Saturday, May 31, 2008

Andrea Peyser does not like the Sex and the City movie (or, apparently, men in pastel shirts)

So New York Post Columnist of the Year Andrea Peyser caught the first screening of Sex and the City yesterday. What did she think?

In a roomful of women who looked as if they hadn't digested in months - and scant few breathing men - I saw the big-screen version of "Sex and the City," an excruciating paean to Manhattan, Manolos and menopause that should have been sponsored by Depends.

When did the story of four aging broads - and these women are about as far from being "The Girls" as Phyllis Diller is from puberty - turn into a horror show?

Time and the tyranny of the camera close-up have not been kind to Sarah Jessica Parker, who at 43 looks positively ghoulish as the still-single Carrie Bradshaw.

Her litany of lifestyle impossibilities continues to mount like her facial blemishes - a rent-controlled apartment, dozens of $525 pairs of stilettos, and a noncommittal, mega-rich boyfriend, Mr. Big. Sadly, the only thing large about Chris Noth these days is his protruding gut.


I spied a gaggle of gals who looked as if they'd eaten recently. I asked, Did you like it?

"Loved it!"

You can't be from New York, can you? "No, Connecticut," she said.

"Better than Indiana Jones!" trilled only the second man I saw. But this guy wore a pastel shirt. Figures.

I predict huge success in the multiplex. New Yorkers know better.

"Sex" sucks.


Well, it's really easy to make fun of a movie like this; it's even easier to make fun of the people who may enjoy this movie. Oh. And not to mention the looks of the actors in the movie. (Chris Noth fat? SJP ghoulish? C'mon.)

I wish Andrea would have written about the real problem with the movie -- how it ruined New York City. It's a subject worth repeating. Maybe she took a different route because the Post covered this a few weeks back. But is saying that Chris Noth has a beer gut do much to bring attention to the rampant commercialization, sterilization and development that the movie helped spawn here?

I invite anyone who may be new to this subject to read the following articles at Jeremiah's Vanishing New York:

How the cupcake crumbled

A plea to SJP

How SATC killed NYC

Related today:
Fashion review: 10 Years Later, Carrie Coordinated (New York Times)

What's happening here?

Construction continues in the front of 83 E. 7th St. near First Avenue. But never when I happen to be around. Otherwise I'd ask what's going on...Did I miss some news that this is going be be a cafe? Restaurant? Etc.?

Friday, May 30, 2008

Just asking

Once again, another tragedy. Does this crane look secure? Just asking. Can't tell. Too many of them around town.

Earlier on EV Grieve:

Accidents waiting to happen?

Here's to a "relaxing" weekend in the city!

Here's the real sex and the city. (OK, groan.)
Flanagan11 has these on his YouTube page. As he writes, "Some commercials that aired on Manhattan public access in the late 1970s during Al Goldstein's Midnight Blue program. The Taj Mahal has since been replaced by Kosher Deluxe restaurant and The Retreat has been replaced by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council."

[Pretty tame but likely NSFW]

A Win Won situation

I continued my walk around the construction-filled Fulton Street area in search of small shops surviving (or not) in the shadow of development hell.

I came across the Win Won Chinese restaurant that sits on Liberty Place just off of Maiden Lane. At least I think it's the Win Won. Hard to tell with Liberty Place closed for construction.

To access the Win Won, you simply need to mosey down this inviting-looking passageway.

I stopped by a little before noon. No one was dining inside, where you're treated to a view of darkness and construction debris. The place seems to do a healthier delivery business.

For the record, I ventured further down the sidewalk to check out this other store front. Not much going on. The front door was open that led to a small hallway. I didn't stick around.

In any event, sure, the Win Won isn't the greatest Chinese restaurant that ever existed, but it's certainly serviceable. More important, though, it's an inexpensive alternative to an area now catering to a more upscale market. With more and more condos going up, this area caters to the yunnies. Witness the openings in the last year of more familiar white-bread chains on Maiden Lane, including yet another Subway, Papa John's, Chipotle and one of those expensive custom salad places. Meanwhile, the mom-and-pop places for non-executive-type workers are seemingly becoming scarce.

