Thursday, August 03, 2006


UP FRONT News July 30, 2006
Published by Tom Weiss
Editorial Advisor: Willard Whittingham
“The paper that can’t be bought and can’t be sold.”

What is the very recently opened and civilized but hopefully not in danger of be-
coming trendy “Home Sweet Home”, bar and soon gallery and performance space in Lower Manhattan, was, several months ago, almost politically aborted.

As a journalist, political candidate, and human rights activists. I have taken a great in-
terest in the intense community preservation, anti-gentrification struggles happening on the Lower East Side. While developers are seeing to gentrify, displace, and profit ev-
erywhere (Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, NASCAR Raceway in S.I. and over-develop-development battles in Queens and Brooklyn), Lower Manhattan may well be “Ground zero” in these true grassroots class wars. I’ve written often about a group called LOCO, (Ludlow Orchard Community Organization), created by the musician activist Rebecca Moore, resisting, among related evils, bar proliferation on the LES. Residents of the Lud- low Street area have every reason to object to the de facto tsunami of bar and nightclub
proliferation there. Ludlow Street seems to be a magnet for get-rich-quick bar and club profiteers catering to an often get drunk-nauseous-and-noisy-quick-and-screw-the resi-
dents clientele from elsewhere, who have helped this working class community morph into a blend of Times Square and, even without casinos, Las Vegas.

A major reason for this kind of profit-driven invasion has been the historic practice of the developer-friendly New York State Liquor Authority to grant liquor licenses the way spectators offer cups of water to participants in the New York City Marathon. And Lower Manhattan’s Community Planning Board 3, appointed by rhetorically “liberal” but devel-
oper paid-for politicians, said, in effect, “no problem.” Along came activists like the truly indigenous activists Ms. Moore and Norfolk Street Block Association President Susan Howard and, soon joined by other Lower Manhattan organizations, CPB 3 was forced to change its ways.

And so, on one evening several months ago, the Board, perhaps overcompensating and
seeking to placate folks like the no-nonsense Ms. Moore and others, turned everything down. On that evening, a Scandinavian-looking woman stood there in near tears. I learned during our brief conversation that her application for a liquor license for her planned bistro, perhaps to be named Kerouac Jack’s, had been turned down by a hack at the Board after about 8 ½ seconds of discussion. To make a fairly long very political story shorter, it soon became apparent that the almost tearful blonde lady, Kristin Vincent, had not planning another drink-‘til-you-drop joint in the heart of the LES strip, but rather a literature and arts-oriented bistro, which would be devoid of loud music and loud peo-
ple. Although some initial objections were voiced, I decided to contact a politician who probably knows as much about Community Planning Board politics as anyone, the about to take office Borough President-elect Scott Stringer. As a former aide to veteran U.S. Congressman Jerrold Nadler and as a State Assemblyman, Scott Stringer had shown a somewhat comforting (to me) readiness to stand up to both developers (who have plenty of rhetoric- al “liberals” - City Council Speaker Christine Quinn being a case in point - , in their legislative pockets) and bureaucratic hacks, many of who sit on Community Planning Boards. I called Mr. Stringer and sent him a detailed e-mail on what appeared to be a totally unjustified liquor license denial by CPB 3. At the next CPB 3 meeting, sur-
prise! It was learned that the Board had reconsidered and the application was approved.

The place, located in the basement of 131 Chrystie Street, is now called “Home Sweet Home.” Part owner Ms. Vincent (a native of Los Angeles, who is not Scandinavian but rather of Lithuanian ancestry) told me that the name was chosen both in acknowledge
ment of a song by Motley Crue but also because of the atmosphere hoped for. The bistro is the work of Ms. Vincent and her two friends and part owners Long Island-raised Sandy Sisco (definitely not Scandinavian and for sure Italian) and native New Yorker Nadia Koch.

For now Home Sweet Home is open Thursday through Saturday nights. There is usually a deejay. There is, however, also a partially CD-filled juke box, which I like because it has some pure rock ‘n’ roll such as “Gimme Shelter” and “Sweet Home Alabama.” Ms. Vincent has assured me that, at my request, there will be some of my musical idol Marty Stuart’s music installed and hopefully the very under the New York radar Iris Dement.
I am also putting together a list for at least one compilation CD and so the Home Sweet Home juke box will have some very pure rock ‘n’ roll. The décor is fairly described as eclectic. It’s a very nice room. And there is security.

When Home Sweet Home goes full time, aside from art exhibits, there will be low volume performance events – definitely including poetry.

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