Thursday, June 30, 2011

*Everyday Chatter

More unlocked: "at Equinox, a 42-year-old man put his belongings in a locker without a lock before hitting the showers...when the victim returned he noticed his pants were off the hook and his $600 Louis Vuitton wallet was gone, along with two $600 BlackBerrys." [BHB]

US Marshals seize H&H Bagels. [WSR]

Is tonight the last call for Mars Bar? [EVG]

On the Bowery: "who would have imagined a fashion boutique on this strip of derelict buildings and insistent windshield washers?" But another new boutique is here--and the owner thinks CBGB still exists. [WSJ]

Victoria's Secret invades a billiards hall in Yorkville. [LC]

Documentary about George Plimpton getting kickstarted. [LM]

Enjoy the trashy shores of Dead Horse Bay where a century of garbage "tinkles like ice cubes in a high ball glass." When will the hipsters artisanalize that? [FVP]

St. Mark's Bookstore owner is "hoping that landlord Cooper Union will meet with him to discuss a reduction in rent." [JKMP]

The way it all goes: "When P.S. 122 returns, it will be to an utterly transformed building, one that bears little physical resemblance to its scruffy, scrappy roots. There is much to be gained... But something will also be lost." [NYT]

Timeline of the latest Lower East Side crime wave. [BB]

CIA on East 4th

On 12th Street outside Strand Books, the asphalt is littered with small, white squares of paper. Is it trash or an important yet cryptic message from one of the city's forgotten souls? (Unless it's a viral marketing campaign hyping a new spy movie.)

Entitled C.I.A. FRAME? the double-sided note, scanned below, is desperate, from someone "completely isolated" and "forced" to use the leaflet method "in order to reach as many persons as is possible with just one action." (They are also apparently without Internet access, or else they'd be blogging it).

They say they are the "target of a very powerful cult, perhaps not a cult at all." There is harassment, violence, and the use of powerful tracking chemicals.

All of this is happening on East 4th Street, near Avenue C. "This residential street," says the isolated leafletter, "can be very active or very quiet, at the wishes of this group." The entire street may be controlled by the CIA. Most of the suspicious activity occurs between 320 and 355 E. 4th, but especially in front of 336.

Indeed, in the Google Maps image of #336, some suspicious characters appear--with their faces conspicuously blurred. Don't be fooled by the elderly woman in the striped shirt. She may be one of them.

Finally, the leafletter warns us, "It is conceivable that a large distracting event will occur after the distribution of this flyer."

Residents of East 4th Street, be on the lookout.

Also read:
A Flutter of Paper

And the saga of The Scribbler:
Scribbler Love
10th Street Graffiti
10th Street Scribbler
Scribbler Strikes Again
And More Scribbler

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Unreal Ideal Hosiery

You may remember miniaturist Randy Hage from an interview I did with him a year ago. Now he sends in his latest work--a Lilliputian version of the beloved Ideal Hosiery shop of Grand Street.

Randy Hage's flickr

Can you tell the real Ideal from the miniature? Visit Randy's flickr page for the answer and to see more incredible details of this artwork.

Randy Hage's flickr

To see how he does what he does, watch Randy's step-by-step video:

Related Reading:
Model New York
Little Gritty City
Mini Canal
Visiting the Panorama

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

*Everyday Chatter

Today is the last day of business for David's Laundry, shuttering after 41 years in Park Slope thanks to a landlord who is forcing them out. [HPS]

Contrary to previous reports, today is the last day of H&H bagels. The counter lady told me last night. You have all day today and this evening to get your last bagels from 80th and Broadway before it becomes a bank. And here is my last:

"What many natives of the West 70s and 80s have long prophesied has come to pass: The neighborhood is finished." [NYT]

Details on last night's rally to save H&H. [WSR]

I fucking love Fran Lebowitz: "What kind of moron would put their bag on the floor of a cab? Anyone who does that deserves to lose it. That’s what I mean — that’s a tourist. What New Yorker would let their bag out of their clutches? I have all the habits of someone who lived here in the ’70s, you know? Which is that, if I have a pencil, I have a death grip on it. I see the people on the subway, they take their Blackberry out, I think really? If that got stolen, I wouldn’t even feel sorry for you." [CR]

Free LGBT weddings on the LES all year long. [EVG]

