Monday, February 28, 2011

*Everyday Chatter

In tragic news this weekend, one of my favorite places, the great Manganaro's is selling their building and may soon after shutter. "We've had it," they say, after a century in business. [WSJ]

More sad news: The Chinatown Fair Arcade has shuttered for good. Gone from Manhattan, it may reopen in Williamsburg. [BB]

"You just can't reconcile 'If you can make it here you can make it anywhere' with Little Wisconsin... We eat people from Wisconsin for lunch and use their bones as toothpicks." [Crain's]

Birdel's Records in Bed-Stuy to shutter. [CR]

Orologio says goodbye to Avenue A. [EVG]

Willets Point businesspeople to Bloomberg: "If you want what I got, act like a man and come face me. Don’t use eminent domain and steal from me." [NYT]

Artist Jason Hackenwerth's fantastically obscene balloon sculptures have invaded the windows of Bergdorf's. See more on my flickr:

De Niro, Streep, Chicken

This weekend, Bowery Boogie passed on the sad news that the 60- or 70-year-old Chinatown Fair Arcade has shuttered, a month earlier than rumored. Robert Chin has photos of the goodbye sign and the miserably emptied interior:

As an homage, and a post-script to last week's post on the Chinatown Fair and its tic-tac-toe chickens, I offer a complete rundown of the rather substantial scene from the 1984 film Falling in Love, in which Robert De Niro and Meryl Streep visit the arcade and compete against the chicken. All of the scintillating dialogue has been transcribed for your enjoyment.

all screenshots from Falling in Love, 1984

De Niro: "I can't beat this guy."

Streep: "That's 'cause he cheats. Oh, okay. Bird wins. You lose."

De Niro: "I can't believe it."

Streep: "Try again."

De Niro: "See, it's unfair because he goes ahead."

Streep: "You should flip for it. See who goes first. He's saying hurry up."

De Niro: "Well, I gotta go again."

Streep: "He's beating you again."

De Niro: "Oh."

Streep: "Bird wins."

Friday, February 25, 2011

*Everyday Chatter

Fran Lebowitz in Public Speaking is playing at Film Forum--see it, it's fantastic.

And don't forget Cinekink NYC at Anthology.

Letter to Editor: SoHo "used to be a contemplative refuge for artists and intellectuals who live here...commandeered by rank profiteers and their shopping-bag-toting zombies, who eat and drink and cell-phone their way from one watering hole to the next." [Villager]

SoHo residents say: No more tourists. [Villager]

More worrying about Mars Bar and when the axe will fall. [EVG]

Can Jeffrey's Meat Market survive the rent and fee hikes of Essex Market? [BB]

Complaining about the invasion of film crews on your street. [CR]

Globe Slicers on the LES luxury mall of the Bowery. [Restless]

Looking back at Escape from New York. [COS]

Wish a Happy 3rd Anniversary to Cathryn at Washington Square Park Blog!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

*Everyday Chatter

New York's Italian-Americans and supporters are not stopping in the fight against Nolita. On March 26, from 1:00 - 4:00, join the Rally to Save the San Gennaro Feast. March from Mulberry and Broome to a demonstration at St. Patrick's Basilica. [FB]

Vanishing stink? As hyper-gentrification prepares to bulldoze Gowanus, the city works to make it smell nice for the noobs. [NYT]

Immediately after closing 44-year-old Hickey's Bar, owner Jim Hickey passes away. [DNA]

Walking Clinton Hill's Vanderbilt Avenue. [FNY]

Check out a celebration of 1950s and '60s New York School painters and poets at Tibor de Nagy, until March 5.

See Rudy Burckhardt films at Anthology, including 1948's The Climate of New York.

A Material Girl fashion shoot at Mars Bar. [EVG]

Some very fancy water fountains in a city public school. [SNY]

Miss Heather
sends in this shot of W Magazines in Sara D. Roosevelt Park on the LES: "one has to wonder how the people who frequent said park would relate to the likes of Kate Moss and Kate Hudson. I know I don't."


