Tuesday, April 30, 2013

7-11 Strikes Again

This past summer, we noted the construction of yet another 7-Eleven, plopped right next to Kyung's Korean grocery on 25th and 8th. I wrote, "It looks like Kyung has been given just two choices: Convert or die."



Now New York Neon chronicler Thomas Rinaldi writes in with a photo and the inevitable news:

"7-11 seems to have put another bodega down, and this time it's MINE. Kyung's at 25th and 8th shuttered at the end of March. Not sure how long they'd been there. A neighbor who has been in Chelsea probably 50 years told me there had been a bodega there as long as he could remember. They closed up almost overnight. The interior is already gutted. When I asked them what happened, they were somewhat elusive about the whole thing--mentioned something about a rent hike, said it was getting harder to do business in Chelsea, that they might open up a shop somewhere in Jersey. Though they did not specifically blame 7-11, I cannot imagine this was a coincidence. I wish I'd asked more, but they really seemed not to want to talk about it, and I didn't blame them. Anyhow, since I'm boycotting that 7-11, I now have to go annoyingly farther afield for my late-night ice cream sandwiches, my Sunday morning BLTs, my most-mornings coffee. I wait apprehensively to see what comes here next."

As do we all.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Frankfurter Rundschau

"Everything Will Be Erased." Talking about the "Hyper-Gentrifizierung" of New York City with journalist Sebastian Moll for the German newspaper Frankfurter Rundschau.



If you don't read German (as I don't), Google Translate offers some choice interpretations: "Bloomberg has really turned on the turbo. Since then dies every day the soul of this city a bit more."

The piece is not yet on the newspaper's site, but you can read the whole thing at Sebastian Moll's page.



Lascoff's Insides

When the great Lascoff Pharmacy closed last July, and was gutted, many of us worried what would become of its gorgeous antique fixtures.

Now, it turns out, they're selling on ebay.



An Anonymous commenter sent us to the listings, where you can find three hanging ceiling lanterns for $9,000, a collection of leaded stained-glass globes for $26,500, a set of 15 Gothic window panels for $14,000 ("These are really knockout and can be repurposed very easily as decorative elements in any store or restaurant")...



...two sections of cabinetry for $14,500, an additional 75 feet of wooden fixtures for $80,000, plus the copper canopy, with interior lighting intact, for $39,000.



As seller newyorkphotographs writes on the ebay store page: "These are from one of the most prominent 19th century pharmacies in New York City whose proprietor is known as 'the father of modern pharmacy'... Salvatore Dali and many other celebrities patronized his pharmacy over the years to purchase leeches, powder compounds and custom topical ointment."

Now you can reassemble your own Lascoff's for a total of $183,000. Maybe in your living room, complete with jars of leeches?
 




Saturday, April 27, 2013

Press & Awards


OPINION & EDITORIALS



New York Daily News, Editorial 4/27/14: On Carriage Horses
The New York Times, Room for Debate 4/13/13: On Gentrification
New York Observer, Advice for Mayor Bill, 11/13/13
The New York Times, Opinion 8/21/12: On the High Line



Playboy Magazine, Reader Response 5/19/2010: On the vanishing city
The New York Times, Opinion 4/4/10: On Edward Hopper's Nighthawks
New York Daily News, Editorial 2/10/09: On the City's Downturn



ARTICLES & BLOG POSTS



The New Yorker, Culture Desk 10/24/13: The Last Picture Shop
The New Yorker, Culture Desk 5/23/13: Edward Hopper's Details
Salon, 9/19/12, New York's Dying Signs



Paris Review, The Daily 8/3/12, Sisters of the Night
Paris Review, The Daily 1/12/12, A Day in Culture
Huffington Post, multiple dates



