

I’ve seen the neighborhood change in both good and bad ways. I like that it is a safer environment than it was when I was growing up. However, I have also experienced the negative effects of the fast gentrification.

What do you miss from the old LES?

What I miss most from the old LES is the Essex Theater. I never figured out its name, considering it was on Grand Street, but I always enjoyed the great movies, especially because it was close to my apartment.

Is there a new arrival you love? Why?

The new arrival that I love is the Association of Latino Business Owners and Residents (ALBOR). It is a community organization driven by people from the community who are here to help in a lot of ways. They’ve even helped in building gardens, getting kids school supplies for the new year, sponsoring little league, helping tenants and landlords and assisting the moms and pops of small businesses that are struggling.

What drives you crazy about the neighborhood?  

What drives me crazy about this neighborhood would be seeing my longtime neighbors and friends move out after being here for decades.

What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever seen on the LES?  

One of the strangest is also one of the hardest memories I have. One day as a kid at about 15 years old, I was walking down Stanton Street and saw a man get shot right in front of my eyes. As my community has changed a lot over the years, the memories of the past and the “old LES” will forever be a reminder of where we came from.

Who’s the best neighborhood character you’ve met and why?

Clayton Patterson would be the best neighborhood character I have met because he has been here for a very long time and has fought all the good fights, both for and on behalf of this community.

Tell us your best LES memory.

My best LES memory, I must say I have a lot, would be when I opened my very own deli on Madison Street; it was a dream for me. That’s the type of business my family grew up doing. So I helped my cousins make their dreams come true, too, by helping them do the same and have their own. With the experience I had from opening my first store, I then created E&S Wholesome Foods and I now manage my family’s businesses in my neighborhood. What better memory than to serve your own community in which you grew up?

My LES: Amy Robinson

Photo by Alex M. Smith

Photo by Alex M. Smith

My LES For our regular feature spotlighting the people who live and work on the Lower East Side, we talked with film producer and community gardener, Amy Robinson. Robinson produced Martin Scorsese’s film After Hours and Julie & Julia, starring Meryl Streep and Amy Adams, among many others.

How long have you lived on the Lower East Side?

Seven and a half years.

Why did you move here?

It was time to get away from the Upper West Side!

What do you do?

Film producer and volunteer (but serious) gardener in the Seward Park Garden.

Tell us about your apartment–the good, the bad and the ugly.

I fell in love with my building the moment I saw it from across Seward Park. It was completely unoccupied at the time and not on the market. I told my real estate agent I would wait. I wanted to live there, and now I do. My apartment looks out over the park. It has high ceilings and is filled with light. It would be churlish to say anything bad about it!

What’s your favorite spot on the LES and why?

I love the Seward Park Garden. It is part of Seward Park and it is a gritty, beautiful, challenging city space. I have been gardening there since I moved to the neighborhood. Several local activists are forming a conservancy for the purpose of assisting the parks department in maintaining, restoring and improving this historic park and playground.

Favorite cheap eats?

Flowers Cafe. I know it’s called a cafe, but to me, it’s a coffee shop. The food is fresh, the people who work there are warm, and it is unpretentious and friendly.

Favorite place for a special event?

I know it is not technically on the Lower East Side, but if you walk west on Grand you come to DiPalo’s. It is the greatest place for all Italian food and drink–with the family of the same name working the store of their parents and grandparents. I love to splurge on everything there (cheese, meat, pasta, olive oil, wine and so much more) and have a grand feast at home with people who enjoy eating, not grazing lightly.

How have you seen the neighborhood change?

I lived on Spring Street before Soho existed and I see the same sort of changes going on here. New York City is a snake; always shedding its skin…. There is no way around it.

What do you miss from the old LES?

The old-timers would laugh at me if I said anything. I haven’t been here long enough!

Is there a new arrival you love? Why?

I like Rosette. The food is delicious and the place has a very nice vibe.

What drives you crazy about the neighborhood?

The East Broadway subway station! It is in dire need of renovation. It is a health hazard as well as a scary, unpleasant place.

What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever seen on the LES?

I saw a wonderful, strange, sexy, touching production of “Beauty and The Beast” at the Abrons Arts Center a few weeks ago. It was great to see such a compelling and original piece of theater right in the neighborhood.

