Monday, June 30, 2008

*Everyday Chatter

Mr. Nusraty, what's the story? You said it was just a rumor here, but today we hear the rumors are true and Afghan Imports will soon become a Brooks Brothers offshoot on Bleecker. [Racked]

Just in time, a new Bank of America branch opens in the Toll Brothers McTower and has some strong words for would-be panhandlers. [EVG]

More evidence the tide might be turning, luxury landlords are starting to choke on their high-priced units. [Times]

Christopher Gray's "Streetscapes" provides a handy follow-up to my piece on the Schrafft's building at 61 Fifth Ave: "architect Alta Indelman says she is working on a design for a 10-story apartment house with one triplex, three duplexes and ground-floor retailing. She said that she had considered trying to salvage some of the Schrafft’s facade but that it was too far gone." [Times]

Read this gorgeous story about a forest of rolling ladders in Soho. [Times]

Do you get anxious when your cellphone battery runs low? Do you just pretend to turn to silent mode when the movie begins? Do you avoid travel to rural areas for fear of dead spots? Then you might be suffering from...nomophobia.

The Beaver House has tetherball? OMG, it is summer camp! The Beaver boys are having an open house July 13 and 20, from noon to 4:00.

Friday, June 27, 2008

LINKS

Blogs & Sites
The Grumbler (my other blog)
Dreams of the Vanishing New York (my other, other blog)

Daily News Blogs:
EV Grieve
Bowery Boogie
Gothamist
Curbed
Eater
Racked
Runnin Scared
Grub Street
The Lo-Down

General NYC:
Forgotten New York
Walkers in the City
30 Stories
P&W's History of NY
Restless
Lost City
New York Neon
Scouting NY
Walking Off the Big Apple
Ephemeral New York
Gotham Lost & Found
Cat Sitter in the City
A Fine Blog
14to42

East Village/LES:
LES Dwellers
Flaming Pablum
Slum Goddess
Neither More Nor Less
Save the LES
East Village Corner
Blah Blog Blah
It Was Her New York
St. Marks Bookshop News
East Village History Project
Bowery Boys

West Village & Chelsea:
Washington Sq Park
Hotel Chelsea Blog
GVSHP
Greenwich Village Block Assoc.

Borough Life:
New York Shitty
City of Strangers
Amusing the Zillion
One More Folded Sunset
Here's Park Slope
Brownstoner
Who Walk in Brooklyn
Queens Crap
Rego Forest Preservation
Governors Island

Newspapers/Magazines
Times City Room
New York Mag
NY Observer
Capital NY
The Shadow
Chelsea Now
The Villager
The New Yorker Blogs
L Magazine Blog
Untapped NY

Art, Writers, Photography
Gog Log
Single Linds Reflex
NYC in the 1990s
Nadie Se Conoce
Greenwich Village Daily Photo
James & Karla Murray
Michael Sean Edwards
NYC Photo Blog
John Penley
Kensinger
SJF New York Paintings
Ben Katchor
Brian Rose
Dino's NYC Pics
Robert Otter Photography
David Kamp
Jim Knipfel's Slackjaw
Englishman in NY

Music & Film
Stupefaction
The New York Nobody Sings
The Vanishing City
New York Lost
Twilight Becomes Night

*Everyday Chatter

One of my favorite books about the city, E.B. White's Here is New York, is coming to the subway system and the City Room's readers debate what makes a "real" New Yorker--one sums it up nicely with this quote from E.B., "New Yorkers temperamentally do not crave comfort and convenience–if they did they would live elsewhere."

