Tuesday, July 21, 2009

No Pecs, No Sex

Tables of books have now been replaced by giant, purple, crushed velvet couches...



...spooky skeleton chairs with matching alabaster male torsos...



...crazy AK-47 coffee tables, pillars wrapped in lace-up leather corsets...



...lots of muscles and even more mirrors--as the David Barton gym has officially opened in the former Astor Place Barnes & Noble.


but look! he's reading a book!

20 comments:

dirtygirl said...

I'm still nostalgic for when that corner meant Astor Wines and Liquors. Bottles of wine the size of my toilet and shopping carts. I think they were the first to have aisles and aisles of booze and shopping carts, which, back then, was exactly how I liked my liquor. Ib bulk and on wheels!

And while the death of that B&N is sad, it means less competition for St. Marks Books which has survived, much to my amazement.

Anonymous said...

How about changing your name to "pathologically filthy without a shred of personal dignity"?

esquared said...

He's probably reading Pumping Up With Hans & Franz. This is the dawning of Idiocracy.

Anonymous said...

U G L Y!!

Goggla said...

Wow, I'm...speechless. Sure this isn't a Coney Island Sideshow annex?

Anonymous said...

He probably left his i-phone at home, and out of sheer desperation resorted to the archaic ritual of reading a book to pass the time.

Anonymous said...

What's happened to this city? It's disgusting.

Anonymous said...

All the interior needs is the presence of Belle Watling. Who'd have thought there was a school of interior design known as High Middle Whorehouse!

Maybe Luv Guv "Sparky" Sanford can visit when he's not hiking the Appalachian Trail. Is this Spitzer's gym of choice? Once read that he was a Barton Boy.

Anonymous said...

Speaking as someone who has actually been inside the gym and who works out here, this place is awesome. It's incredibly well thought out, both as a gym and as a design concept, and while some of the ideas may be unconventional, they're also smart and everything is beautifully executed. I LOVE the corset-wrapped columns. I LOVE the crushed velvet sofas. Does a skeleton as a window display make sense? Maybe not, but neither do rows and rows of Mr. Potato Heads in the windows at Barney's. It's a window display! For those who miss B&N, I'm sorry; just be grateful it's not a Walmart.

Anonymous said...

I was never a big fan of Astor Place B&N.

But, at any rate, should we even be lamenting lost Barnes & Nobles? That's a chain store. David Barton is an independently run gym, so isn't it good that the independent is replacing the chain? Even if it does mean one less bookstore that wasn't such a great bookstore anyway? And this place looks like it has a more interesting decor than B&N ever did.

Jeremiah Moss said...

important point about B&N vs. Barton. seems like a lesser of two evils issue.

i don't believe all indies are benevolent and, while i kind of enjoy barton's over-the-top, tacky, 1980s boudoir aesthetic, the whole "no pecs, no sex" undermining of men's self esteem and bodily integrity (particularly the gay men the gym targets) i find problematic.

i prefer books--though B&N threatens indie bookshops.

i just wish we had more--and better--choices available. seems like we end up arguing "what's worse?" i.e., varvatos or a bank? starbucks or a bank? barton or B&N? B&N or a bank? on and on...

what if we could say NO to all of it?

Marjorie said...

1. The winning abstract psychedelic and colorful Diesel Wall on 19th Street off 7th Avenue was just painted over.

2. Please help: What was the name of the (yummy) kosher catering place on the east side of Broadway just south of 86th Street that closed about one or two years ago? They had great take out chickens etc.

L'Emmerdeur said...

I'm going to go with:

Seems like they are trying something new and kind of wacky. You have to give them points for that - even if you don't like their particular brand of new and wacky. Also, as stated above, you can't spend years screaming about B&N shutting down all the indies and then lament the passing of a B&N. That's just stupid.

In the grand scheme of things, there aren't many mom&pops that would take on this size space, so as large places go, this is reasonable.

Now, complaining about how many small spaces have been torn down and replaced with large retail spaces - well, that specific space was there long before the large-scale bulldozing of small shop spaces kicked in, so I don't think that applies here, either.

Marjorie said...

William's closed, after 52 years in business, in Feb. 2005.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, we can't say no on all of it.

Also: B&N, while it is now "global," as they say, started right here in New York. So it's more of a local chain, if you want to get right down to it. Kind of a Duane Reade on steroids. Or maybe that's more like David Barton.

One way or the other, the city is a'changin'. Also one way or the other, we can't stop it. But it's a sad world when the David Bartons of the world "make it" and the Joe's Jr. closes down.

