Friday, May 31, 2013

*Everyday Chatter

Save Pino's Prime Meats from eviction. [Petition]

Ask the DOT to give Frank's Bike Shop some space from the Citibank bikes. [Petition]

Save the Children's Magical Garden. [Petition]

7-Eleven is not New York--go away:

The great Odessa on Avenue A may be closing soon. I can't look. [EVG]

Go see the 1980s/90s NYC show at the Whitney

In Williamsburg, you can learn to make your own boots. [NYS]

Malcolm Gladwell blasts the NYPL: "Luxury condos would look wonderful there." [HP]

Nude art drawing protest against the Citibank bikes. [Gothamist]

On the Central Park 5. [LOM]

June 18: Robert Herman talks about his great street photographs shot in the city from the 1970s to today. [APANY]

"If These Knishes Could Talk," the documentary that chronicles the New York accent, will have its Manhattan premiere at Quad Cinema on Friday, June 21st at 7:30 pm.

19th century cemetery discovered under endangered East Village church. [GVSHP]

40 signs you grew up in Brooklyn. [BF]

Enjoy 1938 NYC in glorious high-definition color:

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Utah House

Reader Matthew Buckingham writes in with a ghost sign from long ago. The hand-painted "Utah House" recently appeared in Chelsea, on the facade of 300 Eighth Avenue during renovations to Kyung's Market (put out of business after 7-Eleven moved in next door).

Matthew writes, "Utah House was a hotel where many trade unions and associations held their meetings. That stretch of Eighth Avenue was also the scene of the July 12, 1871 Orange Riot. Police and the National Guard killed more than 60 people and wounded over 150 at an Orangemen parade celebrating the anniversary of the Battle of the Boyne in 1690 when Protestants regained control of Ireland."

Matthew also attached the following illustration and mention of the hotel from the book The Orange Riots by Michael Allen Gordon:

"Just after leaving his paper collar business in Twenty-sixth Street, James A. Clark was wounded in his right thigh and arm. Irish-born Thomas Dugdale and Patrick Slattery, who like Clark later died from their wounds, by all accounts were innocent bystanders. Dugdale had watched the parade from the Utah House, where militia fire tore into his left arm and breast."

"Unfortunately," Matthew adds, "the facade has already been boarded up again."

engraved illustration of the riot in front of Utah House

Ephemeral New York and New York Neon also covered this story.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Save Pino's Prime Meats

After just losing Joe's Dairy, we began to worry about Pino's Prime Meats across Sullivan street. Now we have good reason for that worry. Reports came in from readers saying that Pino's is in jeopardy.

[Click here to SIGN THE PETITION to save Pino's]

photo: Tim Schreier

I talked to Sal Cinquemani, son of Pino, who told me they received "a letter from out of the blue," telling them that their lease, which goes to 2017, will end abruptly this month, and they need to be out. The letter claims that Pino's has "created and sustained an active nuisance in front of the building," causing tenants to make complaints.

Sal is unaware of any complaints. The letter goes on to say that the shop is blocking the sidewalk with crates and boxes, and is "not respecting the rights of the residents in the commercial space." The co-tenants here are the neighboring restaurant Pepe Rosso To Go and the West Lake Laundromat.

"The landlord is trying to get us out," Sal told me. "And we need people's support."

photo of Pino: Tim Schreier

He is baffled as to why this is happening. "I think we're being attacked here," he said. "My dad's sick over it. He's been here 30 years. His uncle was here another 40 before that. We're a butcher shop. We cut meat, we have sawdust that's been grandfathered in and we don't even put it down anymore. I take my trash out to Queens. I sweep like five times a day. And we respect our neighbors--we hold keys for people, we hold packages. You've got to be kidding me."

Pino's has hired a lawyer to help them fight this, and the case is going to court this week, but it's expensive and distressing. You can help. The easiest way is to please sign the petition to Save Pino's.

Pino's 200-year-old pistone

There's been a butcher shop in this space for over a century. Jackie Onassis got all her steaks from Pino's. Says New York Magazine, "Pino's Prime Meats is one of a scant handful of survivors, hard evidence of the old-world-Italian culture that once made Sullivan Street destination shopping for those who wanted to mangia bene. No logos or slick storefronts here... It’s an entirely different experience than the shrink-wrapped anonymity of your local Food Emporium."

