By Chaz Kangas
By Sound of the City
By Peter Gerstenzang
By Katherine Turman
By Chris Kornelis
By Brian McManus
By Ray Cummings
By Nicholas Pell
Greenhouse, Jon Bakhshi's long-awaited, eco-friendly Soho nightclub, finally opened its doors this month—by way of a half-dozen welcome parties over the course of a week. I skipped the early ones (where people complained of not being let in until midnight, a result of last-minute drilling and mopping at 11 p.m.; the invite said "10 p.m.") and instead went last Tuesday to see friends-of-friends the Kiss-Off open for Bloody Social, the Jamie Burke–fronted scenester collective. The place is green, all right: Careful networks of leaves, moss, and vines grid the walls, and little baby bushes are trapped in glass-cube tables. There are recycled-glass bars, a bamboo-wood dance floor, and furniture covered with recycled material; LED lights replace standard bulbs, and the toilets are programmed to use less water. I could go on.
With a typical New York club gobbling energy via sound systems, air conditioners, and disco lights (then shitting out the shards of the bottle industry), I applaud these particular efforts of Jon B.—he who personally escorted the high heels and bare chests of the bridge-and-tunnel crowd into the meatpacking district. Consider further the water consumption by the thousands of clubgoers who don't just use the bathroom for a quick snort, and it's clear there's major room for improvement in reducing the carbon footprint of this city's nightlife. As far as club gimmicks go, it's a good one. LEED certification is no small feat.
But don't expect to walk in and, like, breathe cleaner air or anything. You're still in a high-priced bar. Promoters will still hold court at tables, and long-legged 18-year-olds will still accept the $15 organic-vodka-and-natural-club-soda you're there to buy them. Multiple VIP sections on both levels; a raised performance stage accompanied, of course, by a backstage section: You know the drill. If anything, it's almost more stifling than a non-"green" space, courtesy of a ceiling dripping with some 5,000 dagger-like crystals, arranged to evoke a rolling landscape. A rolling glass landscape. Yikes.
Anyway, Jon B. promises hip-hop and rock downstairs, mash-ups and house a floor up, and well-known DJs on Friday nights; party fave Kenny Kenny is promoting a new Sunday-night bash with Susanne Bartsch. And don't shoot the messenger here, but some people are lauding the arrival of a "new" neighborhood, with restaurateur David Bouley's 10,000-square-foot project across the street, Trump Soho opening a block to the south, and rumors of a Justin Timberlake joint.
Also included in the new plans: Michael Dorf's City Winery. Dorf—who cashed in his bar mitzvah and graduation gifts to found the Knitting Factory in 1986, then sold his equity position and resigned from the board in 2002—unveiled his fully operational winery to members of the press last Wednesday night. The space, which includes two wine bars, a cheese bar, a restaurant, and a performance venue, is slated to open to the public in January. Or, more accurately, on New Year's Eve, when Joan Osborne headlines. Also scheduled: Rufus Wainwright, Philip Glass, Suzanne Vega, and Mike Doughty. There are also "pairings" every week, wherein music from a pair of artists—Calexico and Keren Ann should be pretty good—is matched with wines. They call it a "blend." Cute. (Heads-up: You can't just buy tickets to these events. Dorf has implemented a program called "VinoFile," with a $50 annual fee that can be put toward the performance costs, which range from $25 to $200. There are a number of other elements to membership; see citywinery.com for information. Oh, also, you don't need tickets to go to Sunday brunch, when Margot Leverett and the Klezmer Mountain Boys will play.)
Also featured at the winery: wine! Half of the 200 private barrels blended on-site have been filled; head winemaker David Lecomte is saving the rest for spring. Servers ("stewards") will help customers navigate the list and choose from the selection of small dishes and Murray's Cheese options. You'll need the assistance: There are more than 500 bottles, as well as 50 vintages sold by the glass.
For those who can't wait for 2009, Jean-Luc Le Dû will host $90-$100 tastings of Bordeaux, champagne, and Burgundy ("The Power of Seduction") the first three Tuesdays in December. Said can't-waits presumably are members of the core audience that Dorf has targeted: "urban wine enthusiasts who desire the experience of making their own wine, but who are not going to leave their comfortable Manhattan lifestyle to decamp to a vineyard." How do I become one of them?***
A friend asked last week if I planned on attending the book-release party for Pitchfork 500 at the Gutter, the bowling alley on the Greenpoint-Williamsburg border. When I said I hadn't received my engraved invitation yet, he said it actually came via singing telegram: "But they sing it to the tune of some really obscure late-'60s garage band, and then ridicule you for not recognizing it."
Oh, Pitchfork. Such a lovable, easy joke. But Wednesday night's event should be fun. The paperback (conveniently released close to the holidays) chronologically explores the music site's favorite songs from 1977 to 2006, constructing "an alternate history of the past three decades of popular music—one that extends beyond the typical Baby Boomer–approved canon of the Clash, Prince, Public Enemy, Nirvana, Radiohead, and OutKast." Edited by founder Ryan Schreiber and editor-in-chief Scott Plagenhoef, Pitchfork 500 basically serves as a 500-song ultimate playlist, offering wordy, witty essays and sidebars on indie rock, hip-hop, metal, electronic, pop, and underground.
The party starts at 9 p.m., and, yeah, people will actually be bowling. Don't want to? Then drink at the bar while DJs spin selections from the book. No cover.