Thursday, July 31, 2008

*Everyday Chatter

Is Cookout Grill the next new en-masse chain to drop onto the city? One's opening in the old Popeye's spot at 1st and 13th and here's another in the former 99-cent store under Time Machine at 14th and 7th. You've got to wonder about that Asian-styled, chicken-clubbing caveman mascot:

Not only is Bloomberg's marketing department selling our city as SATC-ville, they've also trademarked us: "This is New York City.™ This is home to Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte and Miranda..." [NYCVisit] via [City Room]

And here's the secret reason so many independent news vendors got their long-time stands seized by the city government and replaced by cold Cemusa boxes: Bloomberg gets to advertise his SATC-version of our city all over Europe. [Times]

Remembering one of the Bowery's most beloved news vendors. [EVG]

Speaking of secret marketing, check out "murketing," the sneaky ways we're being coerced to buy. In his book Buying In, author Ron Walker dissects Pabst Blue Ribbon, the beer beloved by hipsters, and the subversive ways it convinces unsuspecting drinkers that it's "a beer of 'social protest,' a 'fellow dissenter' against mainstream mores." [Times]

Slacktivist and Die Yuppie Scummer John Penley voted NYC's cuddliest anarchist! [EVG]

Rififi, aka Cinema Classics, to close with one day's notice under demand for "more money" from landlord. [Gothamist] ...Neighbor says "good riddance." [Grub St] ...and here's a scene from the last night at Rififi: ComicsComic.

The Cheyenne's last customer recalls her times at the diner with Dad--and the ways in which memories can be lost along with the city's vanished. [Times]

That big empty spot, formerly Mike Gallagher's Art and Fashion Gallery, at 12th St. and 4th Ave. is going to be...a bank!

169 Bowery Suicide

Back to the Bowery, where I seem to be inadvertently collecting suicide tales. First, there was a hanging in the attic of 35 Cooper Square, aka 391 Bowery. Then there was Karl Hutter, inventor of the Lightning bottle-stopper and proprietor of 185 Bowery.

Now comes a Bowery suicide tale from #169. This time, it's a lovelorn Italian musician with a pistol back in 1886. He was "so poor that life had no longer any charm for him":

new york times

The address at which the musician died was on a Bowery filled with theaters, including many Italian and vaudeville theaters. He had played at Miner's Bowery Theater, which opened in this location, 165-169 Bowery, in 1878. It was known for its "questionable burlesque productions" and amateur nights (Eddie Cantor won many here), where bad performers were hauled offstage by a hook. Some claim this is where the expression "Get the hook!" was born.

In 1922, Miner's nearly burned down and later became a Chinese opera house.

miner's posters on bowery, new york wanderer

More recently, 169 was the home of Weiss Hardware, with the most excellent signage and can-do spirit--"If You Can't Find it. We have it"-- along with questionable punctuation and capitalization.

photo: Michael Dashkin

photo: my flickr

Last week, on my walk down the vanishing Bowery, I took a couple pictures of this creamy, pistachio-colored sign, afraid it might soon disappear. Last night, photographer and fellow sidewalk pounder RK Chin informed me it was gone.

Here's what might be coming, should the real-estate agents' dream come true. Unless, of course, they just tear it down and put up another glass box. Somebody, get the hook!

listing page

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

*Everyday Chatter

The next silvery box to land on the East Village is getting its robot skin--Cooper Union's "communal hive," which the Ukrainian community had no choice but to surrender to:

Remember the news that a high-end barbershop will go into the old Nick's Hair Stylists on Horatio? Well, it's part of the Freemans Sporting Club chain, a brand spun off from the restaurant in Freeman Alley on the LES. It's apparently a hipster thing. [MenStyle] via Racked

"Mike Schumacher, owner of Met Food Grocery Store at 107 Second Avenue, says NYSS Duane is working hard at lease renewal negotiations with NYU for his store. He expects a settlement early next week." But he needs your help. [SLES]

Coney Island is breaking the heart of one former urban planning student. [OneCity]

Noodle around the Hong Kong Supermarket with BaHa. [SENY]

Death Wish? And The Panic in Needle Park? It's a hot, gritty summer in NYC, thanks to Anthology Film Archives.

