Friday, April 25, 2008

The Rail

Click here for an excellent racing blog from the NY Times as the Triple Crown season begins.

The Times is always a pleasant surprise with its horse racing coverage, with most articles written by the talented Joe Drape. The articles are few and far between, but often insightful, full of depth, and occasionally even revelatory.

And I've already decided to throw out Monba in my 4 horse Derby Picks, and put in Visionaire instead. How can I not with that name??

Hometown Reviews

SL and I road tripped to Ohio this past week for the time-honored event known as "meeting the family." Comments included: "Once you get past the hair and tattoos, he's very nice" (Mom) and "He's great. We emphatically approve. You should marry him." (PatnJames) Well, okay then.

All in all, a fun trip. We even got to see the Reds actually WIN a game.

Culprit Found!

Turns out that the person who left this love note on my car a couple weeks ago is a friend of SL's. Little Chris lives across the street with his girlfriend,and was big enough to fess up his misdeed to Steve at work yesterday, after they slowly figured out that my car and his note were part of the same story. He even got on the phone with me to apologize for the harshness claiming "I was drunk and we had to walk three blocks to get home after parking." boo hoo hoo.

While the apology was nice and he is still invited to Derby, it will not change the fact that I am going to torture him (and his car) every single chance I get by leaving fake parking tickets on his windshield. My love note will be recycled.

More on Studio B

The Village Voice this week very kindly ran a piece about the proposed rooftop garden at Studio B.

A stop work order has been issued by the DOB, yet construction on the 2nd floor continues onward, even with the lack of ANY permits in place, and a fine and hearing pending. Via advice from my neighbor Chuck (aka the Mayor of Calyer Street and also the local rep for CB1), a call was made to Community Board 1 with all the details of the lacking permits. The missing paperwork includes proposed operation of the roof garden without an amended amended Certificate of Occupancy, or an amended Place of Assembly application, on top of the non-existent construction permit.

The fact is that any PA place over 300 people requires a fire protection plan to be approved by the DOB and the FDNY. Studio B has not filed one in their history.

We'll see what happens when (if?) it actually opens. The arrogance of doing whatever they want, and the assumption that no one will do a thing is what really galls me. My hope is that this addition won't become even a bigger nightmare to our homes, or worse, put their patrons in danger. However, I am not optimistic. Or amused. But an roof deck with a full bar and separate sound system opening on Friday seems unlikely.

Crashing Studio B's Garden Party
A fantastic Greenpoint spot plans a vertical expansion, to its neighbors' chagrin

by Annie Fischer
Upon opening in September of 2006 under the discerning eye (and ear) of Justine Delaney, Brooklyn nightclub Studio B immediately established itself as a stylish source for the latest in dance, rock, and hip-hop. That hasn't changed. The 9,000-square-foot converted warehouse boasts a full stage, an incredible sound system, a VIP lounge, and a great dance floor—an increasingly rare element across the river. And it's a club where the bartenders actually smile. Even when the hipper-than-thou crowd doesn't.

Now the venue is expanding—skyward. On May 2, Studio B is slated to celebrate the debut of a large rooftop level, including its own bar and sound system, with live performances by Brazilian Girls and Spank Rock. Forty imported palm trees will serve as a nod to Studio B's sister club in Miami, Studio A; a retractable glass roof ensures a South Beach climate year-round. As Studio B has staked its reputation on offering the opposite of a pricey, smug Manhattan lounge, I'd expect some fans of the club to balk at the opening's $35 cover charge. Fans of a cleaner, quieter Greenpoint (as in: the neighborhood's residents), though, balk at the opening altogether.

According to them, Studio B's patrons forever vomit show flyers, cigarette butts, and broken glass (and occasionally actual vomit) onto the streets surrounding the club. Sometimes the atmosphere is even worse—at least one brutal streetfight broke out in broad daylight during the all-day, hardcore-centric Black & Blue Bowl that the club hosted on a recent Saturday. But many of Studio B's neighbors agree that the noise is the worst problem of all.

