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August 27th, 2008

INTERVIEW: ANDREW BERMAN.

by Joelle Panisch

Mr. Berman’s office is on the second floor of a quite remarkable building. Ernest Flagg designed the Beaux-Arts style structure in 1901. It now stands with a rustic white facade and burnt-red door, and when you walk in an elegant staircase regally welcomes you. It once housed the Rector for St. Marks Church but now is home to the Neighborhood Preservation Center, as well as Andrew Berman.

It’s an appropriate space for Berman, Executive Director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation since 2002 and the foremost leader of neighborhood preservation crusades. He, like the building, is rich with New York history. Raised in the Bronx, Mr. Berman explored the city from a young age with his father, a traveling hardware salesman. He grew entranced with New York’s charismatic architecture and the personality it evoked, seeing the city as a living entity that jokes, hustles, and weeps with its inhabitants as much as it houses them. He fell in love.

In college Andrew nurtured this affection by majoring in in art history. He found he had an affinity for something else as well: activism. According to Mr. Berman, he spent more time “rabble-rousing” than studying. That proved to be okay. Continue Reading »

Filed Under: Articles | Community | Interview | New York | Take Action

May 1st, 2008

THE PIONEERS OF SOHO: FORREST MYERS.

by Joelle Panisch

Before SoHo was CHANEL, Balthazar, and now Donald Trump, it was Dean Fleming and Paula Cooper and a handful of brave pioneers. It was a community of artists living in a manufacturing neighborhood lined with cobblestone streets, the essence of a gritty downtown New York. It was a 5,000 foot loft for three hundred dollars a month. Genius roamed the streets like the dinosaur roamed the earth. A community grew out of necessity, bonds were formed, inspirations shared and careers launched, It was a machine fueled by creativity, and it’s product was change.

Today change has become common, and shared inspiration rare. The artists who were lucky enough to experience the renaissance look back fondly and speak of the time as a diamond in the rough, which in their lifetime they will never experience again.

I interviewed Forrest “Frosty” Myers via telephone. It was what he preferred. After the highly publicized victory over the city for the preservation of his Houston Street mural, “TheWall,” Myers procured a place in not just art history, but the history of SoHo, past, present and future. Continue Reading »

Filed Under: Articles | Arts & Leisure | Community | Interview | New York

March 14th, 2008

CHARLIE MURPHY: OUT FROM THE SHADOWS OF YOU KNOW WHO!

by Vincent Cecolini

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Charlie Murphy was once known only as the older brother of comedy legend Eddie Murphy. As a part of Eddie’s entourage and security detail, Charlie also turned up in bit roles and cameos in many of his brother’s films. During the last decade, however, Charlie has slowly stepped out of Eddie’s imposing shadow. In addition to larger roles in hit films like CB4, Kings Ransom and Roll Bounce, Charlie became one of the standout players in Dave Chappelle’s brilliant and hilarious Chappelle’s Show, on Comedy Central.

Charlie Murphy’s main contribution to the show was creating and writing perhaps it’s funniest sketch, “Charlie Murphy’s True Hollywood Stories.” The most popular being the Rick James story, with Murphy as himself and Chappelle as the drug addled Rick James, including incidents such as James slapping Murphy, interspersed with scenes of the present-day Rick James, explaining his past behavior, saying, “Cocaine’ s a hell of a drug.” The sketch spawned one of the show’s popular catchphrases–” I’m Rick James, bitch!”– which Chappelle as James (and every moronic white guy on earth) declared, over and over and over again .

When Dave Chappelle went MIA after filming only three episodes of the third season, deciding he could no longer handle the grind of a weekly show, Murphy had to take advantage and strike while he was still generating some heat, and take advantage he did.

His newfound popularity has led to a successful stand-up career as well as creating a name for himself as a screenwriter, having co-written the hit film Norbit with brother Eddie. Charlie Q. Murphy, as he is sometimes known, is also a well-respected voice-over artist. According to imdb.com (internet movie database), Murphy has no less than 6 feature films in production or completed for the rest of 2007, or slated for release in 2008. He stars in the film Twisted Fortune and the upcoming Three Days To Vegas with legends Peter Falk and Rip Torn. Charlie has also just finished taping his first season of BET’s hit We Got To Do Better

SoHo Journal: You must be exhausted. You’ve just returned from performing in Stockholm, Sweden, We Got To Do Better is a hit on BET and you’re making more and more appearances on the big screen.

