Friday, January 29, 2010

*Everyday Chatter

Save the City Reliquary--and take a tour inside now. [FNY]

Take a walk through Salinger's New York. [CR]

Meet Mr. Zerling of Essex St.'s G&S Sporting Goods. [LD]

Lincoln Anderson covers the story of Ray and his dearly beloved, "decent, honest, unpretentious" candy store. [Villager]

Where workers once delivered racks of meat to packing plants, they now push racks of designer dresses into Diane Von Furstenberg:

"Stop Shopping It's Sick! Barf!" added to Gowanus batcave. [FIB]

Is a serial vomiter targeting the new Cooper Union building? [EVG]

Remembering Louis Chock underpants. [BB]

Watch the Beat classic "Pull My Daisy" in its entirety. [Stupefaction]

If you haven't yet, read E.B. White's Here Is New York. [P&W]

Skyline & Cat

This weekend is the last chance you'll have to buy books at Skyline. But there is some good news. According to People magazine's website "People Pets," Skyline's beloved bookstore cat, Linda, has found a new home.

You may recall the bookshop's plea to Gothamist readers: "The shop told us the owner may not be able to take her home due to other pets, saying: 'Linda is a territorial cat. She's had complete run of that bookstore her entire life.'"

photo via Gothamist

Well, that part has worked out for Linda and Skyline owner, Rob Warren. He told People Pets, "After much contemplation, I decided to find a home for the two older [cats] with a woman who loves cats, so Linda can come home with me. I am so happy that this has worked out so Linda and I can continue to hang out!"

And there's more potentially good news in this article: "Warren intends to pursue his book-selling business via other commercial means and spaces."

Does this mean a new Skyline is in the works?

Thursday, January 28, 2010

*Everyday Chatter

J.D. Salinger is gone. [NYT]

Help save the City Reliquary: they need"$60,000 in order to maintain its operations this year or they will shut their doors for good." You can go to their firefighter date auction to give support. [NYP]

Wrangling the wild cats of Coney Island. [ATZ] ...might they be members of Hijinx's murderous gang?

Kevin of FNY shares the good news via email that Ruby's Bar and more will be open at Coney this summer. Writes Ruby's, "From Beer Island to Gyro corner - every business is all ready confirmed to open for 2010. The city is the new landlord of the boardwalk side property. When the city took over form Sitt we were all ready confirmed along with Lola Staar returning to her spot next to Ruby's on the boardwalk."

An interesting window in Chelsea--giant cockroaches, a dog, Marilyn:

Enjoying sunlight and graffiti on Great Jones while it lasts. [EVG]

Remembering the Staten Island neighborhood of Linoleumville. [ENY]

Wall Street brokers, an "embattled minority" (?), hold a rally to save themselves, and threaten, "If someone in the middle of Minnesota says something bad about Wall Street, we will respond." [NYT]

Tenement storefronts come back to life at the museum. [BB]

The death of a hairdresser, a memorial to Miwa. [LC]

The Grumbler

Thanks to Roy Edroso at the Village Voice who included my blog in the story "I Blog New York: Your Guide to Gotham's Best." And thanks to my "sturdy, like-minded readership"--you know who are.

Be sure to read the whole story for 17 more "obsessive, cantankerous, and unstoppable Gotham blogs worth going ape over." Which New York blogs would've made your list?

Here's what Roy had to say about "The Grumbler" at Jeremiah's Vanishing New York:

Anyone who's lived in New York for more than a few months will start grumbling that things have changed and the good places are going away. "Jeremiah Moss," as he calls himself, is a longtime East Villager and marketing writer who, as he says, "wasn't content to grumble, in that all my grumbling was making me miserable. And the people around me were sick of hearing it." So, starting in 2007, he started blogging. The result is Jeremiah's Vanishing New York, which notes the passing of just about everything, in the EV and surrounding locales, that fades away—an old sign, a great bar, a good friend.

"Times Square just about kills me," Moss says, as he ticks off the most hurtful departures. "Most recently, Skyline Books . . . the Amato Opera House on Bowery . . ." Among the people he misses is Eddie Boros, the East Village eccentric who built the once-famous Tower of Toys at the 6th Street and Avenue B Community Garden, "which the city destroyed after his death—the typical 'New York character' is an endangered species today."

