Friday, April 30, 2010

*Everyday Chatter

The Times visits Freddy's for a last call. Bloomberg's muscle wins again. [NYT]

The man who gave birth to the Anthora, the city's iconic Greek coffee cup, has died. Let's hope his cups don't vanish with him. [NYT]

Take a look at ABC No Rio Dinero. [EVG]

After the fire, 283 Grand comes down. [BB]

Patti Smith stopped by St. Mark's Books, made some recommendations. [SMB]

What's to become of the Limelight? This bus ad tells you everything you need to know about what to find there and who will be there:

Back to the Backside

If you were around last summer, you might recall the seasonal saga Notes from the Backside. Written by neighbors of the Cooper Square Hotel, they began with a megaphone and ended with the the hanging of an actual douchebag. In between, their poopy laundry lines made it to 1010 WINS and the New York Post.

Now, as warm, giddy, loudmouth weather descends upon the East Village, the Backsiders creep out of hibernation to report all about it.

One Backsider writes:
"This morning I wake up at 5:20 am--still dark out--to the sound of huge, heavy metal clanging. I get up and look outside and some guy at the hotel has a little lit workshop. He's installing these huge metal planters. At 5 am. I ask him to stop and remind him that he's not supposed to be out there till 10--according to their liquor license. And, to his credit, he does.

This is just a week after I hear some guys laughing on the patio at 11:30, a few feet from my bedroom window. They also claim to be working on the planters.

The planters were supposed to have been filled with 4-foot bamboo before they opened their patio for business this season, according to their liquor license. Right now their patrons can and do look in our windows and make eye contact with us.

We were thinking of this deterrent":

Thursday, April 29, 2010

*Everyday Chatter

Bleecker = "Gold Coast for designer boutiques" as rents continue to skyrocket. [WSJ] via Curbed

Stacy Torres writes about the pain of losing St. Vincent's. [NYDN]

Goggla shows video of Fairey's latest, simultaneous mural going up at Wooster and Grand. [youtube]

Someone sticks a little sticker on the Houston Fairey:

Joe Sitt reveals plans to demolish pretty much everything in Coney Island and replace it with fast food joints. [NYO]

Take a look inside what's to go in Coney. [KC]

Are noisy EV bar owners finally shaking in their boots? [EVG]

Ray denied social security benefits. [NMNL]

Saying goodbye to Admiral's Row. [GVDP]

Billy on The Wall

Billy Leroy is the owner of Billy’s Antiques and Props, on the Bowery since 1986, and still hanging on despite a recent doubling of the rent and a raid from the NYPD. As The Villager wrote, "CBGB may have closed, high-rise luxury co-ops are invading the area, the local American Apparel is attracting yuppies in droves. A Whole Foods mega-supermarket has opened on the other side of the street, but Billy’s is still hanging in there."

Billy also happened to hold the lease on the Houston Wall, where Deitch Projects has displayed murals by Os Gemeos and Shepard Fairey, along with a reproduction of a long-buried work by Keith Haring. Billy wrote in and let me know about his instrumental role in bringing the Haring back to life.

photo: Billy Leroy

He recalls: “In 2005 I was working on a project around the wall, a sorta cafe with Bistro tables, when I discovered through research that the wall had been Keith Haring’s first mural. I thought it would be cool to clear away the rotting bathtubs and wrought iron and recreate the mural.

I brought the whole project to Tony Goldman. Unfortunately the project fell through. A few years passed and Tony teamed up with Jeffery Deitch and the Keith Haring Foundation. Since I was renting the whole property, Tony had to get me to release The Wall from my lease. We made a deal and the new Wall started.

