Thursday, January 29, 2015

Typewriters & Things II

When Typewriters & Things closed in 2013, after nearly 30 years in business in the Village, the space changed owners. Bino Gan, typewriter repairman to the stars, had retired.

The place on 8th Avenue near Horatio became World News Stationary [sic] Copy & Fax, part of the World News & Smoke Shop newsstand next door. Now we hear that they're being forced to close.

A reader writes in that the shop is "being forced to close because of a steep rent hike by the co-op (14 Horatio Street) that owns the space. The same guy also owns two small grocery shops on the same block, and he's also being forced out of the one owned by 14 Horatio."

They'll be gone soon. Everything's on sale.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Rawhide Goes Blue

When the famous Rawhide bar was pushed out of its Chelsea location, after 34 years of serving the queer and leather communities, we figured another chain was coming. It almost happened. A West Coast "fast casual" pizza chain nearly moved in, but the deal fell through and the Rawhide sat empty for another year.


Now the place has been wrapped in green plywood and renovations are under way. So what's moving in?


I got an anonymous tip and confirmed the intel: The Blue Store is moving in. You know the Blue Store? The gay sex shop a couple doors down? The one that cops and mommies have tried to run out of business? Dildos, butt plugs, porn--and all the crazy Styrofoam heads in the window. That Blue Store.

And it's not just moving. It's expanding.

So, not only are we not getting yet another bank or Starbucks or happy California pizza chain in the old Rawhide space, we're getting a smut shop. Miracles do happen. Though the guy I talked to did say it will be an "upscale" version of the Blue Store. Imagine that.

*UPDATE: This development doesn't sound so great, after all.

Inside the Rawhide
Rawhide Goodbye

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

That Liquiteria

Here's the recently opened Liquiteria that replaced the beloved Gray's Papaya on 8th Street and 6th Avenue:

Gray's closed a year ago, forced out by a nearly doubled rent hike. This is getting tedious.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Amato & Planet Ludlow

Last week, I posted a film about the 2B art space by Corey Shaff. But that's not all he's got in his oeuvre.

Corey made another film on the Lower East Side in 1995, this one inside the Amato Opera House, a beloved old favorite of mine. The Amato sadly announced its closure in 2009, after 60 years of making music. The building was sold. It remains empty and abandoned today.

Corey's film is a beautiful look at a lost piece of the old Bowery--and the sort of people who used to make it such a vibrant and unique place.

AMAT\'/; Opera on the Bowery from Corey Shaff on Vimeo.

He also made a short documentary for PBS called "Planet Ludlow," about the Ludlow Street scene in 1995, just as the neighborhood was gentrifying with artists, and before it was hyper-gentrified by drunk students and the super-rich.

Planet Ludlow from Corey Shaff on Vimeo.

Remarkably, in this film, Corey captured extremely rare footage of Litzkowitz the pillow man, located one door south of Max Fish.

Digression: On the other side of the Max Fish was Joseph Yavarkovsky's paper supply, in business since 1898. That storefront does not appear in the film, but here's what it looked like:

Thursday, January 22, 2015


Stefanie Lindahl sends in a rare video made by her husband, Corey Shaff, of art gallery space 2B. It occupied an abandoned gas station on Avenue B and 2nd from 1986 - 1995, when it was evicted to make way for a condo building with a Duane Reade.

Stefanie writes, "2B was a place to hang out and make things. The video was a thing made by Corey as he hung out there at a time that simply happened to coincide with the extinction/extinguishment of the place. Parnassus Lost!

2B was easy to access via a large gate on Avenue B but foreboding enough, evidently, to keep most people who ultimately did not get to experience the casual, relaxed buzz of creativity inside. It was also a place for the 'crusties' of the East Village early nineties to apprentice in smithing, among other things. Although the place seemed to be an abandoned gas station, rent was paid. It nonetheless felt like a place for a squatting guild of artisans. It was homelessly homey. It was one Manhattan holdout for those who had already started forming the artistic diaspora to Williamsburg."

2B from Corey Shaff on Vimeo.

"Besides previously working with the photographer Robert Frank, another East Village denizen, Corey also chronicled a slice of Ludlow Street of that era, as well as the defunct Amato Opera House on the Bowery for PBS. I remember how Corey wanted to juxtapose the Bowery 'bums' with the goings on within the opera house, but PBS nixed the idea as 'too scary,' so he had to cut out the footage.

2B was just such a 'scary' unedited piece of the city that got nixed by the ensuing hyper-gentrification that you so often allude to. Another place of authenticity deemed dangerous and unprofitable in the growing inauthenticity of the city."

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Avignone Chemist


Reader Phoebe wrote in earlier this week, "Avignone Chemist on Bleecker closing. The landlord tripled the rent." A letter in this week's Villager confirms the news.

photo via Walter Grutchfield

In the letter to the editor, Sheila Sperber Haas writes:

"I learned from Avignone’s owner, Abe Lerner, that this historic shop will be closing on April 30. Why? The building has been sold, the store’s lease is up for renewal, and Avignone’s new landlord is tripling the rent. Abe had indicated his willingness to negotiate a new lease with a higher rent, but one that’s three times what he is now paying is out of the question.

Avignone — one of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation’s 2013 Village Award winners because of their integrity, history and supportive involvement in the neighborhood — has been at 226 Bleecker St., just west of Sixth Ave., since 1929. Francis Avignone moved it there from 59 MacDougal, where it had opened as the Stock Pharmacy in 1832. (Francis Avignone had bought and renamed it in 1898.)

...It is shameful that there is still no law protecting such businesses and preventing the further destruction of the character of our neighborhoods, and the fabric that keeps our communities vital."

photo via Walter Grutchfield

Wikipedia says it's "the oldest apothecary in the United States," at 183 years old.

But, as Ms. Haas attests, there is no law protecting our small, historic businesses. They can be evicted at whim by their landlords' spiking of the rent.

*UPDATE: DNA followed up on this story and named the new landlord: Force Capital Management, a hedge fund that manages $1.2 billion, led by Robert Jaffe. According to DNA, they're planning to charge the next tenant in this space about $60,000 per month.

NYPL, Percy Loomis Sperr

When the shop goes, what will happen to the building? We might also lose the great ghost signs along the side of the building in the little park called Winston Churchill Square. Still fading next to Hygrade's All Beef, there's been an Avignone sign here for a very long time.

via NYPL

Click here to hear Calvin Trillin celebrate Avignone, the drugstore where he shops, and see co-owners Abe Lerner and Andrew Fruchtman accept their Village Award in 2013.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Smith's Again

People are curious about what's happening at Smith's Bar off Times Square. In October, I reported that it was closing after 60 years in business. It closed. The owners weren't talking to the media.

Then, surprisingly, the antique neon sign was restored.

Now Davy Mack writes in with a photo of a new awning.

photo by Davy Mack

I took a peek inside at the renovation going on behind the paper-covered windows and caught a glimpse of some striped banquettes. From that quick peek, it's hard to get a sense of what kind of place is coming, but clearly they're keeping the name Smith's.