JVNY's valedictory tone, a continuing homage to things that pass, has attracted a sturdy, like-minded readership and got the Daily News to publish a Moss op-ed in which he suggested that "many of us welcome" the recession because it might break open the "gated community" that Manhattan has become and bring back a city where "rents are reasonable, small businesses can thrive, artists can flourish..."

But he doesn't really expect to halt progress with his blog. "It has no impact on the Bloomberg administration," he says, "on the decisions made by real estate developers, or the people who drunkenly flood the streets of the East Village to scream and yell and watch football games in sports bars. It doesn't stop Sex and the City tourists from coming, and it can't bring Howard Johnson's back to Times Square."

Then why bother? "I don't want to downplay the importance of making people feel less alone in their emotions," he says. "The feelings of sadness and powerlessness that hyper-gentrification evokes can be overwhelming. And knowing that there are others out there, that you're not the crazy person ranting on the street corner alone, is significant." —EDROSO

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

*Everyday Chatter

Patricia Kennealy Morrison, former wife of Jim, writes in remembering Ratner's on 2nd, saying, "Ah, Ratner' husband and I were particularly partial to the strawberry shortcake and mile-high chocolate cream pie. We'd go there for dessert after dinner at the Second Avenue Deli. Though he only played the Fillmore East one weekend...he had this band called the Doors."

Remembering Bingo Gazingo, "the near-toothless underground performance sensation." [EVG]

Sexy legs and a very scary clown at Ray's 77th birthday. [NMNL] & [SG]

Roy weighs in on what he calls "Local Weirdo Screwed By Sex-Rape Hotel: A Modern New York Fable." [RS]

Revisiting Bohacks market in Queens. [Blah]


The essay "A Non-Delirious New York," by author Mark Helprin in the Wall Street Journal, is gorgeous, urgent, and vividly true. A few choice quotes:

"In Manhattan the knock-the-wind-out-of-you rich used to be a relatively silent freak of nature who could easily be ignored, but of late they are so electrically omnipresent, jumping out of every flat screen and magazine, that they indelibly color the life of the city. Having multiplied like Gucci-clad yeast, they have become objects of impossible envy..."

Cooper Square Hotel car party

"The right may envy by competition and the left by expropriation, but the objects of such envy are not worthy of its ruinous influences, and the city is at its best when the fury of acquisitiveness is least.

Now that New York may be exiting yet another of many eras of irrational exuberance, it presents an opportunity in the midst of defeat, for when it is quiet it is far more lovely and profound than when it is delirious."

I Bought NY

" would be nice if, as in the quiet during and after a snow storm, Manhattan would reappear to be appreciated in tranquility; if cops, firemen, nurses, and teachers did not have to live in New Jersey; if students, waitress-actresses, waiter-painters, and dish-washer-writers did not have to board nine to a room or like beagles in their parents' condominia;

if the traffic on Park Avenue (as I can personally attest it was in the late 1940s) were sufficiently sparse that you could hear insects in the flower beds; if to balance the frenetic getting and spending, the qualities of reserve and equanimity would retake their once honored places; if celebrity were to be ignored, media switched off, and the stories of ordinary men and women assume their deserved precedence; and if for everyone, like health returning after a long illness, a life of one's own would emerge from an era tragically addicted to quantity and speed."

Amen to that--and all from a political conservative.

Fuck the Recession t-shirts: $65 each

Further reading:
New York Pentimento
Yunnipocalypse Now

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

*Everyday Chatter

The next amusement park to open at Coney will be called...Luna Park. Just like the first, many moons ago. [ATZ]

Visiting the Starlight Lounge, Brooklyn's oldests, blackest gay bar, in its last days on earth. [NYT]

Atlantic Yards opponents plan citizens' arrest of Ratner. [Gothamist]

Finally, some good news for Ray's Candy. [NMNL]

Who is Sir Shadow? [BB]

You could live at the Christodora. [EVG]

Noury & Goliath

It was built by the Astors in 1855. A little more than a century later, it housed a 24-hour topless joint. And then, after selling in 1979, it was the RSVP Club, where revelers would continue their revelry after a night at Studio 54, climbing onto the rusted, weed-covered High Line to be sprayed with a hose.

my flickr

The 1990s passed quietly here, and the building became shrouded in mystery, an enigma carved with hearts and arrows in what was once the desolate Meat Market. In the window, a For Lease sign claimed this "historic cabaret" held secret tunnels within its depths.

