Tuesday, November 30, 2010

*Everyday Chatter

A question...

...and an answer?

That lovely wilderness in Gowanus will soon be another Whole Foods. There goes the neighborhood. [BSr]

Brawl at Arthur's Tavern. [Eater]

On the Death of Coney Island: "we should've seen it coming." [LM]

Test-tasting the mozzarell' of Grand Street. [LC]

Memories of performing arts high school. [ITHNY]

Ridgewood Theater to become a supermarket. [Curbed]

14th and A still not looking good after fire. [EVG]

New York Accent

As is often reported, the New York City accent is vanishing. Some people are even paying good money to unlearn it, much like Radio Days' Sally and her diction lessons. Bronx-born filmmaker Heather Quinlan is working on a documentary all about it. If These Knishes Could Talk is both, as Heather says, "an homage to my father and grandparents, who had wonderful accents I don’t hear anymore, and also to celebrate that which makes New York so unique."

Heather and I chatted over email. I asked some questions, she answered.

Pete Hamill, author: "Hold ya horses."

People in your film talk about a "Manhattan accent," yet we rarely hear about that. Usually it's the Brooklyn, Queens, or Bronx accent that gets the attention. What is the Manhattan accent?

There is no borough-specific accent. Italians in Brooklyn will tend to sound like Italians in the Bronx or Italians in Staten Island. (With the exception of some slang here and there, but then you get into dialect which is a whole other ballgame.) This is especially true nowadays because people rarely stay put in one neighborhood or one borough anymore, so there's more accent intermingling. Where the difference lies is in ethnicities.

New York accents sound different in Jewish neighborhoods (think Woody Allen), Puerto Rican neighborhoods (Rosie Perez), Irish neighborhoods (Jimmy Cagney), Italian neighborhoods (Al Pacino), etc. Though again, your ethnic background does not necessarily determine your accent. Rudy Giuliani is an example of an Italian-American whose New York accent is not Italian, but Irish, since he grew up in an Irish neighborhood.

I will say that, to me, a "Manhattan accent" is one that's very upper-crust, think FDR or the Rockefellers. And that is a New York accent that has essentially disappeared, as it's now thought of as affected or phony. Jackie O. is another example.

Fred Austin, Katz's owner: "Toity-toid and toid."

How do you think the death of New York accents might be related to shifts in class and ethnicity?

I think because Manhattan especially has become such a wealthy borough, you don't hear the accent much there at all, and that will probably be even more so in the next several years. Also, the wave of immigrants from within America have pushed the accent further into the outer boroughs.

Our way of life is much more insular now. We're no longer families with 10 kids who need the support of neighbors to help with the kids, help find jobs, help navigate our way through a new country. So therefore there's less sharing of food, culture, stories, etc. People keep to themselves more. The people I know in my neighborhood are more the old-timers than the people in my building. As to how the new wave of immigrants will affect the accent, only time will tell.

Speaking of immigrants from within America, we often hear about people from the Midwest coming to the city and bringing their cultures with them. Do you think the future New York accent could eventually sound like the people in the movie Fargo? Will future linguists define the city's accent as one that includes phrases like, "Oh, yeah, you betcha"?

I've noticed among New Yorkers that there's a kind of bogeyman idea about Midwesterners, that they'll come in droves and take over our bodegas and delis and force us to eat pastrami on white and talk like Sarah Palin. And if someone is complaining about New York, a common put down is: "Why don't you move back to Ohio?" Always Ohio. Like Ohio is the equivalent of Siberia, but with less culture. But, no, I don't think we'll end up sounding like Fargo in another 20 years. I don't know how we'll sound, though. The only constant in New York is change, and sadly, sometimes that means the accent.

Toity toid and toid, for example, something that's cited as the quintessential New York expression, is rarely heard today. A lot of that had to do with film and TV. All in the Family brought New Yorkese across the country, but people found they were being made fun of for it, labeled bigoted or dumb, so a lot of the old timey New York ("little goil") started to fall off. Same thing these days with "fuhgeddaboutit." I know a lot of tough guys whose feelings get kinda hurt because people make fun of them for saying that. Scorsese movies and The Sopranos had the same kind of effect on the Italian New York accent that All in the Family did on the Irish one.