For now, the Win Won continues to operate while the 20-story Wyndham Garden Hotel at 20 Maiden Lane inches skyward. This one is a doozy: The hotel is L-shaped and wraps around three low-rise buildings that sit on the corner of Maiden and Nassau.

These shots by Lofter1 on Wired New York provide a better look.

"The Lying, the Bitch, and the Wardrobe"

A review of a review! From Gawker's Ryan Tate:

Save for the use of the lame adjective "anti-sophisticated," Anthony Lane's New Yorker evisceration of Sex And The City is a schadenfreudian delight. Among the movie's crimes: Carrie whores herself out for a custom closet (women in the audience actually applauded); Carrie is more concerned about losing her access to nice clothes than about the disintegration of her marriage; and, apartment-hunting in a predominately Chinese neighborhood, Miranda, in a charming bit of racism, cries out, "White guy with a baby! Let’s follow him." Lane says the film is often "pornographic—arouse the viewer with image upon image of what lies just beyond her reach" and suggests the subtitle "The Lying, the Bitch, and the Wardrobe."

Meanwhile, here's Lane's reaction to Miranda's "white guy with a baby" line: So that’s what drives these people: Aryan real estate.

Then it gets really beautiful:

At least, you could argue, Miranda has a job, as a lawyer. But the film pays it zero attention, and the other women expect her to drop it and fly to Mexico without demur. (And she does.) Worse still is the sneering cut as the scene shifts from Carrie, carefree and childless in the New York Public Library, to the face of Miranda’s young son, smeared with spaghetti sauce. In short, to anyone facing the quandaries of being a working mother, the movie sends a vicious memo: Don’t be a mother. And don’t work. Is this really where we have ended up—with this superannuated fantasy posing as a slice of modern life?

Thursday, May 29, 2008

"Bad" news for drummer and his West 11th Street home

From today's Post!

By LARRY CELONA and ADAM NICHOLS May 29, 2008 -- Thieves took more than $350,000 worth of jewelry in a Memorial Day raid on the Greenwich Village home of Bad Company drummer Simon Kirke, cops said.
The musician found the jewels missing from a safe when he returned home from a weekend out of town with his family. Two laptop computers worth $3,000 were also missing, cops said.Cops found the front and back doors of the West 11th Street apartment Kirke shares with his wife and four children unlocked with no signs of being forced, a police source said.
Kirke told them he couldn't remember whether he'd locked them.The Englishman was also unsure whether he had locked the safe inside the house before the family left, the source said.
Kirke was a founding member of the band Free, whose hit "All Right Now" reached No. 1in more than 20 countries.He set up Bad Company after Free broke up in 1973.That band sold 60 million records, including "Rock and Roll Fantasy" and "Feel Like Makin' Love."Since leaving Bad Company in 2002, he has been songwriting and occasionally performing. He made a how-to-play-drums DVD in 2006 titled "Lessons from a Legend."

And why did this take two Post reporters to cover? One to talk to cops, one to search Wikipedia?


Double bonus!

All is well at Stuy Town!

According to the Home Real Estate guide in today's Post anyway.

Says the article:

When it was announced in late 2006, it was one of those deals that knocked the wind out of you: The Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village complex - that beacon of middle-class Manhattan life - was being sold to Tishman Speyer for $5.4 billion. It remains the biggest real-estate transaction in New York City history.
Its residents were worried (68 percent of the 11,232 apartments in Stuy Town are rent regulated) and real-estate watchers wondered what would become of that massive 80-acre plot of land on the far East Side. Would some of the buildings be torn down and new ones go up? Would the place go condo? Would rent-stabilized residents be kicked out?
The short answer? None of the above. For many longtime Stuy Town residents, not much is different since the purchase. But that's not to say that there haven't been changes.
"We're focused on making it better," says George Hartzmann, managing director at Tishman Speyer. "That means focusing on the physical amenities, community activities, upgrading [apartments] and a lot of landscaping."