Today, 155 years after it was built, and not even 1 year after the Standard Hotel and the New High Line opened, the building is rubble. Yesterday, Curbed reported that Novac Noury's crazy little building was demolished by the City.

photo: Curbed

One of the last of the old Meat Market characters, according to The Villager, Noury made his mark in the 1970s as the developer of "a patented wireless keyboard in the shape of an arrow (actually it was based on the Wrigley’s spearmint gum logo) that shot fire, shaving cream and water. Prancing about in a one-piece, tiger-print outfit and a mask while wielding the enigmatic instrument, he became a fixture on the disco scene. He would prop the keyboard against his crotch, while suggestively thrusting his pelvis and blasting out whatever substance--sparks, cream, H20--fit the mood and music."

But the mood has changed here.

Villager photo by Talisman Brolin

The owner of the Standard Hotel tried to buy Noury out a few years ago. Noury refused, planning to build on his own property, adding up to 10 stories for a "mini-inn," as he told The Observer in 2007. As Scoopy put it, Noury's plan included "a cascading, 40-foot-high waterfall abutting Balazs’s new hotel" and an addition that "will reach no higher than the Standard’s third floor and block a mere, oh, four to six of the boutique hotel’s 343 rooms."


He shows the pounding from construction on his Youtube channel.

my flickr

It's a classic David and Goliath story, heard all over town as new developers press their shining towers into derelict neighborhoods, places where people at the margins carved out a creative existence and held on for decades.

Visitors could look down from the shiny new High Line and see Noury's back patio, a jumble of artifacts you couldn't help but gaze at, trying to figure out what was what--a Statue of Liberty, old TVs, a porcelain urinal--collectively, a remnant of a lost New York and a neighborhood once filled with oddball characters. Some might have called it an "eyesore," and as we learned from last year's canceled Leather Fest, with the new standards in this part of town, the eyesores and oddballs aren't tolerated here anymore.

my flickr

Plans to demolish Noury's place hurried through the system. Papers were filed and swift action taken. Before Christmas, the Department of Buildings barred him from the building and began emptying it of his possessions--mostly music equipment and keyboards--along with Noury's white Excalibur limousine, which came out covered with scratches.

I imagine it's the same limo that ferried passengers from Studio 54 to Little West 12th, back when the cobblestones ran with bovine blood and human effluents. Before it smelled of money. Before it belonged to the cupcake girls and the Wall Street boys. Before it turned into a single shimmering mountain of glass.

Last month, watching his possessions piling up on the street, Noury said simply, "Thanks to the Standard for ruining this block."

Monday, January 25, 2010

*Everyday Chatter

Slacktivists rallied this weekend to Save Ray's. There were cops and bikers, and there were Slum Goddesses. At least one cowboy showed up. And of course, the man voted "New York City's cuddliest anarchist":

Find out more ways you can help Save Ray's. [EVG]

Ian Frazier: "Freddy’s Bar & Backroom is indeed in distress, sitting as it does in the 'footprint' of the massive, multibillion-dollar Atlantic Yards project." [NYer]

A crazy clapboard house rises in glassy Times Square. [SNY]

Condo owners throwing eggs at noisy Park Slope dogs. Wrote Brownstoner, "a Novo resident came out one morning recently and asked owners to quiet down their dogs because his baby was sleeping." [Gothamist]

Dreamland Artist mural to vanish with Feltman's fate. [ATZ]

StuyTown handed over to its creditors. [NYT]

Thaasophobia: fear of boredom. "One cellphone company has even promoted the idea of microboredom, which refers to those moments of inactivity that occur when we’re, say, stuck waiting in line for a latte without our BlackBerry." [NYT]

Shepard Fairey will be the last artist to paint the Deitch billboard space on Bowery. [BB]

3 Bookshops

To recap recent news, January is looking a lot like bookstore shutter month. By the end of this week, 3 bookstores will have vanished from their usual places.

