Speaking of NoTell Motel... I was looking for some background on the bar and came across an article from the Times dated June 26, 1994, titled "Set 'Em Up in Crib No. 2, Captain Kangaroo." It was about NoTell owner Deb Parker's new (at the time) hipstery/rather insufferable Babyland on Avenue A near Fifth Street. Used to be a mom-and-pop infant shop called Ben's Babyland. Anyway, brought back a few memories (not all pleasant)...
To the article!
The boys in the white crib looked comfortable enough, sitting together on the edge of the mattress pad, separated by a huge, dirty pink teddy bear. One was sucking on a bottle (filled, incidentally, with a vodka tonic), and the other was silently mowing down an ice cream sundae.
The crib was surrounded by other big boys and girls, most of them in their 20's, who were sitting in undersized chairs and drinking cocktails or quietly reading "Danny the Dinosaur" or "Goodnight Moon."
Babyland appears to be inspired by Roald Dahl, its walls covered with childhood record-album covers and every corner filled with old toys: stuffed animals, supposed-to-be-sweet-but-actually-spooky-looking clowns, the Playskool barn with the mooing door, plastic letter magnets and dog-eared books. Naked Barbie dolls spin out of control on top of a ventilator, and a plastic baby-doll face has been plastered on a blender.
Bar owners in the East Village face the special challenge of courting coolness by offering a hip, novel theme while still remaining cheap...
Childhood nostalgia is indeed a fashion statement, and the summer streets are full of women in little-girl dresses and sneakers, or T-shirts with Josie and the Pussycats decals ironed on to the front. It makes sense that the East Village corners of cool would capitalize on childhood comfort zones: Limbo, a cafe on Avenue B, serves up nonalcoholic treats to the many who pour in to play board games. Babyland will soon offer Twister and pinball in the basement.
"We are all really babies, so this theme is great," said Sonja Patillo, a production coordinator who dragged two friends from Texas to the bar on Tuesday night.
[A]s Jack Dawe, 25, pointed out: "We all want to go back to the womb, and here we are."
There's another article on Parker in the Sept. 7, 1997, Times.