But there was one fly in the ointment. The OMNI mural was still up and OMNI had to be contacted. Fortunately, I knew him and explained that they where going to paint over his mural and do a 50th anniversary to Haring. He was not thrilled but I convinced him. So that’s how the last illegal mural was painted over, and the rest is history."

photo: Billy Leroy

"When the workers started scraping away the years of old paint, giant chips of florescent orange paint fell to the ground. I gathered them into a bucket--they were the original Keith Haring and I have a bucket full."

photo: Billy Leroy

"Am I happy about the new Wall? Yes, because the neighborhood has changed forever and we have to deal with the new people on the Bowery. But I am strong believer in the spirits and ghosts of the old Bowery and they will never leave! Just hang out in my shop at night and things can get pretty creepy."

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

*Everyday Chatter

Sadly, the ginormous fingernails have vanished, without a word--going as mysteriously as they came:

Keep up with the yunnisphere as grueling narcissists are Tweeting Too Hard.

The Bowery gets more glass. [Curbed]

The Jane Ballroom rises from the dead. [Gothamist]

Who's your favorite New York poet? [P&W]

Woodside's "running whatsit." [LC]

Enjoy the guide to Landmarks Preservation. [EVG]

Fans of Joe Jr.'s keep hanging on. [BB]

Coney gets a new ride. [ATZ]

Fairey's Taggers

If you're not sick of hearing about Shepard Fairey murals yet, here's more. Yesterday, Fairey borrowed a couple of ladders from neighboring Billy's Props & Antiques so his graffiti friends could tag the sides of the Houston Wall.

It looks like Cope2 was one of the taggers--Fairey and Cope2 put up a new mural in the Bronx this week. Take a look. It's interesting to think about how the Bronx mural was made, from the start, to look more "street" than the LES mural.

The visual result of the new tags on Houston provides a sort of frame around the mural, one that calls to mind the street. Of course, these tags were carefully placed within the boundaries of the wall's sides, not on the front. They deface nothing. They are also color-coordinated to match Fairey's work.

With the recent attacks on the mural, and the debate about whether or not the piece is "street enough" spreading all the way across the Pond, maybe this is a response?

The holes punched through the mural's target have yet to be filled in. Maybe Fairey and Deitch will let this work go organic, after all. Let it loose. Let's see what the city will make of it.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

*Everyday Chatter

When hipsters move to Chinatown: "look, this is Manhattan: Neighborhoods change, neighborhoods become yuppie. I don't feel I'm doing anything criminal by living here. I don't know, maybe I'm being naïve. It doesn't feel like an issue to me, but maybe that's 'cause I'm on the good end of it." [Voice]

Tourist information that's useful, a sticker on the subway:

Selling Willets Point, piece by piece, while the holdouts hold. [CR]

This is your last week to visit Freddy's, before the city wields its eminent domain wrecking ball. [FIB]

The East Village is now a suitable location for Smurfs. [EVG]

Photos of NYC in the 1970s by Allen Tannenbaum. [COS]

About Those Holes

Yesterday, the New York Times' ArtsBeat Blog followed up on the recent attacks on Shepard Fairey's Houston Wall mural, asking if this weekend's puncture should "be considered an attack... Is it mere hooliganism? Or is it, in the vein of Mr. Fairey’s friend Banksy, all an elaborate stunt?"

Blogger Melena Ryzik spoke to Mr. Fairey, who has not seen the damage. He said he expected to see tags and stickers and such on the work, “Because I’m straddling the line between all these different worlds--the fine art world, the street art world, commercial design, fashion--I think I’m a target for a lot of narrow-minded people who just aren’t comfortable with my multi-platform approach."

“If that’s how they express their view is by vandalizing my mural, that’s fair. I assume that they think that putting a bullet hole through it is a clever interactive addition, which I actually agree with.”

Animal New York shows a later photo with more holes--mine (both above) were taken on Saturday night--which means there may be more than one rock-tosser.

Fairey's straddling does seem to be stirring up feelings. It's good to live in a world where artists can make money and have a wide audience for their work. And yet there seems to be a line that gets crossed in the hearts of their fans. Is it when they design shopping bags for Saks? And what does it mean when their approved canvas includes controversial walls, like the ones on the Cooper Square Hotel and the Ace Hotel?