1. On Christmas Eve we got the terrible news that Skyline Books will be closing. Their last day has been set for Jan. 31. Now, as they get close to closure, their 50% off sale has turned into a 75% off sale:

Also their cat, Linda, will be homeless when the shop shutters, Gothamist reported. Writes the owner, "She's a book store cat, and there just aren't any left, book stores or book store cats. it's very sad." Yes, it is.

2. Last week, the Biography Bookshop on Bleecker and 11th closed. They've already moved into their new spot further east at BookBook and Marc Jacobs will be moving in to their 25-year-old location.

3. Finally, also on Jan. 31, Left Bank Books is leaving West 4th Street. At least they'll still be in the neighborhood, moving in next to Chocolate Bar on 8th Ave. and Jane-ish. They're having a 70% off sale, with lots of other discounts.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Empty Bed

What's with the billboard of the rumpled bed off the High Line?

It's a 1991 artwork by Felix Gonzalez-Torres, writes High Line Blog, "best known for creating images that addressed his homosexuality and the painful loss of friends to AIDS."

W.M. Hunt wrote here about the empty bed project, "What was great about this piece is that as it was situated in the public domain without any explanatory text, everyone who saw it could interpret the piece differently... There was something incredibly sad about it. The implication to me was that now the bed doesn’t have two people in it. Something has happened. Something is missing. Something is absent. To me, I saw it as a testimonial to his lover, who had died."

But that was in the 1990s, when this image first appeared on city billboards.

the imagist

Today, in the High Line context, surrounded by glass condo towers and haute-couture, I'm not sure sadness, death, and AIDS would come to mind when you look at this empty bed.

It's more likely that you might imagine, as I did, that it's a stealth advertisement for Egyptian cotton sheets, or a luxury hotel, or Calvin Klein perfume.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

*Everyday Chatter

A missing East Villager found. [EVG]

How the City and the fashion industry teamed up to kill Canal: "Canal is on its last legs. They want to make this a franchise block"..."They’re playing dirty." [NYP]

Tenement Museum opens its Rear Yard exhibit. [BB]

At Anthology: See Stritch and Mineo in an "unforgettable capsule of seedy mid-'60s New York," packed with "voyeurism, masturbation, fetishism, lesbianism, rape, and all manner of psychosexual aberrations." [AFA]

Julius' bar working hard to reopen after DOH closure. [Eater]

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

*Everyday Chatter

Today is the last day for Biography Bookshop. (We still have bookbook.)

"Illegal corporate graffiti" might be my favorite new phrase. [Curbed]

Sneak a peek inside the Gage & Tollner Arby's. [LC]

Coney's new amusement company gets Zigun stamp of approval. [CR]

Worrying about the pedestrian-mall future of Astor Place. [FP]

Everywhere You Go...

In addition to spawning a Bank of America on its first floor...

...this big, black apartment building on 8th Avenue and 16th Street is about to provide a harborage for yet another Duane Reade. The sliding doors are now in place, and the COMING SOON posters are up, ready to welcome you to the city's nine-hundred-millionth D.R., giving proof to the jingle, "Everywhere you go...Duane Reade!"

Let's remember for a moment what used to be here--before the demolitions, before the glass box, the bank, the ubiquitous chainstore, before this corner looked like everywhere...and nowhere:

Photo: Romy Ashby of Walkers in the City

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

*Everyday Chatter

A Save Ray's Candy benefit concert is in the works. Find out how you can participate. [EVG] PLUS: The Slacktivists plan a supportive protest for 1/23. [EVG]

Warmer nights and news cameras help Ray's revenue. [NMNL]

Last night, Ray's Candy Store was featured on Fox 5 News. [SG]

Tomorrow night: Sharon Zukin, author of Naked City, talks about the loss of urban authenticity at the Mid-Manhattan Library. [NYPL]

Feltman's of Coney to fall--but the place has hot dog history. [ATZ]

Window gazing at the breasts of the Democratic People’s Republic of Dumbass--complete with cut and pasties. [NYS]

Gun-toting ghost of William Burroughs robbing Greenwich Village sex-toy and fro-yo shops [CR]

A stay of execution for Tin Pan Alley? [GLF]

Elfin gingerbread houses on Staten Island. [FNY]


Last week I posted about Ess-A-Bagel's old sign, on which the words "Appetizing Cheeses" was printed, and about how their new sign unfortunately omits these words. I read the words together, as a single phrase, to mean "Our delicious cheeses will stimulate and appeal to your appetite."

