Friday, February 26, 2010

Tent of Tomorrow

Back in November, the Parks Department asked for volunteers to help preserve the terrazzo map of New York State embedded in the floor of Philip Johnson's "Tent of Tomorrow" World's Fair Pavilion out in Flushing, Queens.

photo: Daniel Avila

I missed the opportunity to venture inside this gorgeous, crumbling relic of the city's past, but blogger Peter Kaufman over at Ink Lake recently wrote about the preservation. He also passed along to JVNY these great photos of the process, all taken by Parks Department photographer Daniel Avila.

photo: Daniel Avila

Kaufman explains how volunteers first "removed the vegetation that had sprouted (and was cracking the tiles apart). A layer of sand was then placed over the floor, and then a geotextile was placed on top, finally covered by a layer of gravel."

photo: Daniel Avila

The Parks Department describes the map as "the largest-known representation of any area of the earth’s surface." After years of languishing, the Pavilion was finally landmarked in September 2009, making preservation funding possible at last.

And that's a good thing--though it means you will no longer be able to stand on a wobbly pile of bricks and peek in through a slit in the locked doors to see chunks of the map, as I did back in 2008:

my flickr

Maybe, someday, we'll be able to go inside and enjoy walking on the map like they did back in 1964. Until then, it's all tucked in...

photo: Daniel Avila

Thursday, February 25, 2010

*Everyday Chatter

Little Red Schoolhouse to close? [GVDP]

Feltman's demolition unearths 140-year-old Coney hot dog. [Grub] ...but it's a hoax. [Gothamist]

48 Hours from Ground Zero--a coin toss, a camera, and a sense of psychogeography. [RFT]

NYC geography buffs, take the Panorama Challenge. [BBs]

Mini-New York on video. [Gothamist]

The new Bowery man: white, masculine, dead-beat dad? [EVG]

St. Marks Bookshop now has a Facebook page.

Stained Glass

There has been a window at 203 West 14th Street, right above the Donut Pub, made of blue and green stained glass, in some kind of floral motif, half-broken and bulging. I have admired it whenever I've gone by. Ephemeral New York called it "one of those hidden gems New York is famous for; you could walk by it a million times and not realize it was there."

I couldn't find my photo of it, but Ephemeral got one:

photo: ENY

And that's lucky for us, because the last time I went by and looked up, I saw the stained glass window is gone.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

*Everyday Chatter

Rageful mommy is now very contrite, complete with "post-traumatic [blog] writer's shock" due to the "ferocious firestorm of reaction" on the blogs. [Gothamist]

Rich folks suing other rich folks for installing a cheap Ikea kitchen in a luxury apartment. [Gothamist]

Coney Island's Feltman's is being destroyed. [Curbed]

Welcome "E.V. Heave," a diary of puke. [EVG]

What's playing at the 8th Street Playhouse? [ENY]

"Are you fucking kidding me that a defunct business can sell their liquor license for $20,000 with the blessing of the Community Board and the State?" [Blah]

Pleasure Chest 1972

Before the Pleasure Chest was a sex-toy stop on the Sex & the City tour of Greenwich Village, right between Magnolia Bakery and the Perry Street stoop, it was a hardcore sex shop. At least it appears to be in the 1972 documentary "Pornography in New York."

1972, Pornography in New York

Opened in 1972, the Pleasure Chest was located at 183 West 10th Street, its incredibly slender space wedged between two buildings, where a boutique called Laura Lobdell jewelry is today. The little corner has cleaned up since the 70s and so has the Pleasure Chest.

today, Google maps

In the documentary, we're greeted by a sign warning customers that the novelties in this shop have not been approved by Good Housekeeping, the Department of Agriculture, nor the Board of Health.

Pornography in New York

Next we view a wooden shingle-covered wall hung with black leather wrist and ankle restraints, nipple clamps, and weights dangling from heavy chains. The Pleasure Chest still sells restraints, but these days they're more likely to be "Rhinestone Glamour Cuffs."

Pornography in New York

On the next wall, we see some dildos that are decidedly not cute or cuddly, along with a box full of cock rings, some made of leather lined with internal spikes. No pink feather boas here. No pink bunny-rabbit vibrators, either.

Maybe there were pink-bunny vibrators at the original Pleasure Chest. I don't know. They're not shown in the documentary. Still, somehow, I doubt it.