INTERVIEWS, QUOTES, MENTIONS



New York Times, 11/22/13
Financial Times Magazine, First Person, 11/15/13
Time Out New York, 4/9/13, NYC Secrets 
Paper Magazine, 8/19/12, on Peep World
New York Observer, 7/13/12
No Such Thing As Was, 1/6/12
This Recording, 10/3/11
Village Voice, 1/28/2010: "I Blog NY: Your Guide to Gotham's Best"
New York Daily News, 11/8/10
The Times of London, Has New York Lost Its Edge? 11/23/09 
Next American City, Fall 2009, The Gospel According to Jeremiah
Broke-Ass Stuart, 7/14/09
Patell & Waterman, 1/30/09
New York Magazine, City of Glass, 9/9/08
The Villager, 4/17/08, Vanishing City Bloggers
The New York Times, City Section 10/28/07
New York Metro, Blogarithms 8/6/07



FOREIGN LANGUAGE INTERVIEWS



Norwegian Business Daily 1/9/14
Frankfurter Rundschau 4/29/13
24 Heures (Switzerland) 4/1/13 
Xplor NY (Italy) 2/27/12
La Tercera (Chile) 10/7/10
Le Temps (Switzerland) 10/21/09



AWARDS



Friends of the Upper East Side, Preserving Classic New York Award, 2014
Village Voice, Web Awards 2012: "Blogger We Love"
Village Voice, Web Awards 2010: "Best Personal Blog"

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Save PS 199

Guest post by David Saphier, co-chair of Lincoln Square Community Association and co-creator of 199demolition.com:

The Bloomberg administration is bringing more high rises to the Upper West Side, with threats to demolish Public School 199 on West 70th Street, as well as another local site, and replace them with luxury condo towers.



The Lincoln Square community has undergone major upheaval over the past few years, with the building of countless high rises, including the Trump Buildings on Riverside Boulevard, all of which have significantly changed the neighborhood from a close-knit, family-friendly community to something very different, a place unaffordable to many. These real-estate developments have also disrupted long-established school catchments and contributed to major overcrowding in schools. As a result, many children are forced to sit on waiting lists for their local public schools.

A while back, the DOE, through the ECF (Education Construction Fund), quietly released a Request for Expressions of Interest to developers for the development of the sites currently hosting PS 199 and PS 191 on the Upper West Side, along with a third site on the East Side. The community was not informed, and the plan as proposed is not subject to any further community, city, or state overview.

The proposed plan for PS 199 outlines the construction of a 50-story residential tower and a new school--a nice sentiment, but it will barely accommodate the additional children that will reside in the tower.



PS 199 was designed by the renowned architect Edward Durell Stone. Although it is a small building for the man who also designed MOMA, Radio City Music Hall, and The Kennedy Center, it is significant. It represents Stone's shift from the International Style to his signature style that drew from classical elements.

According to Landmark West, the school’s 166 thin, glazed white brick piers are faithful to Stone’s love of repetitive columns and are evocative of a grand colonnade. Classical patterning is illustrated in the concentric squares inscribed beneath the roof’s overhang. Stone paid attention to the smallest detail, including the roof design, knowing that the surrounding buildings would view it. The roof contains a cutout that serves as an open-air play space. PS 199 continues the neoclassical spirit of Stone’s unique form of Modernism on the Upper West Side and should be preserved in its own right.

With all of these concerns in mind, the local Lincoln Square community has formed a task force to oppose the project. Please read more details at our website. And consider signing the petition to save PS 199.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Carmine Street Comics

With all the recent bad news about Carmine Street (the coming of IHOP, the closing of Marinella's), it's about time for some good news. A comic book store has opened there.

As Unoppressive, Non-Imperialist Bargain Books continues to fight the good fight to stay alive, they've rented part of their space to Carmine Street Comics.

Writes Long and Shortbox:

The owner "settled on the name in part because his father's name is Carmine, but also, he says, because 'we're proud to transplant ourselves to a new place with such a rich history of 20th century culture: this is Bob Dylan's old neighborhood and where the beat poetry movement started. This street has class and pop culture history in spades.'

Beyond that, it turns out that Carmine Street has a long history with comics retail; in the front of the new shop is a light up sign that simply reads 'Comics.' That sign came from Village Comics, once New York's largest comics shop. At some point, it moved into a space it shared with Bleecker Bob's on nearby Bleecker Street and then gave the sign, and their remaining customers, to Unoppressive Non-Imperialist Bargain Books. By opening on Carmine Street, once also the location of a store called All Comics, Jon and Mike are going to bring back something that the West Village has been missing for a long time. In this spirit, they're committed to integrating themselves into the neighborhood."