As the New York Times reports that Little Italy is getting littler by the year, as Chinatown and "Nolita" encroach, and the number of Italian-American residents dwindles, take a look back at the way it was with Martin Scorsese's 1974 documentary film Italianamerican--in five parts on Youtube.

all images screenshots from the film

It's not only a wonderful record of an Italian-American couple (Scorsese's parents), it also provides a glimpse of Little Italy in the 1970s.

In shots mostly appearing in part two, Little Italy is a neighborhood where the streets are full of life. Fruit and vegetable peddlers sell their wares on the sidewalks where children play a game of sliding, belly-first, on sheets of cardboard. Barber poles spin and old men sit outside in chairs and on boxes to watch the human parade go by.

Catherine and Charles Scorsese tell stories about growing up in the neighborhood--about tough mothers who scrubbed the floors without complaint and fathers who worked in scaffolding, about stealing fruit from pushcarts and being a Shabbos goy.

In the beginning of part three, Catherine Scorsese talks about what happened when the Italians first came to the neighborhood, when it was still Irish territory, and the cultures clashed. She says, in defense of the Irish, "It's just like everything else, you know, they were here first. Naturally, it's just like kids when they find something, and they find it and they have it, and then somebody comes along and wants it and they say, 'No, I found it first.' Right? ... But then, they sort of, everybody got together and they made one happy family. That's all."

I can't help but think about today's territory clash in Little Italy, between the Italian-Americans and the Nolitans. In all the reporting, I haven't heard one Nolitan express the empathy and understanding that Mrs. Scorsese did in the quote above.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

*Everyday Chatter

Scenes from last night's vigil for 35 Cooper Square. Pete Hamill was there and said, "It’s an example of failure. There are people not yet born who won’t get to see what New York was. This is our inheritance. We have to keep this place alive." [EVG] & [BB]

Lovely Coney Island cats enjoy the off-season. [ATZ]

The men of the Bowery speak at the LES Heritage Film Series March 1. [TLD]

When fancy Freeman Alley was filled with breadline men. [ENY]

The furry fetish becomes mainstream fashion on W. 8th Street--but are these cats yiffable?

The dirty love graffiti of Mars Bar. [SG]

Pics of the city, the way things used to look. [FP]

Commemorate the 100-year anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire on March 1. [HFBA]

"Things can disappear so gradually that one doesn’t take notice that people aren’t givin’ each other agita the way they once were, or making sure they have carfare. You just forget about it until some old guy decides to say, 'That was the pernt,' and it all comes rushing back in an instant and hangs around a while before it fades away again." [WIC]

Chinatown Fair

Recently, rumors have come out about the closure of the Chinatown Fair Arcade on Mott Street. Bowery Boogie shares a video of the manager who says he can't make money here and "runs the arcade for the community." Boogie reports: "store manager Henry Cen lost his lease on the Mott Street space, and will be moving out March 23."

New York Daily Photo

It's not the first time closure has been threatened here. In 2007, a For Rent sign showed up on the arcade, but the Fair survived. In 2008, a reader named Ben told us the For Rent sign was back: "Now you can't even see the old ghost lettering for the Tic-Tac-Toe chicken. Worst of all, it might close!" But it didn't.

This past weekend, an employee of the arcade responded to the current rumors, saying, "the truth is, that cf maybe relocating to williamsburg, brooklyn if disputes with the landlord r not settled. CF IS NOT CLOSING."

photo: Ben

The Chinatown Fair has been around since at least the 1950s, and possibly as early as 1944, when it was run by Frank Gee, who helped establish the Chinese American Legion post, holding tea parties for the organization in his arcade after World War II.

Author Bruce Hall recalls in his Chinatown memoir Tea That Burns when the arcade was owned by Frank Gee and was "noted for its pinball machines, shooting gallery with real bullets, and funny little 'museum' with its golden globe encircled with snarling dragons."