Charlie Murphy:
I’m married and I have two kids. You have stress when you leave and you have stress when you go home. But it could be worse. The other day, I was watching this thing on A&E. They showed this dude in a maximum security prison. He said, “This place sucks. They feed you horrible food. They keep the lights off 24 hours a day. They’re all about breaking balls seven days a week, day in and day out. Break the man down! Break the man down!” The interviewer asks, “Why are you in here?” The guy responds, “I killed two cops.”

SJ: When you go to places like Stockholm, Sweden, is any of the humor lost on the audience? Continue Reading »

Filed Under: Articles | Arts & Leisure | Interview

February 29th, 2008

INTERVIEW: DJ’S STONEROKK + GRAHAM FUNKE.

by John Coakley

at the club
StoneRokk (left) and Graham Funke (right)

DJs StoneRokk and Graham Funke (his real name – seriously) are busy guys, working regular parties in LA and Las Vegas while doing special events for everyone from Marilyn Manson to George Clooney. But they don’t let all of that Hollywood glitter get in their eyes. Their focus is the music, whether it’s the latest pop hit or your favorite classic rock tune. It all works if you know how to work it, which Stone and Graham certainly do. I spoke with them in the bar at the Hudson Hotel, which doesn’t have iced tea and will make you check your coat whether you want to or not.

SJ: Folks in NY and LA tend to forget that nightlife exists in other American cities. As DJs who have been all over, what other cities have stood out for you?

GF: The trend is: you have a number of nightlife meccas – NY, Miami, Chicago, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, San Francisco. People from places not usually associated with nightlife come to visit these places and figure out what they want to do in their cities. So the clubs we’re playing at in places like Kansas City, Oklahoma City, or cities in Texas have elements of the clubs in the (bigger) cities – they have bottle service, they have a door policy. It’s not like the other cities are so isolated that you can’t figure out what works and deliver it to your smaller town. The places we’re playing are really high end, and those cities have people who have a ton of money, so if you associate some of these places with the backwoods, two dollar Pabst kind of thing – it’s not even like that. People are popping magnums of Dom like crazy; people are wildin’ out in these places. There’s a place called Sweet in Dallas that’s handled beautifully, it’s an amazing club, I love that one. Tomorrow we’re at Blonde in Kansas City, another place we’ve been playing at a long time…I mean that club could be anywhere, Chicago, New York.

SJ: Sure.

SR: And most of these people accept it as, like, their taste of the big city. In Kansas City for example they have the $2 beer sports bar thing where I’m gonna get drunk for $22 and, you know, I’m gonna go home with this girl and maybe get laid, maybe not. Then this new place comes in and it’s $12 for a drink, $400 for a $20 bottle of booze…and people aren’t scared of it. They feel like they’re getting their fix of the New York’s, the LA’s, the Miami’s of the world.

SJ: You’re originally from Queens, right?

SR: Yes.

SJ: So you grew up here in New York?

SR: I moved when I was 13. Most of my family moved out west and my mom was like, “let’s ship out.” Which was kind of a bummer to me, but you know, it is what it is.

SJ: Fair enough. I was about to ask you what parties you were into here in New York when you were growing up. But unless you were, like, full-on Larry Clark’s Kids… Continue Reading »

Filed Under: Articles | Arts & Leisure | Interview | New York

March 23rd, 2007

HOUDINI: AMERICA’S FIRST SUPERHERO. PART 2

by Chip Maloney

book_cover.jpgPart One of this two-part interview may be read here.

Best-selling author Larry “Ratso” Sloman’s latest book, “The Secret Life of Houdini: The Making of America’s First Superhero,” makes several bold new claims regarding the storied life and mysterious death of the mythic magician and escape artist. Among those claims is that Houdini was a spy who operated at the very top levels of both the United States and England’s thenfledgling intelligence communities, and that he may have been assassinated by powerful rivals with their own political connections for his passionate personal crusade against phony psychics and spiritualists. Sloman and co-author William Kalush have ripped away the veil of secrecy surrounding Houdini and thoroughly dispelled the abundant falsehoods about Houdini’s unusual activities and equally extraordinary career with irrefutable evidence culled from exacting and unprecedented research that began in SoHo.