Photo by Long and Shortbox

The grand opening is May 1, just in time for Free Comic Book Day on May 4.  So go welcome them to the neighborhood, and let them know you're grateful they're not a frozen yogurt place, or a cupcake bakery, or a 7-Eleven, or a bank...

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Folsom Street East

VANISHED

We knew it would happen, and now it's happening. Folsom Street East has been cancelled.

The organizers put out a message last night via Facebook and their website:

"It is with sadness that the Producers and Board of Directors of Folsom Street East have to announce that the 17th annual Folsom Street East Street Festival this June is going to be cancelled. Though we continue to receive support for this community-building and fundraising event from Community Board 4 and our neighbors on the block (including our producing partner The Eagle NYC), the ever-growing construction on the north side of 28th street has made it impossible for us to successfully and safely hold our annual street festival. Thank you for the years of support from our attendees, sponsors, partners, exhibitors, vendors, performers and volunteers; we are sad that we will not be able to celebrate Pride with you at our fetish-friendly event this year."



At the end of the message, they write: "Thanks for 16 great years celebrating sexual freedom with the Folsom Street East Street Festival, and we hope to see you back on the kinky streets of New York City in 2014!"

They don't say which streets and we can guess it won't be West 28th. Ever since the High Line opened in that part of town and Bloomberg rezoned it for luxury development, Folsom East has had a target on its back.



Here is a timeline of what has happened on this one block of West 28th Street since it became prime High Line real estate (click the dates for the full articles):

November 2010: A "High Line Boomlet" came to West Chelsea. The first residents of the +ART luxury condo moved onto this block of West 28th.

June 8, 2011: The second section of the High Line opened, bringing many tourists and other folks to a part of town they'd never before entered, including this once-industrial block, over which the High Line stretches.

June 19, 2011: High Line walkers got their first glimpse of Folsom Street East, right beneath their feet. Though the fair had been on this block for years, you had to be a part of it to go looking for it. At the time, I asked, "As the High Line spreads its luxurious seed across upper Chelsea, replacing every rough thing in its path with glass and glamor, how long, really, do you think Folsom will be allowed to party here?"

June 24, 2011: The Eagle gay leather bar was raided by the NYPD. They claimed the bar was the source of chronic noise complaints, but no such complaints were on record--only complaints about noise from all the condo construction. Around the same time, the massive Avalon West Chelsea condo tower broke ground right across the street, with advertisements proclaiming, "Don't miss your chance to be a part of the High Line!"



April 2012: We learned that another luxury condo tower would be coming to this block.

June 13, 2012: A resident of the +ART condo told us about the backlash against Folsom East, saying, "Residents from several surrounding buildings have passed fliers asking our residents to write to the Community Board to relocate or totally eliminate Folsom Street East because 'fetish' fairs shouldn't be allowed so close to so many residential buildings." Meanwhile, a slogan on the windows of the condo stated, "Chelsea is the birthplace of creative modern art and the home of bad behavior."

June 14, 2012: A representative from Folsom East responded to the backlash against them, saying they were doing everything they could to cooperate with the new neighbors.

June 17, 2012: Folsom East went on--surrounded by construction fencing and with a special path built for the condo people. Up on the High Line, tourists gawked like visitors to a freak show, while Christian right-wingers waved banners telling the fair-goers that only Jesus would save them from Hell.

January 2013: We heard that the scrapyard Central Iron and Metal, the last industrial business on the block, would be closing after 86 years in business. It sold for $65 million to a luxury developer.

March 2013: Not on West 28th, but still related, the Rawhide bar was driven out of Chelsea after 34 years of serving the LGBT and leather community.



Queer New York City has, once again, just gotten smaller. It's vanishing day by day. Don't blink, you might miss it.