Looking at these images compared to today, we see that sex toys in 1972 New York were gritty, rugged objects to be slipped into the slippery basements of the old Meat Market, not flaunted atop glittery glass towers in the new MePa.

One last detail: The Pleasure Chest also sold water beds.

Read More:
Sex Toys & The City
Adult Bookstores
With thanks again to Mick Dementiuk

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

*Everyday Chatter

Check out the trailer for Vanishing City. [youtube]

Soho's Ohio Theater to officially close come August. [Gothamist]

"A mentally disturbed man with bad B.O. and a penchant for exposing himself is ruining the Forest Hills Starbucks for paying customers." [Gothamist]

Tomorrow: A talk on vaudeville in Brooklyn. [ATZ]

"Some convention-attending business really drunk at a Court Street bar, after which he wandered into a Livingston Street apartment...went to the laundry room and took a shit." [LM] from Brooklyn Paper

Desirs' Demise

Checking in with the plight of Les Desirs: Friday, February 26, will be the last day for the 48-year-old bakery and its stalwart senior-citizens, though the fight to save the place made it to NY1 and garnered many petition signatures.

This is the last week you have to get some prune hamentaschen and elephant ear cookies.

Insider Stacy Torres tells us, "The lotto place next door to the bakery closed and was emptied on New Year's Eve."

As previously reported here, the upscale tapas restaurant Txikito will be expanding into the Lotto store and Sullivan Street Bakery is rumored to take over Les Desirs.

I went into the bakery for a final pastry. Outside, a woman was telling her friends, "This place has kept so many people together for so long. My mother used to come here every day. It got her out of the house."

No more.

Monday, February 22, 2010

*Everyday Chatter

Another fascinating person, with an apartment filled with history and quirks, is leaving the East Village. [NYT]

Enjoy a Google map to the past. [Gothamist]

Jeff Bridges strums at Sophie's. [EVG]

Ray's delivery business not exactly thriving. [NMNL]

Now you can share a cab, that last bastion of personal space, with people yakking on cell phones. [NYT]

Inside the home of the Treats Truck lady. [NYT]

More from the demolition of 185 Bowery. [TLD]

Revs/Cost Vanishing

From the watchful eye of reader Steven Benga comes the bad news we knew was coming. The folks behind the New High Line are removing the Revs/Cost graffiti from the next extension of the luxury park.

We saw the hardhats contemplating this controversial removal back in December. On Saturday the vanishing began. Here is a photographic time-line of the erasure. Benga sent in this before and after:

On the left, the graffiti as it was. On the right, the R and the C have been covered with a yellow chemical.

By Sunday afternoon, the wall looked like this:

In this photo you can see the DEAL tag, along with the ghost-word AND, to the left of REVS/COST have been almost completely faded. Beneath REVS/COST, the same yellow chemical has been applied.

In this close-up, it is clear that the R and C have faded to the point where the gaps between the bricks are showing through. The S and T have also been treated with vanishing solution. A worker takes his roller to the V.

Work continued through Sunday night, under cover of darkness, and by this morning, this is what's left:

all photos: Steven Benga

In 1994, Revs and Cost talked to ArtForum about their work. It was a very different time in New York City:

REVS: We think art should be dangerous. Everybody's into safe art, doing safe things in their studio. We're bringing danger back into it. It's got to be on the edge, where it's not allowed.

COST: We live on the edge and that's what makes it good.

REVS: It's got to be real crude. Crude.

COST: Rude and shit. Noisier.

Today, the noise we have is the din of pub-crawlers and tourists, of revelers whooping off the rooftops of luxury hotels. The edge has been erased. The crudeness has been sanded smooth. And danger is a forgotten desire.

To those who prefer to walk the safe path, the next length of the High Line is being prepared just for you.

