Back and to the LeftA new book by Salon.com founder David Talbot claims that the JFK assassination was the joint work of the CIA and the Mafia. Philadelphia TV reporter Alycia Lane mistakenly sent risqué e-mails intended for NFL Network anchor Rich Eisen to his wife. Pete Wentz wants his new East Village bar, Angels and Kings, to be a place where people can have sex in the bathroom. A lot of bankers can no longer expense meals at Hawaiian Tropic Zone. Alec Baldwin skipped the premiere of his new movie to go to Canyon Ranch in the Berkshires. Good move: The screening — of a movie in which he plays an estranged father after a messy divorce — would have been awkward. Penélope Cruz bought the wait staff at the Waverly Inn a round of shots. Rosie O’Donnell dropped a subtle hint that she may be headed to CBS. Boy George was arrested in London for keeping some guy chained to his wall. Tom Cruise and Brooke Shields gambled together in Vegas.
Truth in City-Mandated Bathroom Signage
We hadn’t been to Commonwealth bar, in Park Slope, for quite some time till this weekend. But we were reminded that we always liked the sensibility there. We suspect the bar staff might feel otherwise.
Employees Only Is Always Crowded, Sometimes With a Brass BandAt West Village cocktail joint Employees Only, the place is jammed from eight till midnight or so nearly every night, on weekends the line to get in runs down the block, and the upstairs neighbors sometimes throw fruit on revelers in the back garden, according to manager and maître d’ Dagny Mendelsohn. But it’s also just about impossible to get a bad drink from one of the expert bartenders, she says, and there’s a decent chance you might snag yourself a barback. Find out the other secrets of Employees Only at Grub Street, where Mendelsohn is this week’s Ask a Waiter.
Dagny Mendelsohn of Employees Only Defends Her Customers From Flying Fruit [Grub Street]
Just What New York Needs: Another Fashion-Themed BarApparently the not-exactly- bumpin’ Fashion 40 Lounge hasn’t taught people not to open up fashion-themed clubs. On April 12, promoters Greg Barrias and Rich Messina will open Runway at 4 East 28th Street, near Fifth Avenue, which only coincidentally shares its name with the magazine in The Devil Wears Prada. We’re skeptical of the Wheresville location and the 25-foot catwalk in the center of the club (after the first couple of times someone reenacts the Zoolander walk-off, it’s not going to be funny anymore, no matter how many $10 Chinatown Cosmos are going around), but we at least give Barrias and Messina credit for having Lindsay Lohan host the opening. It’s going to be good press when she mows down another photographer outside of the place. —Daniel Maurer
CORRECTION, April 2: Runway was the Devil Wears Prada magazine. Not the 13 Going on 30 magazine. Which we originally said. We’re dumb. Sorry.
We Just Go to the Penthouse Club for the Intellectual Conversation
You’re not particularly surprised that Sara, a waitress at the Penthouse Executive Club — presumably Frank Bruni’s new favorite cocktail lounge — looks like, well, that. You’re also probably not entirely surprised that Sara once received as a tip a pair of two-carat, platinum-set diamonds, from a regular customer who, she explains, “always liked to sit with me.” But you likely didn’t expect that Sara is also working on a doctorate in philosophy, that she calls working at the club her “mind-body dualism” (“I maintain an accurate balance in the social-physical world and the thought-filled world,” she says), or that she’s never walked in on anything more explicit that PG-13. Learn lots more about Sara at Grub Street.
Sara of the Penthouse Executive Club Knows Your Children’s Names [Grub Street]
Introducing GONYC, Which We Proclaim the Best Thing Ever
So nymag.com is launching this new service, and, although we know it’s our job to say so, we’d say it anyway: It’s pretty amazingly cool. It’s called GONYC, and it lets you access the listings info we’ve got on the site from the comfort and privacy of your cell phone. How’s that? It’s a text-back service. Send a text message to GONYC — that’s 46692, for those of you more numerically inclined — saying, for example, “name planet rose” (we never remember if it’s on First or A), and it nearly immediately returns the bar’s location, phone number, and whether it’s a Critic’s Pick. (Avenue A, as it turns out.) You can look up a restaurant or bar by name (type “name” then the name: “name wxou”), bars by location (type “bar” then a Zip Code, borough, or neighborhood), or restaurants by cuisine and location (“food” then cuisine then neighborhood: “food chinese west village”). We’ve been playing with it all morning, and we’re loving it. It’s explained with pretty pictures at nymag.com/mobile. Go.
Show Me the Way to the Next Liquor Bar
For as long as there have been bars, there have been bartenders, and for as long as there have been bartenders, there have been liquored-up customers talking to them. What do they say to you when you’re the bartender at Schiller’s Liquor Bar? Well, the girls give you their numbers, the guys tell you about the urinary exploits, and a middle-aged guy likes to ask about sex clubs. There’s a lot more in this week’s Ask a Waiter, at Grub Street.