Jeremiah Moss said...

l'emmerdeur, i have to argue your point. i think you *can* be angry about B&N shutting down indies and then lament its own passing. it's a complicated lament, with mixed feelings, but it's absolutely possible.

i think that particular lament is connected to a much larger grief about the death of books, in general, and the loss of readers/book buyers.

and the lament includes what happens when a city "chooses" (with its wallet and its values) a gym (that sells not healthier bodies but more fuckable bodies) over a bookstore.

but again, we need better choices. when everything small is gone, when Bank of America becomes Starbucks, and that closes and becomes Duane Reade, and that closes and becomes Citibank, and that closes and becomes Taco Bell...what will we be fighting for and crying about?

we won't be. we won't have any feelings either way. we'll be numb.

ziggy pop said...

Exercise is a great thing.

When i visited the US i notices alot of fatties. You guys need more gyms.

Penetration, Inc. said...

As an EVillager of 17 years, I say, gotta pick our battles. David Barton Gym is hurting no one. The space was empty. What kind of business that could afford the rent would please the EV purists? None, I expect. Barton, is as close as it'll get. (See below.) No bellowing drunks, no fatty fratties, no puking princesses, just people working out. I've DJed there and hope to again. Unless someone is going to pay me not to work there, because it's uncool, cough up the cash or zip it.

(No need to hate on Barton for the ads. You think those are bad, remember the Charivari ads in the 80s? Over the Lincoln Tunnel: "You're Going Into Manhattan, Dressed Like That?" or around town: "T-shirts, Blue Jeans, Back To Basics. Wake Us When It's Over." Fierce, I say.)

And, don't knock it til you try it. Having worked out at David Barton, I can tell you, it blows my grody, cramped gym on 4th street out of the water. I'm a EVer and I'd join.

Finally, listen: Barton is married to Susanne Bartsch, who has reigned as queen mother of NYC, EV, Downtown freaks for decades. She's no wanna be, she's the real deal and keeping it alive. Anyone who's been to her Love Balls, Halloween parties, or current Sunday party Vandam will testify. (Vandam's main DJ is, hello, Johnny Dynell of Jackie 60 fame and an EV legend.)

So, wanna bash some faceless corporation, mall chain, douchebar, go for it, but not one of our own, who's become a success. There IS a difference. I'm struggling now, as many are, but I'd hate to think if one day I open a shop, then another and another back that a fellow local would have a problem with it, me or my customers.

Case in point. I work with a singer who lived on the LES with her boyfriend/producer for years. They have a hot Cuban-fusion band and she just released her solo album. They now live in the Christadora. Having been in the building, spent the night in another apt there, I'd live there in a heartbeat. Zero qualms. Solid, quiet, nice spaces, unobtrusive. Ain't no Avalon or that monster on Astor. Building's been like that for years and I really don't think it can be blamed for any gentrification trickle down in the East Village. So models live there. They also live in my building and are generally far cooler than the douchebags who follow them.

Again, we gotta pick our battles. NYC has always been a city of change, as was Rome, where you can find writings by people whining about the exact same issues.

And there are two sides to this. Ask any of the Latinos (and I daresay Ukrainians) whose families have been in the EV for a couple generations and they'll all tell you they'd prefer the cleaned up EV to the dirty/scary one. (Though, in a case of Be Careful What You Ask For, I'm guessing they're probably over the bar scene.)

Personally, I liked the mid-90s EV. Safe-er, but with the occasional sprint home and not yet cleaned up. My corner of 7th & 2nd still had a busted pizza shop on the NE corner, Love Save The Day on the NW, a typical bodega on the SE and Kiev on the SW. Perfect. In the Seventies, 2nd Ave. on the same corner, there were hookers! (Read "Dancer From The Dance" for real nostalgia, as it takes place in the EV.)

Jeremiah Moss said...

thanks Penetration. you make some good points.

when i've got a few best-selling novels and movie deals under my belt, where will i be? i might have to critique myself.

laura said...

what happend? i went to david bartons in south beach in the delano hotel. (1997ish). it was chic simple & beautiful. understated. this interior looks like a tacky pretentious mess. i wonder if the hotel did the decor & david brought in his machines? anyway i would rather see a bookstore. but i can think of worse things. new york may become one big culture-less mega mall. & if brooklyn is a big college town for grown ups...... well, times are changing. there will be a migration. keep me informed JN! empires rise & fall..........