Amy Heckerling, director: "Kish mein tuches."

What do you think we lose when we lose the traditional New York accent?

Part of the film that I've been working on focuses on the new New York--in a lot of ways a safer city, but in a lot of ways it's lost its edge. And I don't mean that I long for the days when New York was like Escape from New York. But I think the pendulum has swung too far the other way, that there is no room for the working class in the city anymore. James McBride, a writer who I interviewed for my movie, calls New York a "hedge-fund ghetto." In developing and developing, Bloomberg has told New Yorkers this city now belongs to people with money.

Part of the reason I have knishes in the title of my film is because A) I really love knishes, and B) it symbolizes a part of New York that feels like a throwback. In much the same way the accent now seems like a throwback.

A lot of the New York accent is the unspoken part, the confidence, the brashness. If we lose that and the accent, then I feel like we lose a lot of our identity, and that intangible character and charm that's all wrapped up in words. I also think this has to do with America being a much more politically correct place, and New York is not the accent of political correctness.

Watch the movie trailer here.

Monday, November 29, 2010

*Everyday Chatter

Eagle-eye photographer Brian Rose discovers the origin of the mysterious Houston Wall. Going way back beyond its long history as a street artist's canvas, the wall was once part of a handball court--as seen in On the Bowery. [Brian Rose]

This 1981 doc on the Chelsea Hotel will break your heart. [Stupe]

The owner of the new Polonia: "my staff and myself are hoping that the old customers which really enjoy to nag and complain will find somewhere more suitable to their liking. Besides, we are starting to attract a younger, career-oriented crowd." [EVG]

Celebrate the history of the Bowery, Tues night at Dixon Place. [TIX]

Longtime tenant battles her new landlord--the Italian-American Museum. [TLD]

Checking in with the Rag & Bone mural. [BB]

Swimming out to Rat Island and the Pelham Pesthouse. [ENY]

Check out Lisanne's art show in Gowanus. [FIB]

"Academics have a word for what the [East Village] has become: a nightscape. Bars and restaurants were once peripheral to the main drag's primary economic drivers: supermarkets, coffeehouses, boutique shops, record stores. But in post-industrial cities, nightlife has grown into an industry in its own right... it means the creation of a Party District." [CNY]

Moskowitz & Lupowitz

Don't ask me why, but lately I've had the 1950 Pincus Sisters rendition of the Moskowitz and Lupowitz radio jingle in my head. This is odd, considering I wasn't alive in 1950, I don't speak Yiddish, and I never visited the Romanian-Jewish restaurant that stood on the corner of 2nd Street and 2nd Avenue until 1966.

source unknown

The restaurant (where “the finest Jews come to eat”) was founded in 1909 by Romanian immigrants (Joseph Moskowitz was a child prodigy on the cymbalom and went on to a somewhat illustrious music career). It was known as a sophisticated hotspot--the tables were covered in linen, the waiters wore black ties--and thus became a favorite of Yiddish actors and many celebrities of the time, like Milton Berle, Eddie Cantor, and Sid Caesar.

Artie Shaw with M&L's Anzelowitz, Live & Be Well

Its listing in the 1939 Federal Writer's Project guide to the city, under Jewish food, notes that lunch could be had for 55 cents and dinner from 85 cents.

NYC Guide

LaSalle Academy bought the property in 1966 and moved in soon after. The building might be the same, but if it is, it's been changed so thoroughly that it's unrecognizable from its history. (That arched window to the far right, though, still remains at Anthology Film Archives.)

Cushman, from Dino's

You can buy one of their 1962 menus from ebay for $100 and imagine enjoying a meal of Calf's Brains and Pickled Herring, Gefilte Fish, Stuffed Cabbage, Chicken in the Pot, and a dessert of Stewed Prunes.

Moskowitz & Lupowitz was one of the only fancy Jewish restaurants on the Lower East Side and maybe it's on my mind because of the whole Octavia's Porch opening.

