Thursday, May 31, 2012

Chelsea Gallery Diner


The Chelsea Gallery Diner has closed after 30 years in business on 7th Avenue near 14th Street.

photo: Visual Raconteur's flickr

Scott Stiffler has a eulogy for the place in Chelsea Now, and JVNY reader Tim Kirk sent in the sad news with a quick video he took of the shutter signage.

Quite pointedly, the sign reads: "Due to our Madison Ave. lease and a dying customer base we have been forced to close our doors after 30 yrs at this location. We have watched our quaint neighborhood turn into the very ‘upscale Chelsea’ of today’s Manhattan. So let us remember a time when this diner was a meeting place for so many strange, unusual & different people to say the least. All were welcomed at a time when St. Vincent’s stood tall, the Halloween Parade was small and our diner at any given time could turn into a fun free for all."

Writes Tim, "This was the kind of place where the management would feed locally known homeless people fresh food right outside the door. Can you imagine ANY joint in Chelsea being that compassionate to those less fortunate these days?"

Always accommodating to large groups, the compassionate Chelsea Gallery was also a safe haven for, as the sign says, the "unusual" people. On any given night, you might walk in to find the back tables full of trekkers from the New York City Star Trek meet-up, gay bears and their admirers getting together, transgender folks mixing and mingling after a support group, or sober gays and lesbians coming in for fellowship after their 12-step meetings. Many crowds came from the nearby LGBT Center--the Chelsea Gallery was a regular after-meeting haunt.

Adam Kuban's flickr

It was also not a place for the hyper-young and hip. Chelsea Gallery was the diner of choice for the NYC Individualists' Single 40 Plus social club (for the "not societally gorgeous, not religious, not slim, you're into politics, psychology, not perfect, too intellectual, left wing, chicken wing!!not a swinging single, not a drinker, not a smoker, not rich, not a Wall St. or Madison Ave. groupie, not a Happy Hour junkie, don't wear make up, or high heels, or ties, maybe you have beards, tatoos, long hair, maybe you are YOU!!").

These motley crowds could be off-putting to some newcomers to the city.

Noted one blogger who tried the Chelsea Gallery: "maybe there’s some kind of early bird special because all the old people in nyc are sitting right in my face. There are a sprinkle of young, my age, gay and lesbian couples here and there, but majority of them are old. They’re eating [alone], or they came with their girlfriends and families to chat. Not that I have a problem with that, it’s just a new experience that’s all. I thought I was at the old folk’s home or something. Let me tell you, this is certainly not a trendy place." [emphases mine]

Adam Kuban's flickr

Of course, if it's not a trendy place, it's not allowed to exist in the new New York. And I keep wondering: Where are all those people going to go now? All the trekkers, gay bears, and transsexuals, the sober queers and the over-40 individualists, not to mention "all the old people in nyc"--where will they go?

Where will any of us go when every single place we feel at home is wiped from the face of the city?

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Atlas Barber School


I am sad to report, the Atlas Barber School and shop closed forever this past Saturday after the landlord raised the rent to an impossible $11,000 per month. Just off Astor Place in the East Village, on 3rd Ave. and 9th St., Atlas had been in business since 1948.

all color photos from last day of Atlas

When I heard the news from tipster Marcus, I ran in for a last cut. I talked to Sheila Gray, director of the school. She was too upset to talk much about the closure, except to express frustration about the rent hike and sadness about closing. She pointed to a statue of St. Jude in the back office, a room cluttered with papers and framed certificates, and said, "See that statue of St. Jude? My father carried it everywhere. He's the saint of lost causes." She shrugged as if to say "so much for that."

When I told her that Atlas had kept me in haircuts during my early lean years in the neighborhood, she gave me a hug. (She asked me to wait to post this story until today, when the closure is official.)

last haircut

The school began at 87 Third Avenue, then moved to Times Square in the 1950s where Atlas, unlike many schools at the time, trained several women barbers. As the Times put it in 1959, "The barber shop, long a sanctuary for the American man, is being invaded by women. And...they are barbers."