A look at New York's vanishing breed of eccentrics and characters. [Gawker]

The Slacktivists are at it again: After the big Die Hard Yuppie Scum demonstration, John Penley "and his merry band of crusties" have more plans for the EV, including the July 11 "let them eat cake" (and shit) demonstration at 47 East 3rd. Pizzas will be courtesy of the Bowery Wine Company! Fun, fun, fun! [Villager]

Read this detailed and lucid account of how Red Square helped launch the current super-gentrification of the Lower East Side--with brochure copy to make you sick, in which seamstresses and poets are sold out for Mr. Wallstreet and Dutch models. [EVG]

This satire of real estate's use of gritty reality to sell property isn't so far from the truth. [BBs]

Celebrate the Sip-In with another visit to Julius, one of the best bars (gay or otherwise) in town. And you won't spend $9,000. [Voice] [via Colonnade]

Florent ok with un-Florent restaurant opening in Florent space. [Eater]

Bickford's & Gross

One member of a favorite pair of buildings, the old Bickford's on 8th Ave and 34th, is draped in Vornado. That means it's probably time to say goodbye.


photo: nick widzowski

According to 14to42, this Bickford's location opened in 1929. A New York Times article, found here, tells us that the sign was revealed in 2000 when a facade for the Adult Entertainment Center on the site came down:

"Bickford's, trim and tidy in white terra cotta, its distinctive script logo in a stepped entablature over a field of Art Deco chevrons...

'It's a gift back to the street of a beautiful facade,' said William K. Dobbs, a lawyer and amateur preservationist who has immersed himself in Bickfordiana ever since discovering the old facade. He determined that the branch at 488 Eighth Avenue, whose telephone number was once CHIckering-3339, went out of business in the mid-60's. It was replaced by a restaurant called Snacktime, which was supplanted by the adult book store."


photo of the same building, ground floor

Now the adult book store is gone. ForgottenNY took a peek not long ago.

Remarkably, the neighboring S & G Gross pawnbrokers, established in 1901, still lives. 14to42 also has more info on them. S & G were Solomon and Gustav of Stanton Street. Their heir, Robert Gross, was working in the place 20 years ago, when he was interviewed by the Times who described him as "a pleasant pistol-packing pawnbroker." His granddaughter was also working the counter in 1988. Maybe she's still there.


photo: michael dashkin

Thursday, June 26, 2008

*Everyday Chatter

Florent to remain open as non-Florent restaurant. What happened to Ralph Lauren? He couldn't afford the $60K a month? [Eater]

And tipster quixoticire tells us that Nicola Paone--a 50-year-old Italian joint in Murray Hill, formerly owned by a troubadour known as the Italian Bing Crosby"--will be closing this weekend. [Crain's]

The Hotel Gansevoort goes ghetto. Even when you take the tenement laundry lines out of New York, people will use ingenuity, turning tiny luxury balconies into public drying racks. Maybe there's hope for the city after all:


July 11: March against the tenement-evicting millionaires of the East Village. [EVG] ...and here's another nice shot of that flyer, against a background of the typical New EVill scene. [NMNL]

Times Square not seedy enough for Hollywood. [City Room] ...just as Malcolm McLaren softcore porns it up. [NYDN]

"The Lower East Side of Manhattan is being SoHo-fied. (Or is it Chelsea-fied?)," and here's a guide to the galleries that are moving in--and will be moving out before you know it, as they pave the way for more high luxury, as they did in now-saturated SoHo and Chelsea. [Times]

12th Street Books

It's been a bad week for Manhattan's bookstores. First we heard the Strand Annex will be shuttering. Then the rumor that Biography Bookshop might be closing turned out to be partly true--they are in their final year. Finally, I discovered that 12th Street Books will be closing this summer.



After a decade on 12th between University and 5th, the bookshop's lease is ending and the neighboring restaurant, Strip House, is expanding into the space.

Strip House is one of those odd upscale chains that manages to keep its chain-identity on the down low--they've got a total of 9 locations, and their owners, the Glazier Group, also own at least 4 other restaurants, including Michael Jordan's Steak House. Their website says, "Our locations reflect our interest in historical environments throughout New York City. Drawn to preserving important cultural landscapes, we interpret their past and blend those details with a modern spirit."



Sadly, in 1999, Strip House replaced 75-year-old Asti, "one of New York's most beloved and treasured restaurants," where the waitstaff sang opera while they served Italian dishes. Said one baritone at the time, "In the last decade, our customers either died, retired or could no longer afford to come regularly." I kicked myself when it closed, having never made a visit. Somehow, I doubt that Strip House has managed to preserve the historical, cultural landscape of Asti.