But the Chinatown Fair's greatest claim to fame was its Tic-Tac-Toe Chickens. They were written about, more than once, by Calvin Trillin. In a 1999 New Yorker piece, he dug deep into the story of the birthplace of the tic-tac-toe chickens: They were trained in Hot Springs, Arkansas, by former students of famed behaviorist B.F. Skinner.

The same people, Trillin informs us, had created "such acts as a Vietnamese pig that drives a Cadillac and a parrot that rollerskates, a chicken that dances while a rabbit plays the piano and a duck plays guitar." Similar chickens trained here have also "told fortunes and sold postcards and played baseball."

According to the Arkansas folks, the first tic-tac-toe chicken was installed on Mott Street around 1974. Their chickens were unbeatable. They even beat B.F. Skinner.

from the New Yorker

One long-time Chinatown Fair chicken, named Willy, died in 1993 and received a moving obituary in the New York Times, which stated: "The bird was still smart enough to take our 50 cents. It was not like meat from Frank Perdue. It was our playmate, and since we have always been a particularly self-centered species, that elevated it."

1994, Michael Yamashita/Corbis

One of Willy's successors, called Lily, was rescued in 1998 by a concerned chicken lover and set free in Massachusetts to frolic with other farm animals. She may well have been the last tic-tac-toe chicken at the arcade.

(If you run a casino and would like to sponsor your own Tic-Tac-Toe Chicken Challenge, write to a guy named Bunky in Arkansas. He still trains his chickens using the Skinner method. If you just want to play a chicken, head to Foxwoods, where if you beat the chicken you win $10,000--check out the movie.)

photo: Elaine Norman

Sometime in the 2000s, the word CHICKENS disappeared from the arcade's sign. Chickens was plural because, in addition to the tic-tac-toe chicken, there was also a dancing chicken, whose life was maybe not as intellectually stimulating as the tic-tac-toe chicken's.

Adam Woolfitt/Corbis

What has remained at the Chinatown Fair, without the chickens, are lots of arcade games and lots of dedicated gamers. Scouting NY recently went inside to take pictures, and last year The Times did a profile on the place.

They wrote: "Chinatown Fair has become a center for all the outcasts in the city to bond over their shared love for a good 20-punch combo and 'old school' games that more popular arcades don’t stock anymore." But its glory has been fading for awhile. Said one gamer to the Times, the arcade is the "Last of a dying breed."

Its move to Brooklyn will be another blow for any such outcasts left in Manhattan.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

*Everyday Chatter

Little Italy gets littler and littler. [NYT]

Protesters are holding a candlelight vigil for 35 Cooper Square tonight at 6:00--and the Times covered the story this weekend. [NYT]

Another double-dormered little house on Grand St., in 1932 and today. [MU]

Upscale vintage shop Life Emporium coming to "eco" condo 515 5th in the South Slope--where a Salvation Army used to be. [OMFS]

First they lost the Tic-Tac-Toe Chicken, now the Chinatown Fair Arcade may be shutting down. [BB]

The Post catches up with the San Gennaro battle, and we hear more about "greasy" Italians. [NYP]

"Hot Chicks Room" installed on Ave A, where Two Boots Video & Pioneer Theater used to be. [EVG]

A Q&A about Harlem's jazz history with David Freeland. [AMNY]

100 years later, Triangle Shirtwaist victims are identified. [NYT]

Most recent EV noise complaint bubbles from 311:



Niko's Mediterranean Grill on the Upper West Side has closed after 50 years. They added this note to their Yelp listing: "Sun 2/13 was our last day. Forced to sell lease. Will miss you all. Please support Big Nick's on Broadway."

New York Magazine

Thanks to blogger and JVNY reader Marty Wombacher for sending in these shots of the restaurant's goodbye sign, where Big Nick says the decision to sell the lease was "difficult and painful," but "it is time to cut back":

See what a final meal at Niko's looked like from the blog Stuff I Ate. And the owners' other Upper West Side restaurant, Big Nick's pizza and burger joint, remains open--go there.