"It's terrible," complains a 44-year-old former music writer of her apartment's proximity to Studio B. "Every other bar or club posts signs that say, 'Please respect our neighbors' or 'Please be quiet to and from'—there's none of that here. There are just continual hordes of people who only see [Studio B] as a destination—people who know nothing of the neighborhood and think the club's in the middle of nowhere. They think, 'It's industrial, I can scream and yell all I want.' We're not human to them. It just doesn't register . . . And you can already hear the music, especially in summer when the doors are open. Now they're going to open the whole roof up?"

She sighs.

"Going around the corner to smoke a joint or have a drink or exchange something before the show—and then the extended drunken goodbyes—we hear all of that," she continues. "And they'll pee anywhere. I mean, what do they think? That's a business. Guys eat their lunches on those steps . . . [A rooftop deck] is only going to draw even more people to the area who say, 'Who cares about Greenpoint?' "

For their part, Studio B's management says that they'll do what they can to contain the noise. "The scale and times of the sound system on the roof are still TBD, because Studio B is aware that they must be courteous to neighbors in regard to sound levels on the roof during the nighttime hours," a spokesperson for the club writes in an e-mail. "This will always be an issue nightclubs must deal with to stay in business in New York City."

Another big issue for nightclubs, though, especially as of late: community boards. The Sun reported last week that CBs wielding clout with the State Liquor Authority (SLA) are more often requesting that potential liquor licenses be tied to earlier closing times, often at or before 2 a.m. (The paper added that in November, December, and January—the three most recent months in Community Board 3's records—not a single liquor-license recommendation was granted to a bar that would close after 3 a.m. in the East Village or Lower East Side.) On March 26, the SLA posted a notice on its website that in addition to liquor-license renewals, bars and clubs are now also required to file 30 days' prior notice with their respective community boards of their intention to renew. And now, unhappy residents of Greenpoint are suggesting on community blogs that like-minded citizens inundate their own community board (CB1) with noise- and permit-violation complaints to see action.

As it happens, the New York Department of Buildings currently has two open complaints for Studio B with regard to construction without permits (one filed April 11, another on April 16), as well as one unrelated pending violation for a March 8 inspection, which found the club filled beyond its legal capacity. (According to the document, the first floor of Studio B is permitted a maximum of 461 persons; at the time of inspection, there were "over 650.")

That's the one that has "Miss Heather," the blogger behind, up in arms. "That violation disturbs me so much," she says. "If they're allowed 450 or so people, and they're packing in 650—well, I haven't done the math, but isn't that nearly 50 percent? I have concerns about management that has such a complete lack of regard for the safety of their patrons. I agree that we need bars and clubs in the area. But at what cost?"

I ask if it's an actual possibility that CB1 could do anything to cause Studio B to lose its liquor license. "It happened with Triple Crown," Heather responds, referring to the troubled Williamsburg lounge that closed last year after racking up thousands of dollars in noise-violation fines. "They netted enough complaints with CB1 that they had to close. If this rooftop garden proves to be that much of a nuisance, then yeah, the community will go after the club's liquor license. It's already been run past the board; it's out there. They're already doing work without a permit."

According to Studio B's spokesperson, that isn't the case. "Some permitting is still in process, but this is very common with the opening of any type of venue or restaurant in New York City," he says. The official party line: "Everything should be good to go for May 2."

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Road Bloggin'

West Virginia's state motto is "Open for Business.". How lame is that for a state motto??? Sheesh. There's gotta be something more interesting to say about W.Va. How about "Almost Heaven?" That would give John Denver two state booster-isms. But maybe Mountaineers aren't as pro-pot smoking as Coloradoians.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Derby Picks as of Today

With 18 days before Derby to change my mind ten times.

Colonel John
Z Fortune
Court Vision
Visionaire (Added 4.25)

Food Exacta

I was in Richmond VA yesterday for a quick Art+Auction cover check, and was able to eat at BOTH the Olive Garden AND Applebee's in an 8 hour period. Jealous?

I'm going to have to give the Olive Garden the higher rating, only because everything on the menu wasn't covered in cheese and salsa and ground beef. And then deep fried.

The OG was absolutely packed at lunch. Seriously, like 85 people in the place around 12:30 (Those damned early mealtimes are present everywhere but NYC). Meanwhile, a lonely little Vietnamese Pho place half a mini mall down was totally empty.

