Boerum Hill: Atlantic Yards' next sin? Illuminated billboards that are fifteen stories tall. [Gowanus Lounge]
Chelsea: The High Line might not make it north of 30th Street after all. [Blog Chelsea]
Park Slope: Park Slope Towers is really a dorm, not a condo building. [Curbed]
Upper East Side: Meet the Gael Pub Quizmaster, David Jacobson. [Upper East Side Informer]
West Village: On Saturday, join the memorial ride for Eric Ng, a 22-year-old bicyclist who was killed December 1 by a drunk driver on the West Side bike path. [onNYturf]
Williamsburg: Parks Department placates angry residents by promising to diversify McCarren Park Pool concerts with Colombian and Polish music. [Brooklyn Downtown Star via Brooklyn Record]
MIAMI BEACH — The celebrities at Art Basel Miami Beach are rich collectors and powerful gallerists, for the most part, which means the sightings are usually less than glamorous. (Look, there's Tony Shafrazi in orange swim trunks!) But one bit of Hollywood celebrity hanging around has been Keanu Reeves, who was spotted last night by the bar at the Standard and quickly ushered into the dinner there hosted by Yvonne Force Villareal and Mark Fletcher. When a photog tried to snap his picture, Reeves begged to share a smoke instead, offering up a menthol cigarette as a consolation prize. It worked.
Inside, the art stars were lounging on $50 beach towels designed by Richard Phillips, Marilyn Minter, Rob Pruitt, and Alex Katz that are sold through Target to benefit Force's Art Production Fund. It was very Morocco meets Miami, and everyone looked good in the low candlelight.
Upper East Side grandees are fond of each other's company and eat at restaurants like Nello to make sure they get it. Why else would anyone pay $22 for a celery heart or $38 for spaghetti with clam sauce? But we thought that even the lonely and ultrarich might balk at the new $750 Kobe steak that, according to "Page Six," the restaurant is now serving. Given that the best of these steaks seldom top $125 in town, how can Nello justify the price? "It's a small quantity of product that's available," owner Nello Balan tells us, as if that justified anything more than the going rate. "They distribute it all over from Moscow to Paris to New York. It's a novelty." A novelty it may be to Balan's crowd, but the rest of New York has pretty much gotten the whole Kobe thing by now. And yet, there's no arguing with Nello's results: "We sell ten or fifteen a day." At least the rich aren't always getting richer.
Steer Heaven [NYP]
Rabbi Joel Yehuda Kolko was arrested yesterday in Brooklyn and charged with child sexual abuse. Back in May, New York's Robert Kolker detailed allegations against the rabbi that went back at least two decades, noting that the Brooklyn District Attorney's office would often defer to Orthodox authorities instead of investigating complaints. But David Framowitz, a former student of Kolko's, sued the rabbi and his Flatbush yeshiva for $20 million in federal court in May. Kolko now faces other civil suits filed by adults who claim they, too, were abused. "The bottom line is that abuse is a universal issue that closed communities hide because it threatens them," one former Lubavitcher who said he was abused told Kolker. "Whether it's Jewish or Amish or Mennonite or Catholic or Muslim, it doesn't make a difference."
