Tuesday, July 31, 2012

*Everyday Chatter

New York Neon gives us a depressing look inside the once gorgeous, now gutted Lascoff pharmacy:


Mama's Food Shop shutters. Says the owner, "the community nature of the neighborhood has all but vanished, and it is over-run every weekend by a generation that has no vested interest in the East Village community." [EVG]

Avenue A is getting a "social club" for dogs
--because the public dog run in the park is just too dirty for the pampered pooches of the new EV? [UNY]

Don't forget to donate to St. Mark's Books--and get yourself some goodies. [LA]

Harlem is losing its only bowling alley
as Harlem Lanes announces its closure. [UTF]

Checking out the fabulous, antique signage of Borough Park. [OMFS]

Bloomberg won't steal Coney's Shore Theater
from its owner--really? I bet he would if he got to turn it over to a condo developer. [ATZ]

...And it's not because we're getting old--New York City is louder and more obnoxious than it used to be, and so is the music that gets pumped in to every place you try to avoid but can't (because you have to eat and you need shoes). Science says, "We found evidence of a progressive homogenization of the musical discourse."

Bettie Goes to Vegas

Earlier this month, I announced that the great Movie Star News would be vanishing, thanks in part to a landlord who hiked the rent.

At the time, owner Ira Kramer told me, "If all goes as planned, I will re-locate to a warehouse in New Jersey." He hoped to sell his photos and posters from his website. But things must not have gone as planned--or else a better deal came along.


Bettie Page's boot. photo: Richard Drew, AP

This week the AP reports that Movie Star News "sold its entire inventory to a Las Vegas collectibles company." Possibly worth $150 million and sold for seven figures, the collection "is headed for the auction block. It will be sold in a series of sales slated to begin next year."

Goodbye Bettie Page.


photo: Richard Drew, AP

Movie Star News was started on East 14th Street in 1939 by Irving Klaw--the pin-up king who made Bettie Page famous. (Read the whole history here.) It moved to West 18th in the 1980s, and right up to today the shop still sold risque photos printed from Klaw's original negatives.

As Irving's sister, and Ira's mother, Paula Klaw says in the following video, Bettie Page paid the rent that kept Movie Star News in New York City for decades. But today's rent in Chelsea is too damn high for poor Bettie to swing.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Hector's Cafe & Diner

It's not vanishing just yet, but like Manatus, Hector's Cafe & Diner is an oasis of authenticity and affordability in a sea of bullshit, so it might be a good idea to go soon, as the grimly reaping High Line hovers above and the new Whitney Museum rises at Hector's backside.



As the last affordable place to eat in the Meatpacking District, it's good to see Hector's diner busy. On this day it's filled with working class men with dirt on their hands; beefy guys with silver hair, thick necks, and Brooklyn accents; tourist couples traveling on the cheap; a handful of meatpackers in blood-smeared white smocks; and one young woman in fashiony shoes reading a Kindle while thumbing her iPhone.


established 1949

The thick-necked, silver-haired guys are talking about how they have to go here and there, making sure things are being done right at various sites.

One gets a call on his cell. He answers it, "Is this my ex-wife calling? Yeah, so whata you tellin' me? I'm eatin' lunch here with Joey and you gotta call and irritate me? Well, I'm busy, too. Tomorrow I'm going to a Broadway show with my new girlfriend. We're gonna eat out and the whole bit."

He grins at Joey, a grin that says, "Am I bustin' her balls or what?" Joey grins back in agreement.



The proprietor chats with a tourist couple. When the woman says, "The High Line has really brought up business here," he corrects her, "No, the High Line brought up the rent! Up and up and up! Not business." He says, "In 10 years, Manhattan will be all rich people and the homeless."

Outside, supporting his prophecy, black and white SUVs go gleaming past. We can see one of the last meatpacking plants, shuttered, covered in street art, awaiting demolition as the nearby sidewalk cafe bursts with customers, all of them texting into phones, heads down, ignoring one another.


photo by the restroom

But inside, for now, there's still the scrape and clang of spatula on griddle, the attendant sizzle as burger after burger gets dressed and ready. On the Pepsi fridge, a sticker says "God Bless America." On the wall, a poster proclaims the gyro as "the tastiest sandwich in town."

Time has stopped here. We wait, anxiously, for it to catch up.


after a rush

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Ghost Sign on Grand

Photographer Neil Murphy takes before-and-after pics of the city for his Time Machine blog. He hasn't added to the blog recently, but he shares this before-and-after with us.