I'm an admirer of Fairey's work, especially the early Andre the Giant viral stuff, but about all this, I have mixed emotions. I feel for Fairey, but I also understand the rock-tossers' motivation.

Earlier this month I wondered if the Houston Wall, once Deitch is done with it, will fall back into the hands of renegades. Maybe it already has. The best thing Fairey and Deitch can do is to allow the mural to become street--let the taggers, rock-tossers, and sticker bombers do their thing. Let the layers pile up, let it become an organic urban collage. Just let it be.

In any case, Fairey's team will be out to Houston soon to fill in those holes.

Fairey Gets Targeted
Buffing Mr. Brainwash
Revs/Cost Vanishing

Monday, April 26, 2010

*Everyday Chatter

Graceland shutters after 25 years on Avenue A. [NYDN]

The Empire Diner launches its official Goodbye page.

Ghost signs across the blogosphere. [CR] this weekend an old Coca-Cola sign in Soho gets covered in a drug-hazed flip-flop:

my flickr

The B&H gets new, old-looking, not bad signage. [EVG]

As the subway swells: "There was enormous growth at the Bowery station on the Lower East Side." [NYT]

Prankster sticks a Target logo on Fairey's Houston mural. [ANY]

Fairey Gets Targeted

The Shepard Fairey mural on the Houston Wall has a big red target in the middle of it. After being tagged by NAW, the mural has been targeted by another--literally. Someone launched a projectile through it--a rock, maybe a brick.

Not quite a bull's eye.

If you look closely, you can see some color inside that hole.

If you look really closely, you can see it's the Os Gemeos mural hidden behind the Fairey (this guy's necktie, to be exact).

The Fairey mural was not pasted directly on the wall, but on a built-up wall on top of the wall. Give it a knock--it's hollow. I guess they better put that security guard on duty 24/7.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Petty Crime

On a warm night, a guy walks into the San Loco on Second Avenue. Very nonchalant and reeking of alcohol. He grabs the tip jar and walks out with it, slowly, casually, into the East Village air.

The taco cashier yells, "Hey, what are you doing?"

But there is only 75 cents in the jar, so it's not worth breaking a sweat.

"75 cents!" the cashier yells, "I hope that helps you out. Asshole."

Another sign of the bad old days' return?

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Obama in the EV

Lots of excitement this morning for the President's arrival at Cooper Union. The lucky invited few waited in a long line to get in:

The press took their places at Astor Place:

Police lookouts (snipers?) camped on nearby rooftops, looking for suspicious teabagger crazies:

And what about the many plastic newspaper boxes that line our sidewalks, all those cluttered containers for the Voice, the Onion, the Gotham Writers Workshop? They get rounded up like suspected terrorists and interned in a rolling pen, locked up tight so they can't make trouble for the duration of Obama's visit:

*Everyday Chatter

Fairey finishes the Houston Wall in quickie wheat-paste fashion [Gothamist]...

...while a sneak peek has been sitting on a Dumpster outside the Cooper Square Hotel. Is one more "street" than the other?

A fruitstand comes down on Bleecker and reveals a wall of scrappy 1980s-era advertisements. [GVDP]

Coney Island deteriorates under Thor's hammer. [ATZ]

Someone hates New York. [FP]

At Atlantic Yards, the last holdout goes. Would you turn down $3 million, knowing you'd be booted anyway? [Gothamist]



I got a few emails this month from readers telling me about the closure of Tah-Poozie, the little toy and tchotchke shop on Greenwich Avenue, and asking if I knew anything about its possible future.

Author and Vanity Fair editor David Kamp wrote in, describing Tah-Poozie as "that rare novelty shop that was a proper novelty shop, as opposed to a sex shop. Lots of miniature wind-up toys and fake vomit, no dildos."

While Les Desirs champion Stacy Torres recalls, "it's been around since I was in elementary school... Please let me know if you've heard anything. I'd love if it just moved again, but I doubt it."