SoHo Journal: Did you discover if Houdini was paid anything for his espionage activities?
Larry Sloman: Well, there was no money involved. These intelligence services were just starting at the time, and they had no budgets or organization on the level they have today. Houdini began his covert activities early in his career, and he got a tremendous boost of publicity from people like Scotland Yard’s Melville, who endorsed him. When Melville said “An absolute miracle,” about one of Houdini’s escapes, that really meant something. This was Scotland Yard’s “super” cop saying that, and this was a boon to Houdini in terms of attention and press. Houdini also considered himself a super patriot and felt that England and the United States were sister countries. He loved England as much as he loved America. Though he was a naturalized citizen who was born in Hungary, he told people he was born in the United States. He was very proud of America. Continue Reading »

Filed Under: Arts & Leisure | Community | Interview | New York

March 22nd, 2007

CATCH THIS RISING STAR!

by Chip Maloney

actress-01.jpgNavigating a course through the unguided and thick-with-disappointment jungle that is the New York City acting scene is a treacherous, soul-scarring undertaking that few are capable of and even fewer find any success with, but for Naama Kates there is no Plan B. Four years in hell later, her journey is nearly complete, with leading roles in two upcoming feature films; however, any measure of respite is a long forgotten fantasy for this determined 23-year-old actress, for she knows precisely how difficult this passage has been.

In person, it is abundantly clear that Naama is in possession of all of the talent, beauty, and poise God cheated everyone else out of. Her dreamy countenance and beguiling radiance is immediate, perfect and captivating… the stuff tortured composers and poets have long struggled to describe in immortal odes. There is little doubt that Naama Kates is headed for great things.

SoHo Journal: Acting is not an easy life. What made you pursue that?
No, it’s not easy. There’s a lot of downtime and waiting, and taking horrible jobs, but I knew I wanted to be an actress since I was three years old. Maybe I have some need for the adoration of the millions, but at the same time, I don’t want to be unable to go to a restaurant. I don’t really desire a Hollywood, family-movie type of career…but that doesn’t seem to be the direction I’m going in. Continue Reading »

Filed Under: Arts & Leisure | Interview | New York

February 9th, 2007

Houdini: America’s First Superhero.

by Chip Maloney

book_cover.jpgIn This First Of Two Parts, Chip Maloney Sits With Long Time Soho Resident, Larry “Ratso” Sloman, Acclaimed Author Of The Bestseller, The Secret Life Of Houdini: The Making Of America’s First Superhero.

From his Prince Street apartment, author and longtime SoHo resident, Larry Sloman has barely recovered from a long and vicious bout with the flu, a souvenir from the exhaustive publicity tour for his latest book, but he still graciously agreed to discuss his most ambitious and controversial work to date, “The Secret Life of Houdini: The Making of America’s First Superhero.”

Upon entering Big Wong’s on Mott Street for some of his first solid food in days, Sloman is immediately and affectionately greeted with the Chinese word for “rat” by the exuberant staff. “Ratso” is Sloman’s nickname, but for the last three decades, it has become his only name. The moniker was given to him by Joan Baez during his epic tour with Bob Dylan and The Rolling Thunder Revue, the result of which was his classic 1978 book, “On The Road With Bob Dylan.” Sloman has also authored or co-authored numerous other best-selling celebrity biographies and autobiographies, including Howard Stern’s “Private Parts” and “Miss America,” and Red Hot Chili Peppers frontman Anthony Kiedis’ “Scar Tissue,” but it was during his recent collaboration with illusionist and escape artist David Blaine for his book, “Mysterious Stranger” that the idea for “The Secret Life of Houdini” was born.
Continue Reading »

Filed Under: Articles | Arts & Leisure | Interview | New York

February 6th, 2007

SoHo Interview: Julie Nadel

by D. Clark MacPherson

julie-nadel.jpgOf the thirteen members who comprise the Hudson River Park Trust, Julie Nadel is arguably the most forthright and outspoken. While she was appointed to this body for her knowledge and dedication to improving the Manhattan waterfront, she is still an activist at heart. Despite her position of importance, she tells people exactly what she thinks.