©1985 by Neil J Murphy

A multiple ghost sign on a brick wall on Grand Street reveals layers of the past--Coca-Cola, Duckett and Adler (Neil informs us, "who were commercial photographers at 60 Grand Street"), and the Wintergarden theater. (Walter Grutchfield has more.)

Today, most of the mystery has been covered up in color.


©2012 by Neil J Murphy

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

*Everyday Chatter

On the loss of the literary East Village. [WSJ]

The Bowery Poetry Club gets tossed. [EVG]

The Garment District, which does still exist, is being wiped off the map by yet another neighborhood maker. [Curbed]

NYU expansion is insult and injury to the Village. [NYDN]

Commemorate the anniversary of the mini police riot of 1988--with punk rock in Tompkins Square Park July 29 and August 4 & 5.

Welcome to NOW:


Memories of Sylvia's soul food mecca. [DJ]

The Chelsea Hotel is flooded. [LWL]

In need of a fine men's hairpiece? [LC]

Exploring Queens' abandoned high line. [UNY]

Manganaro's to Tavola

Back in February we saw the gorgeous, heartbreakingly authentic (and scary to some) Manganaro's shutter after 119 years in business on 9th Avenue. The family that owned the place had had enough and we worried that a Subway or 7-11 might take its place.

On a recent walk by, I spotted a new sign: TAVOLA.



The sign is in the vertical style of the old Manganaro's sign, with a buff of faux rust to make it look old, and I wondered if the Dell'Orto sisters had decided to start up a new business. So I asked the neighbors.

"It's a new guy," I was told. "They're making brick-oven pizza."



The front has been completely redone, though in keeping with the antique look of the place. A peek at the inside, however, shows a total gutting. Honestly, I can't bear to look at it, all clean and bright.




I loved the old place so much--the long, dark walkway through festoons of hanging salami, into the back dining room with its little mismatched tables and chairs from the 1960s, the plastic-on-felt tablecloths, the crummy wood paneling, the big Toledo scale, the faded photographs of family members and forgotten movie stars. It was perfect.

Well. At least it's not another fucking 7-11. And, who knows, maybe you'll see a Dell'Orto sister or two once in awhile.


RIP

Previously:
Manganaro's Grosseria
Manganaro's Vanished
Manganaro's Gutted
Red-Sauce Joints

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Arleen Bowman Boutique

VANISHING

After 25 years on Bleecker Street, the Arleen Bowman boutique has lost its lease and will be closing at the end of this month.

And then there were none.



When A Clean, Well-Lighted Place gallery vanished this past winter (after 36 years), western Bleecker's luxury blitz was nearly complete. There was just one holdout old-school business left standing between 10th Street and the end, and that was Arleen Bowman.

Born in Brooklyn and a Villager since 1974, Bowman has had a shop on Bleecker since 1987, back when this end was quiet, filled with antique shops and other small businesses. Then came the year 2000. On the horrible Bleecker timeline, it went like this: Carrie Bradshaw sank her teeth into a Magnolia cupcake, Marc Jacobs began the colonization process, rents skyrocketed to insane heights, and 44 mom-and-pop businesses were wiped out in just a few years' time.

Now that section of the famous Village street will be nothing but luxury shopping mall chains and cupcake shops catering to tourists. In a recent article on "extreme gentrification" and the city's mom-and-pops, Bowman told the New York Times, “You can’t compete” with those big-name chains. “For them, it’s not even real estate, it’s advertising.”


Arleen Bowman in 1979

I got in touch with Arleen and she was kind enough to answer a few questions about her business and life on Bleecker.

JVNY: Why do you think you lost your lease after so many successful years?

AB: I lost my lease because the landlord was not interested in having me as a tenant anymore. They are only interested in HIGH PROFILE companies.

JVNY: For awhile, you've been a last Mohican on that stretch of Bleecker St. What has it been like to be a holdout there surrounded by luxury chains?

AB: I have always felt very comfortable in my space, and took pride in the fact that I was an independent retailer with a boutique filled with the best and most interesting items I could present to my customers. As far as I was concerned, I was offering them the LUXURY of choice.

JVNY: How has the clientele changed in the past decade? What about the "feeling" of the street?