Very soon, this entire block will be taken over by High Line culture, filled only with luxury condo towers and their occupants, with artisanal-foodie restaurants to feed them and high-end chain stores to fulfill their consumer needs. The Eagle remains, but for how long? In the end, Bloomberg's High Line always wins.


Marinella's

VANISHED

Lynn Lieberman from A Fine Lyne has let us know that Marinella Restaurant, on Carmine Street for over 27 years, has shuttered.



Lynn shares these photos, including one of the goodbye sign. It states the reason for Marinella's closure as "the high cost increase connected to the renewal of our lease." They refer customers to their other restaurant, Porto Bello on Thompson Street.



I never made it in to Marinella's, but I like the way New York Magazine described it: "On a quiet stretch of Carmine Street, Marinella has a longstanding reputation as a satisfying red-sauce joint... The middle-aged crowd that frequent this restaurant knows what they like."

Of course, red-sauce joints frequented by middle-aged New Yorkers are no longer permitted in the parts of Manhattan where they once flourished.

As for the rents on Carmine Street, the real estate agent who brought us IHOP promised they'd go up when he told the Wall Street Journal that Carmine "was a dumpy street. Now it's top-notch." IHOP is "a big brand, and it'll help me convince other big brands to follow. People don't even know where Carmine Street is--yet. We'll fix that."

Maybe he can shove a 7-Eleven in Marinella's space. Top fucking notch.

Monday, April 22, 2013

6th's Seedy Strip

VANISHING

For years, one stretch of 6th Avenue in Greenwich Village has harbored a little piece of old Times Square, hearkening back to a delightfully crummy cacophony of sex shops, tattoo parlors, and hot dog stands. It has been a small beacon of hope--that this can survive in the new city. But now, in one fell swoop, the seedy carnival is vanishing.



The Real Deal has reported that the "retail condo" occupied by Papaya Dog, the sex shop Fantasy Parties, and Fantasy Tattoo has been sold. The developer who bought it "expects to replace the tenants with more mainstream retailers."

Already, "the well-known sex store Crazy Fantasy closed its doors with the sale and vacated as part of the purchase agreement."



The developer "said he expected to boost the rents significantly in the neighborhood."

And how will he do that? With national chains, of course: "He was putting together a list of potential tenants he would like to lure to the space, such as lingerie retailer Victoria’s Secret, cosmetics chain Sephora, sweet shop Dylan’s Candy Bar, fast fashion seller Aeropostale and sport retailer Under Armour."



A longtime sales clerk at Fantasy World told the Real Deal, “They didn’t really want us here,” referring to the local residents. “It took a lot to get this open because people don’t want a sex shop in their neighborhood. But we’ve never had any problems.”

With humanity and depth, the developer describes his plans to boot them: “We hope to reposition that asset with a high-end, value-add tenant--something along the lines of Nespresso."

Of course, developers' hopes run high and reality doesn't always match up. What we will probably be saddled with here is a 7-Eleven, a frozen-yogurt joint, and a Denny's. Either way, high or low, another piece of New York succumbs to the chains of America.


See more of my photos here

Friday, April 19, 2013

*Everyday Chatter

Jim Hanley's Universe is closing at the end of April--and a new store is opening. [JHU]

On Bleecker Bob's possible move to the East Village. [EVG]

Help Bleecker Bob's relocate with a little donation! [IGG]

CBGB meets DBGB: Marky Ramone to serve his sauce at Boulud. [Grub

Bloomberg's Gilded New York--lots of stuff to read! [Nation]
"New Yorkers have been kvetching about the disappearance of old New York since there was a New York. But the real-estate market of this moment suggests that Mayor Bloomberg’s description of the city as a luxury product is becoming more and more true... many of New York’s most expensive apartments sit empty for much of the year, their superrich owners using them as vacation properties and safe investments instead of actual homes." [NYM]

Financial District gets a Hooters style shoeshine stand--their 70-year-old competitor not amused. [NYDN]


Go see "If These Knishes Could Talk" on May 16. [BDB]

Wigstock 1993. [NY90s]

Privatization of the Commons in Mayor Bloomberg's New York. [HP]

Cupcakes are hopefully dying. [WSJ]