The owner of the new Avenue B business calls it "the city's first culturally Jewish restaurant with a sophisticated approach to feature global tastes and flavors." But Moskowitz & Lupowitz was here long before Octavia's. They were culturally Jewish, sophisticated, and globally flavored. Octavia's will be serving many of the same dishes, like Kreplach, Gefilte Fish, and Chicken Livers, and they'll be doing "artisanal" tricks like making caramel matzo and pouring it over ice cream. Still, I doubt they'll have a Yiddish radio jingle such as that once sung by the Pincus Sisters for Moskowitz & Lupowitz.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

*Everyday Chatter

What's the ugliest building in the EV? [EVG]

Guss' Pickles on LES now an upscale cigar shop. [Racked]

What's the most hideous Thanksgiving window display in Brooklyn? [NYS]

Get eccentric beauty and bath supplies at Ray's. [LC]

Could the beautiful industrial holdout Kleen-Stik building be getting ready for Ludlow hipster living? [Curbed]

A poetry publisher is born in Brooklyn. [LM]

Behind Ray's grade B. [Scoopy]

RCN and Chico have words about the recent blue-washing of the Obama mural and future plans for the wall. [DNA]

Susan Stetzer on the old and new East Village: “It was a much stronger, much closer community then. Everyone knew everyone, and they weren’t necessarily people like you.” In a neighborhood known for its activism, she added, people used to meet one another at conferences for one cause or another, or while handing out petitions on tenants’ rights. “Nowadays, if someone’s giving out something,” she said, “it’s for a sale.” [NYT]


In November, the gingko trees on East Eleventh Street are even more thrilling in the dark than in the day.

Lit by lamplight, they glow while music plays from the windows of the music school. Usually violins or piano.

I remember walking down this street years ago, when the streetwalkers used to stroll and ask for a light or the time, then ask for a date. I lit their cigarettes and looked at my watch. I never went with them.

Walking under these trees today makes me think about those girls and wonder where they are now.

There's something arresting about these golden gingkos. They make you stop, look up, and be still.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

*Everyday Chatter

Major Polonia overhaul planned by new owner--at least he's in the family. [Eater]

Check out vanished music venues of the city. [WNYC]

"A New Yorker is someone who longs for New York, and looks askance at the Americans flooding in these days, that unstoppable wave." [LOM]

Keith Haring designs on baby bibs at Duane Reade. Enough said. [BB]

Coney businesses considering crappy compromise. [Gothamist]

Realize your dream to open a bookstore-cafe on the LES. [EVG]

Don't bother seeing Bright Lights, Big City. [FP]

Monday, November 22, 2010

*Everyday Chatter

In a blog interview, me and Grieve chat about breakfast, books, bars and other things. [ILNY]

in a Queens basement. [CR]

Looking back at black-and-white New York in Blast of Silence. [Restless]

A sad goodbye to Paul's Daughter of Coney. [ATZ]

Walking upper Amsterdam. [FNY]

The future of two historic buildings on E. 4th. [EVG]

How to speak in 1938 New York. [SC]

Speaking of speaking, check out the Bowery slang. [BB]

Grace Church and the birth of the bread line. [EVT]

The death of the corner bar--in the 1920s. [ENY]

Fedora's Black Leather

When we learned that a popular restaurateur would be taking over the Fedora, we heard about his intentions to "keep most of the cherished design details" in place, along with the accessible atmosphere. Of course, we've been watching closely and eagerly to see what transpires.

The Feast

The Feast recently aired an interview with the new owner, complete with a tour of Fedora's gutted interior. In it, he explains some of his plans. The floor is going from red tar to marble stone. The original bar from the restaurant's speakeasy day is being refurbished and replicas of its details are being created to extend the bar to twice its length--and from 6 bar stools to 16.

All those bar stools will have black leather seats. A "black diamond-tufted leather banquette" will wrap around and extend down the length of the opposite wall. And the chairs will also be black leather. All in all, there will be quite a bit of black leather.

The only black leather I recall from the old place was in photos on the wall of a leather guy named Fernando.

photo by Carol Gardens

Of course, as we've been reminded again and again, the new Fedora is not the old Fedora and we should not expect it to be. The new place will serve French cuisine and will be much more upscale. Still, I find myself often wondering if Fernando and his furry self will make the cut as the new owners decide which of Fedora's photographic artifacts to carry over.