Of Mr. Glazier, the Strip House website says he has "put a permanent mark on New York City's history and landscape by taking ordinary locations and converting them into spectacular concepts." Correction: Asti was the absolute opposite of ordinary and 12th Street Books is a rarity in a city hellbent on making bookstores disappear.



Luckily, 12th Street has found a new space, but it's nowhere near the Village. I spoke to Macklin, the guy who's often mistaken for the owner, and he told me about their plans to move to 179 Atlantic Ave in Brooklyn, where they will change their name to Atlantic Books. He expects they'll be gone in late August. Until then, if you have books to sell, bring them to 12th Street. They'd love to buy them and it's a way to give them support.

For the record, I am really going to miss this bookshop. They often have what I'm looking for and I regularly pass by, stopping in to find books I didn't know I wanted. 12th Street is one of a dying breed of used bookshops--a breed I predict will almost completely vanish from Manhattan in the next 5 years.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

*Everyday Chatter

Strand Annex to close: “We were doing very well with that store, and then they started the construction, which really hurt our sales.” Call it "death by construction," another way in which condos kill. [Urbanite]

Drunkorexia: young women starve themselves all day so they can save up their caloric intake for binge drinking.

Are we losing the fabulous Biography Bookshop to yet more Bleecker high fashion? This will be a horrible blow to the Village. And, yes, Carrie Bradshaw, I'll blame you. [Racked] *Update: I checked in with Biography and they are not leaving anytime soon. However, their days are numbered. About a year from now they'll be gone. They're looking for a new spot, so if you know of an affordable place for a bookshop, drop them a line.

Get the lowdown on last night's lively meeting to save Coney from turning into yet another outdoor shopping mall. [AMNY]

And here's more, more, more on that Coney scoping meeting. [GL]

I love the veggie-slicing man--and here he is in all his orange glory. [GVDP]

Finding Lost Houston

Last week I rented The Night They Raided Minsky's, which just came out on DVD. I don't recommend it, unless you're interested (as I was) in seeing the interior of the Village East prior to its renovation from a live theater to a cinema. The red curtain is there, along with the stage and the balconies.


film still


photo: tony marciante

The Village East did a stint as a burlesque theater around the 1950s and 60s (above and click for boobs here), but it was never a Minsky's. The original Minsky's, represented in the movie, was located farther south at 111-117 East Houston. That's where the Whole Foods/Avalon building stands today. Here it is in 1930:


NYPL image

My research in the NYPL's digital gallery took me away from Minsky's and in another direction, discovering this image of the Sunshine theater, also in 1930:


NYPL image

Zoom in to see Yonah Schimmel's knishery as it was in its early days:



Notice the major construction on Houston. They were digging it up to put in what later became the F train. In doing so, they also widened the street. Who knew that Houston used to be a narrow, two-lane road? Or that an entire world of buildings, homes, and businesses were wiped out in its widening.

Here's another shot of Houston in 1929, just a year prior to the demolition. There's the Sunshine on the left and on the right you can see an optometrist, a lamp store, and what looks like an umbrella shop. The low-rise buildings stretch all the way to Sixth:


photo: brooklynpix

5,000 residents were evicted and 1,795 apartments were demolished. Wrote the Times, ''Some workers have been living in the flats for a score or more of years and bow to the inevitable march of progress.''

New York has been changing since its inception. That's obvious. Blocks and buildings rise and fall. Seventy years ago, half of Houston Street vanished from the city--and the city survived. But today the rate of change has become excessive. Block after block after block, New York is devoured. We don't get one Avalon building, we get three. We don't get one Marc Jacobs store, we get half a dozen. Such is the inevitable march of progress today.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

*Everyday Chatter

I can't quite figure out this new blog, NIMBY Brooklyn, but I am pretty sure it's making fun of bloggers like myself and others. It's kind of funny and kind of sad. I mean, are they pro Red Lobster or what? [via GL]

In the VNY "Steal This" tradition (bicycle, stroller, laptop), I submit the following scene of stealable baggage left on the sidewalk outside the Orpheum theater on 2nd Ave, where Stomp has been "hypnotizing" tourists for years. Maybe that explains the unattended luggage:


