Author Archives: vashtie
When The Knicks are good…they are on fire. I don’t have much to say when they are not on fire, but then again – I love them unconditionally! Scored some nice tickets from Young Scoozle and went to peep the game. It was great. Then it snowed. Then we ate at Jack’s Wife Freda and then…the end.
(Oh and sign up for Uber using my code UBERVASHTIE and get 20$ off your first ride).
Enjoying Manhattans while enjoying Manhattan at Jack’s Wife Freda! It’s great to have friends in high places, but better to have good friends in the restaurant business. Lord knows, you will always walk away a little too full and tipsy.
Yep. Snow. Snow, people. Snow in April after the weather was in the 70′s. Thanks to tracking and whatever else the government is finagling with, the earth hates us and wants us expelled. I can’t blame her.
Had to wait after all the drama to post this amazing set that Supreme gave me. Peep the video, it totally looks like Biggie’s funeral. Anyways, this set was too adorable not to wear as one whole kit…you know, have to keep it hood sometimes.
LIFE: #1992TheParty at #HousePartyNYC Webster Hall – Photos via Photos NickyDigital.Com (Date: April 9th, 2014)
Have you been 1992 at Webster Hall’s #HOUSEPARTYNYC yet?! Well, you need to come. Book a trip, take a holiday, call out of work…but just come! You won’t regret it! Or maybe you will if you have real responsibilities, but I mean hey – take a break! Peep more via NickyDigital.com!
Whoever this girl was dancing on the stage (this is the stage), she made my entire night. She danced to every song with every one (stranger or known). She was also a Virgo and you know how I feel about Virgo’s (and Cancer’s and Capricorn’s). I didn’t even talk to her or get a chance to tell her how much I loved her – but, I knew she was a Virgo where she rolled her shirt up to reveal a lower back Virgo tatty. Thanks girl, you da best!
Ya’ll know Mariah can do no wrong in my book. This is one of my favorites videos and songs from her, all of her looks are flawless in this one. Perfect on a beautiful Throwback Thursday like this one! Enjoy.
“Well I guess I’m trying to be nonchalant about it
And I’m going to extremes to prove I’m fine without you
But in reality I’m slowly losing my my mind
Underneath the guise of a smile gradually I’m dying inside
Friends ask me how I feel and I lie convincingly
‘Cause I don’t want to reveal the fact that I’m suffering
So I wear my disguise ’til I go home at night
And turn down all the lights and then break down and cry”
-Mariah Carey, “Breakdown” Lyrics
RANDOM: The History Of Webster Hall, The Not So-New-Home of Vashtie’s Weekly Party – 1992 (Facts & Photos via KeithYorkCity)
Okay, so if you made or you didn’t make it to the opening night of New York City’s latest and greatest in nightlife (HOUSE PARTY at WEBSTER HALL) – there are AMAZING facts you should know about the legendary nightclub WEBSTER HALL.
Take this fact for instance; Webster Hall has not only been a nightclub! It served as a recording facility for RCA Victor Records from 1953-1968. – where musical legends like; Louis Armstrong, Perry Como, Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Bob Dylan and Lena Horne all recorded!
Webster Hall is a nightclub and concert venue located at 125 East 11th Street, between Third and Fourth Avenues, near Astor Place, in Manhattan, New York City. Built in 1886, its current incarnation was opened by the Ballinger Brothers in 1992. It serves as a nightclub, concert venue, corporate events center, and recording venue, and has a capacity of 2,500 people – including the club; 1,400 for the main stage.
The following text and photos via KEITHYORKCITY
“Beginning in 1870, the north side of East 11th Street in the East Village was dominated by the parochial school of St. Anne’s Roman Catholic Church. But in 1886, the congregation’s feathers were ruffled when a new building began construction next door and had the audacity to apply for a liquor license. It would be “intended for balls, receptions, Hebrew weddings, and sociables, and not a barroom,” the New York Times quoted. And despite the church’s protests, Webster Hall opened in February of 1887.”
Webster Hall sporting its ornate mansard roof ca 1900 (NYPL)
“The new events hall cost roughly $75,000, which was a tidy sum in the 1880s. Its eclectic Queen Anne facade was swathed in ornate red terra cotta tiles; terra cotta gained in popularity after a series of devastating fires leveled much of Chicago and Boston, and buildings constructed using brick and tiles were found to have fared much better than any others.