What will become of the Essex Street Market? [BB]

Eleanor Henderson talks about her new novel Ten Thousand Saints: "These days, it’s hard to fear for your life when you walk down St. Mark’s Place, the East Village street that was the acid heart of the punk-rock scene in the eighties. Now it’s a caricature of its rowdy past self, a goth kid’s Disneyland." [NYer]

Saying goodbye to P.S. 122. [AF] & [MAC]

Bloomberg: "If New York City is a business, it isn’t Wal-Mart–it isn’t trying to be the lowest-priced product in the market. It’s a high-end product, maybe even a luxury product." Read an interview with Julian Brash on Bloomberg's Way. [OTC]

Bloomberg exploits the "pilot" program--undemocratically--to change the face of the city. [NYT]

Cro-Mag John Joseph offers a "three-hour walking tour of Alphabet City and takes you beyond the trendy upscale boutiques, coffee shops and condominiums that you see now, to the great music, drugs and violence that used to inhabit the surrounding area." [GG]

And here are H&H Bagel's light fixtures, lying on the floor:

Hijinx the Cat

Some sad news to report from the folks at Coney Island USA--Hijinx the sideshow cat has passed away. She was 17 years old.

From Coney Island USA's Facebook page

I first learned about Hijinx and her infamous exploits from writer Romy Ashby, who published a story about the cat in her Goodie magazine (buy it here).

Romy told me she was interested in Hijinx as an interview subject because of "her involvement with a gang of cats who were implicated in the murder of a New York Aquarium penguin. But, like anyone with a dicey background, she wasn’t talking, so we interviewed the sideshow people. When you visit Hijinx and she comes out of her hiding place, it’s like being greeted by Gloria Swanson. She’s so regal."

Get Goodie #20 starring Hijinx

Monday, June 27, 2011

*Everyday Chatter

If the rumors are true, this week is your last chance to drink at Mars Bar:

Another blogger party rages at the Chillmaster's. [MAD]

Two West Chelsea deli owners fight over "High Line" name, including the former Poppy's. Of course, eventually, the High Line will put them both out of business. [DNA]

Developers want to tear down Elaine's. [NYO]

H&H Bagels might still be open--and tonight there's a meeting to protest its closure. [Grub]

Behold the Ekonomakis dream mansion tenement that was once filled with long-time tenants. [EVG]

The Ivy Brown gallery (that great place in the Triangle Building) has a new show up. Check it out. [IBG]

Who goes to Liebman's Kosher Deli? [LC]

Woman with a loud cellphone screams and yells on a bus--caught on cam. [Gothamist]

"In millennial New York, the predicament of LGBT youth is compounded by the twin pressures of rampant gentrification and the ongoing privatization of public space." [DO]

Eagle Under Siege

This weekend, on the night when gay marriage was passed in New York State, the Eagle bar was raided by the NYPD. Was it homophobia or something else?

Inside the Eagle

The city's classic gay leather bar, the Eagle moved to desolate West 28th Street in 2001, after the original Eagle closed further downtown, where it had survived since 1970 in a former longshoreman's pub until the neighborhood went upscale.

As the Times reported on this weekend's raid, the police turned on the lights, shined flashlights in patrons' faces, and forced people to empty their pockets. Patrons report being harassed and intimidated. An NYPD spokesperson said the raid had nothing to do with the bar's clientele, "it has to do with complaints." Said the Times, establishments targeted for this type of inspection are "selected because they are the subjects of 'chronic complaints' from community members" for problems like excessive noise.

How many noise complaints has the Eagle had in the past year? According to the 311 Service Request Map, there have been zero complaints of any kind. Am I missing something here? Most of the complaints in this largely unpopulated area are about construction noise.

The Eagle is a red rectangle, complaints are yellow circles

What's really going on? Was the Eagle raided because it was Pride Weekend? Or because gay marriage just passed in New York? No. It was raided because the city wants to shut it down--because this block is changing fast and the Eagle boys are not what the Bloombergians want here.

Not only has the extended High Line just opened on this block, but AvalonBay is building their massive Avalon West Chelsea directly across the street from the Eagle, taking 60,000 square feet of space to put in a 700-unit residential development with "provisions for restaurants" and a "parking garage for over 140 cars located in the building." To do so, they have already bulldozed a cluster of industrial businesses long located here.