Her political activism began when she moved to New York in the early 1980’s when she became involved with Westway, a project that drew tremendous community fire and took almost 10 years to defeat. She was hired by Assemblyman Dick Gottfried as his Chief of Staff and became familiar with many of the waterfront committees and advocates on Community Boards 1, 2, 4 and 7 through her job. At this point, she also became involved with the Hudson River Alliance, community precursor to the Hudson River Park Trust, an organization created by Al Butzel (the influential head of Friends of Hudson River Park). Her involvement with the Alliance lasted from 1994 until 1998 when the Hudson River Park Act was written and enacted. Borough President C. Virginia Fields appointed Nadel to the new Trust Board–and she was recently re-appointed by Democrat Scott Stringer, the new Manhattan Borough President. Currently, she is also Chair of Community Board #1 Waterfront Committee.
Continue Reading »

Filed Under: Articles | Community | Interview | New York | Politics

September 26th, 2006

Interview with Deborah Glick NY State Assemblymember

by D. Clark MacPherson

Deborah GlickDeborah Glick is the first openly lesbian or gay member of the New York State legislature. She has been the Assemblywoman for the Greenwich Village/ SoHo area for 16 years, having had two 8 year terms, after challenging Bill Passanante for this position in 1990 and having succeeded easily. This year she is running for re-election and we met with her to discuss some of her accomplishments as well as some of her current concerns.

Her legislative priorities have included passage of the Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination Act (SONDA), which was finally signed into law in December of 2002, and the Statewide Domestic Partnership Registry, which is still awaiting passage. Most recently, Assembly member Glick’s Hospital Visitation Bill became law, providing domestic partners the same rights that spouses and next-of-kin have when caring for a loved one in a hospital or nursing facility. She has worked on issues of concern to women for thirty years, including advocating for reproductive freedom, a change in the rape statutes, and women’s health concerns. The Women’s Health and Wellness Act, a bill that promotes early detection and prevention of certain medical conditions affecting women, including breast cancer and osteoporosis and provides coverage for contraceptives, became law on January 1, 2003.

Continue Reading »

Filed Under: Articles | Interview | New York | Politics

April 10th, 2006

Interview with Jim McManus–a man of the people

by D. Clark MacPherson

Despite the fact that Jim McManus has powerful friends and knows most of the politicians of this and several former administrations, he is widely known as a man of the people. He does not speak with an affected manner and is blunt about a candidate’s prospects–whether he’s talking to you or the candidate. But, if you are a candidate that he likes, you know you have a stalwart friend who will not waiver once the going gets tough. Truth and fidelity are his hallmark. After nearly 50 years at the forefront of the political maelstrom, very little fazes him. If a candidate he supports does not do well in an election, he will remind you that there will be a next time and thank you for your help if you were a supporter.
Continue Reading »

Filed Under: Articles | Interview | New York | Politics

January 10th, 2006

SoHo Interview: Councilmember Margarita Lopez, Candidate for Manhattan Borough President

by D. Clark MacPherson

In a small SoHo caf?���, the Cupping Room actually, City Council Member Margarita Lopez agreed to talk about her passion-politics.What initially was to be a short discussion about her views on SoHo’s problems and how she has developed her political persona over the years, turned into a well-deserved lecture on social policy.
Continue Reading »

Filed Under: Articles | Interview | New York | Politics

July 6th, 2005

Community Focus: Interview with Melinda Katz

by D. Clark MacPherson

It is rare for a member of the City Council to take time out and meet with someone that is not part of his or her constituency. But Melinda Katz took the time to talk with us about SoHo as well as the initiatives that she hopes will work for the entire city, including all 5 boroughs, as well as her own district in Queens. And, clearly, she is a supporter of the efforts we have expended in SoHo to curb developments that threaten our community. In our discussions she was also interested and concerned with preserving our Arts heritage, the problems with obliterating illegal billboards, our dangerous traffic problems, and the oversaturation of bars.
Continue Reading »

Filed Under: Articles | Interview | New York | Politics

January 6th, 2005

Acting with Sharks Interview with Roy Scheider

by Hattie

Roy Scheider-from bed-ridden boy to awesome actor

Before interviewing Roy I told him that some of the questions were of a very personal nature, and that he was free not to answer those. It was my wish to spotlight him, not put him on the spot… a portrait, not an expose. He answered them all.
Continue Reading »

Filed Under: Articles | Arts & Leisure | Interview | New York

January 6th, 2005

High Class Cho Interview with Margaret Cho

by Kate Rigg

Co-designer and multitalented maven behind the High Class Cho clothing line, Margaret Cho is always in fashion, where fashion is the fulcrum of art, pop, alterna-culture, politics and trashy sass.
Continue Reading »

Filed Under: Articles | Arts & Leisure | Interview | New York

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