A meeting of a garment makers union ca 1914
Almost from the beginning, Webster Hall became known as a center for leftist, liberal political thought and action. An article in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle in 1888 stated, “Webster Hall … is a big, bare, dingy place, where all the year round discontented men meet to discuss their wrongs and sympathize with one another, and where secret societies and political organizations, labor unions and similar associations make a business of pleasure.”
By 1892, Webster Hall was doing so well that its owner, Charles Goldstein, began construction on a 3-story annex off its east side. The new wing would contain an apartment for Goldstein and his family, along with a saloon, restaurant, and ballroom. Charles died, however, in 1898, and the Hall shuffled through a series of lease and ownership exchanges for more than a decade until, in 1911, it suffered a devastating fire. The New York Times reported that, “all the upper floors of the hall were wrecked, with the damage estimated at $20,000.”
A Masquerade Ball, 1910s
(Schlessinger Library, Harvard/NY Times)
Following repairs, Webster Hall became widely known for its extravagant masquerade balls, which attracted the beginnings of Greenwich Village’s Bohemian subculture. Allen Church, in his 1959 book The Improper Bohemians, waxed, “So many dances-till-dawn and fancy dress balls were held there that one Villager said of himself and his wife: ‘We’ve sold our bed. Why sleep when there’s a dance every night at Webster Hall?’”
The event space also served a significant role in the development of New York’s early gay and lesbian scene. By the 1920s, gay men were organizing their own masquerades, where they were free to arrive in full drag. And their heterosexual late-night counterparts welcomed, and even encouraged, their presence at their balls and masquerades, as “they knew they enhanced the reputation and appeal of such events.”
Webster Hall with its Catholic School neighbor in the foreground, ca 1900.
It still has its mansard roof and its 1892 annex is already completed on its far side.
(Museum of the City of New York)
Webster Hall continued changing hands thoughout the 1920s before being purchased by Wand Holding Co. Under their ownership, the building underwent $220,000 in renovations in 1928, and just two years later, suffered another severe fire. With repair costs ballooning above $200,000, the owners eliminated the building’s attic and accompanying mansard roof.
A repaired Webster Hall was leased out as event space beginning in 1932. In 1938, however, it was struck by yet another fire; this one lasted for hours and killed two employees. Even Mayor LaGuardia stopped to view the conflagration. The hall would be engulfed in flames yet again in 1949, when it was completely gutted. It seems to be a testament to its “fire-proof” construction that its exterior walls never failed.
Rising, yet again, from the ashes, Webster Hall became a recording studio for RCA Victor Records from 1953-1968. Music icons including Louis Armstrong, Perry Como, Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, and Lena Horne all recorded in the hall, whose famed acoustics were difficult to match elsewhere in the city. In fact, a young Bob Dylan played harmonica on a 1962 recording of Harry Belafonte’s album Midnight Special, marking Dylan’s recording debut. Webster also became a favored location for the recording of cast recordings for Broadway musicals. Julie Andrews, Ethel Merman, Carol Channing, and Liza Minnelli are but a few of the more notable names from the Great White Way who recorded at RCA’s Webster Hall studios.
Tina Turner performing at The Ritz in Webster Hall in 1983
Beginning in 1980, Webster Hall housed the legendary rock & roll venue “The Ritz,” which was routinely referred to as “the best stage in New York City.” U2 and Depeche Mode both made their American stage debuts at The Ritz, Sting made his solo debut there in 1985, and the stage also hosted a pantheon of rock legends including Aerosmith, Metallica, KISS, Black Sabbath, Run-DMC, Iggy Pop, Bo Diddley, Guns N’ Roses, and even Tina Turner and Prince. Scenes for both Raging Bull and Big were also filmed at Webster during its 1980s renaissance.
The Ritz moved out in 1990, taking up residence in the space vacated by Studio 54, and Webster Hall underwent a significant renovation. Reopening in 1992 with state-of-the-art lighting and audio equipment, Webster once again became a premiere performance venue for New York City. Madonna filmed a special concert at Webster in 1995, Bill Clinton hosted an event there, and it even played host to an episode of Iron Chef. The 21st century saw Webster partner with the Bowery Ballroom to bring even more great and emerging artists to the stage, including Linkin Park, Mika, John Mayer, Robyn, and Modest Mouse.