On the Rabbi's Knee [NYM]
Sex-Rap Rabbi is Busted in Brooklyn [NYDN]
Peter Blake, New York's first architecture critic, died this week at the age of 86. An architect himself, Blake was known for his stylish, refined orthodox modernism (even though he hated "modernism" as a term). His writing for the magazine, as a columnist from 1968 to 1976 and then on and off for another twenty years, was similarly polished, a refined voice in an age too often given to unrefined buildings. Here's his witty conversation with the late Philip Johnson, published on June 9, 1996, shortly before Johnson's 90th birthday. —Christopher BonanosMagic Johnson [PDF]
Peter Blake, Architect, 86, Is Dead; Designed Houses in the Hamptons [NYT]
Earlier we reported the Milk and Honey owner-mixologist Sasha Petraske was going into the beer, wine, and cheese business. He's not stopping there: Petraske is also eyeing the still-vacant Grange Hall and Blue Mill space, a venue he's loved since he had his eighth-grade graduation party there (he grew up a couple of blocks away). Why hasn't he snatched it up? The restaurant-world newcomer has yet to click with a chef who shares his vision of serving cocktails before and after dinner rather than simply during. "I'm trying to find some partners who'll let me do my thing in the front of the space; someone who's doing something of serious quality." If anyone fits the bill, you can reach Sasha at the secret number divulged here, though it may change soon. Daniel MaurerEarlier: Milk and Honey Owner to Do Beer and Wine — and Queens!Zagat Fails to Number-Close Milk and Honey
Besides interviewing his share of Nobel, Pulitzer, and Oscar winners for his eponymous WNYC show, Leonard Lopate has picked up a few commendations himself, including a James Beard Award for a conversation in which Ruth Reichl and his favorite chef, Daniel Boulud, explored the relationship between scent and taste. This past week, the Park Slope resident treated his nose to some of the city's finest bagels and (possibly) the best baguettes outside of Europe.
Could it be? Yes, it could. A mere three weeks after real, genuine construction started at ground zero — the concrete foundation was finally poured for the much-delayed Freedom Tower — there's set to be some more real, genuine progress today. Five years after it was badly damaged and rendered uninhabitable by the attacks, the long-shrouded Deutsche Bank building is finally coming down. The AP is reporting that the building's façade is being removed starting this morning; once that is gone, the steel-and-concrete infrastructure comes next. One of the new WTC towers is set to be built on the site, plus a new Greek Orthodox church. Don't start rushing to say your Greek prayers, though: It'll be a year till the current building is gone.
Work Begins Friday to Take Down Damaged WTC Skyscraper [AP via Newsday]
Earlier:Freedom Tower Construction Finally Begins, Boringly
Number of E. coli victims doubles; Cali green onions probably to blame. [NYT]
Long Island Railroad to curb bar-car pre-parties. [NYP]
After deadly mêlée at the Greenmarket, foodies continue seeking out Fuji apples. [NYDN]
Eliot Spitzer's New Year's Day inauguration will feature James Brown and Natalie Merchant but not Alan Hevesi. Yes, Beyoncé threw Jay-Z a big birthday party in St. Barts. No, they're not getting married, at least according to Rush & Molloy. John Kerry threw a dinner party for Democratic donors at his Georgetown home, at which he may or may not have shilled for his party's 2008 nomination. Paris Hilton may be engaged to "student" Stavros Niarchos. Tinsley Mortimer's sister-in-law is getting married to the director of Syriana. The reigning Miss Universe, also Miss Puerto Rico, is dating a fellow Puerto Rican. Mandy Moore had dinner with former flame Wilmer Valderrama. The director of scary when-scuba-goes-bad flick Open Water is set to direct another movie about sharks. A lot of people went to go see Annie at Madison Square Garden, and not everyone got in on time. Celebs donate time, company to an auction run by Martin Luther King Jr.'s eldest son. Colin Firth is a picky eater. Lindsay Lohan's former assistant, now Jessica Biel's assistant, was the subject of much of Lohan's vitriol in the rambling e-mail she wrote two days ago. Eddie Murphy and his ex–Spice Girl ex-girlfriend continue to disagree over whether Eddie is the father of her baby, according to "Page Six." (The News has this Murphy-Spice "exclusive," too, worded the exact same way.) Britney Spears bought expensive lingerie, Dakota Fanning bought a dog, and Courtney Love is moving to London. Liz Smith claims John Stamos will be on an upcoming season of Dancing With the Stars, based on his affinity for tango. Molly Sims got stung by a bee in Hawaii.