Boyfriend Cheating? Corey Lima of Schiller’s Is There for You [Grub Street]
in other news
City Proposal Could Limit Bars to One Homicide Per YearThe City Council is reportedly mulling a curious proposal that would shut down bars as “public nuisances” if more than one person is killed there within a year. That’s right — one murder is fine, but two are pushing it. How very Deadwood. Apart from that eye-catching provision, however, the proposal’s language frees authorities to close places for pretty much any repeated violations (for instance, regular pot smoking or three “violent felonies” on the premises). Club owners, including the folks behind Sol and Crobar, are crying foul: According to them, the nuisance legislation’s language is so vague it can slap the n-word (nuisance, that is) on a bar for virtually any infraction. Which could be a problem. While we’re all for the thinning of the progressively vile 27th Street herd, we’d prefer that the culling be done constitutionally.
Council Mulls Bill To Tighten Curbs on Bars [NYS]
The Short, Drunken Life of Club Row [NYM]
in other news
From Bottle Service to Butler Service?Think bottle service isn’t bad enough? Get ready for, well, bottle-service service. The City Council is chewing over a plan that would ban “unattended” pouring in clubs, which means your $900 bottle of Blue Label could soon come with a chaperone attached. Considering that the bottle service itself began as an unsubtle method of weeding out the riffraff, the new rule would launch the practice into truly stratospheric levels of snootiness. Why is the City Council getting into this? Well, apparently, the current form of bottle service makes it hard to keep underage drinkers from imbibing the sweet liquor. Or, perhaps, it’s a job-creation issue. After all, the amendment would result in the city’s crappiest new position: that of a chaperone-butler-concierge-nanny stationed at a single booth all night, waiting to personally refresh a reveler’s drink. Oh, fun.
Plan Would Ban Pouring Your Own [Newsday]
Bottle Service: A Brief History [NYM]
Brooklyn Pinup Girls
• Brooklyn:Get the borough man in your life a Brooklyn Girls calendar (right). But only if he likes white girls. [Trendy Nation via Sunset Parker]
• Chelsea: The Limelight is resurrected as retail space. So instead of a “drug supermarket,” it will just be an actual market. [NYP]
• Clinton Hill: Find all the bars, restaurants, and stores on this new neighborhood map. [Clinton Hill Blog]
• Coney Island: Will Big Apple Circus get a permanent performance space on the boardwalk? [Brooklyn Eagle via Gowanus Lounge]
• Fort Greene: If the weekend’s “Merry Gridlock” event protesting Atlantic Yards is any indication of the traffic from Atlantic Yards, we’re screwed. Good thing the vote is delayed till next year. [Dope on the Slope]
• Williamsburg: Ride your bike to the Bedford Avenue L station. With wider sidewalks and new bike racks, there will be plenty of room. [Streetsblog]
in other news
Feds to City: Get Moving
We are, apparently, in the money. Charlie Rangel hasn’t yet taken over the House Ways and Means Committee, and yet already New York is getting the means to improve our ways. Today’s papers report that the U.S. Department of Transportation has given final approval to some $2.6 billion in funding for two major New York transit projects. The Second Avenue subway — pardon us, the T line — will get $693 million of federal money. (Does this mean freelance writer Jane Everhart will get to keep her apartment?) And the East Side Access project, which will linking the LIRR to Grand Central will get $2.6 billion from the Feds, the most money ever earmarked to a mass-transit project. It’s weird: It’s almost like Washington wants to stay on our good side or something.
Long Planned, Transit Projects Get U.S. Help [NYT]
in other news
If You Spun It, Here’s How It Would Have Happened
Now that we know Judith Regan was fired from HarperCollins over a volley of anti-Semitic remarks, it strikes us that with the recent bumper crop of Great Moments in Racism — Michael Richards–gate, Rosie-gate, Mel Gibson Über alles — our culture has found a new cottage industry: Awesome excuses for Great Moments in Racism. And nearly all of them have shown up already in the Regan affair. After the jump, a cheat sheet for spinning your next ching chong.
in other news
White House Movie of the Week
Here’s the photo that ran in today’s Times of the newly refurbished White House Situation Room. Although still not as sleek and/or oppressive as its many Hollywood avatars, from 24 to Strangelove’s War Room, at least now it has LCD flat screens, better sound isolation, fiber-optic ca — wait a second. Who’s on that screen on the right? It sure doesn’t look like Tony Blair or Pervez Musharraf or Dick Cheney. Is it … could it be … yup, a quick canvass of our filmic colleagues provides a consensus: It’s Nicolas Cage. Note the thoughtful chin-gripping action — so intense. The scene, then, is one of the earlier sequences from Oliver Stone’s World Trade Center. (“God, I do hope it’s Con Air,” said New York film editor Logan Hill, before conceding it’s not.) We’re, of course, shocked that the White House would play a movie about 9/11 while showing off the new Situation Room. But ever better is this: The DVD just came out last week.
