After the rabid success of artist Laura Ginn’s $100 five-course rat feast last week, which we bravely attended, gallery owner Allegra LaViola tells The Observer they will be offering an encore: free samples of rat meat to those who venture to the Lower East Side tomorrow from 6-8 PM. The simple “grilled rat sampler,” prepared by chef Yuri Hart, will be open to the public. Read More
Laura L. Griffin
By Laura L. Griffin 7/26/12 10:52am
Last night in the basement of the Allegra La Viola gallery on the Lower East Side, about 20 brave eaters gathered over five courses dedicated to one ingredient, providing the ultimate locavore eating experience a New Yorker could have: rat.
To participate in the evening’s program, a work by artist Laura Ginn titled “Tomorrow We Will Feast Again on What We Catch,” they had each paid $100 to dine upon the ragged pests normally seen scurrying across subway rails and digging through garbage cans.
After attendees signed a generic liability waiver and agreed not to take photographs, the artist greeted them warmly, and watched with delight as the full spectacle of her outfit washed over them. The one-shoulder, knee-length cocktail dress was constructed entirely of two hundred rat pelts (tails and all), which she told The Observer she had tanned herself and stitched together over the course of two days. It was quite stylish, actually, with white fur at the top shading into gray fur at the bottom, a sort of murine ombre. Her toenails, peeking out from wooden platform sandals, were painted gray to match.
“I’m going to be on the cover of Vogue: the post-apocalypse issue,” she joked. Read More
By Laura L. Griffin 6/26/12 7:00pm
If you were wandering down Fulton Street between Washington Avenue and St. James Place in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Clinton Hill starving and with $3.50 to spend, you might stroll into trendy taqueria Cochinita and exchange it for a pork shoulder taco heaping with pickled onions. A couple of doors down, for the same price, Brooklyn Victory Garden would sell you a bagel slathered with “faux gras” (or, walnut lentil pâté—not that you didn’t know). Where you could not spend that small wad of dollars is the vacant storefront of Joloff, a shuttered Senegalese restaurant that, after 17 years in this location, has recently been nudged out and relocated deep in Bed Stuy.
Also nestled in this block of Fulton is the small campaign headquarters for Democratic congressional hopeful Hakeem Jeffries. On a visit last Sunday, The Observer found an array of frantic, fresh-faced college and high school students, typing away on brought-from-home MacBooks, noshing on tacos from the aforementioned Cochinita, and phone banking furiously. It is an odd (or perhaps perfectly fitting) place for an ideological battle to land: in a neighborhood newly defined by hastening gentrification, the race that has emerged is between an old-guard, ultra-left black Brooklyn politician and a young moderate, modern coalition-builder who has fairly painlessly raised $700,000. Read More
By Laura L. Griffin 6/20/12 11:23am
According to documents obtained by The Observer this morning, a judge has signed a warrant for the much-contested Tyrannosaurus bataar skeleton, which was sold at auction last month for over $1 million.
As we reported Monday, the U.S. Attorney’s office filed a civil complaint aiming to return the fossil to Mongolia, where the suit alleges the fossil originated (and was looted from).
Today, agents from Homeland Security Investigations will seize the skeleton and move it to a government facility in New York where the government holds art and antiquities that are awaiting repatriation, Lou Martinez, a spokesman for the Immigration and Customs Enforcement unit of the Department of Homeland Security, told The Observer. Read More
Making a Federal Case: U.S. Attorney Seeks Seizure and Forfeiture of Mongolian Tyrannosaurus Skeleton
By Laura L. Griffin 6/18/12 7:25pm
Since last month’s auction-gone-wrong, a near-complete Tyrannosaurus bataar skeleton valued at over a million dollars has been sitting in crates at Cadogan Tate, an art storage facility in Sunnyside, Queens, protected by a temporary restraining order. The origin of the skeleton was contested by expert paleontologists and the president of Mongolia himself—they suspected looting, and wanted the bones returned home.
Today, Preet Bharara, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, in a joint investigation with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement, a division of the Department of Homeland Security, announced that they had filed a civil complaint in Manhattan Federal Court seeking seizure and forfeiture of the skeleton so it can be returned to Mongolia. Read More
What Fresh PR Initiative Is This?: Literary Greats on the Current Attempt to Reengineer the Algonquin Round Table
By Laura L. Griffin 6/13/12 12:50pm
“This hotel is exactly how I would have imagined the Algonquin transforming itself in the 21st century,” announced Penguin Books CEO David Shanks to an attentive crowd last week.
A single person clapped and, realizing they were all alone, stopped.
Mr. Shanks continued, “It exudes the grandeur of Gotham and the dazzle of the iconic Mad Men design gone modern.” Mr. Shanks cleared his throat. “It’s really amazing.”
Last Monday, a group (of “top hotel and publishing executives as well as media industry influencers,” per a press release) was gathered at a private party to celebrate the grand reopening of the gut-renovated hotel and the launch of its new partnership with Penguin Books. Read More
By Laura L. Griffin 5/31/12 7:19pm
Bed-Stuy hipster den restaurant Do or Dine just posted –only to immediately delete– an image of a new dish called the “Miami Open-Face with Smoked Bath Salts” to their Facebook and Twitter accounts. We bet you can guess the inspiration!
On Facebook, the image was accompanied by the text: ”Too Soon? Scary news sucks. This doesn’t. Presenting the Miami Openface with Smoked ‘Bath Salts.’”
The idea was attributed to another Twitter user, @kroosh, or Kristen Crusius, who replied to the now-deleted Tweet with her own now-deleted Tweet, “wish I had a bridge to eat it under.”
Pictures of the deleted Tweets after the jump. Read More
By Laura L. Griffin 5/29/12 6:09pm
Nine days after an uncharacteristically exciting natural history sale, in which an auction of near-complete Tyrannosaurus bataar skeleton was forcibly interrupted by a lawyer over concerns that the bones had been looted from Mongolia, a partnership has been struck.
Robert Painter, the legal representative of His Excellency Elbegdorj Tsakhia, the president of Mongolia, and the auction house handling the sale, Heritage Auctions, have announced that they will open a joint investigation to determine the origin of the bones and the legality of their ownership. Read More
By Laura L. Griffin 5/21/12 8:30am
Everyone expected the auction of the T-Rex skeleton to go peacefully. But they were wrong.
On the fourth floor of an airy gallery building in Chelsea on Sunday afternoon, a small group of private collectors and natural history enthusiasts gathered to witness the historic auction of a 24-foot-long, museum-quality Tyrannosaurus bataar skeleton, which was expected to bring up to $1.5 M. After a couple hours of uneventful sales of things like fine gemstones and amber-trapped insects, the marquee object came up.
The centerpiece auction was abruptly interrupted. Read More