Thursday, December 31, 2009

Review: Fall 2009

Looking back on the past year at this blog, one season at a time, one day at a time, for one (4-day) week:

The Fall began badly, with news that Les Desirs would be closing, and that many lovely older people would be losing a community meeting place. A fight to save the bakery began--I haven't heard news since.

October was a quiet month. David's Shoe store and repair in the East Village closed, as David retired, then later opened again when David's grandson (also David) took over the family business. The Backsiders regained their peace as windows closed and hotel balconies emptied in the cool weather, but they remained ever vigilant. November passed quietly, too. We got our hands on a More Jane Jacobs, Less Marc Jacobs t-shirt.

In December, we heard about Left Bank Books losing their lease, but soon after, hope was restored when the bookstore secured a new location in the Village.

Then, as fall turned to winter, we got the very sad news that Skyline Books will be closing in February. Add to that the demise of Chelsea staple Frank's Deli and the year has not ended on a high note.


Summer started with a heartbreak as Joe Jr.'s closed despite the diner's many fans fighting to keep it alive. I had my last supper there and signed the petition, to no avail. The space remains empty to this day. Also in July, we lost another long-time butcher, the 48-year-old Albert & Sons on the Upper East Side.

Summer throbbed along, the throngs feasted on the East Village like locusts, and the Noise Wars spilled over to Rivington's Thor. Above the new High Line, Standard Hotel guests began showing their genitals to the tourists.

At the end of July, Lee's Laundry was put out of business on West 4th Street--more recently, the same landlord booted Left Bank Books. And in the dog days of August, we heard that Biography Bookshop would be moving out of the west West Village and further east on Bleecker to make room for yet another Marc Jacobs store.

Finally, we got the good news that Christina, formerly of Five Rose's Pizza, was serving her pies in Jamaica--the island, not Queens.

After a rough winter, in the spring we felt refreshed with a thrilling walk out onto the Panorama of the City of New York and a tour of Hasidic Crown Heights. Also in April, we were happy to see Nusraty Afghan Imports reopen in the Village after being pushed out by a desire for Brooks Brothers, and we enjoyed exploring the Mystery Window of 11th Street.

But April can be a cruel month--the Chelsea Court Meat Market closed after 49 years and the old P&G was gutted. In May, we saw Howdy Do shutter after 15 years in the East Village.

And then the Noise Wars began. We received a collection of Notes from the Backside as battles raged between the long-term tenants of 5th Street and the guests of the Cooper Square Hotel. By June, the hotel was throwing luxury car-launch parties while neighbors complained, culminating in a dirty-underpants and douchebag extravanganza that got play in the mainstream press.

the Rubin brothers in 2007

In that same month, we grieved for Arnold Hatters, gone from the city after 50 years, after refusing to die when the city stole their property via eminent domain and handed it over to the New York Times building.

In January we achingly said goodbye to the 61-year-old Amato Opera House. We took a final trip to Love Saves the Day, which had survived for over 20 years in the East Village. We ate a last supper at the 15-year-old Old Devil Moon. And we learned that Interstate Foods, one of the Meatpacking District's last big packing plants, would be demolished for a glassy high rise along the High Line.

In February we mourned the death of Stefan Lutak, owner of the Holiday Cocktail Lounge, and worried (unnecessarily, it turned out) about the beloved bar's future.

photo by Mike Marvin

In March, we watched with disappointment as a ramen noodle joint announced it would take the place of Love Saves the Day. Then we took a last look at poet Frank O'Hara's last home--a building that has since been demolished. A hole sits there now in the ground.

Throughout the year 2009, more New York places and people came and went. I've only scratched the surface here.

1 comment:

John said...

I'm not sure about the phrase "hope was restored" regarding your news about Left Bank Books. I know it has found another location, but so much of the charm of that place was its location, the actual space it occupied. I tried to explain what I mean on my site here:

Happy New Year - hopefully a better one.