In 2008, Webster Hall was designated a New York City Landmark, protecting it from the wave of new development that has recently washed over the East Village. For more than 125 years, the little red event space whose liquor license so upset its Catholic neighbors has risen from the ashes of fires four times, served as a political sounding board, fostered the development of the Greenwich Village Bohemian movements and its gay subculture, and hosted virtually every major musician and recording artist of the past century. There is perhaps no greater venue in New York that is so grossly overlooked by the rest of the country.”
(via KEITH YORK CITY)
“It felt like you really knew me,
now it feels like you see through me”
Last week, I had the incredible opportunity to watch a small and intimate show by THE XX at The Armory in New York City. Cell phone and cameras were not allowed and after experiencing the performance (yes, “experiencing”) I was so glad that I could focus my real-time focus on the moment.
I literally had no idea what their sound was about or even what they looked like, until that night. Their show was phenomenal! I kid you not. I watched in amazement and even cried from time to time…you know I’m a sucker for love (requited and unrequited) and love songs.
Peep this live performance of their song “Sunset”…
I’ve been hiding my deepening sadness of New York City for some time now. It’s been eating me up, but what else could I do? I’m “Downtown’s Sweetheart”, right? I’m constantly professing my love of this old dirt bag – how could I show any weakness about my love. I am still absolutely smitten with New York, my memories of what this city was intertwined with my fantasies of it keep me inspired – but, lately…I don’t know.
Vashtie, Coney Island NYC 2002
Sure, I may have been born in the capital and am no native New Yorker…but I am invested and obsessed with this city, forever.
For a while now, I have been voicing my opinions to friends about my depression over the state of New York City. So much has changed post 9-11 and not for the better; historic locally owned businesses are shuttering for ATM lobbies (as if we need more), the imbalance in demographic flocking to the city (mainly business types who contribute nothing to the culture of New York), artists who can no longer afford to live or create here, the very fact that SantaCon can happen here without those people being jumped is a mind boggle, etcetera!
Yes, times have changed and even before I moved here the city was changing, but not in the way that it is now. Now, it’s a HYPER-GENTRIFICATION – as stated and documented by James and Karla Murray (the photographers who brought us the wonderful book Store Front: The Disappearing Face of New York). They have a new project that documents how New York has changed drastically in the past 10 years and it’s frightening
Photo by James and Karla Murray
I used to walk down the street and find so many interesting people living their own lives with their own unique style; now everyone feels the same and it’s not just because of the internet which is good for homogenizing the world.
Vashtie, Little Italy NYC 2011
I could go on and on, but I won’t.
In October 2013, David Byrne wrote an article for Creative Times Reports on the very topic that was tearing me apart…titled “Will Work For Inspiration” (I meant to blog about it then, but my heartbreak over New York was being numbed by all my fun London & Paris travel). It’s an incredible read, especially for New York City residents.
I’ve copied and pasted it below with pictures of New York that make me sad and some that make me happy. It’s all of my feelings, just explained much better by Mr. Byrne. He mentions that he always waves to tourist double decker buses, which I always do too – for which he gets no response and neither do I. At the end of the article, Mr. Byrne asks the same question I’ve pondered…
“Where will I go?”. The very thought makes me want to cry…but, it’s the realest talk I’ve had to think about in a long time. It’s been in my head so much that I will be living in a new city for a few weeks come September, or at least I am planning on it…eeek. Where should I go? Actually, I already know where I am going – but, I’m open to suggestion.
++++++++++As part of Creative Time Reports’ Summit Series, musician, artist and bicycle diarist David Byrne considers New York City’s present and future ahead of the 2013 Creative Time Summit: Art, Place & Dislocation in the 21st Century City.
“I’m writing this in Venice, Italy. This city is a pleasantly confusing maze, once an island of fortresses, and now a city of tourists, culture (biennales galore) and crumbling relics. Venice used to be the most powerful city in Europe—a military, mercantile and cultural leader. Sort of like New York.
Venice is now a case study in the complete transformation of a city (there’s public transportation, but NO cars). Is it a living city? Is it a fossil? The mayor of Venice recently wrote a letter to the New York Review of Books, arguing that his city is indeed a place to live, not simply a theme park for tourists (he would like very much if the big cruise ships steered clear). I guess it’s a living place if you count tourism as an industry, which I suppose it is. New York has its share of tourists, too. I wave to the double-decker buses from my bike, but the passengers never wave back. Why? Am I not an attraction?
