Life Cafe Blog

Posts Tagged ‘RENThead’




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!


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.

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.


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.