Selected Events Manhattan’s WestSide (03/26)+ Today’s Featured Neighborhood: Greenwich Village

Today’s “Fab 5”+1 / Selected NYCity Events – WEDNESDAY, MAR. 26, 2014.

For other useful and curated NYCity event info for Manhattan’s WestSide check out:
♦ “Notable NYC Events-Mar”, and also “on Broadway”, and “Top10 Free” in the header above.
♦  For NYCity trip planning see links in “Resources” and “Smart Stuff” in the header above.

The New York Public Library’s weekly series in Astor Hall (the soaring space just inside the main entry) featuring a writer in conversation with a member of the library’s staff, continues with Michael Cunningham.  Mr. Cunningham is the author of six novels, including Home at the End of the World, Flesh and Blood and The Hours, which won him the Pulitzer and the PEN/Faulkner Award.
New York Public Library, Fifth Ave. at 42nd St.

Fantastic Old Photos From Art Shay, On Display In NYC For The 1st Time
“Photographer Art Shay has taken photos of just about everyone in his lifetime (and the 92-year-old is still at it)—from JFK and Ali to Cash and Dolly to Leary and some layabouts on Coney Island. The Bronx-raised Shay—who now lives in Chicago, and has become a good friend to Billy Corgan—has captured iconic photographs of many—some of which made it to the cover of LIFE magazine.

You can view his old photos (along with stories in his own words) in the Gothamist archives, and now you see his work off-screen at the Morrison Hotel. Through April 7th the gallery is exhibiting his work for the first time in NYC.”  (Gothamist)
Morrison Hotel Gallery,116 Prince Street, 2nd Floor
+1 212 941 8770 /

Although it’s been far too long since he’s released a new album, the pianist, a modern mainstream giant, always has a stockpile of imaginative and meticulously arranged material to draw on. His longtime trio mates—Peter Washington, on bass, and Kenny Washington, on drums—could not be more in synch with Charlap’s manicured swing.” (NewYorker)
Birdland, 315 W. 44th St.

These rambling indie musicians from Los Angeles pack big hooks inside their bright, optimistic folk-rock. Their set last year at the McKittrick Hotel was a breakout moment, a peppy hoedown anchored by the surprisingly earnest shared vocals of the guitarist Christian Zucconi and the keyboardist Hannah Hooper.

Those unfamiliar with them will know their twinkling, enthusiastically shouted single “Tongue Tied” from the 2011 iPod commercial titled “Share the Fun.” (NYT-Anderson)
Terminal 5, 610 West 56th Street, Clinton,
At 7:30 p.m., / $35

Wooden Houses of Greenwich Village
A lecture by Elizabeth Finkelstein and Michael Devonshire

“This program was so popular last October that we had to turn people away! We are thrilled to be able to present this encore.

Greenwich Village is celebrated for its beautiful rows of brick and brownstone townhouses. But those who meander through the neighborhood’s winding, historic streets are usually surprised to encounter the occasional wooden house sandwiched between masonry houses and apartment buildings, channeling a bygone era.

How and when did these houses arrive here? Why are there so few? And, perhaps most curiously, how on earth have they survived for so long? Join urban historian Elizabeth Finkelstein and preservation architect Michael Devonshire as they explore the history and mystery surrounding these fascinating wooden relics and discuss the challenges to their preservation.”
Village Community School, 272-278 West 10th Street,
between Washington and Greenwich Streets
6:30 – 8:00 P.M. / Free; reservations required
To register, please call (212) 475-9585 ext. 35 or email.
Please note that space is often limited. Reservations are not confirmed until you receive a response from GVSHP regarding your reservation.
If space becomes an issue, all reservations will be honored up until the start of the program, at which point your seat may be given away to those on the wait list.

The curator Sarah Lewis discusses her new book, “The Rise: Creativity, the Gift of Failure, and the Search for Mastery,” with the actress and playwright Anna Deavere Smith and the psychologist Angela Lee Duckworth.
New York Public Library, Fifth Ave. at 42nd St.
At 7PM / $25 General Admission, $15 Seniors

Before making final plans, we suggest you call the venue to confirm ticket availability, dates and times, as schedules are subject to change.


A PremierPub and 3 Good Eating Places – Greenwich Village

Caffe Vivaldi  /  32 Jones Street (btw. Bleecker/W4th St.)

Café Vivaldi is a classic, intimate club located in Greenwich Village on Jones Street, the street featured on the cover of Bob Dylan’s second album, “Freewheelin’ ”.