Watch the butchers in action (Warning NSFV--Not Safe for Vegans):

Butcher from Cyrus Dowlatshahi on Vimeo.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Ghost Sign & Eagle's Nest

New York State Senator Brad Hoylman sent in a photo of a ghost sign recently revealed after a demolition on 11th Avenue and 21st Street:

Frank Jump at the Fading Ad Blog spotted it, too. He did some research and connected the sign to the Berger Manufacturing Company, specializing in "artistic designs in metal ceilings."

So what building was demolished to reveal the sign?

It was 547 West 21st Street--former home of the Eagle's Nest, the gay leather bar that opened just after Stonewall and closed in 2000. Prior, the Eagle's Nest had been a longshoreman's bar called the Eagle Open Kitchen from 1931-1970.

In 2010, the long abandoned bar became a temporary art gallery. Its beautifully decorative pressed-tin ceilings were on full display there, and at the high-end furniture shop it later became. Who knows, maybe the artistic metal ceilings were made by the Berger Manufacturing Company.

The building was also home to several artist studios.

The site sold for $32 million and its space will yield a 19-story residential tower with luxury retail. It will, most likely, cover up that ghost sign once again.

possible design, from WiredNY

Men in Leather
Eagle's Nest
Eagle's Nest Update

Friday, May 24, 2013

Hopper's Process

Yesterday, the Edward Hopper Drawing show opened at the Whitney Museum and I had a piece published on it at the New Yorker magazine's "Culture Desk" blog. In the piece, I interview the curator of the show, Carter Foster.

A few years ago, I conducted a search for the original source of Hopper's Nighthawks diner.

My interest in finding Hopper's inspiration gave me the chance to visit Foster at his office, where he had collected bits of Hopper ephemera--Xeroxes of the artist's sketches, photographs of Greenwich Village streets, antique maps, and newspaper clippings.

It was exciting to see it all in one place, bits of evidence compiled to show how Hopper came to paint what he painted--from the vanished block of "Early Sunday Morning" to the military uniform of a movie theater usherette that appears in "New York Movie," as well as parts of "Nighthawks."

I never found the diner, and eventually concluded that it did not exist--at least not as one thing. 

Carter Foster comes to the same conclusion, saying that Hopper was a synthesizer, taking pieces of the city and combining them together. “Edward Hopper is called a realist,” he told me. “But his real process was about memory, the way it infuses subjectivity, and he focussed on the material memory of the city.”

That material memory is on view at the Whitney Museum, where Hopper's sketches are presented with photographs of the city as it was. You'll even find Hopper's easel, on loan from his studio at NYU (nice of them, especially considering NYU tried to evict Hopper in 1947).

Check out the show and please visit the New Yorker to read the whole story.

Further Reading:
Finding Nighthawks Part 1

Finding Nighthawks Part 2
Finding Nighthawks Part 3
Hopper's Studio

Thursday, May 23, 2013

*Everyday Chatter

God's Love We Deliver is bringing a 14-story luxury condo to Soho, and it will be named after fashion mogul Michael Kors. The people are not happy. [Gawker]

On the New Bowery:

Coney Island Applebee's donates money and the use of their "private terrace" to the Mermaid Parade--how kind of them to "support" the culture they're helping to kill. [BW]

There's going to be a documentary about Streit's Matzo factory--and you can help. [KS]

Max Fish will be gone from the LES by July's end. [TLD]

On the demise of Joe's Dairy: “What we see happening in the neighborhood is hypergentrification."  [Villager]

Meet Eak the Geek. [EVG]

Say hello to Pretty, the Coney Island cat. [ATZ]

The illegal, unethical, immoral eviction of Willets Point continues. [CBS]

This weekend, tour Newtown Creek and have lunch at the Goodfellas diner. [OS]

Praising dairy restaurants at the B&H. [Tablet]

Karen Lillis on her New York novel. [BAB]

The Penalty--New York City, 1920, and the legless kingpin of the Lower East Side--at Dixon Place. [DP]

June 23: Check out the Punk & Underground Record Fair at Beauty Bar on E. 14th:

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

East Village 70s & 80s

Recently, a reader discovered a calendar of vintage East Village photos by local photographer Ann Sanfedele. Viewable on the photographer's website, the images are wonderful, everyday glimpses of the neighborhood when it was still quiet and Old World, punk rock and ragged.

In a 1970s shot of 7th Street between 1st and 2nd, a Kosher poultry market and an egg store ("open Thursday only"!) stand where an artisanal coffee shop and clothing boutiques are today. (See an egg shop film here.)