Atlas later moved back down to Third Avenue. There it weathered the "Scissorless Seventies," when the barbering world, having survived the female invasion, now panicked about the long hair trend. The venerable crew cut, said many reports, had vanished forever.

the Times Square school, 1950s, Atlas website

But the 1980s turned business around. Said Atlas instructor Lou Bucaria to the Times in 1985, "The future is bright. Although long hair once threatened to destroy the barbering industry as we know it, the future is short hair, more haircuts. Indeed, even women now want the same short haircuts as the men." At that time, the price for a haircut was $2.75.

By 1993, the price at Atlas was $5--where it stayed. Throughout the 1990s, there were 42 chairs at Atlas and "no waiting," with a storefront on 3rd and another running through to 10th Street. At some point, perhaps after 2000, they closed the 10th Street side. It's possible that times had gotten tough again for this long-time survivor and living artifact of another New York.

According to the school's website (now gone), Atlas was "the only barber school still thriving in the old Barber School District, which was once located in the East Village. In its heyday, according to the Museum of the City of New York, The Bowery had as many as two barber schools per block. Today, Atlas Barber School is the only barber school left from that era and it is currently the oldest barber school in operation in New York State."

Lillian Ross visited the school in 1980 to write about it for the New Yorker magazine. She called it "the only classic, shave-teaching barber school left in the city."

click to enlarge

With the loss of Atlas, we have lost the last of a breed--the last barber school of the old Barber School District; the last classic, shave-teaching barber school in the city; and the oldest barber school in the state of New York.

Atlas was in business for 64 years. They offered the cheapest haircuts around--pretty much anyone could afford it.

But none of this matters, because the landlord wants $11,000 a month. After all, Astor Place is changing--a shiny new tower is coming, and shiny new towers bring shiny new people who want all things to be shiny and new. As Sheila noted to me, Atlas and the East Village Cheese shop are the only old-school businesses left on the block--now the cheese stands alone and we have to wonder for how much longer.

I wrote here about Atlas in 2008. At the time I chatted with one of the instructors and asked her if she thought Atlas would last much longer. "She shook her head to say 'who knows'...and wondered about 'that big new building down there,' the Cooper Square Hotel, 'it's so out of place--did they mean to make it look like it's falling over?'"

This weekend, while waiting for my last haircut, I talked to a couple of old-timers. One white-haired man who'd just gone in for a trim, leaned on his cane and turned up his hearing aid when I asked him, "Where are you gonna go now?" He just shook his head and said, "That's right. Where am I gonna go?"

Post-Script: Reader Laura sends in a shot from today--as the school has been emptied into a Dumpster.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

A Zillion Tourists

The mainstream media got itself into quite a lather over those High Line flyers from Anonymous last week--and it tells us something interesting, something critical, about the city and its changing face.

Shawn Chittle's TV

After I first posted the news, Fox 5 picked up the story with a video called "High Line Hater." One woman interviewed said, "Before they rented in this place, they knew this exists," referring to residents who live along the High Line. NY1 interviewed a young man on video who said, "It's the Meatpacking District, the nightlife here is crazy, so you should be kind of used to it. Live somewhere else if you don't like the noise."

CBS Channel 2 found someone to say, "This is New York City, if you want space, move to the country," while another called the flyer's rules "civility." The New York Post, with their take titled "High Line anxiety: Neighbor rips raucous rubes," also featured a video that is largely pro-High Line and pro-tourist, with one detractor who said that the High Line has changed the neighborhood for the worse. In the UK, the Daily Mail took offense, calling the flyer-maker a bossy, nasty, unfriendly whinger.

[*Update: The Atlantic Monthly Cities blog chimes in, recalling when "Many of New York’s neighborhoods weren’t tourist attractions. They were tourist repellents." TIME's blog does not approve of the "tourist hater." The Wall Street Journal looks at the negative impact of High Line tourism on Chelsea.]

In the comments to the original post, many people defended tourists (and many did not). One wrote, "I cannot stand when people hate on tourists." Another called the flyer writer "a flaming liberal...a bigot, a snob." Many of the commenters, here and elsewhere, said in essence: If you don't like tourists, you're an "elitist."

When did tourists become so protected in New York City? And when did local crankiness become elitism? However you feel about the High Line flyer, it has us talking about New York and its new relationship to tourists.