Applebee's was what I thought was the only bar in the airport, complete with FOX news on 10 channels in a frenzy over Obama's "cling" comment. Some lady tried to talk politics with me. I got scared of where that might go, and put on my Ipod instead.

I really wanted to say "Obama was a little hamfisted, but right."

Friday, April 11, 2008

After the Flood

I received a copy of this gorgeous, 10 pound Steidl (of course) produced book this week. Containing more than 500 pictures taken by Robert Polidori between September 2005 and April 2006 in the aftermath of Katrina, the book is a haunting record of the lives washed away in New Orleans. Does total destruction become art? Eerie and powerful. Some sample images below.

NIMBY, Literally

Please hold the line for a minute for an old person curmudgeon rant:
I am almost throwing up in my mouth at the thought of a roof garden at Studio B. This place is backed up against my garden. I already have to hear the bass coming from the club every night they have a show when I'm in my kitchen or bedroom. I shudder to think about people pissing down into my garden, shrieking all night from the rooftop, or throwing beer bottles off the roof.

While I wanted to be glad about a live music facility in the neighborhood, Studio B has been nothing but a crappy neighbor. They seemingly have no crowd control as people enter and exit the club, and take no notice of the fact that they are located on the edge of a residential neighborhood. On show nights, people scream drunkenly up and down Calyer, or even better when the windows are open, sit on our stoops to make phone calls at extremely high volume.

Trash is strewn everywhere on nights after shows, garbage bags pile up outside for rats to run around in, graffiti that is obviously tied into the previous night's show has gotten worse (Anarchy symbol anyone?) and parking is impossible. Beer bottles end up in the planters, and someone even went so far as to steal a lily in bloom, pot and all, last summer. I love when people fuck with my car, too.

Via newyorkshitty's research on the DOB online database, it looks as though the roof garden is completely without permits, so we'll have to see what we can do from this end to make their lives a little harder. Just as they have done to everyone's lives on my street.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

A Joke Gone Horribly Wrong

I'm finally trying to sell this terrifying collection of "Smiley" figurines aka The Friends of the Nurse or FOTH that have been living in my house for far too long. This whole thing started with THE NURSE back in SF about 15 years ago, and as is bound to happen, as soon you have a collection, and/or talk about it too much, people start buying you items to 'help' add to your collection.

I found about 75% of these crazy little people in various thrift stores for a couple bucks, but also had contributions from far and wide when people would send them to me randomly. The bad part was when visitors used to come to my house for the first time, and I had to explain what in the fuck these things actually WERE, and suddenly, it wasn't so funny and um, 'ironic' anymore. I was becoming a crazy ol' lady way before I should have been (currently see: me and gardening). Four shelves of these were downright weird. I hid most of them away in boxes a few years ago, while keeping my favorite 8 (The Great Eight) for posterity.

Twenty-six of these babies are for sale for $250 on Craigslist*. I'm hoping someone will purchase them to put in their bar or whatever as a group. That way, when the first one comes alive, there will be a whole army to follow and kill you in your sleep. Discount for my readers!

*cat not included.

Derby 2008

I've been a little quiet on this year's Derby Preps because no one horse is knocking me out. I generally pick one of my favorites from the local Wood, which was run last Saturday at Aqueduct. While it was a gorgeous day at the track with SL and 3 newbies (two of whom, in accordance with the racing gods plans to make all people racing fans, went home winners while i was down $80 for the day), the only reason Tale of Ekati won was because no one else did. It was a S-L-O-W of pace as can be (slowest Wood since 1952) with no real standout.

I'm still leaning a bit towards Court Vision, who closed decently to come in third in the Wood. He could either do well in Derby with the extra furlong, or completely suck it up. (Insightful, I know) Colonel John, coming out of the Santa Anita Derby, looks damn good with a his powerful closing kick, and a few more (Pyro, Blackberry Road, Gayego) will shake out of the Blue Grass Stakes and Arkansas Derby this weekend.

SL and I are going to Ohio next week for six days, and will also catch some racing down at Keenland in Lexington with my family on the 19th -- the date of the Coolmore Lexington Stakes, where some late Derby contenders often run. Kentucky this time of year is absolutely beautiful, so racing or no, I am looking forward to everything being in bloom in the midwest.