AB: The clientele and feeling on the street has changed a lot. In the beginning of the decade, when it was Marc and Ralph, we saw the Upper East Side shoppers make a day of doing the Meatpacking Jeffrey's Bleecker Street Pastis lunch thing. As more and more name-brand stores opened, and Magnolia became a household word for cupcake, the crowd got more global.

I used to refer to the crowd as the M & M’s, since Marc's junk store and Magnolia had lines around the block. At the moment, even Magnolia has seen less crowds.

JVNY: What was your end of Bleecker like prior to the 2000s, once Marc Jacobs moved in and everything changed? Who were your neighbors in the 80s and 90s?

AB: My strip of Bleecker was fantastic. Starting at Charles we had the Asian Arts store on the corner, A Clean Well-Lighted Place, Kelter-Malce (American folk art at it's finest), Henry's (a kids’ shoe store that he later turned into a prepared food shop), a deli, then me (from 1987-1992). I moved next door to the space vacated by the lingerie store (from 1992 to the present), Saturday Night Lingerie, L'Uomo Men's Shop, Joel Name Optique, Treadle's (hand-loomed items), and of course Nusraty Afghan Imports on the corner of 10th St.

JVNY: Now I have to worry about Manatus.

AB: I worry about Manatus too! It's been my go-to place for ordering lunch...forever!


The unsinkable Arleen Bowman and her Hanna G shirts

JVNY: I notice your clothing, including the Hanna G shirts, are for women "of all sizes," and that your clientele has a wide age range. It seems that Bleecker's new big-name stores are for the skinny and the young.

AB: My credo for the store has always been "for a woman with a past...who's a girl with a future," and that's who I design for. There is a shirt for every BODY at the store. Our customers range in age from young girls to ladies of a certain age, that all have one thing in common--a sense of style and adventure! And all ages and figures are catered to and made to feel comfortable and beautiful!

JVNY: What are your future plans? It's tough to find affordable real estate in the city.

AB: My future plans are to take a break, although I will continue to design my Hanna G shirt collection which is sold in boutiques like mine all over the country. And who knows, maybe I will sell them on my website starting with the Spring 2013 collection.

I did make a huge effort to find a new location for the shop in the neighborhood, but what was affordable was off the beaten track, so no foot traffic. So I came to the conclusion to leave the retail business with the knowledge that I had a very successful 25 years on Bleecker Street and enjoyed the amazing, interesting people that walked through that door every single day. I am happy!


Arleen's closing sale will run until July 28 and she says they've still got some great items in stock--but things are going fast. Go soon, before this last survivor is gone.


Further Reading:
Bleecker Timeline
Bleecker's Luxe Blitz
Manatus
More Jane, Less Marc
A Clean, Well-Lighted Place

Monday, July 23, 2012

*Everyday Chatter

The great comic-book store Forbidden Planet is on the move. [FP]

The Beast That Ate Astor Place is rising. [EVG]

Annie Hall locations--yesterday and today. [SNY]

Dennis Leroy Kangalee reads from "My Dying City" August 5 at Sidewalk. [NJ]

On the new Bowery, a poetry club closes in the shadow of BEER PONG, FLIP CUP, CORNHOLE:


Infamous cryptid Montauk Monster washes up from the East River! [Gothamist]

Sugar & Plumm Purveyors of Yumm gets sticker-bombed with appropriately mean messages. [Eater]

Chip Kidd imagines what kinds of ads are coming to your Metrocard. [NYT]

Shopping the St. Mark's cash mob. [MCZ]

At the Jazz Age Lawn Party on Governor's Island. [vimeo]

More from the annals of Irving Klaw and Bettie Page. [VS]

Cash Mob Success!

This weekend's cash mob at St. Mark's Bookshop was, in the words of co-owner Terry McCoy, "a big success."


photo: Shawn Chittle

He told me, "It's going to help us with the cash crunch we're in right now. The 'Jeremiah' gift certificates went right away. There was a line at the register extending all the way to the stairwell door, something that usually only happens on Christmas week. Saturday's total business was increased by more than 30% from what we've been doing lately, so that was very welcome...the neighborhood came through for us. We're all very grateful, not only to you for your efforts, but to all the people who came by and laid their money on the line for us."


photo: Shawn Chittle

And very big thanks from me to everyone who shared the announcement on Facebook, Twitter, and their sites; to all the journalists who covered the story; and to all of you who showed up at the store with open hearts, minds, and wallets to say "books and bookshops do matter" as you helped St. Mark's Bookshop prepare to move and stay in the East Village for a long time to come.