Overhaul Moves White House Data Center Into Modern Era [NYT]
in other news
Breaking: Jailing People for Speaking Out May Be IllegalA Manhattan federal jury has confirmed something you probably knew all along: It seems throwing political protesters in the slammer, instead of writing them a ticket, kinda sorta interferes with the First Amendment. The NYPD’s lock-’em-up policy, born amid the paranoia of 2001, was short-lived (it’s already off the books) and resulted in about 30 arrests, which now may mean 30 settlements for NYPD to cough up. The biggest mistake the boys in blue apparently made was committing the policy to the books in the first place: Nothing leaves a paper trail like, well, paper. The demonstrators’ side alleged that the practice had existed for years as an unwritten rule — ever since the 1999 Amadou Diallo shooting and the spate of rallies it occasioned. Lacking concrete proof, the jury didn’t buy it; if it had, the city would be looking at about 350 more settlements. Darned First Amendment.
Jury Rules Against NYPD’s Rally Lockups [NYDN]
Eating — and Eating! — With the ‘Daily News’; Drinking and Dancing With ‘Star’With less than a week left till Christmas, company-holiday-party season is nearing its end. But for a last few fabulous nights, it keeps going strong — and naturally crasher extraordinaire Julia Allison is there. Last night she hit the Daily News do at the Copa and the Star shindig at Dirty Disco. Which one had a face-painter? Which one had only caffeinated vodka? Julia’s reports await.
The Lease Versus the Liquor LicenseWhat happens when one guy holds a bar’s lease and another its liquor license? You can find out at tonight’s Community Board 2 business-committee meeting, when irate regulars from Milanos on Houston Street will protest a possible license transfer from longtime owner Denis Lynch to East Village bar magnate David McWaters, who owns the Library and Nice Guy Eddie’s, among other establishments, and now has the lease for Milanos.
McWaters says that he signed a new lease for the property about twelve months ago and that Lynch’s lease expired on November 15 which Lynch, who thought he had a verbal deal for a renewal, concedes. But Lynch won’t give up the bar’s liquor license. “One is no good without the other,” he says. “The license is no good to me without a lease. The lease is no good to McWaters without the license. I’m not agreeing to no transfer of the licensing.”
Theater People Celebrate an Institution, Complain About SexLast night was the fifth-anniversary celebration for Angus McIndoe’s, the theater-district hot spot popular before shows with tourists and after shows with actors and critics, and the party drew what one wag identified as the five sectors of the theatergoing population: gays, Jews, gay Jews, the WASPs who write about them, and the women who love them all. Much of the talk was about Spring Awakening, the exhilarating rock musical that opened Sunday night to amazing reviews in yesterday’s papers, and if you’re wondering why the show — about sexual discovery and repression among nineteenth-century teenagers — has struck such a chord with theater critics and reporters, you need only step into their world for a night to learn that this crowd knows more than a little about sexual frustration.
All the Petraske You’ve Been Dreaming OfHow 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]
27th Street Shuffle: West Chelsea Nightlife Mogul Snatches Plagued MegaclubWhile 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
in other news
Amy Sacco Might Be Done With Bungalow, and Fabian Basabe Will Happily Dance on Its GraveToday’s Observer brings the sad news that Bungalow 8, the West Chelsea lounge you’re nowhere near famous enough to get into, will likely soon be divested from club queen Amy Sacco’s empire. “I’m gonna do whatever I feel is necessary for myself,” she tells the paper. “But I’m not going to stay if I can’t get my customers to walk down the block.” Mother of mercy, is this the end of Bungalow?
We asked someone who’d know: Party boy about town Fabian Basabe, who was a Bungalow regular until he filed a pesky little lawsuit in August after he was denied entrance and subsequently, he claims, punched by the doorman. Basabe was less gleeful than we’d have expected, but he also got right to the point:
I think that when certain people started going and other people stopped going, it died. There isn’t that kind of exclusivity on 27th Street anymore. The Gramercy Hotel and Double Seven blow Bungalow away.
Presumably, of course, those places are still letting him in. — Brian Niemietz
UPDATE: Sacco calls back to tell us that reports of her desire to sell Bungalow are “total bullshit.”
A Nightlife Queen Gets Ready to Sell Her Chilly Hotspot [NYO]
Bungalow 8 Update II: Sacco Maybe Just Airing Frustration, Maybe Not Selling [Eater]
205 to be Eighty-Sixed?
205, the de facto after-party spot for downtown’s skaters, bar owners, and artists (not to mention Serge Becker’s entourage of models), is such a hipster destination that they recently turned away Keanu Reeves (according to the friend who tried to get him in). But the last laugh may ultimately be on the club, as evidenced by a bright-orange restraining order on the door, served in August to the club’s previous incarnation, 6’s and 8’s, after underage drinking and drug-use busts. Having unsuccessfully tried to reach a settlement with the city, 205 owner Guy Jacobson will go to State Supreme Court on Tuesday to fight the possibility of being temporarily closed under the three-strikes-you’re-out Nuisance Abatement Law. Jacobson (who also owned 6’s and 8’s and currently owns Café Deville and Belmont Lounge) says that since the order was issued, police have gone undercover as taxi drivers, asking patrons leaving the club whether they were offered drugs. But he insists the city has 205 unfairly pegged: “Belmont Lounge and Café Deville used to be drug dens before I bought them; I cleaned them out. I have a license to sell one drug; it’s the one behind the bar.”
— Daniel Maurer