The Astor Place Cube Has Been Seized by Game of Thrones

As soon as officials ended two years of street construction by giving the newly-renovated Astor Place Cube a ceremonial first spin, the sculpture and surrounding plaza were pimped out to HBO, transformed overnight into a two-day promotional orgy for Game of Thrones DVDs.

Why? Because in New York City, we rely on corporate events to fund public space. Your long-awaited Cube spin will just have to wait.

The transformation could not have happened faster. Wednesday morning, officials celebrated the iconic public artwork, officially known as The Alamo, and extolled the virtues of public space. Twenty-four hours later, the plaza was taken over by crews assembling Westeros-themed structures promoting the DVD release of the sixth season of Game of Thrones.

The plaza is managed by the Village Alliance, a local business improvement district, which has an agreement with the city to keep the space clean and stores tables and chairs each night.

Will Lewis, the Alliance’s marketing and events manager, said the Game of Thrones event, scheduled to occupy on the plaza until Sunday evening, wasn’t originally intended to happen immediately after its grand opening, which had been delayed from an earlier date.

“That’s just really unfortunate timing,” Lewis said. “It’s just two things that came together that were planned separately… Nobody would ever want to plan it that way.”

Elected officials and members of the de Blasio administration give the cube a spin during its official reopening on Wednesday.
Elected officials and members of the de Blasio administration give the cube a spin during its official reopening on Wednesday.

The mayor’s Street Activities Permit Office, or SAPO, says the Game of Thrones event was registered in its system on September 12 and received approval from the BID and the Department of Transportation on October 28.

How much money are the city and the BID receiving to rent out public space for a DVD promotion? Lewis said he didn’t know, and HBO refused to comment on payments and permits. (The Voice has asked SAPO for revenue information.)

“When it was announced a couple weeks that the Cube was being reinstalled, we immediately regrouped to make sure our event incorporated the Cube in a way that was both celebratory of its return and that fit into the overall design that we had carefully developed over the preceding months,” an HBO spokesperson says. “Astor Place residents and tourists who want to see the Cube are still able to do so, while also checking out a free public event that is expected to drive thousands of people to the area over the next two days.”

Lewis said the Alliance agrees to events on a case-by-case basis. “If it can work on the plaza and we think it fits, then we say yes,” he said. “There are two golden rules that are non-negotiable: they have to be free events and they have to be open to the public.”

Ahh, the elegance of public art.
Ahh, the elegance of public art.

Over the summer, the plaza hosted an arts and crafts workshop inspired by the Cube, a weekend performing arts lineup, outdoor fitness classes, and a city-sponsored emergency preparedness fair. Later this month, there will be a celebration of the East Village’s mosaic light poles.

None are commercial promotions like this weekend’s HBO event, which encourages people to register online for timed entry to the “fan experience.”

“It’s difficult to say how Astor Place will work in the future,” Lewis said, leaving the door open to adjustments in how the plaza is programmed. “First and foremost, it’s a public plaza and it’s there for the community.”



Even the most devoted Game of Thrones fan has to admit that the popular HBO series relies on a number of fantasy tropes: dragons, sword fights, particularly unfortunate weddings. Make the frequency with which breasts are bared and the Lord of Light is invoked work for you by trying your hand at Game of Thrones Bingo. Videology, Williamsburg’s film-student-friendliest bar/screening room/rental store hosts the game, and is making its way through the first season; just put down a chip every time a raven delivers a message, someone travels over the Wall, or Hodor says “Hodor.” It’s free to play and winners can snag a “Winter Is Coming” stein of Ommegang’s Fire and Blood red ale.

Wed., May 7, 8:30 p.m., 2014


The Four Best Food Events This Weekend – 4/4/2014

Looking for a slice of spring? Check out this weekend’s food events, which are chock full of seasonality.

Just Food Conference, Teachers College at Columbia University,
525 West 120th Street, Saturday and Sunday, 8 a.m.

Chefs, farmers, and anyone with an interest in food are invited to attend a two-day conference full of one-of-a-kind learning experiences. Want to learn how to break down a whole sheep and use each part? Or cook sustainably? How about forage in an urban environment? You can do all of that and more during the upcoming weekend, which aims to educate attendees on the modern issues surrounding the farm industry. A variety of ticket packages start at $55; check out the full schedule and registration information.

Metropolitan Avenue Festival, 74-29 Metropolitan Avenue, Queens, Sunday, 11 a.m.

Those interested in checking out the Italian goodies of Middle Village can explore the outer borough neighborhood this weekend as part of a family-friendly street festival. Old school favorites like Rosa’s Pizza and Panardo Bakery, as is the sausage and peppers and funnel cake that’ll be served. For those with kids, rides are free from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m., and you should also check out the carnival games.