In a neighborhood filling up with iZombies, we need this bookstore more than ever.


photo: Shawn Chittle

Also, special thanks to Shawn Chittle for taking these shots of happy, book-buying mobbers. Recognize anyone?


photo: Shawn Chittle

What books did you take home on Saturday?


photo: Shawn Chittle

Thursday, July 19, 2012

*Everyday Chatter

Dear Fran Lebowitz, Can we please be best friends?



Capital NY on this Saturday's St. Mark's Books Cash Mob (be there!) and vanishing NY: "Change is a part of the nature of the city. But maybe what we're really experiencing is a kind of entropy, as individual talent and entrepreneurship and style, and local ideas and preferences and customs, are slowly being eroded and replaced with corporate monoculture. The issue in New York isn't about German bakeries being replaced by Dominican bakeries, nowadays; it's about Dominican bakeries being replaced by Dunkin' Donuts." [CNY]

Has the Lafayette French Pastry shop just vanished from hypergentrifying Greenwich Ave? [VV]

A Q&A with the director of the Sunshine Hotel documentary. [EVG]

Watch tourists fondle the testicles of the Wall St. bull. [youtube]

Read Karen Lillis' very, very short stories about life in NYC in the early 1990s. [EDG]

Check out the LES Music Festival at Dixon Place. [DP]

I can't wait until the foodies all get tired of their obsession. [Gothamist]

East 23rd Slaughter

We took a walk through Gramercy a few years ago as big changes started coming in. Now JVNY reader M.S. sends in the following report, with photos, from a midnight stroll around East 23rd Street, where blocks are being decimated.





She writes, "Five more spaces are up for lease or emptied between 2nd and 3rd Avenues on East 23rd. Somehow the 99-cent store survived, though one would be hard pressed to find anything under two dollars there. Add these to all the other closings in the past few years--the bakery, decades-old family businesses replaced by a massive nail salon, and the health food store moved two blocks uptown. Every day another one drops, and something higher priced or more corporate rises."





And what's pushing this wave of destruction? "Tempo is picking up the pace" says the website for the new Tempo300 luxury condo box on 23rd Street and 2nd Avenue. The development "brings together the right place at the right time for those who know they have the right to expect the best of everything."

And the image on the outside says it all. Welcome to YunnieTown.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

*Everyday Chatter

"The city needs a life of the mind." Cash Mob at St. Mark's Bookshop, Saturday at 3pm. (Don't make me look like an idiot--please show up!) [NYDN]

...because "It is beloved by cultural icons, borough presidents and bookworms far and wide." [NYO]

A heartbreaking film on the demise of Bleecker Bob's (and the Village). [CNY]

A lovely little film on the Mosaic Man--complete with vintage shots of Jim. [Etsy]

A look inside Westbeth, after an artist's death. [CR]



The Bowery's restaurant supply stores are vanishing fast. [NYO]

Has Mars Bar really been closed for a whole year already? [EVG]

The wreckage of Floyd Bennett Field. [Kensinger]

That Timeshare Backyard thing is back again. [TLD]

Red Hook IKEA littered with the sticky condoms of horny teenagers. [NYO]

7-11 Zombification

In another sad and stupid day for the Lower East Side, 7-11 has landed on Delancey Street near Norfolk.


Delancey 7-11, photo by Karen Gehres

This comes after another 7-11 opened earlier this month on East 14th Street. Dayenu! Before that, another opened on St. Mark's Place. Dayenu! And before that, another opened on Bowery. Dayenu!

And that's just the East Village/Lower East Side.

7-11 has made it clear that they've come to New York City to murder our local bodegas and corner grocery stores. They call it the Business Conversion Program, which sounds rather sinister because it is rather sinister. As New York magazine reported, the program's "stated goal is to entice mom-and-pop shops into becoming 7-Elevens."

Sounds like quasi-voluntary zombification, part of the massive chain takeover of the city that turns real businesses into dead-eyed clones.


8th and 25th, photo by Thomas Rinaldi

On 8th Avenue at 25th Street this week, yet another 7-11 has plunked itself down--this one right next to a mom-and-pop corner grocery store, Kyung's Gourmet Foods. The spot used to be something needed--a laundromat.

The sign in the window says: "Franchise This Store." It's a 7-11 without an owner. They're just sticking them on our streets and letting them sit empty until someone dials the number or texts the word "Franchise" to the head office.