Old NYC bars and their books of matches. [AVW]

The Meatpacking District devours itself as national chains prepare to oust the fashionistas. [DNA]

"God help us if Denny’s and 7-Eleven become part of the artistic culture." [AMNY]

"New York City’s hipster and elitist class seem to believe that they should have some role in determining what business owners do with their property... By what authority do elites like Moss get to decide what businesses appear in New York City and which ones do not?" [AIPB]

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Long Island Restaurant

The sadly shuttered Long Island Restaurant on Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn is finally reopening after being closed since 2007. Want ads have popped up on Craigslist seeking a General Manager and a Head Chef.



The ads say: "We are restoring the Long Island Bar, an iconic corner spot in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn. Operated by one family since the 1950s, the Long Island Bar is a neighborhood landmark."

For the manager, they want "someone whose energy to deal with broken parts and disappointed humans is unflagging." And they're looking for a chef "who can craft a small, tight menu--uncommonly delicious, but neither showy in nature or size," someone whose "single-minded goal is simple, great, focused food" and who is "into the idea of reducing the labor and stress involved in oversized and overcomplicated menus."

Does that mean the place will still be a comfy diner serving inexpensive dishes like "hamburgers (onions raw or fried), meatloaf, chicken soup, fresh-cut French fries" unchanged since 1951? Or will it be yet another upscale simulation of a once unpretentious classic? (See Fedora, Minetta, Rocco's, Vesuvio, CBGB, Bill's Gay 90s, Waverly Inn, Lion, and Monkey Bar...)
 

photo by James & Karla Murray (read more)

Brooklyn Paper reported in October 2011 that the Alperin family was renting the place to a new and undisclosed tenant. “We want to see life come back,” said Linda Alperin. “It’s very sad to see it closed up. Everyone loves it and wants it to stay the same.” She told the paper that the new restaurateur "agreed to keep the broken neon sign--and hopefully fix it, the Art Deco bar and some of the old interiors."

This past December, Eater spotted a liquor license application on the door with the name of a bartender "often credited as the creator of the popular cosmopolitan cocktail."

On that subject, the bartender once told The Observer: “When I got it, the cosmo was like a really crappy kamikaze, you know, dyed red. I just turned it into a sour. Really, it’s nothing but a vodka sour with a little dash of cranberry to make it pink, albeit a really well-made sour with Cointreau...”

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

D'Amico's

The fragrance of D'Amico Coffee in Carroll Gardens is intoxicating. They've been roasting beans for 64 years. And yet, with the neighborhood changing, newcomers have complained--I guess they prefer Starbucks. But that was last year, and hopefully they've knocked it off, because D'Amico's is a great place to kick back with a cup of coffee and a newspaper.



At the tables in the back, old-timers sit and shoot the breeze. One person leaves, another comes, the conversation keeps going without pause. Occasionally, someone breaks into operatic song, but mostly it's talk:

"People are blind and retarded now on the street. They don't see nothing. Me, I can see a cockroach if it's walking on the sidewalk."

"Remember Bobby? Bobby Vegas we called him. A Jew. Nice guy. Died of a massive heart attack."

"Do you know the difference between baccala and stocco? One's the male and one's the female. No, the baccala's not the female, it's the male! That shows how much you know about fish."

"Remember Freddy Black? Freddy Black we called him 'cause he walked around in a long, black overcoat, down to his ankles. Looked like an undertaker. You'd see him coming and you'd be like, What's this? Satan coming back around?"

"I can't sleep at night no more. Nobody can sleep at night. But consider this--when you die, you'll have plenty of time to sleep."

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

New York 1979

A reader sent in a link to another cache of scanned photos featuring the old city, this one of 1979. Photographer M. Joedicke's collection includes many shots of empty streets, crumbling industrial riversides, and dusty old trucks. Here and there, a barely recognizable scene appears--the west side piers, a piece of High Line, a parking lot off Times Square.