Who’s the best neighborhood character you’ve met and why?

There used to be a man named Tony who sat in the East Broadway subway station or in the Seward Park Library and read books all day and all night. I haven’t seen him in a long time.

Tell us your best LES memory.

Now that spring is here, so is Mister Softee. I know his jingle annoys a lot of people, but it makes me strangely happy. Open the windows, listen to the kids playing in the park, and there is Mister Softee and his siren song ready and waiting to satisfy their sweet tooth. So old-fashioned, so lovely.

Table For Two

Image

Photo by Jennifer Strom.

After suffering through the winter that wouldn’t quit, lots of people were making the most of some beautiful spring weather this past weekend. On Saturday, we spotted Erica Tempchin, who lives near Clinton and South streets, hanging out at La Flaca, the Mexican restaurant on Grand Street.  That’s Joia, her five-and-a-half year old sun conure. When asked if Joia eats out often, Erica told us, “she likes to go outside, and I like to eat.”

My LES: H. Spencer Young

H. Spencer Young

My LES For our regular feature spotlighting the people who live and work on the Lower East Side, we talked with photographer and filmmaker H. Spencer Young.

 

How long have you lived on the Lower East Side?

For the better part of 17 years, with some brief interludes in a few other neighborhoods.

Why did you move here?

Petula Clark tells it best: “So go downtown, where the lights are bright, downtown. Waiting for you tonight, downtown. You’re gonna be all right now, downtown.”

What do you do?

Artist, photographer, filmmaker, writer.

Tell us about your apartment – the good, the bad and the ugly.

I live in a small loft on Ludlow Street. Much of my life since I moved here in the ’90s has centered around Ludlow Street. I am beyond grateful to be able to live here. My neighbors, landlord, local friends and new friends who work around here are all creative, artistic, hopeful, entertaining, smart people who constantly inspire me, and hopefully vice versa. A few years ago I was directing a commercial and my neighbors and I converted our entire floor into a production office. Stuff like that is pure NYC. The Velvet Underground was founded on my block. Tony Conrad, Jack Smith, Mike Mills: Ludlow Street. Don’t get me started. The bad? I could use 5,000 extra square feet.

What’s your favorite spot on the LES and why (could be a block, garden, bar, building, etc)?

Café Grumpy. Hours are spent there talking about art with the remarkable, talented artists who make that magic espresso. I want to name them but they’ll be embarrassed so I won’t. I’m also a big fan of Lost Weekend NYC, owned by friends who go out of their way to bring together the Lower East Side community.

Favorite cheap eats?

My version of cheap eats is subsisting on dark-chocolate-covered almonds from The Sweet Life.

Favorite place for a special night when you are splurging?

I had this fantastic date recently. After we finished drinks at Freemans we both confessed that we were craving Katz’s pastrami at 11 p.m. Check was instantly paid, and we made a beeline for Katz’s, where, between us, we ate four hot dogs and split a pastrami sandwich. (Insert joke here regarding “the table.”)

How have you seen the neighborhood change?

This is too big of a question. To the same degree that the LES is one of the last bastions of art and music in Manhattan, it is also hell on earth due to the direction that the nightlife is going in. I’ll spare you the gentrification clichés and lamenting the loss of the legacy cultural spots because I’m more focused on those of us who are trying to keep our noses to the grindstone and be part of the solution going forward. The area is going through what Soho went through over the last 25 years, and we are in the transition state presently, from artistic/cultural center to urban theme park. But, the struggle is part of the magic. The story is not over.

What do you miss from the old LES?

The old after-hours clubs with the best deep house on earth spinning until noon. And peanut butter, banana and honey sandwiches at the Pink Pony in the middle of the night.

Is there a new arrival you love? Why?

Dimes. Because everything about Dimes is sunshine. I also love Dudley’s. Because ribs.

What drives you crazy about the neighborhood?

The lack of a piazza. The LES seriously lacks a place where people can meet and spend time together outside, talking, just being.

What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever seen on the LES?