Are they trying to lure Kyung into the Conversion Program? It looks like Kyung has been given just two choices: Convert or die.


8th and 25th, photo by Thomas Rinaldi

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

*Everyday Chatter

On 1st Ave in the East Village, the neighbors are begging Ugly Kitchen's "ugly" customers to please, please have some respect:


Pick up a copy of the latest Housedeer, from Romy, featuring the marvelous Justin Vivian Bond. [HD]

Happy 50th anniversary to Paul and his Daughter on the Coney Island Boardwalk! [ATZ]

Chelsea Hotel endures plagues of Biblical proportions. It's bad. [LWL]

Luxury hotel's rooftop pool becomes neighbors' personal Hell: "are these just a bunch of olds who are jealous that these youngs are having more fun than them?" [Eater]

East Village Town Hall--tonight. Go give 'em a piece of your mind. [EVG]

Are New Yorkers finally tired of Starbucks? [Slate]

A peek at the hoarder house of South Slope. [OMFS]

Who goes to Piccolo Venezia? [LC]

Landscape artist Matthew Jensen finds amazing things by the Harlem River. [NYer]

Apocalyptic web series filmed in the city's abandoned spaces. [Gothamist]

Lascoff Demo

Following up on last Friday's news that the gorgeous, century-old Lascoff Drugs on the Upper East Side has suddenly closed, readers have sent in some photos of what appears to be a quickie dismantling.



Elizabeth Manus shows us the signs on the cathedral-like doors that tell customers to take their prescriptions to another drugstore.

Already, the gorgeous, antique facade is being dismantled. In this picture, you can see the conical copper awning is gone.



And here is the awning, in a photo sent in by reader Stephanie. It sits on the sidewalk waiting to be hauled into a truck--and taken where? And what about its neon sign, which New York Neon says is one of the oldest in New York City?



A series of permits makes it clear--the interior will be demolished.


sent in by Elizabeth Manus

This stunning museum to pharmaceuticals will be demolished? How can this be happening? What happened to Lascoff's?


2009


2009

Previously:
Lascoff Drugs Vanishing
Lascoff's

Monday, July 16, 2012

*Everyday Chatter

Last night at McNally Jackson, authors, actors, and others came together to protest NYU's destruction plans. Fran Lebowitz, apparently, kicked some ass. Check out the book While We Were Sleeping:

photo: edittrix's flickr

The wonderful Sutton Clock Shop has lost its lease after more than 50 years. Watch a lovely little film about the shop. [CS]

Donate some bucks to help finish Julio of Jackson Heights, the story of a gay-bashing murder in Queens. [IGG]

Textile merchants hold on to their piece of Tribeca, though the calls from developers are "relentless." [TT]

At MOMA, iPhones block the view of Starry Night. [DEP]

Tracking down Da-Nite's neon signs in the city. [NYN]

Take a trip to Vinegar Hill with Mr. Chittle. [SC]

Walking Broadway Alley. [FNY]

Enjoying the Upper West Side's past in the city archives. [WSR]

Can mom and pops survive extreme gentrification? "The artists, weirdos and blue-collar families that I grew up with (save the lucky rent controllers) are long gone. They’ve been replaced, in large part, by guys in suits." [NYT]

St. Mark's: Mob for the Move

In the past year we've had Buy-a-Book weekends and a Cash Mob to help save St. Mark's Bookshop, and collectively we have succeeded in giving them a boost. But as you may have heard, the rent is just too damn high, and the owners of the bookshop have decided to move.

Let's support their decision, and help keep them in the East Village, with the biggest St. Mark's Cash Mob yet--this Saturday at 3:00.



Co-owner Terry McCoy reached out for our help. He says, "We're in the midst of some serious summer doldrums and could use a little lift....a shot in the arm." Let's give them that lift as they work hard to find a new place and stay in the neighborhood. Says Terry, "A smaller space in the East Village with a much reduced rent would allow us to continue to be basically the kind of store we are and still survive."

To help get your asses in the shop, we've devised a little Cash Mob incentive. The first 20 people to spend $10 and say "Jeremiah sent me" will receive a $5 gift certificate toward their next visit to St. Mark's Bookshop.