In the 1980s and '90s, the t-shirt "Welcome to New York. Now Go Home" (alternately, "Now Get Out") was popular, a New Yorker's message to tourists and rube newbies. Today, looking at the interviews and comments on the High Line story, the more popular slogan might be: "Welcome to New York. Leave If You Don't Like the Crowds of Tourists--You Knew It Was All One Big Tourist Attraction When You Moved Here."

New Yorkers, once proud of their crankiness, used to delight in maligning tourists. In the late 1990s, as the city was beginning its massive transformation into a tourist economy, Fran Lebowitz said, "What a nightmare! No one who isn't from New York knows how to be a pedestrian. Pedestrians don't mosey. And they don't walk five abreast. I'd like to make New York unsafe for tourists."

But by the 2000s, the "Now Go Home" t-shirt (and sentiment?) had vanished. Journalist Clyde Haberman tried to find it while writing a piece for the Times about the glut of tourists in town. ("We're Glad You Love Us, Don't Overdo It" was the gentle title.) Clyde carefully pleaded, "Really, is it asking too much to have our city back?"

In 2006, Bloomberg launched his multi-pronged marketing plan to bring a record-breaking 50 million tourists per year to New York by 2015. That number was surpassed in 2011—and the record was broken again in 2012, when the city endured 52 million visitors.

Recently, I conducted my own search for the Now Go Home t-shirt, which used to be prominent in the shops along St. Mark's Place. No dice. The salesgirl in Search & Destroy agreed, "That one is hard to find." The closest thing I saw was the anachronistic, gun-toting "Duck Mother Fucker."

So what happened? Why has New York become so welcoming to tourists, so gently tolerant, even protective and defensive? Something shifted somewhere between 1999 and 2006, and it wasn't just the election of Bloomberg. I've written about this extensively before, but briefly: The events of 9/11 turned New York City into America instead of a city of, in Woody's words, "left-wing Communist, Jewish, homosexual, pornographers."

And that scolding word--elitist--it comes right out of the Tea Party playbook. It doesn't mean rich people, as Fran Lebowitz has reminded us, it means smart people. And I think it also means non-mainstream people.

Fleet Week visitors

This past weekend, I visited the USS Wasp, in town for Fleet Week. It was loaded with tourists and with New Yorkers acting like tourists. A gay couple strolled along, one of the men dressed in a trim mini-skirt and high-heeled, snakeskin, go-go boots. (It's no secret that gay men love Fleet Week.) Excited to see such a bold and beautiful human being on the flight deck of a U.S. Naval warship, I took a photo. At that moment, a touristy-looking woman turned to me and said, "That's New York," and I thought she would say something appreciative next, about the city's gutsy individualism, but she didn't. She said, "Scary, isn't it?" I turned and snapped her head off.

As Fran Lebowitz said in an interview, "Present-day New York has been made to attract people who didn’t like New York. That’s how we get a zillion tourists here, especially American tourists, who never liked New York. Now they like New York. What does that mean? Does that mean they’ve suddenly become much more sophisticated? No. It means that New York has become more like the places they come from."

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Attention High Line Tourists

We know that not everyone is happy with the High Line (thanks Mandy!) and the way it is putting old Chelsea out of business while attracting monstrous levels of luxury development and crowds to the area. Now someone is plastering Chelsea with a pointed message to the High Line tourists.

"Attention High Line Tourists," says the flyer, "West Chelsea is not Times Square. It is not a tourist attraction."

The flyer goes on to ask the tourists to "consider the following":

"Do not sit on the 'stoops' of buildings or take pictures of and film buildings or residents. Buildings are not tourist attractions: people live there, and sitting on the steps and taking pictures is as invasive, rude and inappropriate as a group of strangers sitting on the steps of your home and taking pictures of it and you from the yard. Think how you would feel in the situation were reversed and act accordingly.

3,000,000 (3 million) of you come to West Chelsea and walk the High Line a year. 40,000 (forty thousand) people live in Chelsea. That’s roughly a ratio of 100 tourists on the streets of Chelsea and walking the High Line to 1 resident trying to get to the store, ride her bike, take a stroll, go the gym or just have a quiet moment with his dog. Please consider how you would feel if 3 million people a year from around the world trampled your street, your neighborhood, and your local park, and act accordingly--in the way that your morals or religion or general human consideration would dictate.