At 8th and 1st, Jo & Ray Pizza soon became Stromboli, as it still is today, and C&F Fabrics (with its Viletones graffiti) is now a shoe store. Theatre 80 looks exactly the same.

On East 14th, the Jefferson Theatre crumbles next to Smoke & More, where a roll-down gate bears the message, "You have messed up your life with crack. Why ours?"

A cat looks out a window from behind leopard-print curtains above Manic Panic, Tish and Snooky's original shop on St. Mark's.

And there's more--the St. Mark's cinema, the Grassroots Tavern, Astor Place before Starbucks, lost restaurants, vanished funeral parlors, people. I got in touch with Ann Sanfedele and asked her a few questions.

Q: How long have you lived in the East Village?

A: Steadily since 1963. Alphabet City back then, and 7th St since 1968. Earlier, I had lived for a few months on 6th St., off 2nd ave.

Q: When did you start photographing the neighborhood?

A: Since around 1966, which is about when I started doing photography. But I don't approach photography in a thematic way. I haven't been "photographing the neighborhood" so much as taking photos in the neighborhood, when something interesting has caught my eye. Living here for 50 years, and more often than not going about with a camera, it just happens that a lot of photos would be of things where I've spent the most time. Things get gathered into themes much later, sometimes by me, sometimes by others. The "Back in the Day" calendar was that sort of thing, a friend saying, "Why don't you do a calendar of...?" Much as my book "Sign Language" got put together, as well.

Q: How do you think the neighborhood compares today to back then?

A: It's radically different, across the board. Don't get me started.

Q: Please, get started.

A: One thing's for sure, NYU had not yet taken over the neighborhood, there were no Starbucks stores every five feet, there were no banks every two feet, and there were wonderful "mom and pop" meat and fish markets of several ethnicities. And the 60's were better than the 70's on the whole.

Q: So, is it safe to say you're not inspired to photograph any Starbucks or banks?

A: That would be correct. On the other hand, I have been photographing the demise--er, um--"changes" in the 'hood as they strike me. A few examples are in this gallery, which is a miscellany of stuff shot recently, some having to do with the progress of 51 Astor Place.

Q: Visually, does the East Village still inspire your photography in the same way?

A: No more or less than anywhere else I might be. The quality of light, the geometry of forms, capturing a decisive moment, ironic juxtaposition, sometimes just something that strikes my funny bone, are things that make me lift the camera to my eye.

  • See more of Ann's collection of 1970s and 1980s photos here.
  • Buy her calendars, including "East Village Back in the Day," here.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Celebrate Katz's 125th

Katz's Delicatessen is 125 years old--and still going strong and now there will be a party, thanks to 5th-generation owner Jake Dell. And you could win $3,750 for eating a lot of pastrami really fast. Here's the scoop on all the upcoming festivities from Katz's.

Friday, May 31st
James Beard Award winner Danny Bowien of Mission Chinese Food, Bill Telepan of Telepan, Joey Campanaro of The Little Owl, Market Table, and Quality Clam, along with Pastry chef Sarabeth Levine will be the chefs interpreting Katz’s Delicatessen staples for a Shabbat dinner with all proceeds benefiting Henry Street Settlement! For Tickets, click here.

Saturday, June 1st
125th Anniversary Community Celebration continues, stop by and see live music from our stage inside Katz's, with festivities that will run all day.

Sunday, June 2nd
We will be participating in the DayLife Festival on Orchard Street between East Houston and Stanton Street for another fun filled day of events. Come watch or enter the first ever Katz's Delicatessen World Pastrami Eating Championship! There are 3 amateur spots to fill, if you think you can do it, sign up now!

If you want to eat A LOT of pastrami enter our eating championship.

David's Shoe Repair


Time to pick up your shoes. After decades on 7th St. between 1st and 2nd Avenues, David's Shoe Store and Repair is closing. The owner says the rent has gone up too high, and he is forced to move out of the neighborhood. He'll be in business in the East Village until next week, and expects his last day to be Friday, May 31.

In 2008, we heard rumors that the old cobbler would be closing due to doubled rent. But then David's grandson, also named David, renovated the place and reopened in 2009. He continued his grandfather's tradition, and kept the window just the same, with its hand-painted red sign and its Cat's Paw ad that probably dates back to World War II, if not earlier.

