I heard several differing accounts regarding Tuesday night’s electoral victory celebration on Bedford Avenue—arguments that the police involvement was both “out of control” and, on the other hand, “so totally fabricated.” My roommate popped out of the subway as our new president was giving his acceptance speech and said there was an absolute hush over the neighborhood but, minutes later, the streets were filled with joyful, drunk kids chanting “O-ba-ma, O-ba-ma,” flashing the cameras, and singing “Give Peace a Chance.” Mildly embarrassing, but all the more earnest when you see the footage shortly thereafter of cops making arrests and shoving revelers for getting too close. Deserved or not, it’s still kind of disturbing to watch.
I was in the East Village, at the Library, and there were lots of people celebrating in the streets, but I don’t remember seeing even one police car. On the Upper West Side—or the “Upper Left Side,” as a friend who lives there calls it—fire trucks circled the blocks with celebratory lights blazing. And Harlem had streets blocked with at least twice as many people as there were in Brooklyn, and was without incident. So what gives, Williamsburg?
In other news from Tuesday, 25th District State Senate candidate Daniel Squadron was elected with 86.4 percent of the vote, pissing off after-dark personalities who had dubbed him “anti-nightlife.” (Steve Lewis went so far as to call him “a wolf in sheep’s clothing” and “an extremely anti-club, anti-licensing, bad, bad man”; Down by the Hipster, though, say they know and like him.) Squadron, who previously owned What Bar on the Upper West Side, intends to fight the “oversaturation of nightlife” in his Lower Manhattan and Brooklyn neighborhoods, strengthening the community board’s power—they’ll be able to further enforce the law preventing bars from operating within 500 feet of a school or church—and creating a new inter-agency SLA Community Enforcement Team. He also wants to increase policing in high-density areas and undergo a comprehensive review of license density within the five boroughs.
“As someone who owned a restaurant and bar a few years ago, I know from personal experience how valuable community engagement can be,” Squadron writes on his campaign website. “We worked closely with the community and had a nearly spotless record. Unfortunately, since there was not a formal process, the problem spot across the street with nearly nightly problems did not forge nearly such a productive relationship.” Did I mention this kid’s only 28? And has already owned a bar and been elected to the State Senate? I feel like a loser.
As of last weekend, the third incarnation of dance den Mr. Black is in full swing. Armed with a full cabaret license and a partnership with Club Rebel NYC, the latest version fancies itself a full-on nightclub, and Justin Bond, JD Samson, and the regular Black crew were all on hand to celebrate in the new garment district space on West 30th Street between Seventh and Eighth avenues.
As you’ll recall, the original, cult fave Mr. Black opened in January 2006, but was shuttered abruptly in August 2007. It reopened full-time in a new space earlier this year, but now it’s moved again, even further uptown, and will be open three nights a week, with plans to grow. “We are here for those who want to dance, have fun, or get it on,” proclaimed proprietor Stuart Black in an e-mail missive declaring the club’s new intentions, playing up the impressive new stage for early and late performances. “Our cutting-edge soundtrack is the very heart of the club—think cross genres, cross genders and everything in between. . . . We are proud to present nightlife in all its diversity, fostering new talent and pushing the envelope, all with a sense of humor.” Here’s hoping Part Three sticks—and that Daniel Squadron keeps away. (Can he maybe also stay away from Park Slope’s new Cabana Bar? They have two-person bonfire bowls!)
I saw Jonathan Demme’s Rachel Getting Married last week. Other than how I continue to be amazed at how much more I like Anne Hathaway post-breakup, the film’s most surprising element is its roster of top-notch artists and musicians—cameos I didn’t know about going in. (Actually, I knew nearly nothing going in—I definitely didn’t know it was about a fuck-up younger sister going home for her older sister’s wedding in which she’s the maid of honor. Guess whose older sister is getting married next month? Guess who’s the maid of honor?) TV on the Radio’s Tunde Adebimpe, who plays the groom (and serenades his bride with Neil Young’s “Unknown Legend”—kind of romantic); artist and filmmaker Jimmy Joe Roche, frequent collaborator of Dan Deacon; and hip-hop legend Fab Five Freddy were all present on-screen. But my favorite was Robyn Hitchcock’s one-two punch of “America” (from 1995’s Gravy Deco) and “Up to Our Nex,” an original song he wrote for the movie.
It made me even more excited for the upcoming live re-cut of Hitchcock’s 1984 masterpiece, I Often Dream of Trains, on November 22 at the Symphony Space, a multi-disciplinary performing-arts venue on the Upper West Side that seats a little more than 750. Of the decision to perform the album now, the ex–Soft Boys singer says this: “The record mutates into a concept performance rather like a sofa can become a mattress.” I have no idea what he means, but I look forward to finding out.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on November 12, 2008