People really get upset when one Starbucks out of, like, one million closes--especially when the alternative is walking extra blocks--and some of them start petitions in protest. [Gothamist]

For the Tompkins Square Park riots anniversary, Abercrombie girls dance along to "Die Yuppie Scum." [AMNY]

Lighting District

The Bowery, when I think of it and when I walk on it, rarely means that stretch between Delancey and Canal. In my travels, I tend to turn on Delancey or sooner, but recently I decided to walk this stretch. In the Lighting District, after 6:00 pm, the sidewalks are empty of crowds and you can really take it in. Which you should do soon, because it is being decimated.

See all my photos here.

The vanishing begins at Houston with the Avalons, then the New Museum, followed by a hole in the row of tenements, ready for boutique hotel 250 Bowery. Condos are rising quietly, stealthily, among and behind the kitchen supply stores. The kids at "mega-club" BLVD and Crash Mansion are waiting on the sidewalk, eager to access the opulence, the decadence, the feeling of exclusivity promised there.

Across the way, Jay Maisel's Germania Bank building, covered in graffiti, stands like a solemn reminder of the ruined past, windows sealed with silver foil, reflecting.

At Delancey, the seeds of destruction have already been planted in 2 of the 4 buildings bought for demolition--the familiar skull and crossbones means the rodenticide is in place--the first step is always: Kill the rats.

At Grand, the accidental jewel of a shopkeeper's scale gleams gold in sunset. Here you might find Shao P. Chen's minicake stand, profiled beautifully in The New Yorker--is it still there, in the shadow of the Providence Hotel?

At Hester, a corner has come down. The Music Palace theater has been replaced by a poster for the glass tower to come and a message, it seems, from the gods of destruction: "On your knees..."

The Diamond Corner holds on to its vintage signage. Everywhere, shop windows still glitter with chandeliers for sale, a hundred windows filled with lamps.

And just before Canal, the amazing Kowloon Bay beckons, a scene straight out of Hong Kong, a market filled with Chinese herbs, soaps, inflatable creatures, folding fans, etc.

Above Kowloon is the Bowery Lodge, where you can still stay for $30 a night.

I predict the next genius developer will open a swank boutique hotel on this street and call it "Flophouse." It will come complete with cubicles, with bunkbeds wrapped in high-threadcount Egyptian cotton linens. It will have shared "social" bathrooms for group trysting. Every cubicle will come with Armand de Brignac served in a Mad Dog 20/20 bottle. It will be opened for you by a concierge dressed as a bum.

And the Flophouse hotel will not cost 30 bucks a night.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

*Everyday Chatter

Curbed commenters make funny haikus about neighbors in neighborhoods. Read them here.

After 30+ years in business, The Travel People on Greenwich Ave have closed. Their cool neon airplane is gone and they're selling all the knick-knacks in their window, where they say, "We hate to leave our home in the Village":

On the racks now, Adbusters #79 has an amazing article about hipsterdom. It's not available online, and so much is worth quoting, but one deadly paragraph will have to suffice. Douglas Haddow writes, "the hipster represents the end of Western civilization--a culture lost in the superficiality of its past and unable to create any new meaning. Not only is it unsustainable, it is suicidal. While previous youth movements have challenged the dysfunction and decadence of their elders, today we have the 'hipster'--a youth subculture that mirrors the doomed shallowness of mainstream society."

America the beautiful: If you're physically suffering, your doctor will put you on hold and then stick you in a dumpy waiting room. If you're suffering for beauty, the same doctor will provide you with a valet, a concierge, and flowers. [Times]

Take a gander at these designer automatic weapons by Peter Gronquist--also found in Adbusters 79, which says these weapons "play with our throbbing, eroticized notions of materialism, violence, and power." Yes indeed:

Explore the Taming of Gansevoort--how a "glorious wide open space" became filled with "ugly and intrusive" concrete. [ForgottenNY]

The plywood around super-condo 200 11th gets a taste of the old west Chelsea:

Photographer Brian Rose is putting together a book of his beautiful LES before-and-after photos, from the 1980s and today. [BrianRose]

The Coney Island History Project presents vintage photos of old Astroland, Aug 2 - Sept 1.