But a few readers schooled me. "Appetizing" is a noun in this context, they said, and does not modify "cheeses."

After visiting East Side Bagel & Appetizing, Henry wrote, "'appetizing' is often a noun that means anything you get at a bagel store," and directed us to Wikipedia's entry on "Appetizing Store," the "store that sells the foods one eats with bagels."

On the Lower East Side, such a well-loved store is Russ & Daughters.

Marjorie told us that "appetizing is a vintage noun meaning 'stuff one eats with bagels,'" and she pointed us to Russ & Daughters' online definition: What Is Appetizing?

R&D writes, "Appetizing also originated from Jewish dietary laws, which dictate that meat and dairy products cannot be eaten or sold together. As a result, two different types of stores sprang up in order to cater to the Jewish population. Stores selling cured and pickled meats became known as delicatessens, while shops that sold fish and dairy products became appetizing stores."

"In New York City, until the 1960’s, there were appetizing stores in every borough and in almost every neighborhood. On the Lower East Side alone there were, at one point, thirty appetizing shops."

A New York Times Q&A speculates that this use of "appetizing" is indigenous to New York City and the "term does not appear to exist outside New York."

Jill of Blah Blog Blah recalled growing up "in a much more Jewish New York where appetizing delis were a dime a dozen... Every Sunday my grandfather went to the appetizing store to get bagels and smoked fish after his haircut and then taunt me with the eyeball from the fish."

New York Magazine, 1968

Milton Glaser (designer of the I Heart NY logo) wrote a fantastic guide to The Appetizing Store for New York Magazine in 1968, in which he writes, "Perhaps the most dramatic feature of any appetizing store counter is the stack or stacks of shimmering golden-skinned whitefish."

Here are Glaser's Top 7 from the time:

Remarkably, four of the seven still exist. Haber is gone. So is Zuckerman's. On his food blog, Peter Cherches recalls buying his lox at M. Schacht on 2nd Ave near 6th, but that's gone too. Murray's still exists, but they sell meat, so it may not qualify as a true appetizing store. As for Zabar's and Greengrass...

Alan Levitz, of Banner Smoked Fish in Coney Island, told Jewish Woman Magazine, "Appetizing stores are a dying breed. They've been replaced by bagel stores. Of course, bagel stores sell appetizing—along with salads and meats. Smoked fish is only a piece of their business... Barney Greengrass is a restaurant, and Zabar's is really a gourmet supermarket."

photo of Schacht: Weissworks' flickr

All of this is to say that, used as a noun in this particular way, in this old New York Jewish way, the word "Appetizing" has almost vanished completely from its native city. Ess-A-Bagel's removal of the word from their signage is only the latest erasure.

Its demise follows the vanishing of appetizing shops and the people who went there for their lox, kippers, and kapchunkas, people like Jill's grandfather, a whole generation of New Yorkers who are disappearing and taking their vintage words with them.

As all good things banished from gleaming Manhattan, "appetizing" has migrated to Brooklyn and Queens, where it manages to hang on, surviving at the margins in less-traveled, uncelebrated pockets of the outer city. Fork in the Road says Borough Park is the place to go.

Where else can "appetizing" be found?

Monday, January 18, 2010

*Everyday Chatter

Just Kids reviewed: Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe on the streets of New York. [NYT]

Ray's Candy plight in the Times: "There is no shortage of places in the area to find a plate of fries or a cup of coffee, Ray’s patrons say, but there are not many where they feel like members of a community instead of mere consumers..." [NYT]

Meanwhile, outside Ray's, the drama of Avenue A continues. [NMNL]

Check out the cool Canal Street poster: "we want to remember the Canal Street we’ve always loved: a place notorious the world over for providing customers with what they want, for as cheaply as they want it." [NYT]

Plaza Hotel condo conversion not so great. [Curbed]

"A Prospect Heights homeless shelter that housed about 80 families was itself made homeless over the weekend, to make room for the controversial Barclay's Center/Atlantic Yards project." [Gothamist]

Don't Be Stupid

At the Broadway/Lafayette station, Diesel jeans tells passersby to "BE STUPID."

I agree with You Bent My Wookie, who has more images of the ads, and says this is "the most straight forward and idiotic marketing campaign’ve got to be stupid to want to pay $290 for a pair of jeans."