In this shot from the new High Line, you can see the digging machines next to the Folsom East celebration (just a week before the raid). That is a vast empty lot about to be filled. And what will the finished product look like?

Here is the rendering of the complex to come--it looks a lot like Avalon's giant glass boxes on the Bowery and includes their wish for a Whole Foods along with "restaurants, galleries, fashion." If they did it to the Bowery, they can do it to West 28th.


What many of those south-facing windows look out on is the roof deck of the Eagle, where men in leather chaps and harnesses cavort. "Don't miss your chance to be a part of the High Line," says Avalon's ad copy. I don't think this is what they mean. Do the High Line huggers really want their view to include sweaty, furry leathermen?

The Eagle

The timing of this raid has nothing to do with Pride or gay marriage, and everything to do with the High Line's recent arrival on 28th Street and every glittering thing it brings in its wake. Mark my words, the Pride Weekend raid on the Eagle is Phase One of the city's plan to push this historic bar out of its home and put the kibosh on the Folsom Street East fair in the process.

This isn't your garden variety homophobia at work. It's Manifest Destiny. It matters to everyone who cares about the preservation of New York's soul because this is part of Bloomberg's plan to turn all of Manhattan into a luxury product. And the dress code does not permit leather and Levi's.

Further Reading:
Folsom Under High Line
Eagle's Nest
Pleasure Chest 1972
Men in Leather
Lenny & Leather

Thursday, June 23, 2011

*Everyday Chatter

Enjoy this lovely painting of the Gordon Novelty Shop--from much better days. [Adolf]

Jogging through Central Park while carrying your $500 iPad--not a good idea. [Gothamist]

What's up with the East Village door-shitter? [EVG]

Trouble on the sidewalk outside Ray's Candy. [NMNL]

From the closing of H&H Bagels: "Barely stifled wails arose from some West Siders, who reacted as if the news marked the end of civilization as we know it." [CR]

One UWS'er protests the closure of H&H Bagels: "We don't want another bank or cell phone outlet here... This is a larger issue. We want big stores out of our neighborhood. ... We’re drawing a line in the sand over H&H. We don’t want banks. We don’t want Wal-Mart. We want neighborhood stores." [Gothamist]

The Smolen Bar & Grill of Brooklyn is gone. [OMFS]

New art on the Houston Wall--a Native American theme. [BB]

Good old (107 years) Carmine's of the Seaport to become part of Five Guys burger chain. [Eater]

7 1/2 Sills

In my visit to the Wu Tang studio at 7 1/2 Second Avenue, I mentioned seeing a windowsill marked with ancient graffiti carved in another time. I include the photos here.

One says only "S. ROSEN," the name underlined for emphasis. The other says "HOUSTON ST GANG" and is accompanied by a Christian cross and what looks like the ruined outline of a Star of David.

The building, named on its cornice "Germania Flats," was built sometime in the mid to late 1800s. It was part of the sprawling complex known as Germania Assembly Rooms, a place for dancing, singing, and meeting, later a site of great vaudevillian debauchery.

New York Times, 1890

In the early 1900s, the building complex was taken over by the Church of All Nations, which catered to Jews and Christians together. We might assume, based on the inter-faith images in the graffiti, that the carvings do not date all the way back to the Germania Hall days, but come from the era of the Church of All Nations.

The graffiti could date to the 1920s, when Germania Flats' first floor businesses included a hatters and a luncheonette that sold buttermilk. Maybe the Houston Street Gang had buttermilk on their lips when they carved their names and symbols in the sills.

NYPL, circa 1920s

Or else the graffiti comes from a later time, from the 1930s or '40s. Maybe from the 1950s, when teenage gangs were the rage, and rebels without causes carried switchblades in their pockets, perfect for carving your name in a windowsill. Gang members were regularly welcomed into the community center here.

1931, NYPL

Maybe that's S. Rosen (was it Sam? or Schlomo?), dancing the Bunny Hop with his hands on the waist of a Lower East Side girl who will later kiss him behind the bleachers of the basketball court, inspiring him to climb to the third floor with his gang and carve his name into a windowsill for all eternity.

Or so he thought.

from the film Tao of 2nd Ave.

