Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Pussycat Gone

A tipster writes in to let us know that Minetta Street Mexican restaurant Panchito's has erased a piece of Village history.


After: tipster photo

Says the tipster, "The faded remnants of The Fat Black Pussycat Theatre sign on Minetta St. was painted over on Wednesday by the owners of Panchito's Restaurant. Tour groups would often stop to see the faded signage and the building where Dylan wrote 'Blowin’ In The Wind.' It’s stupefying... neighbors were yelling at the painters as they were quickly painting over the signage."


Before: photo from GVSHP

He continues, "With one coat of paint, Panchito's robbed countless people for generations to come of the pleasure of wandering down Minetta St. and 'discovering' a true rare moment of ephemeral NY. I suspect that Panchito's knew exactly what they were doing. As the Village continues to lose a big part of its DNA, I don’t see this as a small loss."


Before Panchito's

The sign dated back to the 1960s, when Tiny Tim, Mama Cass, and Richie Havens were regular performers. Panchito's moved here in 1972 and, in all those years, never messed with the old sign. Someone must have had respect for the birthplace of "Blowin' in the Wind." Until now.

As the GVSHP Executive Director explains, this street has been proposed for historic designation, but to no avail. Perhaps if it had been, the Fat Black Pussycat sign would still be there.

17 comments:

Signed D.C. said...

Oh my...just as I'm listening to a BBC Radio 2 doc about the musical history of Greenwich Village and a guy named Mitch Black is describing the scene on Minetta and talking about this very sign, I simultaneously started reading this post. Eerie!

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b011mdtj

EV Grieve said...

Boycott Panchito's Restaurant.

Wadjet Eye said...

Buh?

For god's sake - why? I can someone replacing one signage with another, or even painting over an old sign to put up an ad for Barcardi or something. I don't like it, but I can understand it from a capitalist standpoint. But this? Panchito's just plopped red paint over it and called it done. There's no lettering, no design, no anything. It's just... red. It just seems so wasteful and pointless.

Harry said...

Oh great, a crappy frozen margarita joint that will probably be there no more than three years: tops, erases a cultural landmark.

Un-Freaking-Believable…***sigh***

Alan Jacobs said...

That's really sad. One of my earliest memories of Greenwich Village, wandering through the streets in the 60s, seeing that sign.

Marty Wombacher said...

What are they going to do for their next trick? Paint a moustache on the Mona Lisa?

Anonymous said...

Guess who won't be going to Panchito's....ever

Jeremiah Moss said...

Signed DC, that is really spooky

rls said...

did they plant trees? looks like the new ones are crooked. i thought the fat black pussy cat was a sex shop? also isn't it minetta LANE? is this the curved street in back of mac dougal. i spent all my teenage years on those street, like from 1962-66. all this is confusing. or was the sex shop on bleeker?

Anonymous said...

"a crappy frozen margarita joint that will probably be there no more than three years: tops"

Apparently they've been there since 1972. I'm guessing that's a wee bit longer than the Fat Black Pussycat.

Anonymous said...

Pussycat pussycat where are you...I had a classic fat black cat named Leo (aka Leonardo, his sister was Mona...Lisa). Leo would be so upset right now if he knew about the paint-over.

Shawn Chittle said...

All is not lost. They painted over the 1930's mural at the Marine Air Terminal but were able to remove that paint and preserve what was underneath. Let's cross our fingers this crime can be undone!

chris flash said...

BOYCOTT THE BASTARDS!!!!

Lisanne! said...

I am sure that the continual existence of this hand painted sign was a source of comfort for many people. At least there were some parts of our history that would be forever untouched by the whims of change, Apparently we were wrong.

This sign was so special that much as we believed it would always be there we never took it for granted. I always viewed it with a sense of awe.It was the reminder of a place where magical things happened.

It's really so horribly sad.

Anonymous said...

I grew up going to the coffee houses and played in quite a few. This is really heartbreaking. Panchito's has had a regular history of run-ins with the Dept Of Health. As an old Villager, I would NEVER eat there, even without regard to this issue. If you were to gauge where you had a big chance of getting ptomaine it would be Panchito's. Way back when, The Pussycat was where people like Fred Neil, Richie Havens, Bob Gibson and others went for a coffee or breakfast after playing The Gaslight. Maybe there's a way to pressure them to restore the original signage. A boycott will def be in place until they do so.

Wadjet Eye said...

I saw a notice on that street the other day about a TV show that was going to be filming there. Maybe they repainted the wall to call more attention to the sign?

Anonymous said...

This is a double whammy for me. Panchitos happens to be the first (of many to come) Mexican restaurants in which I had ever eaten so it has a certain nostalgia for me. Years later, I took my kids to eat there. However, on the other hand, I loved pointing out the "Pussycat" sign and was glad that piece of NYC history was left for futuregenerations to see and I respected and praised Panchito's owners for having left it there. Now, shame on you Panchito's.