Life Cafe Blog

Posts Tagged ‘RENT’

RENTheads who used Airbnb last performances of RENT

Hey RENTheads! A radio producer is looking for any of you who used Airbnb August 2008. I told him I’d pass on his request, see below.

Benjamen Walker (host of the podcast Theory of everything, part of Radiotopia.fm, also makes radio for NPR, BBC, ABC) is looking for Rent fans who came to NYC in September of 2008 for the final performances who used the brand new Airbnb service (they launched in August 2008). He is hoping to interview these individuals for a series he is doing about the sharing economy, Rent, and New York City. His email is bwalker@gmail.com and you can find him on twitter here @benjamenwalker.

RENThead Registers and the Jonathan Larson Bench at Life Cafe, East Village, NYC

RENThead Registers and the Jonathan Larson Bench at Life Cafe, East Village, NYC

Cheers,

Kathy Life


Nederlander Organization Donated RENT Panel to Life Cafe

 

Hello All.

This is a follow up of the last blog post about the J. Larson Bench moving to Adelphi University . And it’s a story about how small a world it is….

My friend Ann Sachs provided me with the real information about the Nederlander Theatre, and also informed me that it was the Nederlander Organization that donated the RENT stage panel to Life Café. The Nederlander Organization is the client of her company, Sachs Morgan Studio Inc,  who provides comprehensive theatre design and planning services to the performing arts community nationwide. It’s a small world — Ann was the facilitator of my professional women’s group, The Woman Presidents’ Organization and she was fantastic!

The panel from the stage set of RENT at the Nederlander Theatre, donated to Life Cafe by the Nederlander Organization. Here it’s installed in the “Secret Garden” in the back of Life Cafe.

The view of the audience from the stage of RENT at Nederlander Theatre just before demolition, September, 2008

The following is a blurb about the history of the theatre, and here are photos for the theatre. Photo credit: copyright Samuel Morgan Photography.

[Interesting note about a very small world indeed: Sam told me that the Nederlander was a fantastic and fascinating project to work on. He also told me that as a Bushwick Brooklyn resident starting in 2004, he was a frequent patron of Life Café 983 in Bushwick, Brooklyn on Flushing Avenue and loved that it was an option long before there were other places like it in the neighborhood. Neither of us recalls that we ever met.  Amazing connection!]

 

The David T. Nederlander Theatre (1,232-seats) is one of The Nederlander Organization’s nine Broadway theatres. The legacy of the theatre began with David Tobias Nederlander, for whom the theatre is named.  It has had a long and distinguished history.

Built by Walter C. Jordan in 1921, the theatre was originally named the National Theatre; it was renamed the Billy Rose in 1959, when the famed producer/songwriter bought it; christened the Trafalgar in 1979 when it was bought by James and Joseph Nederlander and the British firm of Cooney-Marsh; and renamed The David T. Nederlander in 1980 in honor of the man whose sons now operate the Nederlander Organization.

Stage of RENT from seats just before demolition after closing September 2008

 

The musical RENT to the theatre in 1996. Set in the Alphabet City neighborhood of Manhattan’s East Village, the RENT production occasioned the remodeling of the façade and interior of the theatre to resemble a downtown nightclub. Following the closing of RENT in 2008, after a 12-year run of 5,124 performances, the theatre received a comprehensive renovation.

The Nederlander now houses the new Broadway hit NEWSIES.

Props being taken down from the stage of RENT at Nederlander Theatre after RENT closed September 2008

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A stage hand loads props taken from the stage set of RENT at the Nederlander Theatre after RENT closed September 2008

The Nederlander Theatre after restoration after RENT closed. This photo was taken January 29, 2010.


Jonathan Larson Bench Donated to Adelphi University

July 18, 2012

This is the first installment of “Life Cafe New York On Tour”.

The Jonathan Larson Bench is lifted into the Adelphi Univ. truck

It was a special day today. The Jonathan Larson Bench left Life Cafe for good.

Three strong, young men from Adelphi University came to the now closed Life Cafe 983 in Bushwick Brooklyn and removed the Jonathan Larson Bench where it stood temporarily after it left the East Village Life Cafe in September 2011. With the closing of the Bushwick Life the end of June, it was time to find a permanent home elsewhere for it. So I emailed Al Larson, Jonathan’s father, to see if he had any suggestions.

Al and Julie Larson with Kathy Life and John Sunderland at the Finale B Video Contest at Life Cafe right after the dedication of the mahogany bench (where Jonathan wrote RENT) as the “Jonathan Larson Bench”.

He certainly did. We first contacted New York Theater Workshop, home of the original production of RENT and very close to the original Life Cafe. Unfortunately, as much as they would have liked to have it, they simply had no room. Next Al hooked me up with Robert Scott, President of Adelphi University in Garden City, New York on Long Island. Jonathan attended Adelphi on a four-year scholarship as an acting Academic major. Bob was delighted with my offer and didn’t hesitate to accept. Fortunately, he arranged immediate pick-up as the owners of the new business at 983 Flushing Avenue wanted it moved by Thursday when they were to begin renovations. Again, the Universe has provided.