Three and a half weeks until Derby. Invites coming shortly.


Can't wait to check out this exhibit at MoMA. For the book nerd in all of us. Now through July 7th.

Featuring works that transform books through a variety of mediums, Book/Shelf stresses an expanded notion of the illustrated book. The exhibition begins with a documentation of Marcel Duchamp's Unhappy Readymade (1919)—a work created when the artist, while traveling, asked his sister back home to hang a geometry book on his balcony in order to let the wind flip and tear the pages. It continues with works in which artists appropriate books by others, such as a sculpture by Martin Kippenberger made partly of books, and a copy of Duchamp's catalogue raisonnĂ© rebound by David Hammons under the title Holy Bible. Artists who tackle the idea of books in film (William Wegman), sound works (On Kawara), prints (Edward Ruscha), and drawings (Steve Wolfe) are represented as well. Finally, the exhibition surveys a number of artists who have created installations that display books in public contexts, including Brian Belott, Allen Ruppersberg, Josh Smith, and Lawrence Weiner.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Love Note

This was on my car's windshield yesterday morning:

Points to consider:
1) It's not two spots, but realistically and safely, one. And has been so for the past year and a half.
2) It's an unmarked spot half a block from my house i.e. there's no signs on the small island for street cleaning, so you never, ever have to move your car. Awesome. With semi-planned round robin, SL, Tim Hailey or I have held onto this coveted spot for about 6 months of the past year.
3) What kind of a douche takes the time to leave a NOTE disguised as a fake parking ticket????

Unreal. I love New York.

Monday, April 07, 2008

It's a Mad World

Meant to post this link last week - a wonderful article from the Sunday Times about Al Jaffee, the 87-year-old artist who has been drawing the Mad magazine back cover fold-in by hand since 1964.

Some of his more recent covers can be found here, and the Times has a great interactive folding cover feature here.

Friday, April 04, 2008


I rode with a taxi driver today who had been driving on the street of NYC for 47 years. FORTY SEVEN YEARS. An Italian immigrant from Genoa, he was an ambulance driver for 15 years or so before starting with the taxis. He claimed that driving a taxi is harder than driving an ambulance in the city. He still drove that taxi like a bat out of hell. REALLY fast, but really good.

He gave me lots of advice about how to live as long as him (guessing he was about 70-75): one should avoid smoking, alcohol, too much fat, too many carbohydrates, and stay active so the blood doesn't congeal in your body/muscles and slow you down (i got a very lengthy explanation about this). You also gotta love the Italian men of all ages managing to call you "bella" like 5 times in every conversation you have with them -- Still workin' chicks at 70.

I think he's probably on to something. I was charmed, I'm sure.

Benefit for Scott Sunday

There's no NCAA games on, so get over to Black Betty for some fine music from Big Lazy, Tandy and the always amazing Malcolm Holcombe. $20 with all proceeds going to The Scotty Hard Trust. Malcolm's from Tennessee - I've always thought of him as the country Tom Waits. Check some of his music out on his myspace page. Not sure who else is playing in Tandy, besides the talented Mike Ferrio since the loss of Drew in January but very glad to see Mike playing on.

Bad Ass Johnny Cueto

Saw the highlights of this kid pitching last night, and WOW. Who knows if he can keep it up, but the form and speed were undeniable. Exciting stuff for a team that hasn't been in the playoffs since 1995. The Reds Nation is aflutter, or at least as much as anyone can be after the past 10+ years of disappointment.

He was in Single A this time last year.

CINCINNATI (AP) -- While Johnny Cueto blew away batters with a 96 mph fastball, his Cincinnati Reds teammates compared memories about the last time they'd seen anyone so young look so good the first time out.

The consensus: This was something special.

Cueto allowed nothing more than Justin Upton's solo homer in seven innings Thursday, striking out 10 in an overpowering debut while leading the Reds to a 3-2 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Full story here. Next up: Edinson Volquez on Sunday. In spring training, Cueto’s ERA was 5.09 and he walked 12 in 16 innings. Volquez had a 2.70 ERA, walking four in 20 innings while striking out 26. Cueto struck out 19.