Observe New York sidewalk etiquette. That means do not walk more than two people in a row down the sidewalk. Otherwise you clog the sidewalk for people to pass by either way.

If you see an empty space, leave it empty. Otherwise there will be no spaces for New Yorkers. …and if you love New York, leave it alone."

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Prime Burger to Re-Open?

As you may have heard, the great and wondrous Prime Burger is shuttering, heartbreakingly, ass-kickingly, on Saturday after 47 years in Midtown (74 years if you go back to Hamburg Heaven). Photographer Molly Woodward visited yesterday and shares her gorgeous shots at her website Vernacular Typography.

all photos: Molly Woodward

One piece of hopeful news: The shutter signage says "We hope to see you in the near future at a new location." Let's pray they take the beautiful faux-bois clock, the baby-chair swiveling tables, and everything, just as it is. My fingers are crossed, though I doubt this will happen.

Until then, go now, eat a burger, drink an egg cream, enjoy the atmosphere untouched since the 1960s. It's another funeral for New York.

Prime Burger
PB Egg Cream
Vernacular Typography

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

*Everyday Chatter

My heart is fucking breaking for Prime Burger--vanishing soon. [Eater]

More on Prime Burger--the last day is Saturday. [Gothamist]

Prime Burger, 2008

The realty people are thrilled that Astor Place is becoming Midtown. Cooper Union, this one's on you. [EVG]

A dream about artworld assholes in Astor Place. [DVNY]

An update on the Chelsea Hotel demolition. [LWL]

Ethan Hawke accompanies his daughter Maya performing at the almost-vanished Caffe Vivaldi. Where's Uma? [youtube]

Googa-Mooga filled with violent, smartphone-obsessed foodies. [NYM]

A dozen old-school lunch counters in NYC. [Eater]

Don't you wish you could be in California right now to see Randy Hage's miniature New York on view at the Flower Pepper Gallery?

Death of a Block II

Yesterday, Corey Kilgannon at the New York Times reported that my favorite barber shop, the New Barber Shop on 9th Avenue and 18th Street in Chelsea, will be closing very soon. He mentions the closure on the fourth page of the slideshow and adds:

"the other small businesses on this stretch of Ninth Avenue between 17th and 18th Streets are set to close as early as May 31 to make way for a bigger tenant."


We first heard this terrible news in 2008. Back then, I reported on Morris Moinian's purchase of the building that spans nearly the entire block of 9th Avenue, from 17th to 18th, and his plans to replace all of the small businesses there with high-end retail.

Weeks after breaking that news, I attended a rally to save the block. Organized by Andrew Berman, Miguel Acevedo, and Gloria Sukenik, the rally attracted 200 angry locals. Senator Tom Duane and Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer spoke to the impassioned crowd. Assembly member Dick Gottfried said, "A neighborhood is not a neighborhood if it's overrun by high-end boutiques, banks, and chain stores."


By November of that year, 30-year-old Chelsea Liquors had vanished, eventually replaced by a Subway franchise. One of the block's bodegas closed sometime after that, but the remainders held on--from the Tamara Dry Cleaners to the barber shop to the Chinese take-out joint to the wonderful Sweet Banana Candy Store.

Time went on and it seemed the block had somehow been spared.

Then this March a new sign appeared outside the residential entrance of the building that holds all these mom-and-pops.

"Distinctive rentals," it says. The building is now called Stonehenge 18--it was bought from Moinian by the Stonehenge group in February of this year. The Post reported that the new owners "will fix up everything including the hallways and lobby and will reposition the retail."

Soon after this sign appeared, the Moneygram check-cashing joint shut down, with angry signs in the window saying they'd been denied a new lease.

I got nervous. I wrote a profile of the Sweet Banana Candy Store and I went to the barbershop for what I feared would be a last haircut. Willie didn't mention closing and I didn't ask. I just wanted to enjoy the haircut.