Sweaty leathers and pubic bush go nicely with diamond-tufted banquettes and foie gras, no?

Further reading:
Fedora's Goodbye
A Night at Fedora
A Regular Remembers
Fedora's Last Days
Fedora Returns

Friday, November 19, 2010

*Everyday Chatter

Vintage sleaze from 1950s Christopher Street. [VS]

In a follow-up to my story about the vanished Chico mural, DNA talks to an RCN spokesperson who says, "The bottom line is the building had illegal graffiti on it and we cleaned it up — period." [DNA]

...and Grieve finds an RCN tweet about "regular maintenance." [EVG]

Dan Clowes teams with Alexander Payne to bring his misanthopic Wilson to the big screen. [Deadline]

Sad, single-girl bedbug story: "bedbugs aren’t really that big a deal. But they are, I maintain, one of the lonelier afflictions out there." [NYT]

Visiting Esposito's pork store in Carroll Gardens. [NYT]

Seeing Double

When I walk up Second Avenue in the East Village, through the frat-bar gauntlet, I get an overwhelming feeling of deja vu.

It's not the pig. It's not the memory of vanished Dick's Bar. It's something else...I can't quite put my finger on it...

Can anybody help me figure out why something here seems so strangely familiar?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

*Everyday Chatter

Coffee porn fetish jumps the shark as Brooklyn shop calls beverage "coffee porn in a cup." [NYO]

Patti Smith scores a National Book Award for Just Kids. Recalling her days at Scribner's, she says, “Please, no matter how we advance technologically, please don’t abandon the book. There is nothing in our material world more beautiful than the book.” [NYT]

Here's a better prize giveaway than cupcakes--bedbug eradication services. Apply now! [RS]

Meanwhile, sour chocolate milk runs wild in the East Village. [EVG]

Looking back at Wanamaker's great fire. [EVT]

Cool blog for vintage Times Square cinephiles. [TOS]

Remembering the Palladium Ballroom. [92Y]

Shots from Sophie Crumb's gallery opening. [SG]

The gorgeous City Hall loop is now legal--don't get off that train. [NYO]

Looking back at the last days of Coney. [GAF]

Fran Lebowitz on keeping kids in strollers until they're past puberty:

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

*Everyday Chatter

The Williamsburg mom who told the Times she wanted more and more chain stores, setting off firestorms of blogospheric rage, called up a Williamsburg boutique to say she was misquoted and just "kidding about Dunkin' Donuts and Food Emporium, etc." [CB]

A new mural for Houston St. [BB]

What will the Bowery look like in 2033? [EVG]

As old theaters become chain stores, a new indie theater is born from an old bodega. [Gothamist]

Inside the last Greek synagogue. [13]

Playing chess in the rain. [NSC]

After a long wait, Doughnut Plant really moving in to the Chelsea. [Eater]

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

*Everyday Chatter

Rally today to save the Greek Revival houses of E. 4th St. [GVSHP]

Check out a Tenement Talk tonight on the Bowery's past, present, and future. [TLD]

A slice of the old city still found on West 30th. [FNY]

"American history vanishing before my eyes." The closing of Paul's Daughter at Coney:

photo by Single Linds Reflex

You could live above Trash & Vaudeville. [EVG]

Walking the New Yorker Art Walk. [Blah]

Looking up at some bridges between buildings. [Restless]

Tomorrow night: Shteyngart talks about LES Lit at the Educational Alliance. [TLD]

Chopin Theater

Thanks to reader Grand Street for calling our attention to the New York Times' recent slide show of city movie palaces--after they've become chain stores.

For the second time in a week, the paper manages to find someone who loves chains so much they want more and more. The first time was a newcomer to Williamsburg, a woman who loves Duane Reade and begs the universe, “Please, can you bring in Dunkin’ Donuts too. I also want a Bank of America.”

Chopin Theater

In the movie palace slide show, the Times gets a quote from a 24-year-old woman in Greenpoint who said "she was glad the Chopin Theater had become a Starbucks. 'I’m terrified of movie theaters these days because people are getting bedbugs in them,' she said. 'I also like pumpkin spice lattes.'"