Mike Rogers, New York Magazine

Time Out Kids reported that the store closed on April 5 after 23 years in business.

New York Magazine once told the tale of owner "Shmuzie Tah-poozie, a kibbutznik who picked oranges all day. Now the tables are turned and Shmuel Kerhaus has the rest of us picking things from his goodies store, Tah-poozie (Hebrew for orangey)."

(Urban Dictionary offers another, way more visceral, definition of the term, for the scatologically curious.)

Nothing more is known at this time, except that Shmuel and his Tah-Poozie have left behind many heartbroken lovers of mood rings, pooping pigs, and fortune-telling fish.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Lost Renwick Found

In a follow-up to my post Before the Village 7, reader, long-time East Villager, and blogger Mark Kane sent in this photo from the late 1970s, showing the lost James Renwick building that was replaced by the Loews theater in 1989.

3rd Ave. between 11th and 12th, looking west

"This picture was taken off my terrace, facing west," Mark writes. "The NYU Third Avenue North isn't anywhere near built yet. The building in question is visible on the corner. You can make out the windows and pilasters."

close-up of Renwick building

"You can see the steeples of Grace Church and St. Ann's," he tells us. "The small Hopper-esque buildings on Third Avenue disappeared when the landlord pulled some of those 'decorative' columns from the storefronts, only to have the building facades collapse. Ooops!"

Where those three-story brick buildings used to be, there's a parking lot now, and a big blank wall often used for ginormous billboards.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Exchanging Pete's

I like seeing old restaurant signs with the words "STEAKS" and "CHOPS" on them. You don't see these words together very often. They're on the Washington Square Diner sign. They were on the Skyline Diner sign, which has vanished along with the Skyline. And they were also on the sign for Pete's Place, which vanished from Gramercy's 3rd Avenue about two years ago.

my flickr, 2008

Barry Popik's Big Apple tells us that, in the 1920s, Pete's was an ice-cream parlor called the Gramercy Sweet Shop, where you could get Chop Suey Sundaes, Pineapple Temptations, and Broadway Flips. Then it was Pete's, for I don't know how long.

This month, after sitting empty for a couple of years, it has turned into Exchange, a Wall Street-themed bar, which seems like bad timing, if you ask me.

Watch the CNN Money video

Author, Gramercy resident, and JVNY reader Charles Bock writes in with the news, saying:

"...what could be more fun than hanging out at the stock exchange? Wait, the thing that would be more fun would be if you could drink beer and watch prices roll by on red LED boards!

It could have been a little fun if the place would have been called sexchange, because lord knows the city could use a few more transvestite bars. Honestly, I'd even be willing to call it even if it was a transvestite bar with stock quotes. At least that would be original.

But no. It's exactly the crapfest you would expect."

"It makes the energy good."

Monday, April 19, 2010

*Everyday Chatter

The Times Square public lounge-o-rama sinks to a new low with giant plastic baseball mitt seats for tourists to rest their weary backsides:

Meet Mr. Feibusch of the ZipperStop, “Unzipping America since 1941.” [NYT]

Ray becomes finally legal! [NMNL]

Meet the Newspaper King of Chelsea. [WIC]

You gotta love lost telephone exchanges on city signage. [FNY]

Tuesday: Check out the latest Vanishing City event. [EVG]

New Yorkers with doormen potentially freak out about not having a doorman: "Who will safeguard my apartment as I sleep? Greet my children when they come home from school? Accept deliveries? Clean the hallways? Sort the mail? Operate the elevator? And who, for goodness sake, will let the cleaning lady in?" [NYT]

Houston Wall gets primed for Shepard Fairey. [BB]

Enjoy Richard Sandler's "Former New York" at the Millennium Film Workshop. [Gothamist]

Even today, now and then, "indie bookstores truly are the ones that can be movers and shakers when it comes to a book." [NYT]

Anarchist Fair

The Anarchist Book Fair was held this weekend at Judson Memorial Church on Washington Square Park. It felt good to be in a room full of people who didn't care about the new Sex & the City movie, and who were eager to engage in thought-provoking conversations. Most people were very young. It felt a little like college.