Revs/Cost 12/09
Roxy Graffiti
New High Line

Friday, February 19, 2010

*Everyday Chatter

Success! The people of Little Italy beat back the Shake Shack. [Eater]

...and someone on the pro-Shack side makes the time-worn "Better Than a Bank" argument in its "Better Than a Starbucks Or Pharmacy" flavor. We've heard that one many times before. [Eater]

EV vintage lives at Metropolis. [EVG]

From the benefit for Mosaic Man Jim Power. [SG]

One of the more offensive Stupid ads:

Eater visits the Blarney Cove on 14th St. [Eater]

Complaining about jerks at the gym: "They sit on equipment after they’re done and daydream." [CR]

StuyTowners chuck their used maxi-pads into the trees. [STLL]

Thursday, February 18, 2010

*Everyday Chatter

"If you see me trying to navigate a double stroller, why can’t you move out of my way?" says one rageful "Mom in the City" (she's also Marv Albert's daughter.) [Gothamist]

The long-empty Action Care pharmacy at upscaling Reggie Fitzgerald Triangle has a new occupant, Echelon Cycles, from a "long time NYC resident and semi-professional racer":

If Ray's Candy becomes a noodle shop, there must be rioting in the streets. [EVG]

March 8--a second benefit for Ray's Candy. [NMNL]

Lovely 185 Bowery is finally, after a long hold up and a lone holdout, coming down. [BB]

Texty LOL-speak turns up in anti-condo graffiti. [NYS]

Coney to get a Knott's Berry Farm-like pony express? [ATZ]

"Complicated, unavoidable, convenient, annoying--whatever that relationship was, even Duane Reade seemed to understand how deeply it had worked its way into the municipal psyche." [NYT]

As books become antiques, don't miss the Antiquarian Book Fair:

New Left Bank

In a time when New York City bookstores are dying a thousand deaths, it's heartening to see an old favorite come back to life. Left Bank Books has officially opened in its new location on 8th Ave. between 12th and Jane.

I am happy to say that the little shop has not lost its warm and bookish charms. Under a pressed-tin ceiling, the books are stacked neatly in dark wooden shelves and milk crates. Many are still piled on tables and packed in boxes, waiting to be organized. As the sign on the door says, "We are open, though far from completely unboxed. If you can tolerate disorder, please come in."

Outside, chairs await browsers and friends, just as they did back on 4th Street.

The shop is located in a building that dates back to 1840, according to the knowledgeable fellow I spoke with inside, and was one of the first, if not the first, structure to grace 8th Avenue when it was extended northward--or maybe southward. Anyway, it's been there for a very long time. Let's hope Left Bank lasts a long while, too.

Here is the row of Federal buildings the bookshop occupies, photographed in 1929 and today. Nice to see some parts of the city haven't changed much at all.


Google maps

More on this bookstore's recent brush with death:
Save Left Bank Books
Left Bank & Cherry
Left Bank & Lee

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


Recently, Lost City Brooks posted some photos of a fruit-drink stand in Times Square, via the blog Aaron Signs. The fruit-drink stand was called Elpine Drinks and it stood on 46th St. and 7th Ave. I've been trying to dig up information on Elpine for a few years, ever since seeing it for the first time in the movie Sweet Smell of Success.

It's the place where Tony Curtis, as press agent Sidney Falco, goes to grab a late-night hot dog and a juice in a conical paper cup, to check the newspapers and make his important phone calls.

According to the menu in the background, cream-cheese sandwiches were 15 cents and you could get a malted milk for a dime. But that, and the information posted by Brooks and Aaron, clipped from a 1969 New York Magazine, is all I know about Elpine. Otherwise, it's like this odd little chain never existed.

1955 photo via Lileks

Still, I like to think about going in there--under the smoke rings of the Camel sign, with the racket of an upstairs billiard parlor breaking through an open window, on a hot summer day, drinking fresh-squeezed juice from a paper cone in a stainless steel holder...which, by the way, you can still enjoy today at the Lexington Candy Shop.

Update: Thanks to commenter Alana for pointing us to this 1943 panoramic photo at Shorpy--here's the Elpine detail (with girls in gloves and bobby socks):

Photo: John Vachon

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

*Everyday Chatter

Revisit the 1980s in the EV and more in photos. [FP]

Meet the latest Walker in the City. [WIC]

Brooks digs up the lovely and elusive Elpine. [LC]

Chico tributes the Mom of the Ave B liquor store. [EVG]

Tonight at Theatre 80: The Mosaic Man Extravaganza benefit. [NMNL]

An interview with Miss Heather of NY Shitty. [NYS]

Welcome in the Year of the Tiger. [Blah]

Sex & the City has an official vodka. [RS]

Ask about the history of New York complaining. [CR]

Last New Yorker

Back in 2007, I went to see a screening of Harvey Wang's film The Last New Yorker at the Big Apple Film Festival. You might best know Harvey as the photographer who captured the scene inside skid-row lodging houses in Flophouse: Life on the Bowery, a book hailed by Paul Auster as "required reading in every home across the country."