Game of Thrones Viewing Party, Professor Thom’s, 219 Second Avenue, Sunday, 7 p.m.

The long anticipated return of Peter “The Dink” Dinklage is set for Sunday night, and you can catch the action here. Partake in drink specials — like a round of free jello shots every time a character dies — and themed cocktails, and take advantage of happy hour pricing. The bar boasts two floors of televisions, but you should arrive early to secure a few seats for your clan.

Chocolate Fest: A Walk Around Tasting, 92nd Street Y, 1395 Lexington Avenue, Sunday, 7:30 p.m.

Some of the biggest names in chocolate are headed to the Upper East Side for an evening of sweet praise. Look for local favorites like Liddabit Sweets and imports like Italian chocolate-maker Stefano de Martini of De Martini Chocolates. You’ll also find a chocolate cheese offering from Murray’s, plus chocolate spirit pairings, candy, and ice cream. Tickets can be secured for $35 through the 92nd Street Y website.



The fourth season of HBO’s Game of Thrones doesn’t premiere until April 6, but those familiar with the lands and legends of Westeros and Essos have already found their way to Over the Eight in Williamsburg. Every second Sunday since January, Thrones aficionados have gathered for a trivia tournament as epic as George R.R. Martin’s fantasy series. The competition is organized by Thrones ultra-nerds Upjumped Sellswords, and features five-person teams with cheeky names like Cripples, Bastards, and Broken Things vying for bar discounts and a mystery grand prize by answering obscure questions about Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire books. TV-only fans should be wary of spoilers, and though the live event lacks the show’s signature mix of gratuitous nudity and violence, the atmosphere is reportedly lively, with craft beer and cocktails offered at happy hour prices throughout the night.

Sun., March 2, 6 p.m., 2014


Ommegang Is Celebrating the Seasons and Game of Thrones

As Brewery Ommegang continues to expand, it turns out a big, bold, and highly drinkable lineup comprising complex Belgian-style beers. Unlike many of the newer craft brewers, it favors highly carbonated “bright” beers, mostly sold in heavy 750ml bottles from Europe, which makes them perfect for aging or drinking fresh. We talked with Larry Bennett, Communications Director at Brewery Ommegang, to learn what Ommegang has in store for this fall.

Are there any seasonal brews in the works and when will they be released?
Our autumn seasonal, Scythe & Sickle was just released. It’s a 6.4 percent ABV amber ale with barley, wheat, oats, and rye. It’s available in four-packs and on draft.

Our winter seasonal, Adoration Ale, releases in the next week or two. It’s a dark, strong Belgian-style winter ale, 10 percent ABV, lots of spices, dark, and malty. It comes in four-packs and on draft, and it is a big, bold sipping beer.

I know you all are expanding. How much does Ommegang brew in a year?
This year we will brew about 55,000 barrels. Next year we plan on 65-70,000. A barrel is 31 gallons.

Why put your beers in the warm cellar? What effect does that have on the beer?
All of our bottled Belgian-style ales are re-fermented in the bottle, also known as bottle-conditioning. The beer is dosed with a small shot of yeast and sugar before it’s closed up. The yeast eats that sugar in the bottle and carbonates the beer naturally. It may have a tiny effect on bumping alcohol, but not a lot. It’s about getting the high carbonation that makes big Belgian beers so drinkable, regardless of the beer style. Beers dosed with Brettanomyces yeast re-ferment more slowly than our house yeast. The cellar is kept warm to allow the yeast to do its work. At colder temperatures it may slow down or even stop.

What are the newest brews coming out of Ommegang?
We just released Wild at Heart, a 9 percent all-wild yeast golden ale available only in 750ml bottles. It’s a limited edition beer that we make in small quantities. We also recently released Take the Black Stout, a 7 percent stout brewed in collaboration with HBO’s Game of Thrones. It is available in 750ml and on draft. It’s a big stout; it’s dark and roasty with touches of anise and licorice spicing.

Get a taste of Brewery Ommegang beers at this weekend’s Brooklyn Pour event!




If George R. R. Martin Wrote Every TV Show Ever

George R. R. Martin took a break from killing Starks on Game of Thrones today to send us this list of the notes he would send to the producers of TV shows if he were put in charge of them. [NOTE: We made this up.] Here’s what he dashed off for us, in between shouting descriptions of imaginary feasts.

See Also: Inside the Traveling Game of Thrones Exhibit

My Three Sons: That’s two too many.

Friends: Let’s just make it Friend.

Project Runway: This week’s challenge: Fashion something grand from smallclothes and boiled leather.