And another Manhattan Apocalypse movie is coming to a theater near you. [TJV]

The ever-lovely Loews Jersey needs volunteers--free pizza is involved!

Glassing West Chelsea

Now and then, I like to take a walk through way west Chelsea and see how things are progressing in the massive condofication that's going on. Every time I go, they're more enormous, more glassy, more metallic, just more, more, more.

chelsea modern

The Chelsea Modern on 18th is completely glassed, with crazy windows that pop straight out on springy suspension devices--perfect for losing cats or small dogs who like to sit on windowsills. Its neighbor, 459 18th, which was but a little sprout until very recently, looks completed, too. They grow up so fast, don't they?

We talk about New York changing, and we all know that the city is always evolving, but today it mutates like a cockroach, its DNA radically altering itself from month to month. At this rate, how long will it take for every block to be encased in glass?

459 and modern

Nouvel Chelsea has taken shape, towering, undulating, and accompanied by a big swaying crane. The L-shaped 245 10th, with its wobbly-looking beams, has wrapped itself territorially around the Lukoil gas station, and now has a scant skin of pockmarked metal and glass on its ass, just where it kisses the Highline behind it. We'll see these finished by the fall, no doubt.

nouvel chelsea

245 10th

Finally, HL23 has birthed a sales office--well, they call it a "Sales Tin"--tucked under the Highline, complete with neon lights and bamboo shoots for enticing buyers.

It's not news that the whole neighborhood around the Highline is being hurriedly buffed and built up in a construction frenzy for uber-rich investors to enjoy, at least occasionally, when they come to town. But recent reports show there might be a bit of trouble in paradise. Seems some ruffians have been abusing Vespas and putting garbage onto the hoods of cars. Head for the hills!

Monday, July 28, 2008

*Everyday Chatter

As New York enters its "worst fiscal crisis since the mid-1970s," fashionistas are decking themselves out in Depression-era duds. What's that line about fiddling as Rome burns? [EVG]

With doubling rent, Judy's Better Dresses, a shop with the personal touch, closes after 40 years in midtown. [Times]

Nice to see Ralph Blumenthal is back from Texas and writing very funny articles like this almost-parody in which Staten Islanders bid a tearful farewell to their beloved Starbucks. [Times]

Remember the Love Coffee truck, rolling around the city claiming to be related to Mud Coffee? Well, it looks like they're opening a brick-and-mortar location up on quiet little Pleasant Ave. in East Harlem:

When I read this story (check out those comments) about exclusive club the Eldridge, I thought, this has to be a satire. It was too perfect, too over the top, like this work-of-art condo parody. But the Eldridge is real (I think). Thankfully, the so-called Ko-Thario has released a satire of the Eldridge, describing his own super-secret club, where A-listers will be drinking the blood of Gretchen Mol. [Grub St.]

Ko-Thario, aka Seth Gordon, is also the inventor of the $12,000 knish. Glad to see someone smart is mocking this Vongerichtification madness.

Grub Street also alerts us to this pretty great video-walk with Florent Morellet through the Meatpacking District, where transgender sex workers once traversed the cobblestones steady on their stilettos, and where now "Sex and the City wannabe girls" fall off their Manolos. [Grub St.]

David's Bagels

A tipster sent in the news that David's Bagels on 1st Avenue and 14th Street will be closing at the end of August after 21 years of business. I spoke with the owner, Vilai Wangkeo, and she told me that since the landlord opened a Hot & Crusty franchise next door, "He doesn't want the competition," so her lease will not be renewed.

"When you work somewhere for 21 years," she said, "you get good customers, and when you have to move, it's really sad. This is like my second home. I've been here every day, 6 days a week, for 21 years."

When Ms. Wangkeo's children grew up and she needed work to do, she opened David's Bagels in 1987. I asked why a former nurse and a native of Thailand would decide to open a bagel shop. "We have no bagels in Thailand," she chuckled, "but my brother had a side job at Bagel Nosh and he learned how to make them there."

"Is your brother named David?" I asked.

"Nobody is David," she laughed, "But a lot of Jewish people have that name." So David just made sense for a bagel shop.