While Amy Sacco may or may not be selling Bungalow 8, Jon B, owner of cash cows Home and Guest House, is in contract to purchase another slot on the coke-dusted Monopoly board that is West Chelsea. Having convinced the yoga-loving owner of Spirit, Robbie Wootton, to abandon his fight to reopen since the club's forcible closure in August, Jon B says he'll take over its West 27th Street space and bring an upscale crowd to rock shows and big-name D.J. performances. "I intend to operate it totally differently," he says of a space that has been under scrutiny since its days as Twilo.
Of course, Jennifer Moore, the New Jersey girl who was murdered in July after a night of clubbing, spent her last hours at Jon B's Guest House, and the subsequent nightlife crackdown raises question about how easy it'll be to transfer Spirit's liquor license. After Wootton pays off the estimated $6,600 in State Liquor Authority fines, Jon B estimates it'll be two or three months before a transfer is granted (a year-end freeze on new licenses in the area has caused a backlog of applications). After that, he says, it'll take another few months to turn the place into something "very different than what everybody is used to." And what's a suitable name for this new club, something that outclasses even Jon B's other venues, Home and Guest House? Alas, Mansion is already the hottest club in Miami. Daniel Maurer
Cancel your Outlook reminder about the opening of Amalia, the swank restaurant and lounge that Greg Brier of Jet East was supposed to bring to the Dream Hotel a couple of weeks ago: Perhaps because Brier is also managing the opening of Lan-Beijing in China, it'll be late January before the bi-level space (88-person dining room upstairs, 200-person downstairs lounge) will be ready for Ivy Stark's American-Mediterranean dishes. To tide you over, we've got exclusive renderings of what the space will look like — one's above; the other's after the jump — paired with designer Steve Lewis's shopping list (lifted more or less intact, we should note, from a press release. Quotations around "'enchanted forest'" ours).
• Bloomberg's novel anti-gun initiative — going after out-of-state dealers — is paying off. (It also shows an unusually, um, national-minded thinking from a city mayor). Six gun stores in outlying states have agreed to let court officials monitor their sales; twelve more are being sued into agreement. [NYT]
• The Daily News has a cover story that would drive O. Henry to suicide: A Staten Island woman gets the news of her fiancé's death in Iraq, followed two hours later by a FedExed engagement ring from him. We don't normally fall for the human-face-of-war stuff from our tabs, but Christ. [NYDN]
• D.J. Carl Blaze of Power 105.1 is in the hospital after getting shot "at least 13 times." The details are murky, and the shooter took Blaze's $20,000 gold chain, but the hail of bullets appears far too excessive for a robbery. [NYP]
• A Brooklyn rabbi was cuffed and jailed on child-molestation charges last night, after the lawsuit against him made the papers earlier in the week. The alleged victim is a 9-year-old who claims to have been abused for two years. Neighbors say the rabbi "doesn't fit the criteria." [WNBC]
• Demolition is set to begin in a couple of hours on the iconic, conical Revere Sugar Refinery in Red Hook. Thor Equities, which is also building on the Williamsburg-Greenpoint and Coney Island waterfronts, snatched up the factory in a less-publicized deal for $40 million. [amNY]
• High Fidelity opening night. Imperial Theatre, 249 W. 45th St., nr. Broadway, 5:30 p.m. Nick Hornby, Hope Davis, Alec Baldwin, Rachel Dratch, Lauren Bacall, Bebe Neuwirth, and David Hasselhoff expected. Free premise for aspiring "Shouts & Murmurs" writers: What if Nick Hornby had written Baywatch?
So Time Out New York is out today with a big cover story rating and ranking all the city's cultural critics. It must be said: We give two thumbs up to this review of the reviews. Of course, why wouldn't we? New York's critics fared well (if not quite as well as Time Out's own critics, who did — surprise! — fabulously). Our Peter G. Davis was the No. 2 classical-music reviewer, Adam Platt came in third for foodies, Jeremy McCarter was named the fourth best theater critic, and Mark Stevens was No. 6 among the art experts.