As for what might come next to this corner, Marty offered a theory:

"When I was looking through the windows an old woman came up and asked if I lived on the block. I told her I did years ago and was surprised that this place was closed. She said she was too. Then I jokingly said, 'Well, you can look forward to another Starbucks on the block.' She spat out, 'They put a fucking Starbucks in there and I'll fucking firebomb the place!'"

Friday, February 18, 2011

*Everyday Chatter

An Italian-American New Yorker asks that the San Gennaro Feast return to its roots. [Villager]

Live-tweeting Andy Warhol's 8-hour film Empire--you can follow Bryan Waterman and others. [WNYC]

March 29: Brian Rose is giving a slide talk on his excellent before-and-after Lower East Side photos. [BR]

Ancient advertising artifacts discovered in Bed-Stuy. [NYS]

A letter of "utter disgust" to the Landmarks chairman for not saving 35 Cooper Square. [EVG]

Check out Stephanie Gray's super 8 films tomorrow at Microscope Gallery, including many scenes of the vanishing city, including Jon Vie Pastries.

In Soho, a chair in the shape of an ass. An ass chair. [NYCPB]

La Nueva Rampa

Chelsea resident Stacy Torres brings us the sad news that 14th Street restaurant La Nueva Rampa has been shuttered for weeks now and is most likely closed.

Litherland's flickr

It was one of the last (maybe the last?) of Chelsea's once abundant Cuban-Chinese restaurants. These establishments began opening in the 1960s, when many of Cuba's Chinese population fled from Castro. Diners' favorites included La Chinita Linda and Sam's Chinita (replaced by Niso's). Both are gone.

At La Nueva Rampa, the decor was simple and blunt. Chinese and Spanish foods were served and both languages were spoken. The food was plentiful, messy, and tasty. It was also very cheap. So we've lost another affordable Chelsea eatery.

What in the city is left of the Chino-Latino?

eating in translation's flickr

Post Script: The neighboring Memory Keeper 1-hour photo lab is still there, but that name, that long can it possibly last? In the front window a Russian man will fix your watch, change its battery and band. He's a careful and consummate professional. Go to him--just watching how he works with his tiny tools is worth it.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

*Everyday Chatter

Where are the noisiest neighborhoods in New York City? You know it's the EV/LES. Also noisy: Greenwich Village and Inwood. Play with the city's 311 fun map to find out more--it's real-time--let's see what happens at 11:00 on Friday night:

Check out LES History Project founder Eric Ferrara's new book On The Bowery.

Jonathan Lethem responds to (still) heartbroken Brooklynites and scores one for ambivalence: "every time I write about [New York], I’m likely to end up with something as fiercely ambivalent as the earlier results--ambivalent, of course, in the sense not of muddled-in-the-middle, but of strong contradictory responses. Love-hate is rich as Brooklyn is itself vast and disjointed." [BP]

Celebrate McSorley's today at your own risk. [EVG]

40-year-old Donut Shoppe survives in Sheepshead Bay. [LC]

Greenwich Avenue businesses are in crisis. [FP]

Kramer was raving about gentrification back in 1994, against the day when all we'd have are “gourmet coffee or cookie stores.” Make that coffee and ice-cream and he hit the nail on the head. [BB]

When Mulberry had a Bandit's Roost. [P&W]

Some Mets fans have created a very special t-shirt for this upcoming season:

Main St. Ephemera

Recently, Lost City shared the sad news that Main Street Ephemera will be closing soon. The last time I visited the store, I worried this would happen. It's too good a place to last in this city.

Their big closing sale starts today and goes until Sunday, with 25 - 50%.

The shop is packed with ephemera--things made of paper that come and then go. They have fantastic movie posters, magazines, strange catalogs (for products like antique anal stimulators), and tons of photographs.

They've even got a collection of Jewish wine labels, including several from the Lower East Side's own Schapiro's--the wine “so thick you can almost cut it with a knife."