Let's take a look back at what she's glad has vanished. The good folks at Cinema Treasures give the history of the Chopin Theater. Formerly the American Theater, hence the eagle, it opened in 1914. By the 1930s there was a billiard hall--and bowling alley--on the second floor. Here it is in 1939 playing 1938's Prison Train.

NYPL, 1939

One commenter to Cinema Treasures recalls, "the American was Greenpoint's premier 'Dish Nite' venue. I do not know the number of plates, saucers and gravy bowls that my mother, grandmother and aunt collected during the 50's and 60's. People in my family are still eating off them!"

(If you don't know from Dish Night at the movies, listen to this lady.)

circa 1960s, American Classic Images

By the early 1970s the Chopin was playing Polish films and running some live shows, including performances by bands like Jay and the Americans. (See Miss Heather's before and after shot.)

from RobertR's photobucket

Before it was a Starbucks it was a Burger King. In the former billiard hall, there was a Polish disco called "Club Exit." The club became rowdy, sometimes violent, and closed in January 2010.

1972, American Classic Images

While undoubtedly many people in Greenpoint are happy to see a Starbucks here instead of the old Chopin, some in the neighborhood still want a movie theater. "Give us a movie house," begs one subway graffitist, a voice crying out in the wilderness.

Photo: New York Shitty

Monday, November 15, 2010

*Everyday Chatter

Rally tomorrow to save EV townhouses from the wrecking ball. [UNY]

Help convince Landmarks to save the last Federal rowhouse on the Bowery--and a man's home. [CFR]

Tonight: Join photographer Marlis Momber to discuss the changing Loisaida. [EVG]

A new Walker in the City recalls Old Helen the Greek and the Penny Man. [WIC]

Meet Jim Jarmusch at Anthology. [AFA]

Would you reveal your bedbug history to a new landlord? [Gothamist]

“Everyone’s getting sucked into the whole bedbug pandemonium,” Mrs. Silver said. [NYT]

"...the typical artist will still be unable to afford to move in. But the sudden re-awakening of the artist-in-residency requirement is making it hard for SoHo to keep up its real estate vibe." [NYT]

Chico's 6th & C

This past spring, when the graffiti mural on the Lora Deli at 5th and D was painted over, we worried about the nearly block-long Chico mural on the wall owned by RCN Cable along Avenue C at 6th.

Last week, it was covered completely in blue paint.


At the time of the Lora Deli's white-washing, I took some photos of the Chico mural, figuring one day, probably soon, it would vanish. I didn't think it would last six months.

It was a large piece, starting with a pair of Puerto Rican and American flags, followed by an exuberant F-Train with a giddy graffiti artist cheering from the open window.

all mural photos from April 2010

Next came a GOODBYE to George W. Bush (or is that John McCain?), a giant white-haired beast with a comb-over, shown bursting from the globe, paired with a spewing oil well. A big red X cements the sentiment: Good riddance.

At the corner came a triumphant Obama, smiling before the backdrop of a bright American flag. That was another time, when the blush of victory was still new, before the Tea Party, before Palin's reality show, and the rest of it.

Around the corner, on 6th, was an ad for Manny's Auto Repair, a dog with a skateboard, the bountiful fruits of the 6th Street Community Center, and finally a quintessential New York collage of Liberty, Yankee Stadium, Brooklyn Bridge, the skyline, Staten Island Ferry, Flushing's Unisphere, and more.

It's all gone now. I don't know why it went or what will come next to this wall. Was it too political in the current climate? Too ragtag for the newcomers of Alphabet City? Maybe it's only temporary and Chico will do a new mural. He's been pretty active this year, and he has changed the wall over time--here's a shot of it taken before the Obama moment, back when the bus shelter was pre-Cemusa'd:

this photo: LuciaM, May 2008

Friday, November 12, 2010

*Everyday Chatter

Often I have asked the universe, "Who are the monsters who actually want the city to turn into a big mall? The ones who beg for more chain stores? Do they even exist?" Well, yes, they do--and the New York Times talks to one who says, "Please, can you bring in Dunkin’ Donuts...I also want a Bank of America.” Curbed's commenters (mostly) rip her a new one. [via Curbed]

Paul McDonough's photos of 1970s NYC. [Lens]

Save this EV willow tree from condo people! [EVG]

Save the Bowery with Poor Baby Bree. Get tickets here.