The space has held a cobbler's shop for a long time. Certainly half a century. Before David's, it was A. Brym Shoe Repairing--also Ukrainian and the likely source of the Cat's Paw girl. There she is, with her kittens, in the old photos.

photo: Edmund V. Gillon, Jr.

Whatever is coming next to this space, we can bet it won't be a cobbler shop. They've been getting run out of town. And while it's good to know David will still be in business elsewhere, the soles of the East Village will suffer.

As for the Cat's Paw girl, she'll likely just be scraped away.

photo: Michael Sean Edwards, 1980

Also read:
Cobblers of Brooklyn
A. Fontana Shoe Repair

Monday, May 20, 2013

Moscot on the Move

On the occasion of their big move from one corner of Orchard and Delancey to the other, Moscot invited me to spend some time touring the shop and talking with the owner...

In the optical store that his great-grandfather, grandfather, and father ran throughout the 20th century, fourth-generation owner Dr. Harvey Moscot recalls being put to work at six years old. His job was to install screws into eyeglass frames. He quotes his father, saying, “I’m a graduate of DelChard University,” DelChard referring to the corner of Delancey and Orchard Streets.

After standing on the northeast corner of those streets for the past 77 years, its giant Eckleburgian spectacles keeping watch over the Lower East Side, the great Sol Moscot is moving. It won’t be the first time. Birthed from a moveable pushcart, they went brick and mortar on Rivington Street in 1915, later moved to 119 Orchard, then to their current spot in 1936. After this next move, they’ll still be on the corner of Orchard and Delancey, just not this corner. This corner is being demolished to make room for a 13-story condo tower.

“I learned this street when it was a tough neighborhood,” Moscot says. “Back when people from the methadone clinic nearby would come up to the get their eyes examined. Back in the Starsky and Hutch days when we’d jump across the counter to chase after people who lifted frames.”

The neighborhood has changed dramatically since then, and more so in recent years. Once a pedestrian mall crammed with bargain shoppers and merchants hawking cut-rate wares, Orchard Street is becoming a high-end destination for art collectors, foodies, and well-heeled consumers seeking designer boutiques. Luxury condos are rising left and right. If scruffy rockers like Bob Dylan and Jerry Garcia used to shop at Moscot, now it’s Johnny Depp and Kanye West. But Harvey doesn’t like to name drop.

“Every customer is equal to a celebrity here,” he says. “We treat everyone the same.”

Customers flow in and out, some old, some new. An elderly African-American woman pushing a shopping cart is greeted by her first name. A pair of European hipsters in straw boater hats browse the frames. When photographer and hipster icon Terry Richardson enters the store with an entourage of cameramen, there’s a murmur of curiosity. He’s trying on the Terry, the oversized frames that bear his name and signature style. But on closer inspection, it isn’t Terry Richardson at all. It’s an Italian look-alike who calls himself “Fake Terry Richardson.” Fake Terry puts on the Terry frames and poses with a photo of real Terry, also in the Terry frames. You get the feeling that things like this happen every day at Moscot.

While many customers have been coming to the store for generations, young people have seized on Moscot as a way to enhance their style.

Harvey explains, “The younger generation appreciates a 100-year-old business. We’re not virtual. We’re authentic. To be real is an asset. People want something with a true history that’s not conjured up by venture capitalists with a shelf-life of five years. People long for the real thing. It gives them a sense of security in an insecure world.”

Many of Moscot’s frames are archival, made from the original designs. They also have real rivets and true hinges. Harvey inspects a non-Moscot frame. “See these here,” he says, pointing to the chrome dots at the end pieces of the non-Moscot, “these are just decorative. They have no function. They’re not real rivets. See? They don’t connect to anything.” He pulls the Lemtosh from his own face, and says with excitement and pride, “Now look at this. This is a real rivet. It’s connected to the hinge. It’s not just decoration, it has a purpose.”

Harvey’s passion for rivets and hinges goes back to his boyhood days of installing screws, watching the older men conduct business. “I had the privilege of working with Sol Moscot on Saturdays and Sundays. He loved to adjust frames and remind people to come back for tune-ups. Even after the sale was consummated, he’d be out there working with the customer. He was like the old shoemaker who really cared about things.”