Walked out of my building one day three summers ago, and Kramer [actor Michael Richards, from Seinfeld] was standing next to my building, alone, taking close-up photos of bricks on the building facades. The block was empty. Summertime empty. Just he and I on the block. We acknowledged each other and I went on my way. It was pure strange.

Tell us your best LES memory.

When the lights came back on after Hurricane Sandy.

My LES: Jasmin Sanchez

Jasmin Sanchez Photo by Alex M. SmithMy LES

For our regular feature spotlighting the people who live and work on the Lower East Side, we talked with Jasmin Sanchez, who runs the Ana Luisa Garcia Community Center.

How long have you lived on the Lower East Side?

I have resided on the Lower East Side since 1979. I am entering my 35th year in this community.

Why did you move here or, if you were born here, why did you stay?

My grandparents migrated from Puerto Rico in 1959. I stayed living here because I want to contribute to the development of my community.

What do you do?

I operate my own organization, the Ana Luisa Garcia Community Center. I do this on a volunteer basis since the agency has not received funding. I am a program director at Park Slope Collegiate Middle School in Brooklyn.

Tell us about your apartment–the good, the bad and the ugly.

I currently reside in Baruch Houses, a New York City Housing Authority complex. My apartment is not in the greatest condition. I have mold, water damage and leaks in the bathroom, and NYCHA hasn’t repaired my apartment even after several demands from the courts.

What’s your favorite spot on the LES and why?

My favorite spot on the Lower East Side would be the East River Park, field No. 7. It is very relaxing and it is wonderful to just gaze at the water and Williamsburg Bridge.

Favorite cheap eats?

Mancora, which is located on First Avenue and Sixth Street. The brunch menu (before 3 p.m. on weekdays) is delicious and affordable, $8.95.

Favorite place for a special night?

Sazon’s restaurant on Reade Street. I know it is not the Lower East Side, but their food brings me back to my roots in Puerto Rico. I celebrate my birthday there every year since it has been open. I [also] normally go to El Castillo de Jagua restaurant or Cibao restaurant.

How have you seen the neighborhood change?

I have seen local mom-and-pop shops displaced due to the rent on their stores increasing. Essex Street and Clinton Street remind me of South Beach without the beach. It is a place where people visit without regard to those who live in the community.

What do you miss from the old LES?

I miss the familiarity of the stores, the people. I miss Apolo’s, Lucky’s, Kique’s Joyeria and Bunnies. I know my mother and grandmother would say the Cuchifritos. I do miss walking down the streets peacefully. I do not like seeing crowds of people lingering in front of establishments, smoking and being very loud at all hours of the night.

I miss the variety of the community. Our stores sold very different items: household goods, hardware store, shoe place, bakeries, clothing stores for kids, another for teens and adults. Everything you needed was easily accessible in our neighborhood. Now we have 10 nail salons and five hair salons, all a store apart. There is an abundance of lounges. Totally takes away the feel of a community.

Is there a new arrival (restaurant, shop, attraction) you love? Why?

No. I continue to only support mom-and-pop shops that have been in the community since I was a child.

What drives you crazy about the neighborhood?

The thing that drives me crazy are the evenings when bars and lounges are open and the people outside are smoking, congesting the streets and speaking very loudly.

What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever seen on the LES?

The strangest thing I have seen was a series of knitted bicycles [by the artist Olek] throughout the community in bright colors. It was strange but really pretty.

Who’s the best neighborhood character you’ve met and why?

Rev. Leo Lawrence from Dewitt Reformed Church. He is compassionate and friendly. Greeting all residents that pass by the church and he meets throughout the community. He is a perfect example of what a dedicated, loyal, loving, caring and productive member of society is.

Tell us your best LES memory.

My best memory would have to be attending P.S. 142 as a child and my grandmother bringing me lunch at school. There used to be a bakery that sold everything across the street from P.S. 142 — now there’s a pawn shop. All the parents would go there and buy Jello, cookies and sandwiches. I miss my old Lower East Side.

My LES: Alysha Coleman

For our regular feature spotlighting the people who live and work on the Lower East Side, we talked with tenants’ rights activist and long-time resident Alysha Coleman.

My LES: Michelle Myles

Michelle Myles, owner of Daredevil Tattoo. Photo by Alex M. Smith.

