This week, Grieve wrote about the changing face of 7th St., how it's gone, and keeps going, from a quiet block to the Food Capital of NYC. He worries that "this precious stretch of the neighborhood will simply become one big line of people waiting to eat."
I recalled one of my favorite bookshops, Tompkins Square Books and Records, which used to be at 111 E. 7th and closed sometime around the turn of the millennium. It was run by a man named Gani Remorca, who could find you any book you asked for within a week or two of asking. You could sit in a tattered easy chair and read, listening to the opera music that Gani played from an old turntable, while an orange cat rubbed your pant legs. Is there another Heaven?
Visit 90s Woman blog for a video of See, Hear
While Googling for the shop, I came upon the New York Times' 1995 guide to shopping in the East Village, an interesting time capsule. The writer of the article is thrilled by the sudden appearances of a bunch of boutiques between 9th and 7th Streets. He calls it "shopping nirvana." Most of what he mentions are those boutiques, but a few choice listings, all of them now lost:
"SEE HEAR (59 East Seventh) is an underground repository for collectors of trash culture, full of the latest in adult comics and rock-and-roll fanzines as well as books covering every aspect of both fields. Gift items like Heroes of the Blues trading cards, with portraits by R. Crumb, coexist with issues of the old folk periodical Sing Out and Psychotronic magazine, which focuses on horror and exploitation movies. If you are looking for a coffee-table book on tattoos, this is the place.
TOMPKINS SQUARE BOOKS AND RECORDS (111 East Seventh) is a more contemplative sort of place, with used books and records stacked everywhere. The opera on the stereo is a definite switch for this rock-and-roll neighborhood but fits the dusty, Strand Books-in-miniature feel of the place. It seems especially good for literature, books on architecture and hard-to-find records, including 78's.
STOOZ RECORDS (122 East Seventh) is a cramped little record store where the clerks are disarmingly honest. "What do you think of the new Oasis album?" a customer asked. "I didn't like it," a clerk responded. "Fine way to make a sale," another clerk said. If you can clear the cat off the compact disks and records, you'll find a good selection of 60's rock."
photo: Alex in NYC