Monday, September 23, 2013

Food 1972 at Sunview Luncheonette

Last night I went to the best thing ever.  It was at Sunview Luncheonette and it consisted of four readings, food and a conviviality that made me say aloud at numerous points, “this is why I love art.”  What made this so special was the venue and the structure of the participants.  Sunview Luncheonette is in Greenpoint Brooklyn on a corner facing McGolrick Park.  It used to be just that, a luncheonette and was operating as such for about fifty years until 2008.  Since February of this year, it has been used as a social club by artists, writers and like-minded people.  There are about thirty members to date and it currently costs $50 a month per member.  This fee includes three dinners per week (cooking done by rotating members), access to a risograph to print books on site and the ability to use the space for various events, parties and general gatherings.  The luncheonette is freeze framed in the state it was left with all of its the charm and slight deterioration.  What makes it even more charming, if that is even possible, is that the former proprietor, B (Demetria) lives in the building still.  She is 84, if I recall correctly when speaking with her, and she just melted my heart with her sharpness and hospitality. 

The evening last night was organized by Kendra Sullivan and it was focused around FOOD, the restaurant co-founded in 1971 by Gordon Matta-Clark and Carol Goodden.   There was a projection playing the film FOOD 1972 (by Robert Frank, Suzanne Harris, Gordon Matta-Clark), above of the long counter.  As well, Human Events an audio recording read by Ted Greenwald and Gordon Matta-Clark also added ambient context.

In the open kitchen, members of Sunview Luncheonette served an array of delicious foods, many items from the original FOOD menu.  It was buffet self serve and there was a bucket that you could give what you wanted as payment for what you ate.  

The readings were also selected to reflect the theme.  The readers were Kandra Sullivan (Time Well), Ramya Tegegne (Version #9 Kristin Lucas/VVORK), Zachary German (excerpts from Eat When You Feel Sad and a new work) and Quentin Lannes (In-Achievement). All the readers did a fantastic job and Lannes’ reading was outstandingly good and a totally new type of experience. 

After the readings everyone mingled and talked and new friends were made and the wonderful feelings of this event carried on into an impromptu extended gathering that lasted until 3:30am. 

Things such as Sunview Luncheonette are so rare these days.  There is absolutely no pretense.  There is only a shared desire to gather and to think of and to talk of art and to interact with people in a very intimate way.

Below is a menu from the original FOOD that was printed out and also made available as a poster for sale as a means to have a memento of an evening and to support the continuation of Sunview Luncheonette and for B.


Duck Gumbo – 2.00
Boiled Crabs – 25 ea.
Cold Borscht – 85 cents
Miso Soup – 65 cents
Fresh Chicken Salad – 1.25
Roast Beef – 1.45
Peanut Butter & Honey – 50 cents
Ham & Swiss – 1.35
Extra Bread 15 cents per slice
Yogurt, fruit, nuts – 84 cents
Marinated Chic Peas – 50 cents
Marinated Bean Salad – 75 cents
Garden Salad – 75 cents
Collage cheese w/ Apricots & Nuts – 60 cents
Carrot juice – 45 or 85 cents
Milk – 30 cents
Coffee or Tea – 20 cents
Cider or OJ – 25 or 45 cents
Lemon Bread – 35 cents
Bavarian Cream – 50 cents
Syrian Coffee Cake – 45 cents