Adelphi University helpers pick up Life Cafe artifacts

Along with the Bench I donated a 4′ x 6′ wall panel I preserved from Life Cafe, two other Life Magazine collaged panels, the wooden “Thank You Jonathan” plaque hand-carved for me by Jonathan’s uncle Gene and a large panel from the original RENT stage set at the Nederlander Theatre given to me by a friend in the theater design business.

Pieces of Life Cafe history

Wall Panel from original Life Cafe

Panel from original RENT production at Nederlander Theatre

I felt a heaviness in my heart as I watched the boys lift the bench into the truck. It felt like a big part of my life was being taken away. But it was heart-lifting to think of its new home at Jonathan’s alma mater. When I think of how many more people will see the Bench and get a sense of Jonathan’s life and work, I am elated. My hope is there will be a re-creation of a corner of Life Cafe where Jonathan sat and drank tea while researching and writing RENT. Moving the bench to Adelphi to their new Theater complex is the right thing to do. I’m grateful that Bob was eager to give the Bench a new home.

Kathy Kirkpatrick ponders Life’s changes

There hasn’t been time to make definitive plans, but Bob Scott and I are in regular contact. Jonathan Martin, Director of Education and Public Awareness for the National Marfan Foundation in Port Washington, New York, is thrilled with the Bench’s new home. We discussed a January or February 2013 event which would coincide with the original off-Broadway opening anniversary, the anniversary of Jonathan’s death AND his birthday. And February is National Marfan Awareness Month. Sadly, Jonathan Larson is a perfect example of why early diagnosis is critical.

Thank You Jonathan plaque hand-carved by Gene Larson. The original plaque hung back stage at the Nederlander Theatre where each cast member touched it before going on stage.

We’ll keep you posted here as I report on LIFE CAFE NEW YORK ON TOUR. Next installment: COLD SOUP IN HOT NEW HAMPSHIRE – WATERMELON GAZPACHO. Check back in to get the recipe and the story.

Photographs of moving Life Cafe artifacts by John Sunderland



LIFE CAFÉ 983 BUSHWICK TO CLOSE JUNE 30, 2012

 June 24, 2012

Nine months ago I had to close the original East Village Life Café. Today I am very sorry and sad to finally announce that I have to throw in my tea towel and close my second venue, Life Café 983 in Bushwick on June 30. A new café/bar will open immediately thereafter under a new name. I shall take a break from the restaurant business for the time being.

 I know it’s hard to believe. After 30 years, in September 2011 I had to close my East Village café because I could no longer carry the huge business losses caused by the two warring landlords who fought over structural repairs to their property.

And a few months later the landlord of my thriving Bushwick café told me that he was not going to extend my lease.

That was the same landlord who in 2001 invited me to open a cafe in the building he just bought on Flushing Avenue. At the time, Bushwick looked like a post-apocalyptic industrial wasteland, with nowhere for existing and incoming artists and loft dwellers to eat or drink. He told me the incoming residents desperately needed a watering hole. He said having a café close to his buildings would attract the kind of tenants he wanted. It was the East Village story all over again and I saw it. Except profit wasn’t my motive. Rather, it was another chance to do what I seem to be naturally compelled to do: create a sense of home and connect the neighborhood folks together, offer a safe haven with comforting food and good drink at reasonable prices.

I’m very glad to say that in the end it worked. Yes, it was risky and definitely a struggle the first several years. But eventually Life became a second home for locals and newcomers alike and became the heart of the community much as the East Village Life Café had done in the early 80s. I have met many fine folk throughout the years and have watched as their lives unfolded along with the Café’s. And it was good.

I’ve finally come to terms with the events of the last year. My husband John and I have gotten over our disbelief, anger and sadness at losing both places in one year. We see it now as the Universe giving us a less than gentle nudge into semi-retirement. We’re looking forward to some “Adventures Before Dementia.”

About the new operation, I understand the new owners will make every effort to carry on the spirit of Life. They said, why change something that obviously works, that people like and want. They said they’d make some upgrades that are due and there will be new additions to the menu. And they recognize it’s important not to tamper with the special ambience of Life. In that sense, their intention is for Life Café to live on in spirit, if not in name.

All things come to an end in Life. I leave having created something unique, a bohemian legacy. John and I are now in our sixties and ready for a little R and R, to have a little more time doing the other things we’ve wanted to do.

My experiences during the last 30 years of Life are cause for celebration in the closing of both cafes. Running and owning my cafes has been more than a job. It’s been like having an extended family of staff, patrons and friends. We have made legions of them over the years. Life Café has always been about the relationship between the staff and patrons. A café is more than a place to eat and drink. It’s where special relationships are fostered and melded through conversation, laughter and camaraderie. That’s what a good café is. It’s far more than food and drink. It’s about human connection.