Browsing here, time goes by without notice. I ended up getting lost in a book of very old receipts from New York City businesses, and bought a few of them, which I have scanned here.

Each receipt is beautifully decorated. They come with handwritten details and notes. Eggebrecht & Bernhardt, importers of kid gloves, "regret being out of size 9."

Goodyear's India Rubber Glove company, manufacturers of rubber goods of every description, also had a store in town. The New York Times of 1865 recommended shopping there for Christmas gifts, including "a fine assortment of vulcanite jewelry, bracelets, brooches, ear-rings, sleeve-buttons, chains, chatelaines, charms, pencils, etc. Also, India rubber toys, balls and fancy articles of every description."

And then there's Rody Peters, the practical horse shoer, where horses were "shod up to nature and according to art." You don't see many of them around today.

After Main Street Ephemera closes, they will still be selling their wares online (visit their website here), but there's nothing like sifting through the many boxes, bins, and three-ring binders, to immerse yourself in the pleasure of paper, the smell and look and feel of it. So go soon. They may be gone before March.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

*Everyday Chatter

Alphabets shutters on Greenwich Avenue after 16 years. Some says it's the closure of St. Vincent's that's killing small businesses here:

Quantifying "Sidewalk Rage" in the city. [RS]

Pissing all over Eldridge Street. [BB]

Good news: The Coney Island 8 may be getting leases for the boardwalk--a one-year reprieve from destruction. [ATZ]

Check out this documentary about New York City in 1977. [Stupefaction]

An obituary for 35 Cooper Square as the city approves demolition. [EVG]

The New School's Noir Fest is coming in April. [NS]

Remembering Times Square's Hawaii Kai with Jerry Rio. [COS]

Visit 365 Bars guy Marty Mombacher at his new blog: Marty After Dark.

Shells on Village Paper

Just as the lease has been finalized on the sad, burned-out Village Paper, and before it gets turned into Bobo, it's been plastered with a colorful 20' x 8' mural by Jay Shells--the dog poop and subway etiquette guy--and fellow artist Benjamin Hollingsworth.

my flickr

I got in touch with Shells over email and asked him about the piece. He told me that the mural was painted in South Carolina, where he and Hollingsworth collaborated for a show called "The Stock" at Gallery Bar on Orchard Street. Wrote Shells, "the main theme is helping others and an overall sense of community. it was really interesting to just attack a monster piece like this with someone you've only briefly spoken with over the phone. very challenging and very rewarding."

The piece did not sell, so the artists decided that the mural "should be donated to the public in a place where it would be appreciated." They picked Village Paper.

my flickr

As Shells explained: "this building on west 10th & greenwich burned up over a year ago and has just been festering, derelict in that space and needed some refreshment. what better location for an uplifting and colorful mural? so, i, with the help of a few friends, installed it there on saturday. i've checked on it every day and spoken to passersby about it and the neighborhood people seem to be digging it... it was for the neighborhood. i'm very pleased with its new home and i really hope it lasts a while."

This mural, spontaneously appearing, unsponsored, and unprotected by security cameras or guards, is exactly the type of street art alternative we need to manufactured "happenings" like the Houston Wall. (For a daytime shot, see NYCBlog.)

Read more about:
Village Paper
The Corner of 10th and Greenwich

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Wang on Purple

This month, Fusion Arts on Stanton Street has mounted a show of photographs by Harvey Wang documenting the life and death of Adam Purple's earthwork The Garden of Eden. The show runs until February 20. I asked Harvey some questions about the work.

photo by Harvey Wang

How did you get into photographing The Garden of Eden?

I first met Adam Purple in 1978, when journalist Norman Green and I did a story about him for New York Magazine. I found him to be one of the most intelligent and interesting people I had ever met, and though I didn't understand half the things he was talking about, I continued to visit him over the years. He had been doing his own documentation of The Garden of Eden with a small box camera. As The Garden of Eden grew, he needed to shoot more and more pictures, which had to be arranged into larger composite images to show the whole site. I showed up one year with a 15 mm Nikon rectilinear lens, and from then on, Adam would ask me to come document The Garden's expansion. I enjoyed shooting the project because he was doing everything by hand, without power tools, which was remarkable. It was back-breaking labor, day in and day out. He cleared five lots of demolished tenement rubble, made the soil, and planted The Garden, reclaiming about one lot per year.