Writer David Kamp, coiner of "Vongerichtified,"
found himself here and further adds to the meaning of the word, saying, "A Vongerichten restaurant is like a plasma TV that’s been wired into the wall of a Victorian townhouse: a flashy add-on that’s cool in its way but messes with the overall vibe. And is obsolete within five years." [DK]

What would Jesus do? He apparently would not care to visit the gentrified (Vongerichtified) Lower East Side. [EVG]

June 28: Take a guided tour of the destruction of Washington Square Park. [WSP]

The Domino Sugar sign has been saved--see the brand-new renderings here. [BStoner]

Stroller Sports

As we all know, the Stroller Wars have been raging in Park Slope. Recently, EV Idiot worried the East Village would similarly be "mobbed by the stroller mafia." As young couples make more money and the city becomes more "liveable," they seem to be leaving for the suburbs less and less. (Are the suburbs, in turn, losing their children? Will the suburbs become NORCs?) And with more strollers in town comes more bad stroller behavior and more anger from the child-free. Here's a sampling:
  • George Carlin (RIP) on our child-obsessed culture. [TBTI]
  • Anti-stroller signage. [Gothamist]
  • Moms and bars. [NY Times]
  • The original Stroller Manifesto. [Heideblerg]
  • Line-cutting, on-demand flat fixes. [Curbed]
  • And one In Defense of Parenthood [Observer]
While it's one of my favorite topics, I go into bad-stroller territory with trepidation, because the mere mention of it seems to tick off every parent with a child under the age of 10. I can't understand why well-mannered, considerate parents aren't more angry at the rude, entitled stroller moms and dads who give them all a bad name. Still, I am too excited not to report that I recently encountered the jackpot of obnoxious stroller behavior.



Like Jim Knipfel with his Statistics of Contempt, I cope with sidewalk frustration by making a game of it. This scene scores a big six points:

1. Incredibly loud cell-phone talker (four blocks worth of it)
2. Talking about the top two most obnoxious loud cell-phone topics (money and real estate)
3. Pushing stroller with just one hand
4. Pushing enormous, double-wide stroller
5. Double-wide has just one kid in it (other side's for shopping bags)
6. Kid is big enough to be playing a handheld electronic game--and those legs, knees bent to her chest, look made for walking

I'm not sure this one could score much higher, unless she was also listening to an iPod in one ear and steering with her hips while sucking on a Starbucks iced coffee. And leading a small dog on a too-long leash. Now that would be something.

(Where is Seinfeld when we need someone to name and call attention to current urban behaviors? Larry David, come back to New York!)

If the grudge match between the Stroller Mafia & the Angry Child-Free is going to continue, and it is, then we should at least have team uniforms. It might help us all have a sense of humor about this issue. Below are a few design options--and, for the record, I would really love to see a mom or dad in the "I Hate Your Kids" shirt:






Where'd I find these T's?

Monday, June 23, 2008

*Everyday Chatter

Brand-new Carroll Gardens residents hail the drugstores, Subways, and clothing stores that gentrification has brought to their nabe. Yes it is a satire--and a funny one that's scary because it feels so very, very, very real. [Gothamist]

Go deep inside 47 East 3rd, where the writer is also a tenant: "My neighbors and I know that if evicted we cannot afford to remain in the East Village, suddenly full of trendy boutiques and luxury housing. I stubbornly believe the neighborhood will be a less vibrant place with all of us gone." [Gothamist]

If you missed Folsom Street East, check out links to pictures here. [JMG]

I have noticed an increase in crusties lately. Maybe it's just summer, or maybe it's an indication of the improved health of the East Village. Kind of like finding sea turtles in the East River. Kind of. Anyway, enjoy a night with the gutter punks of the EV. [NYMag] via [Curbed]

Listen to the saviors of Coney Island on Brian Lehrer today:



Central Park too? "The struggle for Central Park is, in its essence, like any other New York neighborhood conflict, with the same kinds of seething antagonisms and the same immutable stereotypes. There are the old-timers (I was here first!), the colonizers (The park is ours!), and the new-money arrivistes (Who do you think you are?)." [NYMag]

Take a walk down tired old Nassau and Fulton Streets. [EVG]

Take a look at the misery that was New York, prior to the misery that is New York. Somewhere in between the two, we had a pretty amazing city. [FP]

Say goodbye to the wise men of Cafe Figaro. [GVDP]

Mermaids in Peril

This past weekend, amid a sense of impending doom and passionate protest, the mermaids paraded once again through Coney Island, many of us wondering if it would be for the last time.