Michelle Myles, owner of Daredevil Tattoo. Photo by Alex M. Smith.

My LES For our regular feature spotlighting the people who live and work on the Lower East Side, we talked with Michelle Myles, owner of Daredevil Tattoo, which recently moved to 141 Division St. after almost 20 years on Ludlow Street.

What do you do?

I am a tattoo artist and I own Daredevil Tattoo.

How long have you lived on the Lower East Side?

I moved to Clinton Street in 1991 and then to Ludlow Street in 1993.

Why did you move here?

I moved to the Lower East Side because it was affordable. My first apartment on Ludlow was $500. Everyone told me Ludlow Street was bad news because of all the drug dealers back then, so when I moved to the block, I tattooed all of them and never had problems. They actually looked out for me; I never had to worry.

Tell us about your apartment – the good, the bad and the ugly.

I live in a tenement apartment next to the old Daredevil location. It’s pretty small but my husband and I have made it pretty cozy. I have no complaints. We face the back of the building, so it’s plenty quiet and all of my neighbors on our floor have been in the building for years, so we kind of stick together. I love the history on the Lower East Side, and when I think of how many people might have been squeezed into these spaces back in the day I feel like we have it pretty good. The worst part of the apartment is outside on the street. Ludlow has become overrun with the bar crowds. This block has lost most all of its neighborhood feel.

Favorite spot?

Right now my favorite spot on the Lower East Side is the new location for our shop. I love it down on Division. There’s still all sorts of quirky storefronts and it’s a little gritty–it reminds me of Ludlow 15 years ago.

Favorite cheap eats?

My favorite cheap eats right now is Ming’s Cafe on Canal and Essex. We’re over there almost every day since we moved onto Division. Huge portions, always delicious and on the money, plus they’ll whip up anything you think of.

Favorite place for a special night?

For a special night out, we hit Stanton Social. Everything is over-the-top delicious, and it’s my favorite brunch spot, too.

How have you seen the neighborhood change?

This used to be the sort of place people stayed away from if they weren’t from around here. Now the weekends are like Mardi Gras. The worst changes to me are the giant modern buildings that have been allowed to go up and overshadow the historic tenements.

What do you miss from the old LES?

The loss of Max Fish is heartbreaking. It’s not the old Lower East Side any more, that’s for sure.

Is there a new arrival you love? Why?

I love the Hester Street Fair on the weekends. There are always different vendors and it’s something to look forward to every week in the summer. I love having a variety of different snacks at least one day a week. It’s so easy to get tired of your stack of menus.

What drives you crazy about the neighborhood?

The thing that drives me crazy are the people that show up in the neighborhood and have no respect for the fact that people live here. They don’t know how to act, come down here get wasted and treat it like it’s their toilet.

What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever seen on the LES?

There was a woman who lived above the old Daredevil who would drink and not take her medicine sometimes. We called the cops on her once when she was getting out of hand and she bit the cop on the finger.

Do you have a favorite neighborhood character?

Sal at Rosario’s on Orchard is my favorite neighborhood character. He’s so nice and works so hard. When I first moved to Ludlow, his place was on Houston. He always makes you feel like family.

Tell us your best LES memory.

My best LES memory was coming down to Ludlow looking for a place to tattoo out of. I didn’t know if I was doing the right thing, people were telling me how dangerous it was down here. The first place I looked at, the landlord said his ex-wife was a tattooer and he had a perfect place for a tattoo shop. He sold me an autoclave and I was in business. The LES was the best move I ever made.

My LES: Frank Arroyo

Frank Arroyo of Frank's Bikes on Grand Street. photo by thelodownny.com

My LES For our regular feature spotlighting the people who live and work on the Lower East Side, we talked with longtime local resident and merchant Frank Arroyo of Frank’s Bike Shop on Grand Street. (This story was first published in the May 2013 edition of The Lo-Down’s print magazine.)

How long have you lived on the Lower East Side?

Since 1955.

Why did you move here, or if you were born here, why did you stay?

I was born in upper Manhattan. My family moved to 120 Columbia St. when I was 9 years old and then we moved into the East River co-ops about twenty years after that. I like it here, it’s convenient. My friends and family are all here. One of my sons lives here in the co-ops, too.