Taken as a whole, it's a portrait of a dreary, desolate city where few humans dare (or bother) to tread.


a peek at the once lovely Terminal Diner

The images conjure up a town populated by cigarette advertisements and leaky fire hydrants, where the buildings sag and the paint jobs peel. These photographs might just leave the taste of car exhaust and gutter rain in your mouth.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Hoffman Auto Showroom

The interior of the Hoffman Auto Showroom at 430 Park Avenue has been demolished. Designed as a showroom for luxury cars, it was one of three works by Frank Lloyd Wright in New York City--the Guggenheim and the Cass House on Staten Island remain.



Crain's reported:

"The end came suddenly and unexpectedly. On March 22, the Landmarks Preservation Commission called the owners of 430 Park Ave. to tell them the city was considering designating the Wright showroom—until January, the longtime home to Mercedes of Manhattan—as the city's 115th interior landmark. Three days later, the commission followed up with a letter. Both went unanswered.

Instead, on March 28, the building's owners, Midwood Investment & Management and Oestreicher Properties, reached out to another city agency, the Department of Buildings, requesting a demolition permit for the Wright showroom. The permit was approved the same day, sealing the showroom's fate.

By the following week, workers had arrived and removed every last trace of a space that some architectural historians say inspired Wright's most celebrated New York work, the Guggenheim Museum."


photo: Matt Chaban, Crain's

The showroom was commissioned by Austrian race-car driver and car dealer Maximilian Hoffman in 1953, and was meant as a showplace for Jaguar cars. Since 1957 it has shown Mercedes Benz. Included in his payment, Hoffman gave Wright a Mercedes Type 300 and a 300SL Gullwing.

In the 1980s, the showroom was covered in mirrors, but it retained the original Wright structure. The ramp remained. Eventually, the revolving turntable had broken down.



Mercedes left the space at the end of 2012. Wrote Core77 this past winter, "Whether it's an auto dealership or another type of business that takes the space over, with any luck the fact that it came out of Frank Lloyd Wright's pencil will stay any thoughts of doing a demo-and-reno. But it's New York, and you never know what will happen."

A reader notes: "Sign on the window: Coming Soon, TD Bank."

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Orange Leaf

Last summer, an invading 7-Eleven pushed out a local convenience store from the corner of 20th St. and 3rd Ave. The owner of Gramercy Corner reported at the time that 7-Eleven had taken away 25-30% of his business. Luckily, he found a new spot nearby, albeit a much smaller one.

But chains beget more chains. The 7-Eleven has attracted a new neighbor into Gramercy Corner's old space. It's one of the usual choices:

Cupcake bakery?
Fro-yo shop?
Bank?



Behind that orange plywood lies a new Orange Leaf frozen yogurt shop.

Orange Leaf, like 7-Eleven and so many other chains, is spreading rapidly and aggressively, a fact they celebrate. Their website announces "235 stores and 138 coming" and "new stores open every week!" It features a map with the slogan, "We came, we conquered." In New York City, they've got 5 stores "coming spoon!" [sic], including this one.

The company hails from Oklahoma. They're coming and they're conquering. Don't they know we're already drowning in this crap?

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Outrageous!

Thanks to reader Douglas for letting us know all about the 1977 Canadian movie Outrageous! Starring female impersonator Craig Russell, the film tells the story of Robin, a gay hairdresser who leaves the Great White North for New York City to make it as a drag star.



Robin arrives in New York and takes a cab through Times Square to 10th Avenue, "the real street of broken dreams" as the gay leatherman cabbie describes it. Off the Meatpacking District, they pass The Anvil and The Ramrod--with a view of the newly risen Twin Towers.





Heading along the High Line (when trucks still parked beneath it), Robin and the cab driver end up at a place called The Jack Rabbit Club, a leather-and-Levi's drag bar with a ceiling dripping with tinsel and inflatable bunnies.

Douglas asks us, "Was this a real bar? The movie was made on a really small budget, so I doubt they would just create a bar. Cheaper to use a real one." Does anyone recognize the place?