You couldn't miss the message. T-shirts at Lola Starr's and Ruby's urged "Save Coney Island." There was an odd requiem or two here and there. Through a fence bannered with the words "The Future of Coney Island," you saw a view of flattened earth and digging machines. And in a window on Surf Avenue, sailor girls prepared a place for Queen Mermaid, Savitri D, to hold a hunger strike to rescue Coney from the "gentrifying apocalypse of retail entertainment hell."





She and King Neptune, Reverend Billy, led off the parade, following the big drum of Dick Zigun, the former unofficial Mayor of Coney, recently resigned in protest. One troupe sent evildoing real-estate developers in yellow hardhats, with money spilling from their stuffed shirts, running down the boardwalk while the good guys tried to capture them in nets. The onlookers booed and hissed. Thor pulled a luxury high-rise inviting people to the June 24 Community Scoping Meeting.

The rest of the parade was a swirl of glittering jellyfish, topless mermaids, and other people who love any excuse to get dressed up in some crazy outfit--proof that New York is still New York, at least once a year, in places like Coney Island.



After the parade Billy and Savitri gave their King and Queen speeches to a small but rapt crowd. Billy urged us to save Coney. Savitri spoke of her deep-sea sorrows and planned starvation. The rest of us crossed our fingers and prayed for a miracle.




Friday, June 20, 2008

Men in Leather

If you long for the days when the streets of the Village and Meatpacking were filled with men in assless chaps, instead of fratboy assholes, then go to Folsom Street East this weekend. In celebration of those vanished men in leather--many taken by the AIDS epidemic--enjoy my visual retrospective of the city's lost queer fetish clubs, showing them as they were yesterday...and what I discovered in their places today. Be sure to click the lavender club titles for more juicy info and images.

The Ramrod
394 West St.
Yesterday:


Today:

photo: forgotten ny

Badlands
380-390 West Street
Yesterday:

photo: Richard Wandel

Today:

see Christopher's End

The Anvil: 1974-1986
500 West 14th St.
Yesterday:

photo from bitter queen

Today:


The Mineshaft: 1976-1985
835 Washington St.
Yesterday:

photo from bitter queen

Today:


Vault/Hellfire/Manhole
28 9th Ave at 14th St.
Yesterday:


Today:


The Eagle's Nest
142 11th Ave at 21st St.
Yesterday:


Today:

see also: Bitter Queen

The Lure
409 W. 13th St.
Today:


The Spike: 1974-2000
120 11th Ave at 20th St.
Today:


More reading:
Christopher's End
NY Press: Pornology
Villager: Bring Back Beefcake
Gay History of the Village

Thursday, June 19, 2008

*Everyday Chatter

Update on the passing of Taxi Ray Kottner: I heard from his niece Maria via email, who informs us that Ray "went into cardiac arrest while sitting in his cab late Saturday night" and passed the following morning. His ashes will be interred at Ferncliff Cemetery in Hartsdale, sharing a mausoleum with the remains of luminaries like Judy Garland and Joan Crawford. Writes his niece, "So maybe it's fitting that he is ending up in the same final resting place as all of these other icons of his era." Indeed. But why is VNY thus far the only one to cover the passing of this New York icon?