They had lots of subversive literature, both for sale and for free, along with workshops on subjects like how to pick locks and the ABCs of squatting. In the background they showed films featuring naked people and broken egg yolks.

Some of the anarcha-feminists thought the naked-man movie was making the space unsafe, so they asked for it to be turned off. The broken-egg movie continued to play.

One table had cupcakes. Not bright, shiny Magnolia SATC cupcakes, but dark-looking vegan Cupcakes Against Fascism. You could also get a button with a gun-toting cupcake on it that said, "Fuck Nazis."

Who knew the cupcake phenomenon had come this far?

Friday, April 16, 2010

Lora Tagged

This week, I reported on AOL News' Bill Morris' account of the removal of the Lora Deli graffiti mural, a decade-old piece on Avenue D.

Now Mr. Morris sends in the following photo of the gray-washed wall:

Graffiti photographer Karla Murray, says Morris, was prophetic when she predicted about the buffed wall's future: "it'll probably get covered over with tags--the kind of graffiti nobody wants."

Morris told me, "Less than 48 hours after she said that, a crew of no-talent taggers bombed the Lora Deli wall. Thank you, Mayor Bloomberg, for working so hard to improve the quality of life for all New Yorkers."

Thursday, April 15, 2010

*Everyday Chatter

"'The city looks great at this moment of history because of the tsunami of money that washed over it for a couple of decades. But this is the turning point. From here forward fewer things will get fixed every month. After a while it will show. We'll get back to conditions like the 1970s rather quickly..." --Kunstler

Are annoyed neighbors throwing Shamwows at noisy Bar 81 loudmouths? [EVG]

Evicted by Thor, a Coney ride finds a new home in Honduras. [ATZ]

The misleading and vanity addresses of Manhattan. [IL]

As artists and hot dogs are kicked out of public parks and off public sidewalks, the dreaded cupcake is welcomed with open arms. [GG]

Getting ready for demolition in Chinatown... [BB] and the damage done. [TLD]

"When did libraries become a cacophonous combination of cafe, video store, music store, computer lab and playground?" [NYT]

As the Internet "grows up," is it the death of anonymous commenting? [NYT]

An interview with Banksy in TONY. He makes a good point: "There’s obviously nothing wrong with selling your art—only an idiot with a trust fund would tell you otherwise. But it’s confusing to know how far you should take it."

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Lora Deli Graffiti


Alphabet City has lost a long-standing piece of graffiti, what AOL News' Bill Morris calls "an exuberant 60-foot-long, 10-foot-tall mural celebrating street life, female beauty, tropical sunsets, the Puerto Rican flag and Al Sharpton."

It was on the corner of Avenue D and Fifth Street, on the side of the Lora Deli & Supermarket, and it had been there for a decade.

from Addisko's flickr

"Depending on your point of view," writes Morris, "New York City's 'quality of life' had just improved a notch, or the city had become a little bit more faceless and bland."

Photographers Jim and Karla Murray, authors of Broken Windows: Graffiti NYC, agree with the latter sentiment. Said Karla, "That wall (on the Lora Deli) beautified the neighborhood. It's free art in a neighborhood where a lot of people can't afford to go to a museum. You're taking away the flavor of the neighborhood and putting up a gray wall. And it'll probably get covered over with tags -- the kind of graffiti nobody wants."

Google Maps

It still lives, for now, in Google Maps' street view, partially obscured by a delivery truck from Fernando's Bakery. But in non-virtual reality, it's nothing more than a long, dull wall of gray brick.

Of course, we're seeing this trend all over town, in the buffing of the Roxy graffiti and Revs/Cost High Line pieces, and in the institutionalization of the Houston Wall.