This block means so very much to so many people, I cannot even begin to express it. For the past several years, while MePa and the High Line ransacked the neighborhood, it survived. When the Dream Hotel replaced a homeless shelter right next door, this block survived. As the blocks to the north and south of it skyrocketed to upscale, these shops survived.

The businesses on this block feed and serve and protect the rent-regulated tenants of their building, the residents of the Elliott-Chelsea Houses across the avenue, and many more people in the neighborhood. This block is exactly what Jane Jacobs believed a city needs to stay alive.

But now a "bigger tenant" is coming and we all know what that means. Take your pick: Bank of America, Duane Reade, Marc Jacobs...all variations on a theme, different flavors of death. Where are the protests now? Is anybody listening?

Death of a Block
Saving 9th Avenue
Sweet Banana Candy Store
Chelsea Liquors

Monday, May 21, 2012

The New McHale's

Last week we heard the rumor that a new McHale's bar was coming back from the vanished. A tipster spoke to the owner who claimed he'd bought the name and that Jimmy McHale himself would be there once a week, along with the chef from the former McHale's.

Then we learned, from someone who spoke to Jimmy, that Mr. McHale has nothing to do with the new McHale's, which is coming from the owners of Playwright's Tavern.

Now Fat Al sends in a shot of the place:

The name might be the same, but the feeling?

The Real McHale's?
McHale's Redux

Friday, May 18, 2012

*Everyday Chatter

The controversial St. Mark's Place 7-11 has its Grand Opening "Prize Wheel" event today. They're giving away iPads and selling Slurpees for 11 cents. How can our local bodegas compete with such bread and circuses?

Intimate photos inside the old Chelsea Hotel. [FW]

The Chelsea Hotel is losing its vintage phone booths. [LWL]

Photographer David Monderer shows his photos of "Holdouts," the storefronts of NYC that struggle to survive. [SP]

More luxury condos for Bowery. [EVG]

Hysteria and the history of vibrators at the Sunshine. [BB]

Looking back at the neon of the vanished Terminal Bar. [NYN]

Documenting the art and architecture of ABC No Rio. [KS]

Save the Oak Room at the Algonquin--sign the petition. [Change]

Full-color photos of NYC in 1971. [Retronaut]

What's this cryptic symbol coming to the former Estroff Pharmacy on 2nd and 8th? Fro-yo? Mashed potatoes? (Hence my anxiety dream about it.)

Dreams of the Vanishing New York

Against my better judgment, I have started another blog: "Dreams of the Vanishing New York."

I had noticed that many readers of this blog were reporting dreams about the lost city. In emails, comments, and Facebook messages, these dreams kept floating in. I also regularly have these dreams. I started posting them to the blog around March, back-dating old dreams I had written down elsewhere, and asked readers via Facebook to send in new ones.

A place to gather dreams about the vanishing city, "Dreams of the Vanishing New York" provides a view into the city's collective unconscious.

If you have a dream about lost New York places, people, and things, or about anxieties and wishes for what could be lost or regained, please send it to me at jeremoss [at] yahoo [dot] com. Include plenty of detail, along with any name (or Anon) you might want to be credited by. I will gently edit them.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Real McHale's?

Two readers followed up on this week's rumor about McHale's bar coming back from the vanished.

Flying Saucer writes, "Spoke to Jimmy [McHale]--he has nothing to do with this new bar. It's the owners of Playwright's and McGee's... Jimmy was approached to go in with partners, but went against the idea. He told me he has no involvement. Sadly you can never have another McHale's."

That's for sure, but one reader is hopeful.

Wrote Anonymous, "I stopped in there a few days ago and asked about the connection to the old McHale's. The owner who I spoke with was very nice and despite the fact that he was busy working, was excited that I had stopped in to ask questions. Turns out the bar is going to be more of a tribute to the old neighborhood and a number of the old bars. The name might be McHale's, but I was assured that they are not trying to be, or compete with, the old McHale's. And I will definitely give the bar a chance. It looks amazing inside and based on the various owners' reputations, I am sure we will not be let down."