The one exception was our esteemed film reviewer, David Edelstein, who ranked an unimpressive eleventh. Why is that? Well, according to his Zagatian write-up, it's because he's insufficiently attentive to independent film. "If you were to read only his column, you'd never know that foreign-language films and independent documentaries were opening," wrote one panelist. "A fine critic for first-run films. I wish he was able to write more about off-the-beaten-path films," wrote another. And just what industry experts came to these damning conclusions? Well, from the roster of reviewer-reviewers provided, we can pick out the director of the Film Forum; the publicist for the Film Forum; the publicist for the IFC Center, who was formerly at the Film Forum; the publicist for the Museum of the Moving Image; and two independent publicists of indie films. Hey, at least they know about indie film.
Judgment Day [TONY]
Sasha Petraske, owner of Milk and Honey and Little Branch, not to mention one of the city's most revered mixologists, plans on expanding his mini-empire. Shockingly — for those who aren't aware that Petraske worked at Von before conquering the cocktail world — the new venture will be a wine-and-Belgian-beer bar; he's calling it the Mighty Ocelot ("I really like cats," he tells us). Petraske first applied for a beer-and-wine license at 226 Broome Street, around the corner from Milk and Honey, but the rent would've busted his "shoe-string budget." So in January he'll taking over the former Jack's Luxury Oyster Bar space in the East Village; come March, he'll be offering cheese plates and light food. Not only this, but a project in Long Island City is also in the works. Daniel Maurer
The Iraq Study Group report is out, obviously, and now, it seems, all the important players have weighed in: Bush says he doesn't want to decrease troop levels and the Post says the panel's chairmen are "Surrender Monkeys." Clearly it's time for another 20-Person Poll. New York's intrepid interns hit Madison Avenue to ask three questions.
Question No. 1: The Iraq Study Group says "the situation in Iraq is grave and deteriorating." Does that come as a surprise to you?
Big surprise: 2; no surprise: 18
Question No. 2: Who has a better plan for Iraq, President Bush or the Iraq Study Group?
Bush: 3; ISG: 12; neither: 5
Question No. 3: Are James Baker and Lee Hamilton, the chairmen of the Study Group, in fact surrender monkeys?
Yes, monkeys: 6; no, not monkeys: 14
The famously pugnacious Gordon Ramsay has managed not to alienate the entire city of New York — just his neighbors. The residents of 150 West 55th Street, the building that sits behind the recently opened Gordon Ramsay at the London, claim that the restaurateur has plunged them into what their spokesperson Elizabeth Hulings tells us is a "nightmare." "The smell of the third-floor exhaust fan guarantees that everyone in the building knows just what's being served that night," Hulings says. "The noise has people sleeping on their couches." According to an official release, two tenants "had to seek medical attention for respiratory problems" caused by "particulate matter" given off by garbage trucks. Ramsay's people didn't return our call right away, but Caterer and Housekeeper, a Website that covered the story earlier, quoted them as saying, "Such challenges are not uncommon during a major construction project such as undertaken at the hotel and restaurant," and added, "when brought to the attention of Gordon Ramsay Holdings by the hotel, the complaint was immediately addressed."
Kitchen Nightmare for Gordon Ramsay in New York [Caterer and Housekeeper]
Marc Jacobs, it seems, likes 'em young. He has unveiled his new ad campaign — it breaks in February issues of fashion mags, and you can see two of the shots above — featuring 12-year-old actress Dakota Fanning, as WWD reported today. Slightly skeevy fashion advertising, of course, is nothing new, but, still, this one manages to be, we think, a bit creepier than shaved pubic hair (Gucci), awkward celebrity stand-ins (Versace), or emaciated models (pretty much all of the major labels). Perhaps Marc's avant-garde taste is more attuned to European tastes: WWD also reports that he'll be showing Marc by Marc in the London shows for the first time this February. —Kendall HerbstOn Your Marc [WWD]