Or you might know Harvey Wang’ s New York, a collection of vanished or vanishing characters from the city--grave diggers, seltzer bottlers, pillow makers, bowling alley mechanics...these were the people in our neighborhoods.

In The Last New Yorker, starring Dominic Chianese as Lenny Sugarman, Harvey looks at the vanishing city through the eyes of two best friends, a dying breed in a disappearing world. In fact, since Harvey made the film, many of the locations have been lost, making the movie a document of the vanishing. See the film when it comes to the Quad on February 19. In the meantime, I asked Harvey a few questions and he answered.

Wang in 2007 at Tribeca Cinemas

Q. I remember in the film a particularly lovely segment that felt very photographic. How did your photographer self and your filmmaker self collaborate and/or disagree in the film-making process?

A. I am a photographer, but when working with actors, I find it important to be available to the actors and to watch the bigger picture. However, my photographer’s sensibility was critical in choosing the locations we used, as well in pre-visualizing the world of our characters. I worked with my storyboard artist to imagine the environments we needed to frame the action. And I chose to work with a cinematographer who was very collaborative and respected my background as a documenter of the city.

Wang with screenwriter Forgash on set at Beny's

Q. You used a lot of great old places in the city that are vanishing or have vanished. Could you say something about the places you chose and why you chose them?

A. Much of the movie takes place in “the modern city” but we attempted to also film what remained of Lenny’s world. What were the places he inhabited? Where did he go for a refuge from the city he no longer felt at home in? Where did he go for coffee? I shot in places where the passage of time wasn’t felt: Eisenberg’s Sandwich Shop, Moulded Shoe on 39th St., Lismore Hosiery, Odessa Coffee Shop, Beny’s Fine Jewelry, Blarney Stone, among others.

Chianese and Latessa at Moulded Shoes

Q. Have you considered doing a feature-length documentary on the vanishing city?

A. With my books Harvey Wang’ s New York and Flophouse: Life on the Bowery I captured parts of New York that were vanishing. Perhaps I could have made a documentary film on these subjects, but this script came along, and this was my way of dealing with the subject.

Chianese and Latessa at Eisenberg's

Q. When and where can people see The Last New Yorker?

A. Bringing The Last New Yorker to the screen has been the last of many challenges in making the film, but finally, we open at the Quad Cinema on February 19. We are scheduled to run for a week, but runs can be extended if need be. Hopefully, we will have other venues in other cities in the future.

See Also:
The Last New Yorker site
Lenny Sugarman's Facebook page
Harvey Wang's website

Friday, February 12, 2010

*Everyday Chatter

Remembering the 80s with "New York Dancestand." [Stupefaction]

Death of Broadway's bustling wholesale district--branded "NoMad"--foretold. [NYT]

Chatting with the kids behind Ray's delivery service. [EVG]

Ray's delivery team makes a practice run. [NMNL]

And Ray got served with eviction papers. [SG]

Tourist-favorite Times Square ass-park goes permanent. [NYT]

It's winter. Stay away from the manhole covers and sidewalk Con-Ed panels. [Gothamist]

More TrustoCorp. rogue signage found on the LES. [BB]

A demolition guy saws the Cavalier bar in half, just to be funny. [LC]

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Village Paper, nee Sutter's

As first reported by Gothamist and Runnin Scared, the Village Paper party store on Greenwich Avenue has burned down.

Witnesses recall a loud explosion in the morning before the shop opened. Two firefighters were injured fighting the blaze that gutted the entire shop and shuttered a neighboring store.

The owner, Sun Wong, told the Daily News: "I worked so hard for this store, for my family. I'm so sad right now. I have three little ones. What am I going to do now? I feel sick about it. I don't know what I'm going to do next. We all depend on this store, it's our whole life."

An employee told the Post that "the store’s destruction was a great loss for the neighborhood."

By the afternoon, the sidewalk was littered with debris, a sickening carnivalesque mix of charred black destruction and colorful Mardi-Gras celebration.

Animal masks and glittering party masks, disco balls, sequined decorations, strings of purple beads, and racks of greeting cards sat piled in fetid-smelling tatters.

As the snowfall intensified, a white blanket covered it all, draped like the pale sheet police officers use to cover dead bodies on the sidewalk.

Village Paper moved here at least 20 years ago. Many will recall that Sutter's Bakery used to stand in this spot, next door to the original offices of The Village Voice. Villagers loved Sutter's and many writers partook of its delicacies.

In the Villager, Patricia Fieldsteel remembered, "it was possible to sit for hours over a cup of coffee and what was known in those days as a 'Danish pastry.' There were no lattes, grandes, mochachinos or even cappuccinos--just plain old coffee for 20 cents a cup with free refills."

In her book Garlic and Sapphires, Ruth Reichl recalls visiting Sutter's when the Women's House of Detention loomed just overhead:

It is very difficult to find a photo of Sutter's. In all my searching, I've only found one, taken by the wonderful photographer Robert Otter in 1964. There it is on the left, across from the "House of D."

photo by Robert Otter

Sutter's closed on May 23, 1976, after exactly 50 years in business. The New York Times reported that the closure was due to "a sharp increase in rent...from $40,000 to $60,000 a year." In addition, the landlord was asking for a $50,000 fee for a new lease. The owners, twin sisters Helen Mulcahey and Marie Kammenzind, daughters of Sutter, could not swing it.

The New Yorker's Talk of the Town was on the scene the day of the auction:

Yesterday, people were staring through the same big windows, estimating the damage, sizing up the destruction, wondering when and if Village Paper will reopen. By day's end, the windows were boarded shut.

It was, like Sutter's, a beloved neighborhood place. I bought my greeting cards there and the occasional Halloween disguise. I always enjoyed their window displays, filled with holiday chaos and kookiness (like their annual Zagat bursting from a corpse's stomach display). I hope they come back soon.

See all photos of Village Paper

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

*Everyday Chatter

The Village Paper party store has burned down. Gothamist and Runnin Scared have the sad news. More to come.

Village Paper fire also shutters neighboring upscale toy store Kid-O, home of the "Kiddie Condo":

Delve into gorgeous photos of the EV from the 70s and 80s. [EVG]

2/16: Benefit for Mosaic Man at Theater 80. [Villager]

McWater rails against a LES community opposed to more bars. [TLD]

In Park Slope, the dogs are being mugged--getting their doggie sweaters stolen right off their backs (in this case, a "green wool coat with leather trim and belt"). [CSIC]

Enjoy the mucky art and artifacts of Proteus Gowanus. [FIB]

Will fries vanish from Ray's Candy? [Villager]

Jackson for Rent

In September 2008 I visited the Jackson Triplex in Jackson Heights, a 1920s-era theater which has been called "the best Cinema Treasure theater still operating in Queens" by Cinema Treasures, thanks to its intact period details.

It's not operating any more.

A reader wrote in with the above photo: "I was playing billiards in Jackson Heights today and saw that the Jackson theater on 82nd Street has For Rent signs in the doors."

What does this mean for the Jackson Triplex? The Daily News had the story back in November: "The 85-year-old Triplex also struggled to stay afloat, said property broker Suraj (Sonny) Advaney. It couldn't compete with the multiplexes, Advaney said, and the owners were unable to pay rent and real estate taxes. Since the Triplex closed, he has been approached by other cinema operators about the location, he said."

Or maybe it'll just become an American Apparel.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

*Everyday Chatter

Another EV chain falls to an indie. After the shocker of Dunkin Donuts' closure and conversion to a grocer, we discover that the Tasti-D-Lite, felled by an onslaught of fro-yo competitors, has turned into an eyeglass shop:

Chelsea residents scare off mega-club developers. [CN]

Tony's diNapoli to fall for Second Ave subway. [Eater]

Bloomberg downplays the NYPD's manipulation of crime statistics. [Gothamist]

A pair of bald eagles frolic in Harlem. [Gothamist]

Cheyenne Wasteland

Checking in with the former site of the Cheyenne Diner, the developer's plywood invites you to "Visit Skylight Diner."

Before its move to Alabama, the Cheyenne was shuttered and a 9-story condo was slated to rise here.

So far, it's still dirt.

And more stupid Diesel ads.