The bedbuggers weigh in on so-called BB repellent. [BBF]

Today, artists recreate bohemian apartments. [Eater]

You have to be cool to eat at Sam's. [Eater]

Crisp's Effects

At this year's Mix Festival, Quentin Crisp's East Village apartment has been recreated, brought back to life by Crisp's great-nephew Adrian Goycoolea and Crisperanto curator Phillip Ward. The installation, entitled "Personal Effects," is open until November 14. I talked with Mr. Goycoolea via email and asked him a few questions.

all photos courtesy of Adrian Goycoolea

Q: I remember seeing Crisp walking the streets of the East Village, sitting in the window of the Cooper Square Diner, and the sight of him made me feel that I was in the presence, however fleeting, of the extraordinary, not the mundane. What was it like to have this extraordinary person as your great-uncle?

A: Quentin was indeed an extraordinary person and his figure always loomed large in our family narrative. Personally, he was the closest thing I had to a grandfather as all of my actual grandparents had died before I was born or when I was very young. I first met him when I was six or seven years old, when we moved to the New York area (OK fine, I admit it, NJ) and I was taken by his style and wit even at that age.

While growing up, I often saw him at various family gatherings (weddings, christenings, etc.) and then when I was living in NY I would regularly have lunch with him at the Cooper Square Diner because I was working right around the corner from his house at Anthology Film Archives. When people find out that I am related to him, they often ask me "What was he really like?" He was no different with us than he was with strangers. He was always performing. It was who he was. This is partly what I was interested in exploring with this installation--the relationship between the public and the private.

Q: Your University of Sussex bio says that your work "addresses issues of location and identity." How do you see the location of the East Village as connected to Crisp's identity? Was it simply the place where he lived, or do you see the East Village (and its identity at the time) as expressive of something specifically Crispian?

A: The East Village was where Quentin spent the happiest years of his life. It was here that he felt truly accepted by the world at large. He loved the openness and personality of New York, particularly the Lower East Side. Although he is as English as you can be, New York really was his spiritual home. He felt a real affinity for the way New Yorkers express themselves, their varied and unique senses of style. Here he finally felt surrounded by others like him who viewed the city streets as a stage.

Q: How do you see that locational identity as changed, or not? Where might the "Crispian" still exist in the city?

A: Well, I no longer live in NY (I now live in England, ironically) and coming back to the East Village I am shocked by the changes I see. Whole Foods on Houston? The distinct lack of junkies on Tompkins Square Park or winos on the Bowery, no more CBGBs, etc. It has all become so much more gentrified and commercialized. It's a shame. Quentin would not approve. Since I don't live here anymore it's hard for me to say where you can find neighborhoods that have that old East Village feel. Red Hook perhaps? I suppose it would have to be somewhere that mixes immigrant communities with artists, but that still has not attracted the attention of the affluent.

Q: Tell us about your title--Personal Effects. What inspired that choice?

A: After Quentin died in 1999, I helped clean out his apartment with his good friend Phillip Ward (who is now the executor of his estate and runs Crisperanto: The Quentin Crisp Archives) and it was here that we first discussed collaborating on this installation. I gave this piece its title because the objects in this room are made up of many of his actual personal effects, and the video monitor plays a film loop I made that utilizes family home movie footage of him.

I felt that the title also referred to my great-uncle's lesser known personal life. I am interested in his apartment because it can be understood as being his backstage area, his dressing room. It also speaks to my dual understanding of Quentin as both an influential public figure and a beloved family member.

Q: In the photos, I see a plain room, a bit shabby, cluttered--there is nothing "extra-ordinary" about it visually. And yet Crisp always presented himself, sartorially speaking, as unique and eye-catching. What do you make of that seeming contradiction?

A: He strongly believed in doing as little housework as possible so as to focus that energy on self reflection and self realization. So although he had an impeccable self presentation, his apartment was filthy and disordered. But this is what I find fascinating about his apartment. In a sense one feeds the other. He would not have been the man he was if he did not live like he did. They are two sides of the same coin. He was not at all interested in interior decor, he was interested in personal decor.