The Details:
Date: Saturday, July 21
Time: 3:00 p.m.
Place: St. Mark's Bookshop, 31 3rd Avenue between 8th and 9th
Goal: Spend money on books! Tell them "Jeremiah sent me" and if you're one of the first 20 people to spend $10, you get a $5 gift certificate for your next visit.
After the Mob: Head over to Bar 82 at 136 2nd Ave., between 8th and 9th, to drink and celebrate with your fellow cash-mobbers.

Remember: In a time of soul-sucking stupidity, when the city has become overrun with zombies and chainstore-loving suburbanites, this bookstore is one of the (last?) reasons we have to love the East Village and New York City. Let's help them move and keep them nearby. Show up, spend money, and spread the word!

Furthermore, it's my 5th birthday of doing this blog and I need a present. A big, fat mob showing up at St. Mark's on Saturday would be the best present ever. Thank you!


A smaller St. Mark's in the '80s

5th Anniversary

As of yesterday, this blog is 5 years old. It's a small milestone, I suppose. Half a decade. Old enough to go to kindergarten. But it feels like 50 when I think of all the places that have vanished in just 5 years.



In 2007, when I started the blog, we lost Gertel's bakery, the Moondance diner, Chumley's, the Playpen, and many more. The year 2008 saw Florent fall, along with the Minetta tavern, Yankee Stadium and Shea Stadium, Eddie Boros' Tower of Toys, and more. In 2009, Joe Jr's diner went, Love Saves the Day vanished, and we said goodbye to the Amato Opera House (and more). 2010 took away Fedora, Gino, and Carmine's at the Seaport--and, again, more. In 2011, we lost Mars Bar and saw the Chelsea Hotel shutter to guests, bookshops vanished, and so did Coney Island (and more).

In 2012, the vanishings keep vanishing. And they show no sign of stopping. It's depressing and disempowering. Every year when this anniversary rolls around, I think about ending the blog. I can't do it forever and don't want to. Sometimes it feels important, and other times utterly futile. Blogging hasn't stopped any wrecking balls.

Some changes in my life are making it harder to keep up the blog, but I'm not quite ready to stop just yet. I like being connected to a community of passionate people who give a shit about the city. So thank you for that connection, for your comments and tips, for all your support over the past 5 years. You are the city. And, maybe, if we can outlast the bastards, someday we can build something vital out of the rubble.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Lascoff Drugs

VANISHING

We just heard from reader Elizabeth Manus that the magnificent Lascoff pharmacy on the Upper East Side is shuttering after more than a century in business. Today is its last day.


Click to see all my Lascoff photos

Elizabeth asked an employee why they were closing, but "he couldn't say. I didn't ask to speak with the owner, only signed the guest book and bought a few things at 50% off."



I wrote about the pharmacy here in 2009, saying, "In a city overrun by Duane Reades, sterile and bland, walking into Lascoff's Pharmacy on Lexington and 82nd is like being in The Wizard of Oz when everything goes from black-and-white to brilliant Technicolor."

Score one more for monochrome.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Hoarder Car

There's a car parked near the shell of St. Vincent's Hospital that I often pass and stop to gaze upon. It is a wonder.



Battered and once-white, tagged by graffitists, the car is packed to the gills with newspapers, coffee cups, Coke bottles, and other assorted flotsam.

The backseat overflows. The passenger seat is crammed.



The dashboard is thick with newspaper stuffing. Only the driver's seat is empty, just enough space for the driver to climb inside and carefully move the vehicle from one spot to another, to avoid the sweeping machine and the ticket makers.



I've seen the Hoarder Car, as I think of it, many times, but I have never seen the driver. I imagine a man, though it could be a woman, heavyset and wildly bearded. I see him living alone in one of the townhouses along W. 12th or 13th Street, where he has dwelled since birth.

I imagine that the posh new neighbors complain about the peeling paint on his front door, and the rusted wrought-iron fence, and the unkempt garden. They hold block association meetings about the man, discussing ways to condemn his property and resign him to a home. Some neighbors stand up to say, "I've offered to pay for repairs and upkeep myself, but Old Bill won't let my contractors near the place."

"Old Bill," they call him, though he's always gone by William. When they see him emerge in the mornings to move his junk-filled car, their blood boils. One woman, a stay-at-home mom, makes it her business to stand sentinel by her window, always watching as Old Bill comes and goes. She complains to her nanny (her husband is always away in China making deals in oil futures) and whips herself into a raging frenzy that only half a bottle of Pouilly-Fumé can calm.

"One of these days," she says to the nanny, "Old Bill's going to be history."