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My LES: Robin Muller and Erick Jimenez

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Erick Jimenez and Robin Mulle. Photo by Tobi Elkin

This weekly 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?

Erick: We teach philosophy. We met in graduate school, and now we’re in the adjuncting racket. I’ve just recently completed my PhD and teach at Fairfield University. in Connecticut; Robin is plugging away at her dissertation and teaches at Fordham University.

How long have you lived on the LES?

Robin: I’ve been on Clinton Street since 2007; Erick moved down from Avenue C about 2 years ago.

Favorite block in the hood?

Robin: I’d have to pick an intersection, rather than a block. My favorite is Broome and Orchard. I love the worn down cobblestones on the block of Orchard north of Broome, and the restaurants and shops on the corners have such huge, welcoming windows.

Erick: Clinton between Stanton and Rivington. Great people, great shops, great everything. In addition to some very good bars and restaurants, we’ve got The Tailoring Room, Rothstein’s Hardware, Legacy Cleaners, and John’s, and in each case the people running these places do excellent work and are extremely personable. It’s a block you never have to leave.

Favorite date spot in the hood?

Robin: We’re out a lot, so it’s hard to say what’s a “date” any more, but we love going to Frankie’s to share the cavatelli and a bottle of wine, or a bit farther north, splitting the mixed grill at Kafana on C. We also really like the downstairs at Bacaro on Division St.

Favorite coffee in the hood? 

Robin: We live right above Atlas on Clinton, so we’re partial to theirs, but we used to go down to Cocoa Bar quite a lot to camp out with our computers for a few hours. They have delicious, and very strong coffee.

Erick: Atlas.

Favorite slice in the hood?

Robin: San Marzano, although I’m not much of a pizza person.

Erick: Anything under $2.50. Honestly, I haven’t found pizza in our ‘hood to write home about.

Where do you take your visitors when they’re here?

Robin: We’d definitely take friends to A Casa Fox any time Melissa is in the kitchen. She always comes over to say hello, and the chocolate empanada dessert is amazing. I also love Ten Bells on Broome for a wine and a cheese plate. For daytime activities, I’d take out-of-towners to the Tenement Museum, and then just wander—maybe over to Bluestockings bookstore on Allen St.

Erick: I’d take a visitor to the New Museum during the day, and then to Spitzer’s if it’s nice out and the windows are open. If they’re into walking, I’m really into the parks by the East River for a stroll, or Seward Park. But what I’d really want to do is get doughnuts on Grand and walk down to Henry Street and over to Chinatown. There are a lot of great neighborhoods near us, and if I were a visitor I’d want to see how people down here get on. And then I’d take my visitor friend to the Essex Street Market to pick up food for cooking dinner.

Favorite dive/locals bar in the hood?

Robin: We’re at The Clerkenwell (now known as Kupersmith) at least a few times a week, and always run into friends and neighbors. It’s our favorite spot in the neighborhood to just hang out, alone, with each other, with friends. I’m also a big fan of Salt Bar, and the Parkside Lounge, and whenever we head south of Delancey, Clandestino.

Erick: The Clerkenwell (Kupersmith) is very high on my weekly priorities list. Of its kind, it’s the best in the area. I’m also a fan of Local 138. Epstein’s on a sunny day is another good option. The best bartender in the universe right now is at White Star, and it’s one of my favorites in the city.

How has the neighborhood changed in the last few years?

Robin: I’ve noticed that restaurants seem to be having a tough time over in the Ludlow and Orchard street areas. Obviously, Clinton street food culture is thriving, but it’s a shame to lose some of the old spots a few blocks west. I miss the steak tartare at La Pere Pinard, for instance, which closed a few years ago, and I liked taking uptown friends out for a cocktail in the bar at The Orchard. The food was maybe a bit pricey for the neighborhood, but I thought it added an interesting, different vibe to the block.

We don’t really venture to those blocks on weekends, where you have to navigate throngs of people and mounted police just to get back from the subway. The crowd issues have become much more intense since I’ve been here—which isn’t so much to say that there are more people, but that the police presence and crackdowns have changed the mood a lot, I think.

Erick: It’s is a complex question, but one thing, it strikes me immediately, that hasn’t changed is that people are usually saying the neighborhood is changing and never meaning by that, that it is changing for the better. I frankly don’t know if that’s just empty cynicism or genuinely an observation about the neighborhood. What I do know is that the LES is one of the most genuinely diverse places on the planet, and what I’ve seen consistently in the neighborhood—and here I mean our immediate area specifically: Pitt to Essex, Houston to Delancey—is a ceaseless production of diversity. The LES is a home for diversity and creativity, and that’s not changing. There are definitely parts of the neighborhood (Ludlow) that just can’t seem to get a break from the kids on the weekends—but it’s getting to be way too late in the game to treat this as novelty, contrary to the grumblings of the police.

I think there are those who bought into the LES thinking the LES would follow the normal gentrification trajectory from artist outpost to stroller grand prix, and that just hasn’t happened, and in my experience these have been the people making a lot of the noise about the neighborhood “changing” for the worse, when in fact I’m not sure it’s changed, in essentials. If the stroller gang takes over the LES, then it’s time to pack it up and go. They’re the radicals. But the neighborhood is pretty handily resisting that.

What has changed since you moved here that you like?

Robin: I think the neighborhood, in terms of a commercial presence, has expanded, widened, which means that it is possible, if you come over to Clinton street or head south of Delancey, to have a relatively low-key evening even on a crowded weekend. I like, too, that there hasn’t been much influence of major chain stores, so the boutique feel of the neighborhood is really well-preserved, even if the boutiques themselves change. And I’ve come to notice the gallery presence a lot more, so there is a good energy all around that’s always on the rise. And yet I still see familiar faces everywhere I walk, so none of the sense of community feels lost to me.

Erick: More bike lanes!

What would you like to see change?

Erick: I would like for the police to post up at Delancey and Clinton or Rivington and Clinton and start handing out tickets for noise violations. The people coming off the bridge are out of their minds with the volume. And what’s infuriating is they get off the bridge, then get stopped at the light at Stanton or Houston, and they look around them—everyone is staring, making the “What is wrong with you?” face—and then, finally, they turn the volume down, realizing they’re driving everyone nuts which is really great if you live anywhere else in Manhattan, but if you live on that three-block stretch you’re getting 30 seconds of one bad song after another all night.

Favorite LES memory?

Erick: Some Sunday night at St. Jerome. It’s the two of us and maybe one or two others and a bartender and a DJ. We get there at, say, 7 or 8. It’s early, is what I mean. At some point the DJ puts on something like “Mama Said,” and Robin and I go totally bonkers. Like totally out of control bonkers. I don’t know what it was, but we start dancing—we’re completely out of our minds. And then it’s one amazing hit after another, all of them from the 50s and 60s. We’re doing the twist, the mashed potato—forget it. Naturally, we’re simultaneously downing like one Donkey Show every fifteen minutes. (A Donkey Show, incidentally, is a Corona and a shot of tequilla, and it costs, like, seven bucks.) Anyway, the DJ killed it. It was amazing. And we crawl out at like 12, but it feels like a week has passed. Greatest night ever.



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  1. lol, do you know how corporate lawyers/bankers actually live?  Most of them ain’t on the lookout for 2.50/slice of pizza, dive bars, $7 beer-and-a-shot, and local coffee shops where one can sit for a few hours at a stretch to contemplate Aristotle’s metaphors.  Must be a slick life trolling the internets and judging others anonymously from your mom’s basement.

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