A Stunning East Village Day

A few weeks ago my Dad was in town and he is a bad influence. While I want to obsess about real estate transactions, real estate transactions, sports, my fitness, and real estate transactions, he wants to talk about history, eat good food, and waste time with so called interesting people.

To mollify him we went to my Barber Jay, and then to B&H Dairy, which this week was notable in that it did not explode.

So another time we will talk about B&H and my Dad, and his telling of the Jewish history of Second Ave, the East Village, the LES. My Dad is an NYC Jew, just like myself, my sister Yoshi, and B&H Dairy, the best place for blintzes, whose tagline is CHALLAH! por favor. This is important to point out. To me- hearing about my ancestors struggles and immigrant experience, has always been a source of pride – and it is a heritage that is inquisitive, open minded, and appreciative of diversity.

I sell a lot of real estate in the East Village. Josh Rubin and I are among the top selling agents in the neighborhood. It’s notable because the apartments are quirky, and have certain idiosyncrasies that make sense if you have a sense of the history of the neighborhood. As a matter of fact in 2 weeks I will be releasing a PH (walk-up) One Bed with a private roof deck asking $700,000. Email me to see it first.

So this week, on the day that three buildings exploded, on Second Avenue, I was closing on an apartment at 347 E 5th St PHA where I represented the seller and buyer. It was a weird transaction in a weird building. Shout out to Michael Bensimon at Sterling National Bank for getting the loan done, despite 60% of the building being rentals.

On the day of the closing, we do the walk through, and there is evidence of a roof leak. This leads to conflict, negotiation, etc… Then on the way to the closing the Second Ave explosion happens so we are stuck in traffic. So we get to the closing late. But you know what – in the end we got the building to repaint the apartment (they had already patched the leak) and buyer and seller ended a curt business deal with more smiles that had been evident than at any point prior.

Then I go and check out something I have been meaning to see for quite some time, a jewel of the East Village, the art show Polar Opposites currently at NOoSPHERE ARTS at 251 East Houston St. Now, mind you, I didn’t actually know about the explosion and the fire. So while I am getting a private tour of the show, an infantry of fire trucks is going past me on Houston St. Later on I would catch wind of the news. Dramatic to say the least. And sad.

The art show was very dramatic in its own right. In fact with all the bullshit, traffic, leaks, nags, sirens, etc… that plague our New York lives, being able to see incredible creativity is one nice thing we can enjoy.

The show is made up of three artists, two photographers and a painter. As an artist myself, I am a harsh critic. I am also a loving critic. I really liked all the artists.

Here is what to look for when you go to the show (open now until 4/12.)


Daniel Kordan: Thomas Kincaid-ish…. I hope that’s not a dig. Kordan is a magician. His idyllic Arctic Circle villages do remind me of Kincaid’s paintings though (which is like the kiss of death for an NYC artist, but it shouldn’t be.) Anyway Mr. Kordan is from Moscow (like most Brooklynites – jk/lol.) His use of exposure and surface really is evocative – in a way Kincaid is not. The juxtaposition of light, ice, and flowing water are painterly, luscious, and beautiful. These images are not ashamed of bold composition and clear moments of interest. A renaissance of the beautiful landscape emerges.

Christine Kjelsmark: the lone painter in the show, her work is plein-air meets street art, meets the Faro Islands. She has a fun style and includes legion birds doing cute things in their Mountain River Arctic Oasis as the clouds roll along. Her artwork shows a connection to the splendor of green and character of white and ice that only a Northern artist would be sensitive to.

Jeff Orlowski: Jeff’s photos are a bit political (sadly) and are an outgrowth of his Academy Award nominated film, Chasing Ice, chronicling the melting of the glaciers. Jeff identifies himself as a photographer and a filmmaker, and his work is cinematic and rich. Lively icebergs on Mountains give way to a feeling of adventure, and almost magical fantasy, made richer by the understanding this is documented majesty, not photoshopped fiction.

I want to thank Kirsten Wildfang for arranging for me to see the show, and I really recommend it if you want something new to do in the East Village / Lower East Side. Like all historic moments, it won’t be around forever.

