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If he sounds grumpy and out-of-touch, rest assured he's not—Penley's just concerned with quality control. We agreed on the Bowery's only new bar worth going to: Bowery Electric, opened by Mike Stuto, Jesse Malin, and Johnny T (their combined lineage includes Hi-Fi, Black and White, and Coney Island High). Look for Hi-Fi's weekend bouncer, Vincent, working the door on Tuesdays and Wednesdays—and befriend him. When I started to leave one night last week, he let me know that Spoon was on its way, following the band's show at Terminal 5.
"That place is the one exception I'll make to all this new shit moving in," Penley says, singing Malin's praises. "He's part of the old-school neighborhood, you know. He's one of our types—the outcasts and outlaws—but also just one of the nicest guys you could ever meet. And anything he does is just . . . it's just cool, you know? He might be opening something in a gentrifying wasteland, but it's still going to have some character." (For the record, Malin is supportive of his new neighbor, Varvatos—his band, D Generation, is supposed to play the official opening of the retail shop on Thursday night along with Ian Hunter, Cheetah Chrome, and Alan Vega.)
For the places that won't be receiving quite such a warm welcome from Penley, however, look out. "I'm going to buy some cases of cheap wine and have a free wine party—invite a bunch of the bums and the homeless and the squatters. Right out front of Bruce's place," Penley promises. "We'll be there until the police run us off. Because, you know, there just isn't any way of stopping it, unless the stock market crashes. That's the only way we'll even be able to continue living here."