Also read:
Wu Tang
Inside 7 1/2
9 Second Avenue
The Loss of Mars
Before Mars Bar
Little Italy Valentine

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

*Everyday Chatter

How long will the tourist machine tolerate this industrial view from the High Line's new "viewing spur" before the Firestone Bear Auto Center is suddenly put out of business? Not that anyone's actually paying attention to the view, since they're all fiddling with their digital life-support systems:

What is the narrowest house in New York City? [OTG]

Enjoy those Coney Island mermaids while they're still legal. [TGL]

Sam's in Carroll Gardens "is 81-years-old. Do you go off on your 81-year-old grandfather? No. And that’s because your grandfather is who he is. Call him set in his ways. Call him a tough nut to crack. The point is, he’s not changing. And he shouldn’t have to." [CGP]

W. 3rd gets a frat-themed burger joint. [EVG]

What color is the New York City sky right now? [Gothamist]

LES BID pushes hard to remake the neighborhood: "We are also heavily involved in long- term planning for the neighborhood, advocating for new commercial space along Delancey Street, the addition of 1,000 new housing units and the scheduled building of four new hotels with over 500 rooms." [BB]

Finding salvation at Penn Station. [Restless]

The I. Miller shoe shop in better days--before TGI Friday's. [LC]

Take a look into the weirdness of urban camping. [Kensinger]

Zoot suit outlawed, Brooklyn tailors wait for ban to lift. [WWIB]

Artisanal everything: "Yearning to soar above its tired, rote roster of hot dogs and pretzels, the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation put out a call five months ago for the food vendors of New York 'to propose your most inventive, exciting food idea.'" [NYT]

Inside 7 1/2 Second

Yesterday we visited 9 Second Avenue, also known as 7 1/2 Second Avenue, one of the buildings that will fall this summer beside Mars Bar. Today, go back inside with resident Andrea Legge's blog "7-and-a-half 2nd Ave: a pre-demolition memorial."

all photos by Andrea Legge

Andrea calls the blog "a kind of memorial to the building I live in, have lived in for the past 20+ years. It's not gone yet, but the plan is for it to be torn down this summer." She tells the story of life inside the "Flats" side of Germania Flats, before and after May 17, when she and her neighbors received their 60-day notices to move out.

She recalls, "Shortly after I came into the building in 1991 I moved from a small apartment on the 3rd floor to the top floor in the back, converting a space that was 2 half-railroad apartments destroyed; a windowless, windswept unlivable garret, into a home."

It wasn't always an easy place to live. When Avalon demolished CUANDO, rats infiltrated the building, climbing all the way to the top floor. The basement was taken over by squatters. Writes Legge, they left the basement "looking like an abandoned refugee camp for needle junkies, crackheads, meth freaks and drunks."

Andrea, like the other residents here, will be relocated temporarily, then moved into the new building to come. But she will be taking much of the old place with her:

"I'm taking my solid wood doors with their beautiful doorknobs, along with the original wood moulding, provided I can prise it off the walls without splintering it. The clay moulding I can't take or I would, it breaks, held together at this point only by layers of latex. The 1 x 1-inch tiles inlaid in the bathroom floor are still up for consideration, but the giant old bathtub and ancient sink are coming with. Both are enameled iron I think, and each one astonishingly heavy... I want the one code fire escape grate that I installed plus the old, now illegal accordion-style one as well, just for old times sake. Maybe its an antique by now? I would take portions of the walls if I could."

Also read:
Wu Tang
9 Second Avenue
The Loss of Mars
Before Mars Bar

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

*Everyday Chatter

Breaking news: UWS institution H&H Bagels is shuttering tomorrow--forever. [WSJ] via [Gothamist]

Since the East Village Miracle Grill shuttered in 2005, a condo has gone into their old garden and the space on 1st Ave has sat empty. Now a new tenant is coming in. It's a Ricky's:

Where to party in the East Village--in 1985. [ENY]

A guide to this summer's biggest, most heinous, neighborhood-changing developments in the East Village. [EVG]

A day at Mars Bar's last art show. [MAD]

Checking in on Pip, the young red-tailed hawk of Washington Square. [WSPB]

A "vanilla box" is unveiled on the Bowery as another light goes out in the lighting district. [BB]

Wu Tang at 7 1/2

There's no buzzer. You get in old-school style. A key is dropped from a window, strapped to a Nerf football. Inside the door, a sign warns: "Unauthorized visitors will be beaten to a bloody pulp!!!" Welcome to 7 1/2 Second Avenue, also known as 9 Second Avenue, also known as the other half of Germania Flats, one of the 19th-century buildings that will come down alongside Mars Bar this summer.