Q: For the real-estate aware among us, we are often exposed to images of apartments in the "new" East Village--they tend to be spare, filled with modern furnishings, and various luxuries. I see Crisp's apartment as a vanishing "type" of living space in the East Village, and in the city as a whole. What might be lost as these bohemian living quarters vanish?

A: Yes, that's true. People who have viewed the installation so far have talked about how few of these sorts of living spaces are around anymore. They find it comforting to be in, as it feels authentic. I think that it's indicative of the overall homogenization of Manhattan. As these bohemian apartments disappear so do the creative personalities that live in them, much to the detriment of the cultural life of the island as a whole. In fact, Quentin saw this coming, he always said that eventually "Manhattan will one day become an island fortress for the rich." I think that this is what we are seeing now.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

*Everyday Chatter

"Marc Jacobs is the Michael Bloomberg of the West Village and also its Sam Walton." [NYT]

How obnoxious are New York food fetishists? Very. [NYT]

Growing up in Brooklyn today--with Rick Moody. [NYT]

The Ageloff Towers burning. [EVG]

Looking back at the original Swing Street. [13]

New Scribbler

As the Scribbler seems to have stopped adding commentary to the 10th Street wall, having filled every available white space, a new Scribbler offers similar communication in spots across the East Village.

The New Scribbler worries about the treatment of the mentally ill, Obama, the economy, just like the Original Scribbler. But this graffitist is also worried about new strains of the influenza virus, the possibility that diabetes is being used as a form of genocide, and torture at the hands of the CIA.

Brainwashing and witchcraft, stem cell cures, Obama's relationship to Big Pharma--it's all unholy and undead.

Stripping and pornography, NAMBLA, and "2 trillion to bail out Jews" during World War II--"what in return? What about us?" It's the voice of the American far right, gone mad, scribbling its way in small letters across the city.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

*Everyday Chatter

A lawyer for the embattled businesses of Coney says: No way they're leaving. [Grub]

For fans of the old Fedora, see what the inside looks like today. [Eater]

from ricksterbot's flickr

On Public Speaking, Fran Lebowitz speaks: "They are making this city for tourists. Let me assure you that Bloomberg would be just as happy if all of the citizens of the city just left and sent him our tax money." [BB]

A list of 25 books from 2010 set in and about NYC. [WOBA]

Landmarks says no thanks to new Meatpacking tower. [Curbed]

Looking way back at the spirit of E. 5th St. [EVG]

Bobo wins Village Paper space--and a long-quiet corner will now be something else. [Eater]

Bulldozing the Bank of Coney Island. [ATZ]

Taking a look at Red Square, the building that helped launch hypergentrification in the EV. [FNY]

Can we save the city from this t-shirt and all it signifies?


Shack Effect

As the "Shacking of America" continues, Shake Shack is "gentrifying the only good pizza in town," according to a Fulton Mall pizza man who just got the boot.

Developers and the City have been dying to gentrify the Fulton Mall, and now it's happening with the simple addition of a single, powerful burger chain.


The whole thing reminds me of the intentional introduction of alien species. In this practice, humans introduce a foreign species into an existing ecosystem where they hope to gain something from the introduction. Economic gain is the number one reason for doing so. Often, the alien species becomes an invasive species and takes over. Kudzu is one example. The mongoose in Hawaii is another. Originally used as biological control agents, invasive species breed prolifically and spread, destroying major elements of native flora and fauna.

I'm not sure what it's called when this is done with businesses in cities, but it seems a lot like the same concept at work: Put a Shake Shack at Fulton Mall and watch the gentrification spread. I wonder if that was also the point of placing one this summer on the corner of Crack and 8-Ball off Times Square.

It isn't news that the burger chain moved onto this corner previously occupied by the Playpen and its 1916 vaudeville theater, but it is shocking to stumble upon it, suddenly there, clogged with giddy tourists.

It made me worry about the effect it will have on the nearby businesses. To the north, there's Smith's, a dive bar somewhat recently turned flatscreen-style sports bar, but still sporting some of the more beautiful neon signage in town.