The entire movie can be seen on youtube. The New York City section begins around 58:30 and it's filled with great street footage of the Village, too. Take a look and let us know if you remember the Jack Rabbit, the Morris Department Store on Christopher and Bleecker, Don's Hideaway Restaurant, and more.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Fur District

New York City's Fur District consists of a few blocks in the western upper 20s and lower 30s, just south of Penn Station. It began vanishing 30-some years ago. In 1979, there were 800 manufacturers here, by 1989 there were 300, and today there are certainly much fewer.

Recalled furrier Nat Berkowitz to the Times in 1995, "It used to be that when you drove up the New York State Thruway to the Catskill resorts, there would be a mink stole hanging in every car window." Times changed. Fur lost much of its luster. Protesters protested.



There are still fur dealers here, but not as many as there used to be. I remember walking through in the evening when I worked near the area, looking into the fur traders' shops--not showrooms, but wholesale rooms--bare little spaces painted hospital green, filled with racks of pelts on hooks, where men in yarmulkes and shirtsleeves plied their trade. Are they still here?

What does remain, and what will remain long after the furriers have vanished completely, are the stone carvings on the buildings that mark this place as the Fur District. On 29th Street, a pair of gargoyle furriers do their work--in one, a squirrel appears to be biting the furrier's finger, in the other, a mink is either being skinned or given a spanking.





There are other such fur-related carvings in this neighborhood. On 30th, a pair of handsome foxes guard an elegant doorway.



Until the planned Bloombergian rezoning, which aims to completely transform the Fur District into an extension of upscale Chelsea (Amanda Burden seeks to "enliven" it), this area remains very much itself--a bit down at the heels, desolate, and still interesting to the passing eye with its barber schools and crummy eateries, its kung-fu dojos and music rehearsal spaces, its guitar shops, cigar shops, and second-story signmakers.

This swath of the old city still exists. For now.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Rawhide Goodbye

The Rawhide is gone. After 34 years of holding down its corner of Chelsea, the bar closed for good on March 30.



And before the sweat has dried, already the space has come onto the market, with the realtor's sign hammered on top of its black awning, calling for "corner restaurant/retail" beneath the rainbow flag still flying.



The real estate listing for 212 Eighth Avenue includes a marketing brochure on the property. It highlights "neighbors" like The Gap, Starbucks, American Apparel, and many other national chains. However, it fails to mention the big Salvation Army right next door and the block's gay sex shops, The Blue Store and Rainbow Station (two businesses targeted by Chelsea's anti-sex brigade).

In addition, the brochure offers a delirious map of Chelsea pocked with countless chain-store logos. We know more is coming. We won't be surprised when we see a sickening 7-Eleven slithering into this spot, or a frozen-yogurt banality, another dead-eyed bank branch, a cupcake horror. We know the drill.





Says JVNY reader Chris, "As Chelsea turned into a bro, mommy, tourist, chain-store hell-hole, Rawhide became more than just a home for those who are not into 'marriage equality' and Grindr. It became a breaker holding back the forces of corporatization in Chelsea. We needed Rawhide because it stayed true to itself, and it was never going to become mainstream. It was not a bar full of zombies. Rawhide was real--and in a city that has become utterly fake and meaningless, we needed it more than ever."

As of this weekend, the bar's name has been ripped from the awning. A souvenir? Or an erasure?



As for last week's goodbye party, the place was packed. I said my goodbye earlier, to avoid the crushing crowd, but reader Chris was there (so was The Urban Bear). Chris reports:

"The room was wall-to-wall, with about four layers of men standing in front of the bar, and 3 or 4 biological women. Rawhide was never a place that lots of women went to, and it took a special kind of fag hag to go there. There was porn playing on the screen in the corner, and the go-go boys were classic: hot, young, and high, totally willing to go there for a dollar or more. There was nothing sanitized about them.

Around midnight the head of one of the bear groups got up and made a speech in honor of Rawhide. At one point he admonished gay men to 'Get off Grindr! Get off Manhunt! Get off Scruff! Go to bars to meet men!' The crowd roared. But one 20-something next to me just kept scrolling his device."

Reader Timmmy K. shot some video in those final hours at the bar:



Saving my drink tickets until the new Rawhide opens...




Read More:
The Rawhide Closure
An Interview with the Owner