I have come here to visit with Frank Allen and Tina Zhang, residents of 7 1/2 and instructors at the Wu Tang Physical Culture Association, a martial arts studio on the third floor for the past 32 years. Their studio is a museum filled with artifacts, the school's books and videos, the walls covered with fight photos, statues, medals won in competition.

History breathes here. In the window sill are carvings made by long-gone Bowery boys of the old Germania days. "Rosen" and the "Houston Street Gang."

But, as Frank says to me, "Nobody cares about history anymore. They just tear it all down and put up a glass box."

Frank recalls when he first arrived here in the 1970s. After the Church of All Nations moved out, the city rushed in to smash and brick up the windows of #9, calling it "abandoned." But it wasn't abandoned. CUANDO was here. Frank and his friends went in and removed the cinder blocks from the windows. He got a sublease from CUANDO and opened Wu Tang.

"We made up the address 7 1/2 to distinguish ourselves from CUANDO at #9," Frank explains. "We were underground in those days. We'd advertise in a local tattoo society magazine and never give our address." To find Wu Tang, you had to know someone who knew someone.

Without romanticizing the past, Frank recalls a rougher East Village, a place where people electrified their security gates by zip-cording them to wall sockets and covered their window sills with broken glass and glue. A place where people had street smarts, unlike today. "No one has street smarts anymore. I'd like to write a story about a geriatric mugger squad that takes advantage of all these young kids."

They have no attention span, either, he explains, thanks to advertising and "the instant gratification society." With a lower attention span comes "the byproduct of no one having a long-range plan for cities. What helps to reprogram that thinking is to study something you can't learn quickly. Internal martial arts does that."

But the skills learned at Wu Tang cannot stop the rapid change to come.

"This is my home," says Frank. "I've spent half my life here. I'm going to miss this place terribly. It's been the most important place in my life, but the city changes. It really hit me in the face--I've been teaching about change for 30 years. Now I've got to live it."

In two years, after the new building goes up, Frank and Tina will be able to buy an apartment here--Frank says the developer has been "a decent guy" about it all--but they don't know if the maintenance will be affordable, and they will lose their school. It's moving to 217 Centre Street at a much higher rent. And it won't be the quite same. For one, Frank won't be able to paper the new bathroom with a wild collage of ancient news clippings, photos, and jokes.

bathroom wall

But it's the spirit of this place they will really miss. Says Tina, "This place is the heart" of their enterprise, a global school with thousands of students around the world. The students, she says, "Feel like they've lost their home, too."

It's a home filled with powerful energy. Says Tina, "The energy here has been built up positively from 32 years of Chinese martial arts. I wish when the building is gone, the energy goes down into the earth, so it's still here when we move back in."

As I leave Frank and Tina, and head back down the rickety staircase, past apartment doors with "Sheriff's Legal Possession" notices taped on them, I ask myself the question I always ask in these situations: How can this keep happening to the city? How can every shred of originality be wiped away? And I recall, amid the photos and posters on the walls of Wu Tang, a quote from Gertrude Stein:

"There ain't no answer. There ain't gonna be any answer. There never has been an answer. That's the answer."

Also read:
9 Second Avenue
The Loss of Mars
Before Mars Bar

Monday, June 20, 2011

*Everyday Chatter

The celebrated, brand-new Lawn of the High Line is already closed for restoration. Must be due to all the humping:

How middle-class moms drove the drugs out of Washington Square Park: "By the end of 1987, the crack dealers had been driven from the park. The neighborhood got so nice that eventually we were driven out, too." [NYT]

The final art show at Mars Bar before the condo comes. [EVG]

EV bloggers marvel at a swizzle stick in Mars Bar. [NMNL]

Is fashion in flight from the LES? [BB]

This article will make you crazy: "what happened to our attention spans? Why must we talk, text and tweet in the middle of a movie? And what — if anything — can theaters do to stop this erosion of cinema civility?" [yahoo]

A haunted house in Queens. [SNY]

Williamsburg wall says "Artists go home." [NYS]

"Real estate brokers say that in the last year, they have seen more parents shopping for apartments for their grown children." [NYT]

Enjoy this blog about silent film locations in New York City. [SL]

Check out these 33 1/3 book launch events. [P&W]

Folsom Under High Line

*Warning: Images containing bare asses may not be safe for work.