Gone is their weird, meat-cluttered steam table for self-served "hand-carved sandwiches," and overall, something darkly Times Squarish has been lost from Smith's. This happened about a year ago and that's already a loss.


In this 2004 shot, you can see that old-timey meats like FRESH BRISKET and KNOCKWURST were still on the menu. Now they're pushing their burgers to compete with Shake Shack.


South of the Shack, cheek by jowl, is one of the last substantial chunks of seedy Times Square, a pair of XXX joints huddled together like endangered bonobo chimps, pretending the end isn't near while they go on humping.

Directly next to Shake Shack there's Lace, "A Gentleman's Club," and next to that is Gotham City. Both of them have live, mostly nude girls. At Lace it's dancers, and at Gotham you can find women in booths upstairs, above the lingerie section. They sit on stools and ask you if you want a show ($30 for masturbation). I believe this "live peep" is the very last of its kind in Times Square.

Just look at that naked lady neon sign. That it still exists, in the New York of 2010, is nothing less than a miracle.

Do you think the powers that be will permit these establishments to continue next to the shiny new Shack with its endless flow of, as Eater once called them, "Midtown office drones, the burger bloggers, the Shack fanatics, the Intercontinental Hotel guests, and the Theater-going tourists"?

We know what happens when popular, higher end businesses are introduced into a neighborhood. Like the mongoose and gypsy moth, they have a powerful effect on the ecosystem. We've seen the ripples from the "McNally Effect" and the "Marc Jacobs Effect." These phenomena move fast. So keep your eye on this block of Times Square, because I fear we will soon see the Shack Effect in action.

The clock is ticking.

"I Shake Shack NY"

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

*Everyday Chatter

Check out the new EVTransitions--a blog after my own heart. [via EVG]

Visit the Navy Yard Cocktail Lounge and its lovely dancers--it recently shuttered after 100 years. [EVG]

On the Bowery returns to Film Forum--don't miss it: 11/19 - 25. [FF]

See BAN's Bowery exhibit on the same day for an all-Bowery afternoon. [GSN]

Remembering when the Deuce was still dirty. [TASOL]

A way-too-large percentage of Gothamist readers prefer today's Olive Gardeny version of Times Square to the classic. I don't get it. [Gothamist]

Quentin Crisp's East Village apartment gets recreated--at MIX.

In the Evening

Thanks to reader Andy Reynolds for sending in this music video from 1984: "In the Evening" by Sheryl Lee Ralph.

It begins in a graffiti- and trash-strewn Astor Place subway station, where a bag lady dressed in pink chiffon and cat-eye glasses is defending a precious box of red shoes from a pair of thugs who wake her from her cardboard bed.

After fighting them off, she emerges to Astor Place, passes the old newsstand recently replaced, and heads down St. Mark's. Outside the vanished Dojo, she digs through the trash and finds an image of her other, more glamorous self--the woman she becomes "in the evening."

I ate many meals from Dojo's, but commenter Flower Power at NYPL recalls in the 1960s when it was "an ice cream store that sold treats with drug names like Panama Red or Acapulco Gold ice cream. Kids showed up with dreams in their eyes and safely slept on the sidewalk lined up like sardines."

From Dojo, the bag lady hustles past the former All-Craft Foundation (once the Dom and Electric Circus), a "resource for people in recovery" from drugs, with its distinctive stairs painted with warnings: NO ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES, NO POT SMOKING.

The All-Craft disappeared in 2000, stranding "hundreds of people who relied daily on the center for sobriety meetings, support, and community. Among them are an impressive blend of punk-rock stylists and senior citizens, Wall Street risers, and down-on-their-luck drifters."

Today it's a strip mall with a Chipotle, Supercuts
, and luxury, bamboo-floored lofts.

From there, the bag lady runs to her crappy apartment in burnt-out Alphabet City. "New York," she sings, "life in the city can be so hard."

In her squat, she transforms into a sequined lady of the night. The dance sequence ensues. In the end, she awakens to daylight in an empty, echoing Times Square that is nearly unrecognizable. The famous Bond clothing store is still there--with a GOING OUT OF BUSINESS banner hanging on its face.

The disco lady turns back into a bag lady and scurries away, into the lost city, to struggle through another day in that tough town.