The Aggressively Freaky 'Mr. Lower East Side' Pageant Is Forced to Brooklyn

Photo by Jason Speakman for the Village Voice
Claude Debris, center, in the houndstooth suit, was crowned Mr. Lower East Side 2015 this week at a bar in Brooklyn. "The Lower East Side is a state of mind," says the pageant's organizer.
After fifteen years of celebrating an anti-pageant featuring nudity, bizarre genitalia-related talent shows, and an all-night bacchanal in Manhattan, the annual Mr. Lower East Side was moved to Brooklyn this year.

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Here's How Sheldon Silver First Became One of the Most Powerful People in New York

Silver in 2013
Sheldon Silver's days as Speaker of the New York State Assembly could be numbered following his arrest on January 22 on charges of massive corruption and graft, into the millions of dollars.

But in 1994, when he was voted into the assembly's highest seat under strange circumstances, it was done with a quickness that alluded to his propensity for making deals and doing favors in Albany.

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History in the Street: Leela Corman on Unterzakhn


I'm a highly self-conscious New Yorker -- arrived here four years ago and immediately started walking the city obsessively, tucking the map of it under my skin, tattooing the streets on my brain and in my muscle memory. I'm also a writer and a Yiddish-speaker, so when I got hold of Leela Corman's graphic novel, Unterzakhn (Yiddish for 'underthings'), I was electrified. The book is drawn in a cartoony, film-reel, black-and-white style, and it tells the story of Esther and Fayna, Jewish twin sisters growing up on the Yiddish-speaking Lower East Side of New York in 1909.

Over the course of the next two decades, the sisters engage in very different ways with the experience of being a woman in the city. Esther becomes first a prostitute and then an actress, while Fayna works in a health clinic; each of them deals closely with negotiations of language and home. The sisters are highly sympathetic characters, sexy and funny and sad and human -- both of their time and relatably modern, while Unterzakhn is very much of New York -- in language, in history -- without feeling dated or historical. I talked over email with Leela Corman -- who's also a visual artist and professional belly dancer -- about New York, storytelling, history, and performance.

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Lower East Side Neighbors Rally Against Notorious Landlord

Throughout our coverage of evictions and foreclosures these past few months, there's been a giant elephant in the room: Just about everyone one we've reported on has been black or hispanic.

Although there is no doubt the housing crisis is affecting minorities in the outer boroughs the most, this very serious problem can be found all over New York City.

Yesterday evening, a crowd of over 100, made up mostly of Lower East Side residents and activists gathered outside an apartment complex on 58 East 3rd Street to rally against the building's landlord, who has, apparently, demanded residents of the five-story apartment building, along with two neighboring buildings (50 and 54 East 3rd Street), to move out within 60 days.

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OWS Music Group Plans to Take May Day to Nightclubs

via Facebook
One Occupy Wall Street group is taking May Day to places that probably don't get a lot of protests -- the Lower East Side's nightclubs.

Tonight, a faction of OWS called the Musicians Solidarity Council hopes to draw attention to the common practice of clubs bringing in musicians without actually paying them by protesting inside a few venues.

"It's really important to recognize that musicians are workers. Musicians are part of the 99 percent," Matt Plummer, a musician who is part of the council, told the Voice this morning. "I've played in clubs...that are clearly bringing in a lot of money...but we finish the night with a couple dollars a person."

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After Angry Birds Incident, Scott Stringer Writes Letter to Ray Kelly

Angry Birds, a central player in this local politics story.
This is a story about Angry Birds and a Manhattan pol who is probably going to run for mayor in 2013.

More specifically, this is a story about an Angry-Birds-inspired police raid that prompted Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer to write a letter to Police Commissioner Ray Kelly.

On November 8th, 2011, the NYPD conducted raids on the Lower East Side and in Chinatown to stop the sale of counterfeit merchandise related to Angry Birds -- you know, the addictive game where you slingshot little birds at little pigs. Well apparently, the NYPD got wind that some vendors in these Manhattan neighborhoods were selling merchandise related to the Angry Birds franchise and responded with a raid.

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Artist Legacy Russell Explores Personal Geographies of LES and EV

Legacy Russell
This past summer we wrote about Legacy Russell, an artist embarking on a year-long project that in its different phases (called "rites") explores the nature of memory in the East Village and the Lower East Side. When we first met Russell she was working on the first "rite" -- the "Rite of Remembrance" -- in which she sat in Tompkins Square Park taking down people's stories of the neighborhood. Now, Russell is in the midst of the third "rite," the "Rite of Rearrangement" in which she takes portraits of people in a local site of their choosing. She will eventually print those portraits out as large scale black and white images that can be hung up as public sculpture. The rite "is going to be an opportunity for people to look at and evaluate their personal geography," she told Runnin' Scared this week.

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Billy's Antiques And Props Tent Laid To Rest

Rebecca Nathanson
Back in December Runnin' Scared wrote that Billy's Antiques an Props "is one of the last remnants of the 'old Bowery.'" Now that remnant has become a relic as the green tent housing Billy's has been laid to rest. Saturday morning, the tent was taken down, the New York Times reported. In the afternoon, mourners came out to mark the event with song, eulogy and procession. The tent was placed in a coffin, which then was paraded around the surrounding area.

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Vehicle Crashes Disproportionately Hit Children in Low-Income Areas: Report

Last week, a 12-year-old girl was struck and killed as she crossed Delancey Street on the Lower East Side, in an area that has a reputation for being dangerous for pedestrians.

Now, an advocacy group has said that this tragedy is part of an alarming trend -- that young children in low-income neighborhoods are disproportionately at risk.

A report released yesterday by Transportation Alternatives, called "Child Crashes: An Unequal Burden," suggests that crashes occur at a much higher rate in poorer neighborhoods.

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Kickstarter Employee Writes Elaborate Fanfic for Leighton Meester on Craigslist Missed Connections

blake lively leighton meester.jpg
Nicole He
Blake Lively and Leighton Meester filming 'Gossip Girl' on the LES yesterday.
Craigslist Missed Connections have been good lately! A few weeks ago we had the man who posted an epic missed connection for the girl who held his iPhone hostage, and now we have the poor young startup employee who is hopelessly in love with one of the stars of "Gossip Girl." The show has been filming on the Lower East Side, where the young man first looked out his office window and laid eyes on the "beautiful brunette star," Leighton Meester.

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