My LES: Wilson Soo

For our regular feature spotlighting the people who live and work on the Lower East Side, we talked recently with community organizer Wilson Soo. If you know someone you would like to suggest be featured in “My LES,” please email us here.

What do you do?
I am the program manager at Two Bridges Neighborhood Council, Inc. Two Bridges is a nonprofit organization that serves the community through the creation of affordable housing and by advocating for quality of life improvements for residents. We provide access to social services and engage residents in public, political and planning processes that impact the community in which they live and/or work. I am also one of the co-chairs of the Chinatown Working Group, a community planning initiative for Chinatown and its surrounding areas.

How long have you lived on the LES?
I have lived and worked on the Lower East Side all of my life. I actually still live in the building that I was raised in.

My LES: Jessica Perez

This popular feature spotlights a wide variety of people who live and work on the Lower East Side. If you know someone you would like to suggest be featured in “My LES,” please email us here.

 

What do you do?
I’m a flight attendant with a regional airline based out of Laguardia Airport. I get to fly to a bunch of places that no one cares about ( j/k). I’m also a day time dreamer and a music listener.

How long have you lived on the LES?
Six years. I moved to the big city almost eight years ago. Started in Harlem, then Bushwick, a.k.a. “East Williamsburg,” and then the LES. It’s my favorite area. Everything I want is right here. Anything else is not too far away.

Favorite block in the hood?
Doyers Street. It’s a cool little block. You take a short walk through it and think, “Where am I?” Then you make a left on Pell Street, then a right and left on Bayard Street and you run into this park where there’s a flood of Asian elders playing dominos and exercising. And you think again, “Where am I?” I enjoy getting lost so it’s a good feeling. And (I like) Orchard Street below Delancy. The Tenement Museum is there and it’s got an old time vibe. That’s where my first LES apartment was. They’d have farmers’ markets outside my apartment during the summer. I loved it.

My LES: Jonathan Medows

This popular feature spotlights a wide variety of people who live and work on the Lower East Side. If you know someone you would like to suggest be featured in “My LES,” please email us here.

What do you do?

I am a CPA and the Managing Member of MEDOWS CPA, PLLC.  We are a Lower East Side based firm (Grand St & Columbia St) and we expanded and moved to our current location in January 2012.  My work focuses on tax planning, tax preparation, tax controversies, business planning and structuring. Our clients are freelancers, small businesses and individuals with moderate to complex tax returns.  I am sympathetic by nature and very much like to help people solve their problems.  Nothing gives me greater satisfaction than helping someone remove their stress so they can sleep at night.

My LES: Ludwig Persik

This popular feature spotlights a wide variety of people who live and work on the Lower East Side. If you know someone you would like to suggest be featured in “My LES,” please email us here.

 

What do you do?
I play music! In 2010, I was swooped up on a world tour singing and playing guitar for Jamie Lidell, promoting his 2010 album, Compass. It was an absolute dream come true. This year I finished recording my debut album in Nashville, Tenn., which was produced by the very same Mr. Lidell! Currently, I’m playing shows in NYC promoting the EP, which is available for free on my website. Our next show is Dec. 6 at Glasslands, so stay tuned. Yep!

How long have you lived on the LES?
I grew up on Avenue B, and went to the Neighborhood School for elementary school, and NEST+m for middle and high school. So, my answer: forever.

My LES: Marisa Scheinfeld

This popular feature spotlights a wide variety of people who live and work on the Lower East Side. If you know someone you would like to suggest be featured in “My LES,” please email us here.

 

What do you do?

I am a photographer. My work is fueled by my interest in histories and most often by the ruin. My current project imparts a contemporary view of the former Borscht Belt in Upstate New York. The area is notable for a vibrant entertainment and tourism industry that peaked in the 1950s and subsequently declined. If you don’t know of it, think of the movie Dirty Dancing and you’ll get the idea.

I grew up in the region and spent time at many of its hotels as a kid. As an adult and as a photographer, I have been photographing the various hotels that remain, in ruin. In its peak the total amount of hotels numbered 600. The project carries important personal as well as collective weights. It’s also one quite linked to the LES, as many of the neighborhood’s former Jewish population used to vacation there in the summer.