In the 15 years that the Folsom Street East fair has been going, this is the first year it has had a High Line full of tourists directly above it. The newly extended High Line now stretches over 28th Street, where yesterday folks in leather and other fetish gear strutted their stuff--and did some damage with whips and chains.

As the fair raged below, High Liners gathered to gawk up above, craning their necks, pointing fingers, and aiming cameras over the edge. Grandmothers exclaimed, "Oh no, their behinds are hanging out!" Fathers said, "Don't let the kid look--that's too much explaining I don't want to do." Some young ladies squealed with delight and whipped out their iPhones. Others uttered the time-honored statement, "Only in New York."

High Line staff directed everyone exiting at the 28th Street stairs, "Once you go down, you can't come back up." It was an ominous warning.

Down below, boys were shackled to the St. Andrew's Cross and flogged until their backsides were bright red, blindfolded men got to their knees and licked the boots of leather daddies, and girls in fishnets arranged themselves into spanking daisy chains.

There was absolutely nothing "artisanal" at this street fair. There were corn dogs and fries. There was Budweiser. There were pina coladas served in big, plastic, penis-shaped sippy cups.

Couples dressed in leather dog masks enjoyed the fried sausages where a man knelt on the sidewalk with a sign around his neck that said, "Spit on me." Several of the fairgoers obliged.

On the main stage, the pie-eating contest was about to begin. The emcees called to the High Liners and waved, shouting into their microphones, "Do you out-of-towners want to see some men eat ass? How about you? Yeah, you, the tourist girl trying to look like Jackie O. in the sunglasses! You ready for some ass-eating?"

The queer crowd howled up at the High Line, waving and taunting. A few of the High Line tourists waved back. Others just shielded their eyes from the sun and gazed downward.

Then the men in jockstraps took their places on bales of hay and bent over, spreading their cheeks. Other men positioned themselves behind, slapped cream pies onto their partner's buttocks, and commenced to lick the platters clean.

Folsom Street East used to exist in the no-man's land that was 28th Street between 10th and 11th Avenues. To see it, you had to know about it. You had to want to be there. Today, that area is rapidly changing--luxury condos already share the block with the gay leather Eagle bar and Scores strip joint, and a huge swath has just been bulldozed for a new development.

As the High Line spreads its luxurious seed across upper Chelsea, replacing every rough thing in its path with glass and glamor, how long, really, do you think Folsom will be allowed to party here?

Further reading:
Eagle's Nest
Pleasure Chest 1972
Men in Leather
Lenny & Leather

Friday, June 17, 2011

Lolita Bra Sign

There's been a lot of news in the news about the Orchard Street boutique owner who was thrown through his plate-glass window when he tried to stop a shoplifter who was walking out with a $2,200 vintage Chanel purse.

Said the boutique's co-owner of the shoplifter's accomplice, "She wanted Chanel. She was willing to die for it." DNA also reported that the boutique had "two prior shoplifting incidents in which a $1,800 vintage Chanel makeup bag was stolen."

Before this boutique was here, before there was vintage Chanel on Orchard, this was the location of the Lolita Bra shop.

photo: verplanck's flickr

On a recent walk down Orchard Street, filled with the same feelings I have when walking down Elizabeth Street, I noticed that the sign for Lolita Bras had vanished. I always loved this sign and guess it's been gone a few years now. It's likely that I noted its vanishing, then forgot, so when I saw it was gone (again) I felt the loss as if it were fresh.

Not for nothing, but whoever was willing to die for a Lolita brassiere?