New York was recently voted the world’s favorite city—but when you break down the survey’s results, the city comes in at #1 for business and only #5 for living. Fifth place isn’t completely embarrassing, but what are the criteria? What is it that attracts people to this or any city? Forget the business part. I’ve been in Hong Kong, and unless one already has the means to live luxuriously, business hubs aren’t necessarily good places for living. Cities may have mercantile exchange as one of their reasons for being, but once people are lured to a place for work, they need more than offices, gyms and strip clubs to really live.
“New York is funky, in the original sense of the word—New York smells like sex.”
Michael Jackson, NYC Subway 1980′s
Work aside, we come to New York for the possibility of interaction and inspiration. Sometimes that possibility of serendipitous encounters—and I don’t mean in the meat market—is the principal lure. If one were to vote based on criteria like comfort or economic security, then one wonders why anyone would ever vote for New York at all over Copenhagen, Stockholm or some other less antagonistic city that offers practical amenities like affordable health care, free universities, free museums, common spaces and, yes, bike lanes. But why can’t one have both—the invigorating energy and the civic, intelligent humanism?
Basquiat & Warhol by Ricky Powell
Maybe those Scandinavian cities do in fact have both, but New York has something else to offer, thanks to successive waves of immigrants that have shaped the city. Arriving from overseas, one is immediately struck by the multi-ethnic makeup of New York. Other cities might be cleaner, more efficient or comfortable, but New York is funky, in the original sense of the word—New York smells like sex.
Immigrants to New York have contributed to the city’s vibrancy decade after decade. In some cities around the world, immigrants are relegated to being a worker class, or a guest-worker class; they’re not invited to the civic table. New York has generally been more welcoming, though people of color have never been invited to the table to the same extent as European immigrants.
I moved to New York in the mid-1970s because it was a center of cultural ferment—especially in the visual arts (my dream trajectory, until I made a detour), though there was a musical draw too, even before the downtown scene exploded. New York was legendary. It was where things happened, on the East Coast anyway. One knew in advance that life in New York would not be easy, but there were cheap rents in cold-water lofts without heat, and the excitement of being here made up for those hardships. I didn’t move to New York to make a fortune. Survival, at that time, and at my age then, was enough. Hardship was the price one paid for being in the thick of it.
“I don’t believe that crime, danger and poverty make for good art. That’s bullshit.”
Photo by Bruce Davidson
As one gets a little older, those hardships aren’t so romantic—they’re just hard. The tradeoff begins to look like a real pain in the ass if one has been here for years and years and is barely eking out a living. The idea of making an ongoing creative life—whether as a writer, an artist, a filmmaker or a musician—is difficult unless one gets a foothold on the ladder, as I was lucky enough to do. I say “lucky” because I have no illusions that talent is enough; there are plenty of talented folks out there who never get the break they deserve.
Some folks believe that hardship breeds artistic creativity. I don’t buy it. One can put up with poverty for a while when one is young, but it will inevitably wear a person down. I don’t romanticize the bad old days. I find the drop in crime over the last couple of decades refreshing. Manhattan and Brooklyn, those vibrant playgrounds, are way less scary than they were when I moved here. I have no illusions that there was a connection between that city on its knees and a flourishing of creativity; I don’t believe that crime, danger and poverty make for good art. That’s bullshit. But I also don’t believe that the drop in crime means the city has to be more exclusively for those who have money. Increases in the quality of life should be for all, not just a few.
Photo by Bruce Davidson
The city is a body and a mind—a physical structure as well as a repository of ideas and information. Knowledge and creativity are resources. If the physical (and financial) parts are functional, then the flow of ideas, creativity and information are facilitated. The city is a fountain that never stops: it generates its energy from the human interactions that take place in it. Unfortunately, we’re getting to a point where many of New York’s citizens have been excluded from this equation for too long. The physical part of our city—the body—has been improved immeasurably. I’m a huge supporter of the bike lanes and the bike-share program, the new public plazas, the waterfront parks and the functional public transportation system. But the cultural part of the city—the mind—has been usurped by the top 1 percent.
rejection of the culture that led to the financial crisis.”
What then is the future of New York, or really of any number of big urban centers, in this New Gilded Age? Does culture have a role to play? If we look at the city as it is now, then we would have to say that it looks a lot like the divided city that presumptive mayor Bill De Blasio has been harping about: most of Manhattan and many parts of Brooklyn are virtual walled communities, pleasure domes for the rich (which, full disclosure, includes me and some of the Creative Time team), and aside from those of us who managed years ago to find our niche and some means of income, there is no room for fresh creative types. Middle-class people can barely afford to live here anymore, so forget about emerging artists, musicians, actors, dancers, writers, journalists and small business people. Bit by bit, the resources that keep the city vibrant are being eliminated.