With so much history here, does Harvey feel any sadness about being pushed out of his store? He says, “You cannot stop progress. It’s New York. It’s what real estate people do. We do our own part to preserve New York. But I’ll tell you, I saw my dad walk down the steps the other day, and his eyes welled up with tears. I said, ‘You alright?’ He just said, ‘I’ve walked up and down these stairs for 50 years.’”

Though he mainly looks to the future, Harvey admits to being nostalgic. He is taking almost every artifact from the shop to the new space—the baked-enamel signs from the stairs, the neon eyeglass signs, the antique cabinets, the wooden peg and groove chairs from 1938 (aka The Thrones of Moscot)—all of it is being carefully moved to the new store across Delancey.

The new store will occupy the first floor, no more second-story business, with orders filled in the basement. They've installed a dumbwaiter, just like they have at the current shop, to ferry glasses up and down. (The dumbwaiter has impeded their opening date--it required an elevator permit and inspection.)

Harvey feels optimistic about the move. For him, it’s “an inflection point, where the new generation is coming in to work.” His son, Zack, will be the next Moscot to enter the business, making it a five-generation endeavor, and hopefully securing Moscot's future for decades. “We call him 5G,” Harvey says, laughing.

But mostly, what Harvey feels about the move is pride. He managed to keep Moscot in the neighborhood. He says, “Had I not been proactive, it would have ended. And that’s what’s burning inside me. Had Moscot not been able to operate where we were born, it would have been tragic. But they didn’t beat us. We’re rolling across the street, and the eyes of Moscot will still be looking down upon Orchard.”

The new Moscot is set to open on May 22--take a peek inside the new store.

See all my Moscot photos here.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Vigil for Mark Carson

At midnight last night in Greenwich Village a candlelight vigil was held for Mark Carson, the gay man who was shot in the head and killed this weekend by a man shouting homophobic slurs.

Photographer Stacy Walsh Rosenstock shares photos of the vigil:

View all of Stacy's photos here.

There will be a march and rally tomorrow at 5:30 p.m. beginning at the LGBT Community Center, 208 W 13th Street, and proceeding to West 8th Street and 6th Avenue.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Wojnarowicz Digitized

Gallerist brings the news that "New York University’s Fales Library has completed digitizing the journals of artist David Wojnarowicz and has released them all online."

Wojnarowicz did a lot in his short life. The library gives this description: "David Wojnarowicz was a painter, writer, photographer, filmmaker, performer, and activist. He made super-8 films, created the photographic series 'Arthur Rimbaud in New York,' performed in the band Three Teens Kill 4 - No Motive, and exhibited his work in well known East Village galleries. In 1985, he was included in the Whitney Biennial, the so-called 'Graffiti Show.' He died of AIDS on July 22, 1992. The David Wojnarowicz Papers includes journals, correspondence, manuscripts, photography, film, video and audio works, source and production materials, objects, and ephemera."

The journals span 1971 - 1991 and many are set in New York--in the Village and on the Lower East Side. The artist writes about hot knishes at an "ancient knish palace" on East Houston, and the characters playing bocce by Second Avenue, where winos set up their wash buckets for cars.

The pages are not transcribed into digital text, but photographed, so you see the diarist's handwriting, his typing, the corners of his notebook paper, his scratch-outs and doodles. Bits of ephemera are glued to the pages--take-out Chinese menus, news clippings about artists, ads for music shows.

What sort of future "papers" will we have after the Digital Age? Who keeps real journals anymore? In a world where, increasingly, we no longer have the thing itself (Dinge an Sich), to have the thing at least reproduced as it is--in blue ink and pencil, with sticky glue stains and faded newsprint--is a thrill.

View the diaries online here. If you'd like to read the diaries in print, check out In the Shadow of the American Dream.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

New York 1971

It's always exciting to stumble upon someone's collection of scanned photos on Flickr featuring scenes from the lost city. Michael Jacobi (Gentle Giant) has two collections called "New York 1971"--one bunch of color photos and another bunch of black and whites.

The color photos were taken by his father, Hans Jacobi, and Michael did the black and whites as a kid. In just 65 photos, we go from Times Square down to the Village, Chinatown, and out to Coney Island.

The streets have a bit of grit, but it's only 1971. They're not yet grim. (I was excited to find the elusive Elpine drink stand in two shots.)

There are scenes of Hare Krishnas banging their drums. And those South American street musicians who've apparently been around forever. And women with magnificent afros shopping for art on the sidewalk at what looks like 11th and University.

