Not that it's any big surprise at this point — after secret sets of books, and floated-and-then-retracted fare hikes, and all that — but the MTA might be up to something a little shady again. While everyone's busy being excited about the redevelopment of the High Line, it turns out the MTA has been whispering to developers looking at its West Side yards — where Bloomberg wanted to build a Jets stadium, and which contain 31 percent of the elevated rail tracks — that a purchaser might be able to dismantle at least part of the Line. (You know, so building could start faster.) Last night, Friends of the High Line rallied its base in a meeting at Chelsea Market to protest this news and presented the case that maintaining the High Line on the MTA property would actually make it more attractive to developers, and thus more lucrative to the MTA. To that end, Friends of the High Line — with partial funding from developers with projects elsewhere along the structure — offered this sketch, from the Chelsea firm SHoP Architects, of what a redeveloped MTA yard would look like with the High Line still intact up there. Pretty, ain't it? —Alec Appelbaum
On Daily Intelligencer today, you'll find a story on upper-crust icon Ralph Lauren opening an eatery next to his boutique in the East Hampton. The former Blue Parrot has been bought by the former Ralph Lipschitz, who is said to be refashioning it along the lines of the Ivy in Beverly Hills. (The prior owner has moved to L.A. to pursue an acting career.) Lauren already has a big restaurant in Chicago, but somehow, this locale just seems like it was meant to be. Perhaps this summer we'll change our name, buy some new shirts, and drop in.
Ralph Lauren to Open Hamptons Eatery, No Doubt to Be Filled With Old-Time Americana [Daily Intel]
MIAMI BEACH — You don't tend to find guys in baseball caps at art fairs. So when you spot one at Art Basel Miami Beach, it's a good bet who's underneath it: Russell Simmons. The Def Jams founder has been holding court this week at the Delano, the festival's headquarters. His high-profile presence at Art Basel — he's often seen chatting on the hotel's front porch or just walking down the street in cap and jeans — has been a boon to fair organizers, some of whom have fretted privately that the otherwise hugely successful event has been a little low on non-art-world star wattage. Simmons — an Art Basel vet — is here to host a variety of events, most for his arts-education charity, Rush Philanthropic. But he's also art shopping.
What does he collect?
How many openings has Grub Street broken in the last 24 hours? So many we've nearly lost count. First was news of a new Sasha Petraske saloon, this one to forgo the mixology maven's usual carefully constructed cocktails for beer and wine. Next was the report that Amalia, the restaurant and lounge scheduled to open a few weeks ago in the Dream Hotel, won't awaken there till late January. (But Grub's got renderings now!) Finally came one more bit of Petraskiana: The Milk and Honey and Little Branch proprietor wants to add food to his empire, aiming to open a restaurant in the old Grange Hall space in the West Village. Need to know more? It's all on Grub Street.
Milk and Honey Owner to Do Wine and Beer — and Queens! [Grub Street]
Dream Hotel's Restaurant Still a Dream, But Opening in January [Grub Street]
Sasha Petraske to Take on Fine Dining, Too [Grub Street]
At last, there'll soon be a chance for East Enders to actually eat at Ralph's. Designer Ralph Lauren, who owns the steak-and-seafood joint RL in Chicago, is taking over the space in East Hampton that for 25 years has housed the popular, unprepossessing, vaguely surf-themed Blue Parrot. "They signed the contract, and we should close in a couple of weeks," confirms Parrot owner Lee Bieler, who is moving to L.A. to pursue an acting career. "They said they wanted to renovate the building and do a restaurant. His designer said it would be a concept similar to the Ivy in Beverly Hills." The restaurant, complete with outdoor patio, is next door to the Polo player's East Hampton boutique. Word is it'll be open for business by the spring. —Beth Landman
Make no mistake: Beekman Place and its nearby blocks are as rarefied as the moneyed thoroughfares of Fifth Avenue and Park Avenue. No matter that it's just minutes away from unpretty Second Avenue with its fratty bars and dusty traffic. (Why else would the Rockefellers, the Barrymores, and the Vanderbilts have roosted here?) One Beekman Place is the queen of this tiny kingdom, a highly selective, white-glove building with stunning river views that's supposedly terribly fussy but, without a doubt, grand. Open houses are unlikely there (it's that exclusive), but a walk through the enclave and the few buildings hosting showings there this Sunday (listed below) will be enough to give you a hint of the good life. S. Jhoanna Robledo
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]