Also read:
Underwear on Orchard
Orchard Corset Center

Thursday, June 16, 2011

*Everyday Chatter

Look out Rockaway: "The boardwalk is the new Bedford Avenue." [NYT]

Now they're making artisanal saltwater taffy. When is saltwater taffy not artisanal? [Grub]

The old lady who planned to firebomb the former Nikos if a Starbucks moved in, won't need to take such a drastic measure--the new tenant is a pizza joint run by Neapolitans. [WSR]

Former shelter for homeless youth now another glittering playground for the 1%. [Eater]

Check out this summer's line-up of free movies in Tompkins Square Park. [EVG]

Bed bug bandits want to break into your apartment! [Gothamist]

Taking a pee at the Old Town. [LC]

Sprinkled Gino

Since the tragic closing of Gino, I have stricken from my mind what would become of it, the fact that a Beverly Hills cupcake chain would be moving in to this wonderful, classic New York spot. I repressed it, like a traumatic memory, and have not dared to venture anywhere near the new incarnation.

But blogger and JVNY reader Mitch Broder did. And he posted a photo. Gird your loins.

photo: Mitch Broder

It's so wrong in so many ways. One major way it's wrong is that it includes Gino's zebra wallpaper.

After the cupcake people announced they were moving in, a rep for the company said they planned to keep the iconic wallpaper to "pay homage to Gino," a sentiment to which Gino's co-owner Michael Miele responded: "We take our zebra with us."

And they did, stripping the walls of every last arrow and stripe.

Gino stripped, by Karen & Jon, 2010

The wallpaper was originally designed for Gino Circiello by Flora Scalamandre in 1945, expressly for the restaurant. Though it's been copied and displayed elsewhere, it is synonymous with Gino.

As we can see, the cupcake people, undeterred by Mr. Miele's wishes, went through the trouble of buying new zebra wallpaper and installing it anyway.

Gino, 2010, before being gutted

See Also:
Last Meal at Gino
Gino's Zebras
How the Cupcake Crumbled
Cupcake Trash
King Kong & Cupcakes

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

*Everyday Chatter

The long-empty, 25-year-old Toons Thai restaurant on the western end of Bleecker is being plywooded as we speak. What do you think is coming?
A: Another Marc Jacobs
B: Another Ralph Lauren
C: A bank
D: Who gives a fuck--Bleecker is dead

Where have all the Crusties gone? “It’s like the birds aren’t migrating this year; the salmon aren’t swimming upstream,” said Chris Flash. “The whole ecology of the neighborhood is out of whack.” [NYT]

Crusties talk to Grieve about the NYPD crackdown. [EVG]

Following up on the chess table arrest. [NMNL]

Di Palo's isn't worried about the big bad Eataly. [Grub]

Rally for rent reform tonight. [Gothamist]

What will New York look like in 2040? [Curbed]

What would you do if you ruled NYC? [Restless]

Check out unpublished photos of Bettie Page by WeeGee. [VS]

On the history of the Umbrella House. [GVSHP]

A KAWS sculpture appears on The Standard Hotel's doorstep. Shame-faced, the Mickey Mouse death's head sees no evil.

Footlight Filled

After several years of lying empty, the former space of a classic record shop has been filled--and it's not with another record shop.

photo: elizabethnewyork

Footlight Records on E. 12th Street
was one of my favorites. I went for CDs by obscure ukulele players, for crooners and torch singers, and for soundtracks. Mostly, I liked the place for its atmosphere.

New York magazine described it well: "On a typical Sunday at Footlight Records, you’ll see hipsters snatching up Italian lounge CDs, hip-hop artists trolling for new beats among the vinyl movie soundtracks, seniors browsing through the Broadway cast recordings, a Liza impersonator scoring Cabaret on DVD."

New York Magazine, 1987

Opened in 1978, after three decades in business, Footlight closed its doors in 2005. At the time, owner Ron Saja told Backstage, "right now, the industry sucks... there aren't a lot of collectors like years ago. You know, it used to be you went to your college dance and someone was spinning 45s. Now there's a computer with 10,000 songs on it—what's to get excited about? And anyway, most new collectors want the same thing: 20 different languages of 'The Phantom of the Opera,' 'Les Miz,' and 'Rent.'"

Footlight then became an online-only business. You can still order through their website, which also went through a crisis, was nearly lost, and then saved.

But the point of this post is that since 2005, the former Footlight space on E. 12th has been gutted, renovated, and sitting empty. Now they've got a new tenant. And it's the same old story: A decades-old, essential New York place vanishes, taking its unique personality with it, and the space gets filled by...a real estate agency.

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