You'll also find shots looking through shop windows, into collections of souvenirs and junk you don't find anymore--exploding snakes in joke cans of mixed nuts and big-eyed guys proclaiming, "I love you this much." (Remember Times Square's shops selling "Back Date Magazines"? There's still one that remains.)

They're large photos, too, so you can zoom in to see details. Click here and here to see more.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Katz's at 125

Katz's deli is crowded in the middle of a weekday afternoon, packed with tourists. All the tables are taken. Seats are being saved. I drift into the back with my hot dog and chocolate egg cream, and find an empty table. An older lady approaches, bearing a tray of fries, pastrami sandwich, and a Doc Brown's cream soda. I motion for her to sit.

Her name is Norma, she lives in Chinatown, and she's been coming to Katz's since she was a girl in the 1940s. "There were four of us kids," she says, "and my father would cut this pastrami sandwich into four pieces, one piece for each of us. That was plenty." Katz's pastrami sandwich is big. Norma only intends to eat half of it, saving the other half to eat in the morning with fried eggs.

"Please," she says, "help me with these French fries." So I do.

A young man asks if he can join us. He's wearing a Katz's t-shirt and carrying a brisket sandwich on a plate. He's friendly, chatting with Norma and me. I figure maybe he's a busboy or a ticket giver. He tells us he's the fifth-generation owner (or third-generation, if you're being picky). He says, "See that sign on the wall that says 'Jake's Bar Mitzvah'? I'm Jake."

Son of Alan, grandson of Martin (a close friend of the original owners), Jake Dell is a mensch. He talks with a boyish passion and excitement about Katz's, the way another guy his age might gush about working for the Yankees--or running an empire of artisanal gastropubs. I ask him how he got involved in the family business. "Since the womb," he says, laughing. "I was handing out tickets when I was six years old." But owning Katz's was never the plan.

Jake was pre-med, with plans to go on to medical school, when he took a year off after college to help out his dad at the deli. "I fell in love with the place, and everything about it made me realize that this is who I was meant to be." He never went on to become a doctor. "When I told my parents I wanted to do this, my mother said, 'Are you sure? Let's think about it,' but my father was grinning from ear to ear."

Before Jake came on board, the future of Katz's was uncertain. His father and uncle were getting older, ready to retire. It was 2009. The neighborhood was filling up with more and more condo towers and luxury hotels. While the family owns the building, rumors circulated that Katz's was not long for this world. Jake says, "I just couldn't imagine it becoming a condo, or having someone else running it. I could not handle that. So it was an easy decision. If I wasn't here, this place would disappear."

Jake loves his job. He loves talking to people and seeing them happy. He loves the food and its traditions. Katz's makes all their pickles in the basement, and behind the dining room wall there's a refrigerated room where 40,000 pounds of meat are pickling. Jake eats three meals a day at the deli. When asked about his heart health, he says, "I go to the doctor a lot to make sure I'm okay." He has no interest in updating the menu. His favorite dish is pastrami on rye, with a little mustard, washed down with a Doc Brown's black cherry soda. (Egg creams are for lighter fare, like hot dogs.)

He has zero interest in changing anything about Katz's. "If we keep things the same," he says, "that's what people love. It's nostalgia."

But he did come up with the idea to deliver--and to celebrate Katz's 125th anniversary with a street party on June 2. "We're shutting down Orchard Street. There's going to be klezmer music, maybe some old vaudeville acts, and a pastrami eating contest. Joey Chestnut, the hot dog eating champ, is going to be here. He told me to set aside six pounds of pastrami for him. He's going to eat it in ten minutes. Six pounds of pastrami! That's a lot of pastrami."

After Jake goes back to work, Norma and I talk and keep working on her pile of French fries. She tells me how she used to go to school with a hot Katz's knish in one pocket, to keep her hands warm on winter mornings, and a pickle in the other. But no matter how many layers of paper she used to wrap the pickle in, her teacher could always smell its strong fragrance, and she'd be forced to throw it out.

"So many memories here," she says. "It sounds silly, but every time I come to this place, I feel spiritually connected to my father."

I tell her there's nothing silly about that. Then we talk more about Katz's and about Jake, how lucky we are to have him, to keep Katz's going. I marvel at how a young man would give up a career in medicine to run the family deli. "That's very rare," I say.

Norma throws up her hands and says, "Oh, we have enough doctors. We don't need any more doctors. We need places like this. It's good for your soul."