Each night Ishrat, the long time proprietor and impresario, carefully curates and schedules an eclectic series of musicians. You can often see him at his table in the corner, hard at work reviewing music videos and listening to cd demos on his laptop, scouting out future bookings. Musicians come from all over to play and sing in a club in Greenwich Village. Some are local New Yorkers, others are just passing through, in town for a few days.

There is a small bar, seating maybe 10. It’s close to the stage and I find it’s a perfect spot to sip a glass of red wine while listening to the music. The room itself has the performance area at one end and a cozy fireplace at the other. The performance area here is small, dominated by a large black Yamaha Grand piano. Tables are bunched together and most people at the tables are eating lite meals or sampling the wonderful desserts.

There is also a good selection of wines and lite meals, fairly priced, but you are here because of the music. You can never be quite sure what you’re going to find, and that’s half the charm of this place. It’s not a home run every night, but many nights it’s pretty special.

I remember the night I saw the most talented bossa nova group, just in from San Paulo. As I listened, I wondered if there was any better music playing anywhere else in New York City that night. And at Caffé Vivaldi there is never a cover charge. I should note that their recently redesigned web site does give you a better idea of the type of music playing each night.

At one time Greenwich Village was filled with clubs just like this, but times change. Real estate interests have impacted the village, and not for the better. Even Caffé Vivaldi had a rough time recently, when a new landlord raised the rent exorbitantly. Fortunately, Ishrat has built a loyal following over the years, and a fund raiser and slightly more reasonable rent has kept Café Vivaldi in business.

When Woody Allen and Al Pacino wanted to make movies featuring the timeless quality of Greenwich Village they came to Vivaldi. It’s important that we keep this special place alive, for if we lose Cafe Vivaldi, NYC will have lost a piece of it’s soul.

Phone #: (212) 691-7538
Hours: Music generally 7:30pm – 11pm, but varies
Lunch/Dinner 11am-on
Subway: #1 to Christopher st
Walk 1 blk S on 7th ave S to Bleecker st, 1 blk S/left on Bleecker to Jones st, 50 yards E/left on Jones st to Caffe V

“Pub” is used in it’s broadest sense – bars, bar/restaurants, wine bars, jazz clubs, tapas bars, craft beer bars, dive bars, cocktail lounges, and of course, pubs  – just about anyplace you can get a drink without a cover charge (except for certain jazz clubs).
If you have a fave premier pub or good eating place on Manhattan’s WestSide let us all know about it – leave a comment.

3 Good Eating places 

It’s not difficult to find a place to eat in Manhattan.
Finding a good, inexpensive place to eat is a bit harder.
Here are a few of my faves in this neighborhood:

Fish – 280 Bleecker St (just a bit S. of 7th ave South)
This was an easy pick – the best raw bar special in town. $8 gets you 6 of the freshest oysters or clams + a glass of wine or beer. Don’t know how they can do it, but I tell everyone I know about this place. And it’s located right in the heart of some of the best no cover music in town.

Bleecker Street Pizza – 69 7th ave S (corner of Bleecker)
The place is tiny and not much to look at, but this is one good slice. They like to brag that they have been voted “Best pizza in NY” 3 years in a row by the Food Network. I believe them. I would have voted for them.

Num Pang – 21 E 12th st (btw. University place/5th ave)
This is a Cambodian banh mi sandwich shop that kept me well fed while I was in class nearby recently. It’s cramped, even for NYCity, but usually there is room up the spiral staircase to sit down and eat. In good weather carry your sandwich a few blocks to Union Sq park. You may have to wait a few minutes, because everything is freshly made, but it’s worth it. Can you believe – an unheard of 26 food rating by Zagat.

“3 Good Eating places” focuses on a quick bite, what I call “Fine Fast Food – NYCity Style”
That covers a wide range of food – pizza,  burgers,  food trucks/carts,  vegetarian/falafel,  ramen,  chopped salad & salad bars,  hot dogs,  bbq,  soup & sandwiches,  picnic fixins’,  raw bars &  lobster rolls. No reservations needed. ================================================================================

◊ For all my picks of 54 Good Eating places and descriptions of my favorite 18 PremierPubs in 9 Neighborhoods (plus 27 casual dining places with free Wi-Fi) order a copy of my e-book: “Eating and Drinking on NYCity’s WestSide” ($3.99).
(available Spring 2014)

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