Someone else agrees, too--they responded to "Be Stupid" by sticking an Andre Breton quote on the billboard.

It says: "The mere word freedom is the only one that still excites me. I deem it capable of indefinitely sustaining the old human fanaticism. It doubtless satisfies my only legitimate aspiration. Among all the many misfortunes to which we are heir, it is only fair to admit that we are allowed the greatest degree of freedom of thought. It is up to us not to misuse it. To reduce the imagination to a state of slavery—even though it would mean the elimination of what is commonly called happiness—is to betray all sense of absolute justice within oneself."

In others words: DON'T BE STUPID.

Friday, January 15, 2010

*Everyday Chatter

Because one can never get enough complaining about Brooklyn "mommy culture run amok." [CR]

Jan 18: Enjoy an Evening with Zoe Beloff at MOMA. She will be discussing her current exhibition "Dreamland: The Coney Island Amateur Psychoanalytic Society and its Circle 1926- 1972," which you should not miss and can read about here. [MOMA]

Yesterday, Gothamist asked where they could find the secret porno theater of Times Square. It's on 7th between 47th and 48th. Here's the outside view from Google maps. Right under the red #7 you see the tell-tale mirrored diamonds--just follow the trail:

John Strong Sideshow makes a plea to return to Coney Island--here's a look from last year. [ATZ]

"reminds us what the arts scene in the East Village, SoHo and TriBeCa was like at the height of the AIDS epidemic, before gentrification and before the downtown ethos and aesthetic were packaged into family viewing spectacles like Rent or those by Blue Man Group." [NYT]

Shitting on the Gap: "The East Village was very creative, vocally and fecally, about expressing its opinion on the encroaching gentrification..." [EVG]

Chelsea Hotel getting packed with bars. [LWL]

When California comes to NYC: "putting on my mother's J. Mendel Mink Coat with my over the knee Prada boots was SO necessary for my walk." [FIPS] via [Curbed]

Nunnery ruins in Dobbs Ferry. [SNY]

The Checker Motors Corp shuts down. How many Checkers are left on the city's streets? Taxi Ray's is gone. And do we have to include the HSBC Bank cab? [CR]

Ess-a-Bagel's Sign

Don't worry, Ess-a-Bagel on 1st and 21st is not vanishing. But it has changed its sign.

The old sign was 1970s yellow with brown, three-dimensional, vintage text. The new sign is flat, white, and bright.

It still says "Everything on a Bagel," but the phrase "Appetizing Cheeses," with its interesting typeface, did not make the cut.

Nice to know I have nothing better to complain about at the moment, but I still prefer the old sign. And, for what it's worth, I miss "Appetizing CHEESES."

Thursday, January 14, 2010

*Everyday Chatter

Councilwoman Letitia James on Ratner's plan: "The Barclays Center is having the city close the [Pacific Dean] shelter, and having the state take it by eminent domain in the dead of winter, and on Martin Luther King's Birthday." [FIB]

Villager editorial says "Save Our Ray." [Villager]

Here's how you can Help Save Ray's. [SG]

Celebrating Yonah Schimmel's and their wonderful knishes. [CR]

Go inside William Burroughs' Bunker on the Bowery. [EVG]

A double stabbing at the Pyramid Club on Ave. A. [NMNL]

Filling your sturgeon needs... [GVDP]

The "No Lock People." They exist. In New York. [NYT]

The Koi people admit defeat after being denied a space on the Bowery. [Eater]



On West Houston, Alphaville has announced it is closing by the end of the month.

Thanks to the commenter who alerted me to the shuttering, a visit to the shop confirmed it, with signs for a 40 - 50% off closing sale. Toys, robots, coloring books, jewelry, vintage sunglasses--the place is packed with discounted items.

photo of co-owner Karchin, by Daily News

Opened 16 years ago by Steve Karchin and Gary Kraut, Alphaville has been a fun place to browse and shop while waiting for your movie to start at the nearby Film Forum. New York said: "Nostalgic boomers and retro-hungry design geeks flock to this unique store/gallery for their fix of reasonably priced mid-century vintage toys and posters," including "whimsical Billy the Kid cork popguns and original-issue Mr. Potato heads."

