Thursday, April 28, 2011

Alphabet City is often regarded as one of the poorer areas of New York, and this is, for the most part, true. But the culture and cultural importance of Alphabet City cannot be overemphasized. From the food to the art - yes, graffiti is art - Alphabet City has a New York voice all its own. Here are a couple of things to look forward to in the upcoming weeks and months.

Report Card Success

Alphabet City indeed! Restaurants and bars up and down Avenues A through D are scoring As and Bs. The New York Post lists 10 establishments that are worth checking out and not just for their great report card. Affaire, Percy’s Tavern and Cienfuegos are just a couple.

And Action!

The first annual ABCD Film Festival will take place this summer. The Alphabet City Dolly Festival aims to offer a platform for local independent films. The festival will take place from August 1 to 13 and will be held along Avenues A, B and C between First and Fourteenth Street.

Good food with a pinch of exclusivity

One of my favorite things about the warm weather is outdoor seating and at the end of April Edi & the Wolf, the well-known Austrian tavern, which already has outdoor seating, will open a private backyard space. Edi & the Wolf is located at 102 Avenue C (7th Street).

Change, at last.

Lower East Side residents rejoice! Dry Dock Park – the 1.5-acre space on East 10th Street and Avenue D is finally seeing some love. After more than a year of waiting, the public space is finally getting some love with new drinking fountains, a spray shower, resurfaced basketball courts and new fences, Parks Department officials said. The revitalization comes as a result of the $1.2 million allocated by City Councilwoman Rosie Mendez.

The construction is planned to start in Spring 2012, and the Parks Department hopes to return to the community with an update in the next four to six months.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Through the Rabbit Hole

In eight years New York University’s Fales Library, a special collection which houses roughly 225,000 volumes and over 8,000 linear feet of archive and manuscript material, has gone from having nothing in the realm of a culinary collection to one of the largest food studies collection in the United States with some 55,000 volumes.

That’s just one example of the ambition that drives the Mecca-esque collection of English and American literature, the Downtown Collection, the general Special Collections of the NYU library and, as mentioned, the Food and Cookery Collection.

The Fales has roughly 18,000 patrons, which for a collection of some 225,000 volumes is quite large. The collection was given to NYU in 1957 by DeCoursey Fales, who originally and in vain offered the collection to Harvard University.

Last week my journalism “Beat” class went on a fieldtrip to the Fales Library. At first you might not see the connection between journalism and a fieldtrip to a special collection, but there is one – just as there’s one with a fieldtrip to Google’s NY Headquarters (more on that later).

As my professor, Betty Liu, put it – “See what it’s like to walk into someone’s world with them?” That’s so much of what journalism is – walking into someone’s world with them and learning something important from that, something that you then relate to people who weren’t lucky enough to be there with you.

All this information comes courtesy of Marvin Taylor, director of the The Fales Library and the man who led us through the rabbit-hole into his world. Listening to him talk about the Downtown Collection was fascinating. The Downtown Collection documents the downtown New York art, performance, and literary scenes from 1975 to the present. I don’t pretend to know much about this time or even about the genres that Taylor spoke about – to say my knowledge of punk is limited would be an understatement.

But in that short period of time, Taylor taught me a whole hell of a lot about punk – not just the bare-bone facts, but about the social importance and cultural impact of a movement that, to be honest, I did not really respect.

Basically what I’m saying is, go to Fales, spend some times with books in the flesh – not via your computer and I promise you, you will learn something.

Alphabet City Graffiti

Alphabet City Graffiti