Beastie Boys Photo by Lynn Goldstein 1986
This city doesn’t make things anymore. Creativity, of all kinds, is the resource we have to draw on as a city and a country in order to survive. In the recent past, before the 2008 crash, the best and the brightest were lured into the world of finance. Many a bright kid graduating from university knew that they could become fairly wealthy almost instantly if they found employment at a hedge fund or some similar institution. But before the financial sector came to dominate the world, they might have made things: in publishing, manufacturing, television, fashion, you name it. As in many other countries the lure of easy bucks Hoovered this talent and intelligence up—and made it difficult for those other kinds of businesses to attract any of the top talent.
Photo by Jeff Mermelstein
A culture of arrogance, hubris and winner-take-all was established. It wasn’t cool to be poor or struggling. The bully was celebrated and cheered. The talent pool became a limited resource for any industry, except Wall Street. I’m not talking about artists, writers, filmmakers and musicians—they weren’t exactly on a trajectory toward Wall Street anyway—but any businesses that might have employed creative individuals were having difficulties surviving, and naturally the arty types had a hard time finding employment too.
“If young, emerging
talent of all types can’t find a foothold in this city, then it will be a city closer to Hong Kong or Abu Dhabi than to the rich fertile place it has historically been.”
Keith Haring, 1980′s Subway Station
Unlike Iceland, where the government let misbehaving banks fail and talented kids became less interested in leaping into the cesspool of finance, in New York there has been no public rejection of the culture that led to the financial crisis. Instead, there has been tacit encouragement of the banking industry’s actions from figures like Mayor Bloomberg. The nation’s largest financial institutions are almost all still around, still “too big to fail” and as powerful as ever. One might hope that enlightened bankers might emulate the Medicis and fund culture-makers—both emerging artists and those still in school—as a way of ensuring a continued talent pool that would invent stuff and fill the world with ideas and inspiration, but other than buying blue-chip art for their walls and donating to some institutions what is, for them, small change, they don’t seem to be very much interested in replenishing the talent pool.
One would expect that the 1 percent would have a vested interest in keeping the civic body healthy at least—that they’d want green parks, museums and symphony halls for themselves and their friends, if not everyone. Those indeed are institutions to which they habitually contribute. But it’s like funding your own clubhouse. It doesn’t exactly do much for the rest of us or for the general health of the city. At least, we might sigh, they do that, as they don’t pay taxes—that we know.
Stills from Larry Clark’s film “Kids” 1995
Many of the wealthy don’t even live here. In the neighborhood where I live (near the art galleries in Chelsea), I can see three large condos from my window that are pretty much empty all the time. What the fuck!? Apparently rich folks buy the apartments, but might only stay in them a few weeks out of a year. So why should they have an incentive to maintain or improve the general health of the city? They’re never here.
Photo by Martha Cooper
This real estate situation—a topic New Yorkers love to complain about over dinner—doesn’t help the future health of the city. If young, emerging talent of all types can’t find a foothold in this city, then it will be a city closer to Hong Kong or Abu Dhabi than to the rich fertile place it has historically been. Those places might have museums, but they don’t have culture. Ugh. If New York goes there—more than it already has—I’m leaving.
But where will I go? Join the expat hipsters upstate in Hudson?
Can New York change its trajectory a little bit, become more inclusive and financially egalitarian? Is that possible? I think it is. It’s still the most stimulating and exciting place in the world to live and work, but it’s in danger of walking away from its greatest strengths. The physical improvements are happening—though much of the crumbling public infrastructure still needs fixing. If the social and economic situation can be addressed, we’re halfway there. It really could be a model of how to make a large, economically sustainable and creatively energetic city. I want to live in THAT city.”
I still love you New York…always and forever. I just need you to get it together…for me, for you, for us.
I am so excited for my friend Dexter Navy for directing and editing his beautiful video for artist, Rainy Milo. I met him in Paris last year and he has quickly become one of my favorite people. He also happens to be an incredible artist!
Directed & Edited by: Dexter Navy
Director of Photography: Nicholas Wiesnet
Color Grading: Trevor Durtschi
Produced by: Rebel Management
Big Thanks To: FourTwoFourOnFairfax, Sarah Park, Samina Soltani, Jordan Freedman, ntropic and everyone that worked on the video.