Ms. Wangkeo has a second bagel shop further uptown and she is searching for a new location for this one, but it's hard to find a spot for a small business in Manhattan. "Nothing is empty," she said, "nothing for less than $15,000 a month."

That's a lot of bagels.

Friday, July 25, 2008

*Everyday Chatter

The New World Order has been dying to erase Astor Place from the map for some time now. This winter, cloaked in "good for the hood" exhortations and watercolor paintings of vegetation-lush pedestrian malls, it begins. For the record, crossing Astor Place is a piece of cake--there's very little traffic--if you know how. [Curbed]

Yes, Gothamist, I have indeed noticed that taxi TVs are NOT turning off. In two rides, I discovered the same awful trend. The first screen has a red OFF button. If you touch anywhere else on the screen, except for that OFF button, you get immediately sent to a deeper, inescapable level of Hell, in which there is no OFF button. And from there, you're screwed. The damn thing plays and plays and plays...and what does it play? Condo ads:

David Kamp, originator of Vongerichtified, tells a fascinatingly twisted tale of urban Googling, accordion-playing aunties from Queens, iPod silhouette models, scruffy hipsters, and the cherry-poppin' Fay Leshner Memorial "Sex Bench" in the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. [DKamp]

Speaking of sex benches, check out this deal: IKEA BOOBSHELF for sale in the East Village. At 52" wide, 79" high, and 17" deep, that's a shelf that can support one big boob:

Is the Cup and Saucer as doomed as it looks? Urbanite is worried and so am I. [Urbanite]

Alex in NYC tells Starbucks, "Seeya, wouldn't wanna be ya," and wonders why all the sobbing? [FP]

The 6 and 12 Cafe (at 6th and 12th) is closed. I've had a feeling about this place for a while now. Always loved these signs. I snapped this pic and a week later, it was gone. Not my fault, I swear. They "closed for retirement":

Thursday, July 24, 2008

*Everyday Chatter

Remember the old "it's better than a Starbucks" rationale for embracing Varvatos on the Bowery? Well, it has spread to CB3, as members invoke the "magic words" that allow more and more frat-boy bars into the EV/LES. [SLES]

Those Sex and the City tours have finally given the people of Perry Street a break and scratched "Carrie's stoop" from their route. Still, the tour creator is upset. Also worth noting, Bleecker Playground is “'an absolute hellhole' due to another Sex and the City tour side effect--cupcake liners strewn on the ground." Says one resident of the tours, “First of all, it’s pointless and stupid... It is such a failure of imagination. Why would people visiting New York City waste their time with a fake location on TV?” [Villager]

At least one New Yorker has named her baby after the Magnolia bakery. Will it become a trend? [NYer]

"Parker came to symbolize an image of New York City over the last 10 years as a place of conspicuous consumption and carefree frivolity...Now, with reports of Broderick out with a woman half his age he met at a bar, and Parker running around town frantically searching for him, some are wondering if the New York of Sex and the City is officially over." [AMNY]

Heartening news (to some): Transgender sex workers are returning to the West Village, now playfully known as "Times Square South." [Villager]

Take a look inside the doomed Frankie & Johnnies of Times Square. And "meow" to you, Miss Meriweather. [GVDP]

Go for a ride on New York's still-spinning carousels. [BBs]


Readers of this blog might assume I am against wealth and spending. This is not so. What I find troublesome is the current culture of financial decadence that is wasteful, hostile, and destructive. Raised in a lower-middle/working class home where government cheese was on the menu, I certainly aim to achieve personal wealth. I enjoy earning and saving money, and even like to go shopping--sometimes at chain stores (a few is okay--it's the over-proliferation of chains that troubles me).

But I also believe in being thrifty and living within one's means. I seem to be in the minority these days.

I Love Money: Meet the cast

In a recent New York Times, David Brooks offered an enlightening Op Ed about money in America and the current "deterioration of financial mores" that has led to a culture of debt and stark polarization into the "investor class" and the "lottery class." To those who argue that New York, and the U.S. as a whole, has always been about extreme commerce and consumerism uber alles, take a look at Brooks' piece, in which he writes:

"The United States has been an affluent nation since its founding. But the country was, by and large, not corrupted by wealth. For centuries, it remained industrious, ambitious and frugal. Over the past 30 years, much of that has been shredded... the most rampant decadence today is financial decadence."

