Stuart Braunstein’s Collective Greenhouse

The space underneath Greenhouse seems to have found a curator. Collective Hardware’s Stuart Braunstein—who sometimes goes under the aliases Stuart Bronz, Stu Sweetness, or Bronz—will bring his considerable talents, attitude, and connections to a joint that wouldn’t be cool even if they left the doors open in January. Greenhouse is a machine, and those that like it love it, and there is nothing wrong with that. I like everybody there except for a few and they know who they are. I mean, I did throw my birthday bash there a few years back and my Blackbook one year anniversary bash, and I deejayed there a bunch, but sometimes “rifts” separate men and sometimes spaces evolve or devolve into other things. I still think it’s one of the best rooms in the city, and I was indeed the fellow who convinced Jon B to get over there and partner up with my lifelong friends Merlin Bob and Timmy Regisford. They have been keeping that Shelter party around since the birth of nightlife, and are deserving of mad props. The room Stu Sweetness is gonna make work is downstairs, next to the room with all the leaves. It will have its own entrance and not much else in terms of décor.

Blank walls are opportunities for a guy with a blackberry filled with decades of artist connections. Stuart will let those types do their thing and the space will change into something new. I spoke to him last night while he was upstate and I was passing out. He is excited about the project, and therefore all of us should be. Collective Hardware crashed and burned on the beach of good intentions, nice tries, and “Let’s try to get away with these.” For a minute it was Camelot, with Stu and his partner Ronnie Rivellini bringing it back to the old school days with a thoughts like “Sprinklers? We don’t need no stinkin’ sprinklers.” I think the 3.4.or 5 story joint was for the most part safe, but it certainly skated that line of Kosher and legal. But that was it’s charm. It was like 1981 on the Bowery again, and so many people, including your humble servant, pitched in to make it swell. Parties there left you exhausted and satisfied and often enlightened. The art, the music, and the scene was unparalleled in recent times. Found furniture, prostrate doors made into tables, improvised lights, and a new image, painting, sculpture or tagged wall made this Bowery hang the “in” place for a brief while.

It ended the only way it could: in a disaster of paper, red tape, broken dreams, and promises, with all the usual suspects picking at its bones. Its death throes were painful to watch as we all knew that nothing like it would come along again any time soon. Many love to dwell on the end and define the space by the last few days rather than the multitude of amazing nights. That’s jealousy spoken in “I told you so” from people who never tried to do much but tie their own shoelaces and follow the next guy down the block.

Stuart and his partners tried to rewrite the history of downtown and they fell short. Their success was not only in the trying, but was realized over and over again until a world that has banished this sort of magic crushed them. Stuart being enthusiastic about a new project is fab. The shoelace tiers will say things like “Omg, that place sucks. Why would he do something there?” or “I’ll never go because he’ll never pull it off.” Those same sorts will be telling the doorman who they really are in just a few weeks. They will play follow the leader as soon as they find out it’s safe to show their face. Stuart doesn’t need their blessing. He just needs the canvas that has been provided and maybe a break from the comparisons to Collective. This will not be Collective on Varick. It will be its own thing, a product of Stuart’s state of mind and amazing grace.

He carries an anger in him, and maybe a bit of unreliability and unpredictability, but that’s the person you need leading the parade, because anyone can bang the drum. Stuart is my friend and I don’t call many people that, despite what my Facebook page says. Just because you met my dog and he didn’t bite off your pinky, doesn’t mean you are actually my friend. My friends come from battles and trysts and years of support and love. Stuart and I have had our differences, but I was never actually going to whack him. We’ve screamed at each other, glared at each other, threatened each other, cursed each other, and came out of it trusting each other—befriending each other. Passion is what he brings to the table, and soon it can be your table at that joint underneath Greenhouse.

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