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Best Under-$25 Entertainment
Crate Performances
For less than the price of a CD or one-quarter the price of a Broadway ducat, you can experience the real thing — live performance — at some of Gotham's best, and cheapest, spaces.
145 Sixth Avenue
Downtown's best overall Off-Off Broadway venue, with a consistent lineup of the top experimental productions in the city, including works by Elevator Repair Service and HEREís director and founder, Kristin Marting.
P.S. 122
150 First Avenue
P.S. 122 presents eclectic fare from all over; last year, it hosted Sarah Jones, Danny Hoch, and Holly Hughes, along with the de rigueur event of the moment, experimental puppetry.
The Flea
41 White Street
Every year, this celebrated little TriBeCa performance space seems to get better, with regular visits by downtown talents like Rude Mechanicals and playwright Mac Wellman.
Russian Samovar
256 West 52nd Street
Do you really want to see your favorite author mouthing off at Barnes & Noble? Young writers Nicole Krauss and Fiona Maazel donít, either. Their intimate, eclectic Russian Samovar Readings Series has the neurotic flair of a labor of obsessive love, with tiny audiences, tiny glasses of vodka downstairs, and a tiny price tag.
Housing Works Used Book Cafe
126 Crosby Street
This small, activist cafe in SoHo draws writers like Rick Moody and Art Spiegelman, not to mention occasional visitors like Steve Martin who browse the bookshelves and donate copies of their latest work. The profits help Housing Works assist homeless people with AIDS.
183 West 10th Street
New York's high-end-jazz world has become almost strictly the turf of suits with expense accounts. But Small's has always been a rebuke to $50 covers. A meager charge gets you a full night of music from whenever you arrive until 8 A.M. — and you donít have to worry about $12 martinis either: This diminutive spot is strictly BYOB.
2751 Broadway
Perfectly free Sunday through Wednesday, never more than $20 Thursday to Saturday, Smoke hosts a revolving cast of terrific jazz bands. Big names like George Benson drop in to jam with the marquee acts, and most of the city's best side men play Sunday through Wednesday for absolutely nothing more than your applause.
Lenox Lounge
288 Lenox Avenue
Lenox Lounge is the clubland equivalent of the new VW bug: It's slick and true to its legendary history and still doesn't cost a bundle. Roaring back now with a fancy renovation and acts like vocalist Irene Reid and pianist John Hicks, the historic Lenox Lounge may generate yet another generation of nostalgia.
Merkin Concert Hall
129 West 67th Street
In 1997, the Hall was awarded the Chamber Music America/ASCAP first prize for Adventurous Programming — and it hasn't slowed down. Since then, the Hall has premiered Aaron Jay Kernis's Pulitzer-winning string quartet, a fresh crop of up-and-coming composers, and selected John Zorn to be the Hall's featured composer through 2002.