Moonlighting: David Addison loses a hand; Maddie Hayes loses her blouse. Also: They’re brother and sister.

G.I. Joe: You know those parachutes that save the Joes every time their jets get shot down? Let’s replace those with death-shadows expelled from Lady Jaye’s vagina.

Twin Peaks: The story of Roz, a Winterfell girl trying to make it in the big city.

Cheers: Horndog tavernkeep Sam Malone is haunted by dreams of his warg self, an actual horndog. Diane Chambers marries a well-spoken dwarf (Kelsey Grammar.)

HBO’s Cathouse: Now with archery!

Law & Order: Contains neither.

The Tonight Show with Jay Leno: Six times the warrior is slain, and six times the Lord of Light imbues him again with unholy life.

I Love Lucy: The line dividing Lucy and Ricky’s halves of the apartment is patrolled by bastards and rapists.

True Blood: Everything is 22 percent less cartoonishly bloody and gratuitous.

The Flintstones: “It’s a living,” sighs a dinosaur/turntable, just before immolating its master.

Survivor: There is no survivor.

To Catch a Predator: Predator escapes, slowly becomes the hero.

Happy Days: In mid-shark jump, Fonzie is bitten in half.

Full House: Now has vacancies. Also: When Uncle Jessie marries Samantha, the sound of a blade gutting Danny Tanner turns out just to be one of Joey’s amusing sound effects.

I Dream of Jeanie: Before meeting Larry Hagman, Jeanie wanders the desert for seven seasons.

The Simpsons: No changes! Like all good series, the first half should be tight, focused, and touching upon brilliance. Then, it should bloat on and on, focusing on irrelevant characters and growing increasingly tiresome and meaningless.

The Brady Bunch: Each kid has a wolf the network can’t afford to show much. Cousin Ollie’s is white.

See Also: Inside the Traveling Game of Thrones Exhibit


Watch Peter “Drunklage” Call Teenagers a “Bunch of Taylor Swifts” on SNL

Need more Tyrion Lannister this morning? Game of Thrones star Peter Dinklage made a guest appearance on Saturday Night Live to chat about tax season on Weekend Update with Seth Meyers and Bobby Moynihan’s “Drunk Uncle” character. “Drunklage,” as he was affectionately dubbed by Moynihan, lamented over the fact that “kids today, they don’t even wear garters anymore. They’re just on their skateboards and Nintendos.” He also disapproved of the teenage obsession with Tumblr, saying “you know what’s in my tumbler? Regret.” Maybe a little ice and fire, too.




If Peter Dinklage, who stars as the beguiling Tyrion Lannister on Game of Thrones, has picked up even a fraction of Tyrion’s craftiness, then the contestants in the sixth annual Scrabble for Cheaters better watch their backs. Today, create a team of two and join Dinklage and special guests John Hodgman, Michael Showalter, A.C. Newman, Jonathan Marc Sherman, and David Rees at this annual fundraiser for 826NYC, the Dave Eggers–founded writing program for children. The advantage goes to the team that has raised the most money to spend on cheats (which include “Invent a Word,” “Buy a Vowel,” and “Surf the ’Net”). Good luck!

Sat., April 6, noon, 2013


Tasting the New Game of Thrones Beer from Ommegang

Cooperstown-based brewery Ommegang has collaborated with HBO and rolled out a new beer to celebrate the third season of Game of Thrones, which premieres tomorrow. Iron Throne, as it’s called, is the first in what will be a series of Westeros-themed beers.

Co-branded food and drink stuff tend to be disappointing, but Ommegang is a fine brewery and it’s delivered a respectable Belgian-style blonde ale with a bit of body, tasting of warm brown spice and citrus.

It pours golden as a Lannister’s mane, with a creamy white head. And though Iron Throne lacks the sort of darkness and complexity that its name might suggest, it’s sunny and fresh and ideal for some early spring drinking — exactly what we’re getting up to this Saturday afternoon.

You’ll find Iron Throne ($8.50/750ml) at the newly reopened Fairway in Red Hook, Bar Great Harry, Bierkraft, and Malt and Mold.


Game of Thrones Gets its Own Craft Beer

The folks in Game of Thrones know how to have a raucous time. Whether they’re feasting, spanking, fighting or naked, the libations are always flowing. Brewery Ommegang is getting in on the fun and will introduce a Game of Thrones inspired line of beers next spring.

The Belgian-style brewery announced the first beer, Iron Throne Blond Ale, and we’re assuming it references disturbed little King Joffrey who currently occupies the Iron Throne. His beer will be available in March, right around when Season 3 of the HBO show premieres.

Three more beers will be released over the next year, and the brewery told the Times, they’ll release more as the series progresses.