There are also lots of robots, including these guys made out of tins and bottlecaps:

When the shop opened in 1994, Karchin told the Times, "The world is very tense, very corporate, very financial. I have a feeling it's helped by balancing with something that has a feeling of a simpler time." Alphaville was "named after the Jean-Luc Godard film about interplanetary and time travel, in order to evoke 'the past, present and future.'"

As the past slips evermore away from us, get your space-age pin-up girl magnets while they last.

And with the future hurtling fast towards us, as new construction goes up on the block, you've also got to wonder how long Alphaville's little two-story building will be standing.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

*Everyday Chatter

Another chain falls: The Pizzeria Uno on 6th Ave and 8th Street has shuttered. It's being emptied into a Dumpster where enterprising divers are making off with pizza pans, life-size posters of James Dean, gumball machines--even the UNO signage:

85-year-old Harlem diner, Collegiate Food Shop, to shutter. [NYDN]

13-story building to rise on the High Line. [Curbed]

Tower Records becomes a No Longer Empty, for more empty storefront fun. [Racked]

Keep an eye on the White House flop. [EVG]

See Freddy's Bar on FOX News. [FIB]

DIY bed bug detector. [Wired via McB]

Brooks asks, "Is it morally right to make ugly buildings look beautiful?" And the answer... [Restless]

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

*Everyday Chatter

Paypal for Ray's Candy takes donations--donate today and save Ray's! [EVG]

Slum Goddess' new BFF: Grimace. [SG]

Edie the hamster fixes her flat tire. [Gothamist]

So what's going into the former East Village Chocolates by the Bald Man space? It's none other than a bank--the fourth one in a two-block radius:

Chase banks on every corner. [CR]

Hyper-gentrification is happening all over--Don Everett Pearce sings about it in LA. [youtube]

Brooklyn Navy Yard history saved one artifact at a time. [NYT]

Thor's Coney Island flea market is for lease. [ATZ]


Where once were gorgeous hats, there will now be Slurpees and Big Gulps.

The former Arnold Hatters spot is going to be a 7-11. The "Coming Soon" sign is up and workers are pounding away inside.


I have been following the Arnold Hatters story since they left 620 Eighth Avenue in 2003. That's when the Bloomberg administration seized their property via eminent domain and used the land for the New York Times tower.

The Hatters moved farther south, to 8th and 37th, where they managed to survive for awhile. I talked to the owners there in 2007 about Bloomberg, eminent domain, and the hat business.


But in the spring of 2009, after three generations, Arnold Hatters closed with a sad shuttering. They had weathered numerous dips and shifts in the economy, but they never recovered after losing their prime location.

Some people like to say, "Oh, well, the city always changes," as if these losses are nothing, as if they're normal. But this is how the city is changing: A 50-year-old local business makes it to the 21st century, then turns into a suburban, Dallas-based, mega-chain.

In this way, every day, we are trading in this city for nothing more than trinkets and beads.

Dallas, Texas: from 7-11, Oh Thank Heaven!

Monday, January 11, 2010

*Everyday Chatter

Chris Flash interviews Ray: "We urge everyone who cares about Ray and keeping Ray's Candy Store alive in our neighborhood to come to Ray's to buy something, make a donation and network with their neighbors who are banding together to help Ray stay in business." [Shadow] via EVG

Counting the empty storefronts on Avenue A. [EVG]

Demolition on Essex, former typhus quarantine. [BB]

Penny Arcade from New York Values: "The ten most popular kids from every high school in the world are now living in New York City. Those are the people who most of us who came to New York came here to get away from."

Americans less likely to move away from their hometowns in this economy. Does that mean fewer most popular kids seeking out Applebee's in NYC? [NYT]

"In the many years that George has worked at Kramer’s, Brooklyn has transformed around it: high-rises have shot up, new immigrant populations have swept in, and most of the people who grew up with him have died or moved to the suburbs. Old businesses are forever 'going out,' in George’s phrase, and he announces the passing of each with a staccato shout: 'Brandz for Less 1351 Coney Island Avenue is going out December 31st!' 'Bargain Hunters 1605 Avenue M closed up for good!'" [NYT]

An Englishman in New York--was this ever released into theaters? Anyway, here's John Hurt playing Quentin Crisp in...guess what now-vanished Manhattan diner: