RIP Les Amis – “The world is too small to contain my pain:” – The last bouzoukia in Astoria

18 Jan

Screen Shot 2020-01-18 at 11.14.10 PMA friend in New York just informed me that Les Amis, the little after-hours Greek boîte I shot a short video piece on in 2015 has shut down.  As my video feared it would, it did.  Maybe we should be surprised, actually, that it lasted so long.

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Well, αἰωνία του ἡ μνήμη· it was the last büzükçidiko in New York, after Microcosmos, Akroama and the semi-trashy Thiasos had all serially closed, where you could hear live λαϊκά of half-decent quality, and not DJ-ed Anna Bysse· and the place just had the most enchanting vibe ever —  till six, seven, eight in the morning.
couple
But if Time Out lists you as one of the world’s 50 coolest neighborhoods, you know it’s like hearing your Ode to Joy and your Swan Song at the same time and that places like Les Amis, — places that make the world’s Astorias, Astorias — will soon disappear.  But gentrification is getting to be a boring topic.  Want something more interesting?  Move a little further out on the 7 train and come bei mir.
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I want to thank Paola Ramírez, Lucina Melesia Friedman, Mathilde Hammel, Aman, Yu Kanyakrit Vongkiatkajorn, Zain Alam, Alden Nusser, Calista Macharrie, Andy Menezes, Demetre, Soteria, Claudia, Kosta, Thanase and Julio for helping me out on shoots, or helping me scout out the place or just coming along with me for support.
 
Then I truly need to thank Yusuf Swide; when the anxiety of the shoot we were on together ended up leaving me trashed, he took over camera, sound and did a great job.  Thanks.  It wouldn’t have haven’t been possible otherwise.  Plus, he never neglects to offer ebbó to the Virgin of Regla (Yemayá) on my behalf whenever he’s in Cuba.
 
And FINALLY, I need to thank Travis Fox.  In my short stint at the CUNY J-School, he was my Craft professor, and perhaps the the one warm, funny and genuinely intelligent and supportive member of the faculty.  (Mind you, I’m talking the professor of Craft Video, not the eight-armed Durga-Maa and her assistant Kali that taught the first half of Craft Writing).
Kali_by_Raja_Ravi_Varma
When I handed in my final project Travis wrote to me: “I must
admit I’m mildly impressed.”  And I replied: “I must admit I’ve never been so flattered by mild praise.”
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My video is posted on Youtube at bottom.  Maybe that’s it for Les Amis.  Maybe it’s all over.  But the Gospels say that desperation is a sin, and talk around the mahalla says the NYPD is gonna let a place like Les Amis re-open again in another location, which, given sneaky Greek ingenuity, may have already.  So, to future post-parties, saludos, geiamas and zhivelis, wherever we’ll be toasting them… 
Thanks folks.
Love, N
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