What did The Garden of Eden mean to the people of the neighborhood at the time?

Adam built a 4-foot-high Connecticut dry-stone wall with stones he had salvaged from the tenements that were being demolished all around The Garden. On top of the wall, he put bed springs and planted black raspberry bushes. All this was to protect The Garden, mostly from dogs, but not to keep people out. It was never locked. The Garden was always open for visitors. There were celebrations in The Garden--a wedding, a Rainbow gathering, other things. I remember Adam inviting people to plant their own vegetables. Kids were always around, planting things and eating what grew there. The Garden was open to the community, but it was also a radical political and artistic statement, which some people found unsettling. But for the most part, people really appreciated that there was this green oasis in the midst of a pretty rough area.

photo by Harvey Wang

You were present during The Garden's destruction. What do you recall from that experience?

I was present when The Garden wall was destroyed in September 1985. It took two days to destroy the wall, so there was time to get the word out to supporters. Many people were in The Garden when the bulldozers destroyed the wall, raspberry bushes, perimeter beds, and the sign. A few sat down in the bulldozer's path in an attempt to stop them. There were police and city officials as well. Adam never came out, and I am not even sure he looked out his window at the ongoing destruction. A few months later, on January 8, 1986, the city stealthily returned with a large rubber-tired construction vehicle, and ran over The Garden until the site was cleared. They didn't recycle or save anything. They just trashed it. All they left was the Chinese Empress tree, which stands today in the courtyard of the "Infill" housing project that is on the site.

It's been 25 years since the destruction and the Lower East Side has changed dramatically. Is there any way something like The Garden of Eden could ever rise again on the LES?

Real estate is too precious for something like this to be built nowadays. However, if The Garden had been built in our times, I am sure it would be celebrated because of its forward-looking message about living in balance with the natural world. Adam has to be one of the first people to talk about sustainability issues. It's still radical now, and was more so back then. Had Adam's original Garden survived, luxury condos would be built around it today, so it would be harder to appreciate the revolutionary idea it embodied. But it would be recognized as an important earthwork and artwork, and it would provide much-needed green space.

photo by Harvey Wang

Where is Adam Purple these days?

Adam is 80, living in New York, here and there. He still shuns gasoline-powered vehicles and uses his bicycle to get around. He stopped wearing the purple tie-dye after The Garden was destroyed, and mostly shares his passions about species survival on the internet via his Yahoo! group: speciesurvivalibrary.

I just heard a rumor from the Bowery Boogie blog that he may be behind the recent spate of Toynbee Tiles. What do you think? Possible or just an urban myth?

I doubt it. At this point in Adam's life, he's not trying to be enigmatic. He wants people to wake up and realize that our degradation of the environment could lead to the extinction of our species. That's what he was talking about when he was making The Garden, in his own unique way.

You've photographed and filmed so much of the city. What's next for Harvey Wang?

It's been an interesting period for me of looking back and looking forward. Later this year, the Tenement Museum is mounting an exhibit of my photographs from the 1980s in their soon-to-be opened building on the corner of Orchard and Delancey. The photographs document what was going on in the tenement neighborhoods (Chinatown, Little Italy, LES, East Village) in the late 1970s-1980s. I am also working on a documentary film about photography. There is a short documentary film by me and my wife Amy, called Adam Purple and The Garden of Eden, and it's having its debut at the Lower East Side Film Festival this month. I would like to see it play at other festivals, to get the word out about Adam and his work.

Monday, February 14, 2011

*Everyday Chatter

UPDATE: A full demolition permit has been submitted for 35 Cooper Square.... As the watch continues (see EVG for more), Sally Young sent in this shot from 8:30 this morning. The axe falls:

Support the San Gennaro Feast: Attend the CB2 meeting on Thursday 2/17 at 6:00. Click here for more info.