Now the white-washing has come as far as Avenue D.

photo: Bill Morris

Said the Times in 2005, "The frenetic about-face that transformed Alphabet City from a drug-infested no man's land to the epicenter of downtown cool hasn't quite made it to Avenue D, and some predict it never will." But as Grieve has pointed out, Avenue D is fast getting glassed and sold off piece by piece.

The erasure of the Lora Deli graffiti is just more evidence that Avenue D has been targeted by the powers that be.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Schwartz for Rent

In August 2008, I took a tour of the shuttered Schwartz funeral home on Second Avenue, thanks to the founder's great-grandson, Andy.

I wrote about the funeral home's long and interesting history (Ethel and Julius Rosenberg were memorialized here) and reported that a Duane Reade was planning a move into the space. Then the economy crashed, things changed. The space stayed empty.

This week, a sign appeared on the facade: "Extraordinary retail space for lease."

Extraordinary is right. Too extraordinary to be a Duane Reade. How about a theater? Or a permanent house of worship for Reverend Billy? Or...?

P.S. A couple other changes on the block have happened since that last post. Max Brenner is now an HSBC bank and Tasti-D-Lite is an eyeglass store.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Atomic Passion


After 17 years in business on East 9th Street, Atomic Passion has closed. Calling it "The End of the Atomic Age," Dirt Candy shares the sad news, saying, "This is the kind of store that makes a neighborhood in New York." Agreed.

It was one of the last of the old-school vintage shops in the East Village, along with the vanished Love Saves the Day and Howdy Do.

After the co-owner Justin Vogel told the Post in January that his shop might be closing, I stopped in. I snapped a few pictures, bought a couple dirty magazines, and said goodbye to the taxidermied squirrel.

At the time, Vogel seemed resigned to Atomic Passion's fate. He expressed mixed feelings, including a sense of relief. It's tough to run a small business in the East Village, especially one that hearkens back to the way the neighborhood used to be.

Here's what the Times said upon their opening.

Stepping into Atomic Passion was like walking backwards in time, back to the early 1990s. It had that still-sort-of-1980s, bathtub-in-the-kitchen, Christmas lights on the ceiling kind of vibe. Old Devil Moon gave you that feeling, too. It's a feeling that's vanishing more and more.

Writes Dirt Candy, "Most people didn’t notice Atomic Passion close, but if you were on East Ninth Street last week you would have seen part of the city die."

Now I wonder: What will become of the armless, fishnet-stockinged ladies on the brick up above?

P.S. Thanks to Grieve for pointing us in the direction of Terry Richardson's online diary, where you can find many photos of Atomic Passion and the goodbye party.

*Everyday Chatter

Arthur Ave. parking lot attendant turns 100. [CR]

Say hello to Pablo of the Stanton Tailor Shop. [BB]

Stumbling upon Spanoramic Recordings ("Solo Para Adultos"). [WIC]

Alec Baldwin. Colson Whitehead. A city lost and found. [NYNS]

Billy's Antiques still waiting for their hello from McNally--says the pizza at Parisi is better. Maybe the Pulino's bodyguard can chaperone him across that "sketchy corner." [Villager]

She's back. With her glitter Blackberry, car keys, and lip gloss, the horrible "Generation O" girl has returned to the streets. She's a trender and a spender. And she "indexes high for word of mouth."

Canceling a food order in the EV might get you arrested. [EVG]

Where are the bones from under Trump Soho? [Curbed]

South Brooklyn Pizza almost ready to open in the EV. [Eater]

What will become of the Ridgewood Theater? [Gothamist]


A mysterious set of enormous fingernails has appeared on the bricks above Seventh Avenue at 11th Street.

There's no text accompanying the black-and-white image.

Is it an advertisement? Is it art?

It hovers right above Fantasy World, the sex-toy shopping center.

Are the two related?

There is such a thing as a fingernail fetish (NSFW). Maybe this is an homage to all the folks who have a thing for giant claws.