WATCH: "We are a nation of consumers. And there's nothing wrong with that..."

In last Sunday's Times, they added to their Debt Trap series and again showed that America was not always ruled by a culture of unbridled consumption: "Just two generations ago, America was a nation of mostly thrifty people living within their means, even setting money aside for unforeseen expenses. Today, Americans carry $2.56 trillion in consumer debt." And the average American saves about 400 bucks a year. We haven't saved so little since the Great Depression.

the American Way of Debt map

Our most dramatic plunge into consumer debt spans the 2000s. I often wonder why 9/11 seemed to give a boost to the city's hyper-gentrification, Vongerichtification, yunnie-ism--and I think the reasons are manifold (Bloomberg, Bush, war, fear, etc.), but also remember the regrettable "Fight Back NY!" campaign that told people the way to fight terrorism was to "Go Shop!" and "Spend Money!" What terrible advice, and yet it set the tone for the post-9/11 era.

Those in power would like us to believe that consumerism is the golden good and thrift is for greedy cheapskates. As David Brooks wrote in yesterday's follow-up Op Ed, "Norms changed and people began making jokes to make illicit things seem normal. Instead of condemning hyper-consumerism, they made quips about 'retail therapy.'" Thrift, in contrast, becomes the butt of the joke.

But the "word 'thrift' comes from 'thrive,'" writes David Blankenhorn in the Philadelphia Enquirer, "Understood in this way, thrift is the ethic and practice of best use. Being thrifty means making the wisest use of all that we have--time, money, our possessions, our health, and our society’s natural resources--to promote both our own flourishing and the social good."

Ethics, mores, social good. These values are part of New York's history, too. And they are not antithetical to affluence. "Affluence" means abundant flow. And flow is a good thing. But affluence in America has come to be all about conspicuous consumption. That's not flow.

Brooks points us to the New Thrift movement, which has some problematic aspects--like the whole creepy right-wing "defense of marriage" stuff and, let's face it, the Puritans jacked up the country in many, many ways--but their central message is a critical one: "consumerism as a philosophy of life" is unethical, immoral, and detrimental to the country's (and the city's) health.

Under the leadership of BloomBush, our city pushed forward into an age of unethical greed. New York has been corrupted by the type of wealth that devours everything in its path, sparing nothing but that which encourages it, and hiding in its dark heart an emptiness, a yawning debt disguised as success. But every day there is more good news. Maybe the tide is finally turning. Do you feel it too? Fight back NY! Save money!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

*Everyday Chatter

New blog in town: In BoweryBoogie, a Lower East Sider jumps on the blog bandwagon and here looks at the correlation between dogshit and gentrification.

Empower Jim Power!
Looks like the Mosaic Man has a new website and blog. He is also in need of funds. [EJP]

What we lose when we lose mom-and-pops:
community connections. Here, the old New Barber Shop on 9th and 18th puts up an announcement about a death in the neighborhood and info about the funeral. Chains, condos, and upscale restaurants don't do that:

Penmanship, the restaurant to replace Kurowycky Meats on 1st Ave between 7th and 8th in the EV, was approved for its liquor license "with provisos about closing early and keeping the noise level low." Here's what we might expect, from the same owner. [Eater]

I reported on the closing of Grace & Hope Mission this past spring. Today we hear it's turning into a frat-boy bar. [Curbed]

Chelsea's getting yet another 20-story condo-hotel tower. [Curbed]

35 Cooper Square

As the Cooper Square Hotel has risen and spread, it has engulfed the block of Bowery between 5th and 6th Streets. Two original buildings remain: the tenement home of poet Hettie Jones and 35 Cooper Square, a building with a long and interesting history.

That history has been painstakingly uncovered by artist and East Village resident Sally Young in an attempt to get #35 landmarked, thus saving it from the wrecking ball. Rumor has it, the hotel developers plan to have the building demolished. And Landmarks has turned Sally down, stating, "the property does not meet the criteria for designation."

photo: sally young, 2008

Originally called 391 Bowery, #35 was owned in the early 1800s by Nicholas William Stuyvesant, great-grandson of Peter Stuyvesant. When he died in 1833, the building passed through several hands, including an undertaker, a teacher, a hotelier, and a saloon owner.

my flickr

In the 20th century, it became a home for artists. Painter and photographer J. Forrest Vey lived there after WWII. He rented the upstairs dormer rooms for $5 apiece to people like Joel Grey, star of Cabaret, and Claude Brown, author of Manchild in the Promised Land.

Mr. Vey once broke into the attic, which had been sealed ever since a man hanged himself there. He found Civil War newspapers, a stove-pipe hat, a sign that said "5-cent Hot Whiskey," and a noose.

found in the attic

Beat poet Diane DiPrima moved into #35 in 1962. There she wrote many poems, and her memories of the place can be found in her memoir, Recollections of My Life as a Woman. She writes to Sally, "We were visited there by probably hundreds of artists and art patrons, including William Burroughs, Cecil Taylor, Frank O’Hara," John Weiners, Herbert Huncke, and Warhol Superstar Billy Name, who lived with DiPrima for a time.

Billy Name recalled in an email to Sally, "wooden broad plank floors and a very comfortable homey feeling from all the wood and open space and kitchen. and, as opposed to all the tenement buildings in its surrounds it actually looked like a 'house' from earlier america. looked and felt like it might have been the perfect home for walt should be designated a historic site and have a nice bronze plaque on the front."

Finally, the building made it into the news in 2004 (The Villager and the Times) when owner Cooper Union opted to paint over a 9/11 memorial mural and make room for advertising, against protests from the locals.

photo: hubert j. steed, 2004

The memorial has been erased and there won't be any bronze plaques. There probably won't even be a building to hang it on. #35 is one of a few lots on the block bought last year by a group of Cooper Square Hotel investors. One investor told The Observer, “These lots were to become, possibly, a restaurant-lounge and/or expansion to the Cooper hotel so we (Cooper investors) would be able to leverage the brand, amenities and staff of the Cooper Hotel next door."

In her memoir, DiPrima wrote, "From the moment when I first laid eyes on 35 Cooper Square, I knew it was the fulfillment of all those fantasies of art and the artist's life, la vie de boheme, harking all the way back to my high school years or before."

What will happen to such fantasies--and their dreamers--when all the 35 Cooper Squares of our city have been demolished and New York fails, again and again, to fulfill them?

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

*Everyday Chatter

The 10th Street Block Association is praying the Canadians who bought Commerce Bank will save them from "excessive and garish signage." But I doubt the Canucks can do much about the proliferation of petty nuisance crime on the street:

Read this interview with the anonymous blogger behind the funny-sad satirical StuyTownLuxLiving, about which "Management is not amused." [Times]

New, super-chic bar on the LES will have butlers and only let in "quality people"--it will also be disguised as a "new and used" bookstore. Remember those places? We used to have lots of real ones around here. [Grub St.] (Check out the Eater comments.)

Yuppies, yunnies, and now yupres: "new and temporary arrivals" who will eventually go "shuffling off to middle America, suburbia or Los Angeles. Despite this, they define the (cultural) economy of New York." [Ventriloquism] via [Gawker]

How can we stop the flood of condos and chains? Pirate up! Hey, it works in Everglades City, Florida. [Yahoo]

Everybody wants a piece of the luxury action, including the condo that replaced the Cedar Tavern, despite its being a veritable Fedders box--here it gets its luxe banner on:

Harlem Mall

Earlier this month, The Real Deal reported that several of the small businesses at 125th and Frederick Douglass Blvd have settled their lawsuit against Kimco Realty, who plans to demolish the entire block of low-rise buildings and replace them with a big-box shopping mall. There were 16 tenants evicted by the Kimco plan--many of them, including Bobby's Happy House, have already closed.

The block, once filled with life, is now half dead.

formerly bobby's

I went to 125th Street last fall, when Bobby's was still there. It was a chilly day, but there was a crowd out front of the 61-year-old business. In the window, a television showed Michael Jackson in his prime, and men were dancing along with him, mimicking his steps on the sidewalk. Bobby's closed on Martin Luther King's birthday this year.

Today, the store is boarded up. The awning is down, revealing an old sign from a shoestore with an angry boot called "boss" who looks ready to kick someone. Bobby moved to this site about 20 years ago, after Kentucky Fried Chicken booted him from his corner spot.

city high sports

Next door, in the window of former apparel store City High Sports, African-American mannequins lay in naked pieces, in piles of arms and legs, torsos dismembered. The beauty supplier and the nail salon have also had their faces ripped off. Soon, the rest of the businesses, from Manna's soul food to Roti Plus and the House of Seafood, will be gone.

formerly beauty supply, formerly spatz furniture

What will come, we can well imagine. Everyone knows what a brand-new shopping mall looks like. And feels like. There probably won't be middle-aged men moonwalking out in front of it.

Monday, July 21, 2008

*Everyday Chatter

The VNY Flickr group has been going strong. Now, inspired by Michael Dashkin's "Behavior Enforcing Signage," I decided we needed a place to put all those urban etiquette signs that have been proliferating over the past decade. So I started another group--join here and add your stuff.

...And here's a rather colorful example. [GVDP]

Landlords can evict you to gut renovate? Come August 12, NY State might make it legal. [SLES]

Median household income for white toddlers in Manhattan? $285,000. [NYO]

Alex has a bunch of old photos, mostly of the LES as it was, complete with anarchy symbols and empty skies over Katz's. [FP]

HunterGatherer discovers Rappaport's in the old East Village on TV. [HGNYC]

Contrary to all predictions, the Sunshine Hotel, one of the last flophouses on the Bowery, has been given a stay of execution for the next three years. [Curbed]

Reggie Fitzgerald Triangle

The little triangle bordered by W. 4th, 8th Ave, and Horatio is vanishing. It was named for Reggie Fitzgerald, a gay activist and Village preservationist. Florent Morellet described him as "one flamboyant, aging queen, with tight leather pants, lavender, long-lapelled satin shirt and flowing neck scarf." When was the last time you saw one of those in this city? I used to see Quentin Crisp all the time in the window of the Cooper Square Diner, but such folks (and the diner) have vanished, too.

I wrote last month about the demise of Nick's hair salon on the triangle. Walking by recently, a postman told me it's turning into an upscale barber shop. I peeked inside. The walls are subway-tiled, the mirrors trimmed in heavy oak. The postman, who turned out to be a font of information, expects "men's haircuts for 60 bucks."

He also confirmed that, on the 4th Street side of the triangle, Action Care pharmacy has lost its lease. "The best kept secret in the Village" has had a For Lease sign on it for some time. How long, really, could it last next to Crumpler, et al?

And what about Miles Tinsmith? What about Mrs. R. Reese Spiritual Healer & Psychic? (Did they ever sell that Sand-Over-Sable colored "Ass-Machine" Bentley that threw the triangle into speculation about yuppies and gentrification?) "There are a lot of old-timers in that building," the postman told me. The freshly painted corner lot was bought and all the residents booted. Around the corner is the Lukoil gas station.

"Fuggedaboudit," the postman and I said in unison as we stood taking in the scene.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Moscow on 7th St.

At the suggestion of blogger HunterGathererNYC, I watched Moscow on the Hudson. It has some good scenes of New York in the early 80s: Boomboxes, breakdancers, muggers, New Wave yuppies. And the marquee and lobby of the St. Marks Cinema, now Cohen's Fashion Optical with the Theatre Condos above.

In the movie, Robin Williams' character lives in a tenement apartment on 7th Street between 1st and 2nd--above an egg shop. Did you know there was an egg shop on 7th (still open in 1991)? Gothamist discovered a movie of the shop, where now you'll find Howdy Do. And, in the background, that's David's shoe repair with the yellow sign complete with Cyrillic lettering (none of that today).

At the end of the movie, there's a scene in long lost Moisha's Luncheonette (239 Grand St.), where one legend claims the egg cream was brought to Manhattan from Brooklyn in 1920 by Moisha Zambrowsky. (See another shot here.)

Moisha's is gone. The egg shop is gone. St. Marks Cinema is gone. (David the cobbler is still there.) Thank goodness for the movies.