Things are not going well these days for Mosaic Man Jim Power. He's got some signs on his lamp posts requesting donations, saying "We're out of funds," and some of his art on 8th Street has been vandalized. Bowery Arts & Science is sponsoring him. Contact them for info on how to donate:


East Village crime spree--the Blue & Gold was robbed. [DBTH]

Read about the purification of Gramercy Park--let's see if Jackson Square Park turns into such a sanitized oasis as the condstrosity moves in. [Gothamist]

Columbia has begun crushing parts of Harlem in its fist. [Curbed]

Cooper Square Hotel voted ugliest building in town. No argument there. [AMNY]

Happy Birthday Bowery Boys!

New Bear Stearns uniform: "a polo shirt, a sport coat, and incongruous manacles." [NYO]

As conjectured by commenters and today confirmed by a photo-tipster, that mystery Mexican-Moroccan storefront at 2nd Ave and 11th is so very much a real estate office:

Discussing Eminent Domain

Slaving over a hot blog every day, day in and day out, doesn't pay (I am seriously considering the evils of ads), but now and then, there's a perk. The NYPL sent me a free ticket to their Eminent Domain talk last night and I don't turn down free stuff. The speakers were political scientist Marshall Berman, urban studies professor Tom Angotti, blogger Brian Berger, and psychiatrist Mindy Fullilove.



It began with the trailer from a short film about the Atlantic Yards Project by moderator Michael Galinksy. Angotti gave a brief history of eminent domain and its abuses, saying, "There is no definition of blight. It's a hoax. Blight is in the eyes of the beholder."

Mindi Fullilove discussed the trauma of gentrification and displacement, which she calls "rootshock," similar to the trauma that happens to plants when you yank them out of the soil. The loss of neighborhood fabric, that collective creation, she said, can lead to "terrible enduring pain, loss, and grief."

Marshall Berman opted not to speak about the perils of modernity and asked if anyone in the audience had seen Don't Mess with the Zohan. I might have been the only person to raise a hand. (Damn those NYPL elitists.) Berman said, "I don't know much about the Atlantic Yards project, but see Zohan... It's good for your morale to see that it's possible to blow these [real estate developer] creeps away." He's right, the movie has a strong anti-gentrification message.


photo: Ethan Levitas

Brian Berger gave the outer-borough argument, saying, "The Lower East Side had a great 100-year run as a cultural engine, driving arts and literature, and if that's over, or in a lull, that's unfortunate, but there are other things happening elsewhere in the city."

Marshall Berman agreed that we should be optimistic, that displaced and traumatized New Yorkers will rise again elsewhere and create new things elsewhere. "They go on and form new neighborhoods," like the people in Fiddler on the Roof (Berman was big on movies last night) whose town was blown away, yet they went on.

The speakers began to deride nostalgia and Fullilove stepped to its defense, saying, "Nostalgia was coined by psychiatrists, who saw that people who moved far from home could die from longing for their home." She asked us to respect that nostalgia is not just some bittersweet emotion, but rather a testament to the fact that "home is an object of attachment, like a mother or a father, home is a secondary system of homeostasis. When you destroy this system, you destroy a person's ability to function in the world. Nostalgia is something we need to understand and respect."

Overall, other than Fullilove, I found there was too much optimism and resignation from the panelists. Rage came instead from the audience members. During the Q&A, Harlem and Lower East Side residents raged against gentrification. One woman informed us, "The new gentrifiers are trying to change the name of Marcus Garvey Park--they think it's too militant and want to call it Mount Morris Park," the park's name under its original (white) developers.

We did have one yunnie (yuppie/whatever) in the audience, or at least someone who presented a reasonable facsimile thereof. "I'm wearing a dark suit," he said, "So I feel the need to represent the Republican viewpoint. Who's going to take the side of the government? Maybe Pataki is not a jerk!" They took away his microphone but he kept yelling. "I'm playing devil's advocate. Next time you do this panel, get someone to represent the government!"


photo: Zoe Leonard

In the end, the NYPL host quoted Milan Kundera as saying, "A European is someone who longs for Europe." To which I will add the implied: A New Yorker is someone who longs for New York.

"Nostalgia" is made of two Greek words: Nostos, to return home, and algos, which means pain or suffering. It is literally homesickness. Maybe this is how you know if you're a New Yorker or not. It's not where you were born, or how many generations precede you, or how you make a living, but do you long painfully for New York? Are you homesick for this vanishing city?

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Nick's Hair Stylists

There is one lesson I still have yet to learn: When I see a place that tingles my J-Reaper senses and I know it will soon vanish, I need to get in there and partake of their services fast. Instead, I add it to the ever-growing VNY Deathlist and hope for the best. Again and again, I am left bereft.



Today, it was Nick's Hair Stylists on Horatio. It's gone. Vanished. The windows are papered and the inside is being gutted. No more sparkly gold chairs. No more beehived ladies. Soon, Nick's wonderful old signage will also go, along with the tagline: "Always at the right wave length."



The Villager wrote about Nick Soccodato when he retired back in 2003 after 46 years. He started out styling the hair of doo-wop groups like The Regents and the Belmonts. He did Pacino's hair.

Irene Naumova was one of the star stylists at Nick's. A Yelp commenter and fan wrote:

"
She's a little old Russian lady that reminds me of my grandmother. She remembers the details of my life, usually gives me a good haircut, and then brings out the hot-lather and straight-razor for the finishing touches. She still wants to use mousse on me. Sometimes she's tired, and the haircut isn't flawless, but it doesn't matter. It is always the best haircut I've ever had, every time. Her clients love her. Some of have been seeing her for over 20 years. They bring her flowers and candy. There is an unspoken cult of Irene. And that's because she's a bit of NYC that's fading away, as is Nick's."

You are now free to commence weeping.

*Everyday Chatter

Red Hook locals waited "in horror" for the "big yellow blob" of Ikea to inevitably open, because, in the end, "Rich people--they get what they want." [Gothamist]

Owner of Bowery Wine Co. offers to serve pizza to "moron protestors" at the next Die Hard event. Hey, free pizza! [NYO]

Fulton Fish Market to be replaced with a 42-story (!), Brooklyn-Bridge-dwarfing, totally out of context, apartment and hotel tower that will cantilever over the river (!) and generally go about "dominating many vistas of the East River waterfront." [Times] & [Curbed]


"Hell has found its way into the peaceful town of Red Hook," says a local as Ikea opens its doors with a lot of screaming and yelling. [Racked]

Even in Canada, they know New York is vanishing, "diseased now with velvet ropes." [Globe & Mail]

Thursday, June 19, 7:30 pm: Freebird Books in Red Hook hosts a "post-apocalyptic discussion" with Richard Matheson's I Am Legend. Mmm...post-apocalypse fun!

It's 1984 all over again: Revisit the first sightings of alligator shirts in the EV. [Grieve]

Psychedelic Solution, that odd place above the new Elletaria on W. 8th, the place I've been meaning to get to and check out before it vanished, has vanished. [Flaming P]

Gramercy Pawnbrokers

Good news and bad news. I was relieved and surprised to find that Gramercy Pawnbrokers, against all expectations, is still standing. But I was flabbergasted to discover that the rest of the block at 23rd and 3rd has become an immense wall of white stone and glass.



Curbed called it a "condstrosity" and it is. Except it's now an NYU dorm. And it cantilevers over the little pawnshop like a giant kneeling on the shoulders of a child. I am sure if it could have, it would have blobbed down the other side to totally engulf the walkup, like its neighbor just one block south at 22nd. I guess a lot of Things are eating Gramercy these days.



Unless you are everywhere every day, you just don't see all the changes until it's too late. I used to stand on that corner and wait for the 3rd Ave bus to take me home. There was a magazine store there and I would spend my waiting time looking at the magazines in the windows. What else stood on that block? I can't remember. It's all been wiped away.

When they tore down whatever buildings used to be there, the buildings I have forgotten, a mural revealed itself. Now that's vanished too. The coming first-floor tenants will be Rite-Aid and HSBC bank.



The things worth looking at in this city are dwindling. What we take in visually becomes our thoughts. When we look in the window of a pawnshop, we see stories--wedding rings tell of love lost and betrayed, guitars speak of dreams deferred, typewriters tell more tales than we can imagine here. What will our thoughts become when all that's left to see are the blank faces of condstrosities?