I would like to thank the hundreds of staff members for helping me give something great and unique to the city of New York and the hamlet of Bushwick. But the roll call is too long and no name is greater or lesser than another, for each and every one has played their unique part. But, let me tell you, the guys in the kitchen are the heart and bones of the Café. Any staff member will concur. Hector, who has run the Bushwick kitchen since before it opened and who worked for me at the East Village Café as well for years before, has been particularly exceptional. He has been the kitchen’s foundation. He never missed a beat and has been ever reliable and always amiable. On his strong back Life 983 found its feet and prospered. He and his staff have been the inspiration of the Café. There are more memories than can be mentioned here and many relationships built over time. I will miss you all and will never forget you. Life Café has always had a lot of love about it, and that I shall always have with me.

Please stop by in the next week to check out John’s Life Café Menu Picture Riddle art installation. It is the final one. We have a catalogue on premises and he’s offering the limited edition of originals at very special reduced prices. There will not be any more produced. He would like to leave as many pieces he possibly can with our friends in the Life community.

A last thought before I go; I didn’t make time for a family of my own. Instead, I made time for you. Thank you all for being a part of my family and thank you for allowing me to be a part of yours.

Much peace and love,

Kathy Life


A ROOM WITH A PEW

A ROOM WITH A PEW

 

Jonathan Larson Bench-East Village

By John Sunderland

 

Regulars to Life Café Bushwick may notice that there’s an elephant in the room, in the shape, well not of an actual elephant, but a large, wooden well-worn pew.  On it is an inscribed brass plate, which reads, “The Jonathan Larson Bench”.

 

So what’s the point of mentioning this, after all, we don’t write about bar stools, though several are still warm with amazing stories. No, we mention the arrival of the bench from our original East Village Café because we’re closed there at the moment. The building has to have remedial structural work done and whatever it is they will do and whenever they do it, we want the bench to be safe from harm.

 

Jonathan Larson Bench

Kath’s first husband, David, brought the bench from their hometown in Michigan to the original café in the East Village in 1982. It sat there in the exact same place until yesterday, October 26, 2011, during which time it was host to God knows how many geniuses and dreamers, lovers and dribblers. Then, awakened from it’s cozy rest, it was jumped on, pulled outside and U-Hauled over the Willy B Bridge and into the sweating, straining arms of our unfortunate staff who, man and woman, handled it into the café, much to the surprise of the customers, who were temporarily moved and piled into a corner, whilst the bench was placed in its new home.

 

Jonathan Larson's Bench in its new home

So, why the effort? Because the bench to many people is a quasi-sacred object. It was where Jonathan Larson, creator of the Broadway musical hit RENT, sat with his friends whilst crafting the show.

 

Life Café in the East Village was at the epicenter of the world that he describes in RENT and duly gets its place immortalized in the production as the café where the

characters meet and perform the showstopper, “La Vie Boehme”.

 

So that’s the story.  Sit on it, move your bum back and forth; there’s just a chance the bench sparks genius!

 


Life Cafe East Village Closed for Flood Repairs

Dear Irene, you ruined our basement & now we’re closed till we get things fixed. Thanx a lot! Don’t bother to call round again.
Dear customers, we are very sorry for the inconvenience. We are doing our best to be opened Thursday at 10 am for the holiday weekend! Please stay tuned (just in case). And then please stop by!


Jonathan Larson Peasant Feasts at Life Cafe

We always welcome RENTheads at the East Village Life Cafe.

We just got an email from some good folks from the Liva Arts Company at the University of Scranton.  That’s Scranton, PA.  http://www.scranton.edu/liva

They just recently finished performing RENT as their Spring review and as a treat for their club they’re planning a trip to Manhattan and wanted to do something at Life Cafe. They wondered what kind of RENT themed pilgramage we do.

What we usually offer for groups like this is something we like to call our Jonathan Larson RENT Peasant Feast served family style. We seat you in the Jonathan Larson “Snug” in and among the Jonathan Larson Bench. During the meal we play the  soundtrack from RENT while you enjoy your food, browse through and sign the RENThead Registers and look around at the memorabilia on the walls. If Kathy Life is around, she’ll be happy to answer questions and talk a little bit about the old East Village and the RENT connection. And we have posters, t-shirts, caps and tote bags for sale so you can take home a memento of the event.

We call the meal a “Peasant Feast” after the “potluck” dinners Jonathan used to have with his friends back in the late 80s and early 90s. Everyone was pretty broke, so when they’d get together for a special event, everyone brought something to share to eat. And then they’d share a bit of what they’ve been working on creatively.

Below is a sample menu we’ve come up with. The pricing is $20 per person exclusive of tax and gratuity. And we are definitely able to make arrangements for vegetarians.

FAMILY STYLE PASSED PLATTERS

Fried Chicken  Platter
Roasted Herb Potato / Sweet Yams
Spaghetti and Meatballs
Steamed  Garlic Vegetables
Mixed Salad and House Dressing
Assorted Bread Rolls Basket

All RENTheads truly enjoy this experience. Please let us know when you’d like to come down and how many you are. We look forward to having you!

When you call ask for Paul or Darin, if you call after 1 pm. They’ll take care of you.