Lost City Brooks had this to say on his blog, "Listen, I can open up an eatery and call it Toots Shor, but it doesn't it make it so--any more than Gabe Stuhlman's Fedora has anything to do with the original Fedora; the current Hurley's is a patch on the original bar on Sixth Avenue; or John DeLucie's upcoming restaurant in the Bill's Gay 90s space will have any real connection with Bill's... McHale's without Jimmy McHale would not be McHale's."

more photos

P.S. Not for nothing, but the Playwright Tavern opened in the late 1990s in the theater building that once held the Eros XXX male cinema. After 35 years in business, it was one of the first adult theaters on 8th Avenue to go.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

More Sugar & Plumm

Straight from Paramus, Sugar and Plumm Purveyors of Yumm [sic], the candy and sweets store that mad-as-hell Upper West Siders went after with pitchforks and torches, is opening a second Manhattan location. According to Chain Store Age (yes, that exists), the shop is coming to the Village--to the corner of Bleecker and Cornelia. (A third location is headed for beleaguered Downtown Brooklyn.)


The blogger at Stop Sugar and Plumm told DNA that the Upper West Side shop "'swept away...businesses run by average people to replace them with a chain owned by a member of the 1 percent club,' ...referring to Sugar & Plumm's CEO Lamia Jacobs, reportedly a former oil trader who grew up in Paris and now lives in Greenwich, Conn."

The Landmarks Commission, when reviewing Sugar & Plumm's architectural proposal, called the design “cutesy,” and “disheartening,” and said the plan "tarts up" the building, reported Stop Sugar & Plumm. The candy store people were told to "tone down" the "garish" facade.

S&P Blog

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Kidult on Marc

After all the speculation about graffiti artist Kidult collaborating with Marc Jacobs on last week's hot-pink graffiti bombing, I asked Kidult if it was true. His two-word answer in an email to me: "no collaboration."

Now he's added his own t-shirt design to his website, showing the nighttime work in process. He calls it "Final Ending" with the cryptic slogan in Jacobsian typeface: "Not Art by Kidult":


On his Twitter feed he adds:

And in case there's any further confusion about his feelings for Mr. Jacobs' work, he labels this one "Bourgeois Thug":


Jacobs T Re-T'd
Marc Jacobs Attacked
Marc Jacobs Attack T

More Jane, Less Marc
The Future is Marc

McHale's Redux?

When McHale's beautiful bar shuttered in 2006, its building razed and replaced with a dead tower of glass, many in the city wept. We heard stories that McHale's might reopen one day in another location, but that fate did not come to pass.

Now a tipster is telling us something very curious.


Peter writes in: "This past Friday I was walking with friends in Midtown and we stopped by the gin mill on West 50th St that has the old McHale's 'BAR' sign. The lady standing in front told us that 'McHale's is re-opening on 51st St.' We immediately walked over to investigate.

There is a bar under construction on the north side of 51st St between Broadway and 8th Ave, real modern looking, no sign up. We yelled in to what appeared to be the owner or at least manager who was going over blueprints or something. We asked 'is this place McHale's?' and he said yes. We cried that 'how can you name a place after a former business?' and he said 'why can’t I?' then backed off when he heard our outrage and came up with what I think is a story. He said 'I bought the name' and when we asked about 'Jimmy' he said he’d be there once a week and that they hired the old chef from McHale's.

Personally, I think the guy is full of crap."

We're not sure what to think. When Jimmy McHale closed the bar, the Times reported that he "still hopes to revive the place and is scouting out locations." Could this be it? Or is the story, as the tipster says, full of crap?

If anyone knows Mr. McHale, or has any further info, please let us know.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Jacobs Attack T Re-T'd

The Kidult and Marc Jacobs story goes on (apologies: I can't seem to get enough of it). A tipster here first broke the news last Tuesday morning that a Marc Jacobs store in Soho had been hit with hot-pink graffiti. Jacobs then turned graffitist Kidult's anti-corporate assault around by printing the image on t-shirts selling for $698. Some speculated that Kidult had collaborated with Jacobs, others say Jacobs made the shirt to get revenge on Kidult. It's hard to tell what's what.