A tour of the boutiques of Nolita during Fashion Week, with no feast on, and with very little business. [youtube]

2/19: Party down to Save Coney Island. [SCI]

"Brooklyn is repulsive with novelists, it's cancerous with novelists," says Jonathan Lethem. "I do love New York, but it's also unbearable to me in some ways, and I compulsively leave it behind. It's not the best place to write. The mental traffic level is very high there." [LAT]

Goodbye Gowanus--the real estate boom begins. [Curbed]

Chelsea Hotel gets Doughnut Planted--artisanal sweets where Chelsea Guitars used to be. [Gothamist]

Who was Rear Window's "Miss Torso"? [VS]

Houston Street, your world has been adjusted:

Little Italy Valentine

The Italian Food Center opened on Grand and Mulberry in 1954. It more recently lost its lease and shuttered without much of a peep. A restaurant will soon be moving in. In the meantime, some of the metal siding has been removed along Mulberry, revealing brick underneath. On those bricks is a bounty of graffiti from an older Little Italy.

How old, I don't know--from the days before those turquoise metal sheets went up on the Food Center, whenever that was. Other signs of its age? The paint here was mostly put on with a brush, not with a spray can. And the language is old, from a more innocent time. There isn't a single "fuck" in the bunch.

There are "The Best Girls," aka, "The Great & Best," E.D. and C.D., their initials put on with some kind of faded mustard color. Were they sisters?

In blocky, black, brushed-on paint, there's The Mulberry...perhaps a missing word like Crew or Gang? Again, there's C.D. at the top, followed by a list of other initials. Who was C.D.? This would've been her corner, back in the day. I'm imagining a tough girl, a leader, with a name like Connie DiNucci or Carol-Anne D'Angelis. Maybe she favored toreador pants and bolero vests. Maybe she snapped her gum. Maybe they called her Connie from the Corner.

The names on the wall are from an older New York, too.

Nowhere is there a Josh or a Caitlyn or an Ethan or a Madison.
There's a Sal and a Marie. There are "Pals" John, Joe, and Anthony. Was Joe ever called Joey, as in Pal Joey? Whatever happened to the word pal, anyway?

And there is at least one couple, their love spelled out in what looks like Magic Marker, scripted in a tidy, girlish variation on the Palmer Method: Louise & Johnny.

It's Valentine's Day, however many years later, and I wonder whatever happened to these two. Are they still together? Did their love live as long as the valentine that Louise (I'm pretty sure it was she) inscribed here while sitting on Johnny's shoulders to reach the highest spot she could, high enough so no one could cover it with other names, high enough to be seen from down the block? Did their love outlive the Italian Food Center, too?

Louise and Johnny, C.D. and E.D., Joey and pals--if you're out there, let us know. Soon, your names, and all the others, will be covered once again and lost.

Friday, February 11, 2011

*Everyday Chatter

Hell's Angels, The Grateful Dead, and the Anderson Theater in the old East Village. [EVG]

Don't forget to check out Harvey Wang's photos of Adam Purple's Garden of Eden--now open until 2/20 at Fusion Arts.

Main Street Ephemera to close. [LC]

Spending time among the painfully hip of Brooklyn. [NYT]

On the Cedar and the "ugly, empty shell of a yanwsomely utilitarian workspace" that replaced it. [FP]

Schizo New York

There is a split in the city. A schism. It's often expressed architecturally--the war between old and new, the radical shift, the loss of bricks to glass and sheen.

They get rammed together, cheek by jowl.

A sleek high-rise hotel abuts a tenement.

One half of a synagogue is smashed and sheathed in glass for a new boutique that only sells things in white.

A condo's cock-eyed balconies cast their shadows on rusted fire escapes.

More are coming. Every day.

Lines are being drawn. Down the middle.

In the end, which side will survive?