The Sexiest Thing Happening Behind Closed Doors

Text from my friend’s girlfriend: Dave!! The company I work for is having a benefit tomorrow and a showing, its 7 – 9pm , 25$ but drinks and food and music, cool peeps. I’m making XXXX come, but he would probably enjoy it better if you came hahah!! And there will dancer hot ladies!! Please say you’ll come!! :):):)

So… I went.

My buddy meets me and looks like a million bucks, which is cool, and I’m not dressed as nice, but nice enough. We sprint to get there by 7:00, find the building, and once inside are told directions by a stunning woman in an otherwise blah lobby, and take the elevator up to a high floor, where we get out in a non-descript hallway, make a few turns, and find more stunning / sexy / pierced / cleverly shaved and fit people sitting in a hall, and we then proceed to wait.

After some time the door opens on to the physical headquarters of Sidra Bell Dance New York, and we enter.

I use the words physical headquarters because Dance can truly transcend a space, and over the course of the evening, I would learn how powerful and intense the company is, which wasn’t immediately apparent, as the door opened into a dance studio with a DJ and speakers, a stage positioned 20” high off the ground, and a table set up with wine, crudité, and a raffle.

Ever the supporter of the arts I partake in the crudité and raffle tickets.  For $20 I purchase 12 tickets. The tickets are for 4 different categories, and range from a $50 iTunes gift card to illustrations of the dancers, tickets for future performances,  and Knicks tickets (for next year, obviously.) I spread my action over all 4 categories. This was a useful strategy which yielded a good ROI, because while there was only 1 Knicks ticket gift available, there were a lot of $50 iTunes Gift Cards, and so I actually won! (The End)

Sidra Bell


Continued – Anyway, before my victory, the company presented the first of three dance showcases. Look, I am not going to pretend to be a dance critic. I am going to share what I saw.

The Sidra Bell Company is made up of four dancers, and the highly lauded Artistic Director Bell is supported in her organization by a team including a vibrant Board, a sophisticated General Manager, and a team of support staff who are obviously creative, and function as the glue. Before the first of the dances, they were also “on stage,” metaphorically. Our hosts were mingling, sharing, and making us feel welcomed. A projector looped performances on a wall, and the mood was very inviting.

Jonathan Campbell, Austin Diaz, Associate Artistic Director Alexandra Johnson, & Rebecca Margolick are the performers. These are four human beings who do something they may call dance. For me, it was not so much a performance as it is also an intimate experience. Each of these unique creatures brings a wisdom and vivaciousness that lets the viewer know without doubt they are in the presence of a master.

The first number is incredibly sharp, as the company uses their 4 elements in a sequence of solos, building as multiple routines are happening in a way that the eye has to focus on one or two of the dancers, as you can’t see all 4 at one time, and they are almost acting out an homage to a rave, or a club scene, and on the way, sophomoric and light moments are punctuated by powerful vibrant moments. The motions are sexy. Powerful break dance themed moves yield to slower more tense movements, and the performers are owning the space. On the faces of the performers that are just a few feet away are expressions that is method acting at its height. The dancers aren’t trying to dance to the music, they are so focused it feels as if their focus and movement creates the accompanying bass beats and snares. And then, the last passage of the opening performance, culminates when the faux rave devolves into a dance circle, and Margolick does a routine that is completely campy and silly, and is laughing at herself, and the effect is to illuminate the divide between the hobby of dancing and the art form.

I can’t really do justice to describing the dance numbers, and frankly, they don’t need to be described, they need to be witnessed. What I would say though, unequivocally, is that the leadership is clearly pushing the envelope, the dancers are more than talented performers, they are iconic, and that the organization is in a strong place.

The last takeaway I had as the evening went on and I met many friends of the company, was the bonds and energy and work ethic that so clearly laid the foundation for this work. All of us have jobs or responsibilities, and the power of the commitment these people had, their mutual acceptance, complex self-conscious creations, and ability to be in synch inspired me not only as a spectator, but also as a businessman as it was really a great illustration of what corporations everywhere are striving to achieve.