My original tipster went back to the scene of the crime and checked out that t-shirt to see if it was real or another joke. It's real. It's on a mannequin in the store window and on another right up front. The tipster sends in some photos and writes, "It's so cheaply made, like an iron-on stuck to a crappy t-shirt. The cotton is really thin."

With a shirt that seems so hastily put together, my tipster concludes, there's no way Jacobs was in on the graffiti bombing. "If this had been planned, the shirt would've been higher quality. Is anyone dumb enough to spend $698 on this thing?" Yes, reported Gothamist, someone was dumb enough.

And someone else is taking the consumerist joke one step further into meta-fictionality (or meta-reality, or meta-something). Tumblr blog Wilfry has printed the Jacobs t-shirt on another t-shirt and will be selling those for $35 each.


I've asked Kidult what his next move will be, and have yet to get a response. I keep wondering: What if he chose a word that no one would want on a t-shirt? What if the whole city was painted in words that disturb? What if the street artists took back the landscape? Can the Broken Windows Theory be reversed? Or will it all end up on $700 designer t-shirts?

Marc Jacobs Attacked
Marc Jacobs Attack T
More Jane, Less Marc
The Future is Marc

Friday, May 11, 2012

Marc Jacobs Attack T

It was inevitable.

On Tuesday morning, I first reported that the Marc Jacobs store on Mercer Street had been attacked by hot-pink graffiti. The tipster who sent the photos asked the workers cleaning up, "Is this an art show or marketing or vandalism?" The workers responded that someone had made a "joke."

Marc Jacobs twitter screenshot

Other blogs followed up and discovered that the work had been done by graffiti artist Kidult and that Jacobs was making the most of it by tweeting pics of the vandalism. On Twitter, Jacobs acolytes praised the image as "cool," "so cool," and "sweeet" [sic].

Now Jacobs has apparently come out with a t-shirt featuring the "attack," calling it "Art by Art Jacobs."

Reports High Snobiety, "It certainly looks a lot like Marc Jacobs, the brand, and Kidult have been working together in this marketing stunt. The t-shirt costs 689 USD and 680 USD, signed by the artist and is available in one size, only at the Marc Jacobs store on Mercer Street in New York."

That's $689. For a t-shirt.

from earlier this week

I'm not entirely convinced this started off as a marketing stunt, though it's certainly possible. My tipster was on the scene at 8:30 AM--why would Jacobs have four workers out there, first thing in the morning, furiously scrubbing off paint from the night before if they'd intended it to be there? Maybe the clean-up added authenticity, but they could have waited until at least 10:00, for maximum buzz, when most of the bloggers and tweeters were awake on the streets to capture this.

As for Kidult, he once stated in an interview: "At some point, all these shops have used graffiti culture as a commercial image, riding the trend without being a part in the least and for which the only point is to make some cash. All I say to them is 'hello'; if these brands really like graffiti, I only give them what they like, so what if it’s beautiful or ugly. We gotta stop these brands from dictating a culture that belongs to us." Has he had second thoughts?

High Snobiety posted the t-shirt, but no link to Marc Jacobs' site, and I have to wonder: Is the t-shirt real or yet another riff, another twisted loop in the Mobius strip of hyperreality?

Thanks to Alex in NYC for sending in the tip about the t-shirt--and this incredible, hyper self-referential hall of mirrors Marc Jacobs label, which also may or may not be real.

See Also:
Marc Jacobs Attacked
More Jane, Less Marc
The Future is Marc

Thursday, May 10, 2012

St. Mark's & 2nd

EV Grieve took a look at the corner of St. Mark's Place and Second Avenue a little while ago, highlighting the St. Mark's Cinema circa 1984, so it seemed like a good time to put up these 1934 and 1935 shots of the spot from the New York Public Library.


Fifty years before Sixteen Candles and Mask, there were 10-cent double features of Bottoms Up and Palooka, then Werewolf of London and Laddie.


And next to the theater, in the spot that would later become an infamous Gap store, stood a frankfurters and root-beer stand extraordinaire.


From the Municipal Archives, here's the same corner in 1929, when St. Mark's was paved in cobblestones and streaked by trolley tracks.

NYC Archives

And across Second Avenue, where BBQ is today, a simple drugstore and second-floor dentist:

NYC Archives