Yep, nothing but good things here! Keep going about your business!

Oh, well, there's this.

Meanwhile, back to the article. Sure, rents are going up...

"When I moved here, my one-bedroom apartment was $52.50," says Madeleine Sussman, who came to Stuy Town in 1949.
Sussman turned to her husband, Harold, who had moved to the complex a year earlier.
"What did you pay?"
"Fifty-eight dollars."
"Of course, that was a lot in those days," Madeleine adds.
Today, a one-bedroom in Stuyvesant Town starts at $2,950; two-bedrooms at $3,675; and three-bedrooms at $5,400. Peter Cooper Village (which has always had bigger and more expensive apartments) start at $3,250 for a one-bedroom, and $4,225 for a two-bedroom.
And those are the cheap units!

Golly! So what is a tenant to do?

And if the price sounds a bit high, Stuy Town has encouraged potential residents to take roommates.
Jill Durso, for instance, is splitting a one-bedroom with friend Christina Vargas.
"We converted it to a two-bedroom," says Durso. "They arranged to have a nice little wall put up, and we still have enough of a living room for our modest get-togethers."
Luckily, the one-bedrooms in Stuy Town are big. A typical one-bedroom measures around 755 square feet; a one-bedroom in Peter Cooper is around 947 square feet. (Two-bedrooms in Stuy Town average 943 square feet; at Peter Cooper they measure about 1,223 square feet.)
"I go to friends' apartments in the East Village, and they're paying more for the same amount of space," notes Durso.

The article does finally mention the rising rents, new money moving in (why not? they are wine tastings! ski trips! Hamptons shuttles!) and longtime residents getting the heave-ho, but...

That being said, one still gets the feeling talking to residents that the criticisms of Stuy Town are made out of love; longtime tenants are absolutely fanatical about the place - and not all of them object to newcomers.
"It's nice to see the young people," says Madeleine Sussman. "There was a population shift; most of the people who lived here together grew old together. And now it's still a comfortable place."
And new tenants seem to agree.
"I always said, it's the greatest suburb in New York," says Allison Kallish, who moved to a one-bedroom in Stuy Town two years ago. "I saw this parade of Little Leaguers, with bagpipes playing, walking through the [Stuyvesant] Oval back in April. How many suburbs do you see that in?"That being said, one still gets the feeling talking to residents that the criticisms of Stuy Town are made out of love; longtime tenants are absolutely fanatical about the place - and not all of them object to newcomers.
"It's nice to see the young people," says Madeleine Sussman. "There was a population shift; most of the people who lived here together grew old together. And now it's still a comfortable place."
And new tenants seem to agree.
"I always said, it's the greatest suburb in New York," says Allison Kallish, who moved to a one-bedroom in Stuy Town two years ago. "I saw this parade of Little Leaguers, with bagpipes playing, walking through the [Stuyvesant] Oval back in April. How many suburbs do you see that in?"

Condo owner who likes the finer things didn't appreciate bar with dirty floors or kids

While writing the previous post, I went to Citysearch to doublecheck the address for Ryan's Sports Bar on Gold Street, which recently moved to make way for some new condos. Anyway, while there, I found this patron's review. And he didn't like what he found!

I hope places like this close down soon

11/11/2007 Posted by jakesloanesq
We are all working on building a better downtown. I bought a 1.5 million dollar condo around the block from this place. I stopped in one weekday during lunch (i was off.) The place had 3 patrons at the bar, all of which looked worse then the other. The decor is lacking, the floors dirty, and the food was just ok. This place may be decent for someone who does not like finer things or if you are under-age. I went to Ryan's with my wife on a Thursday night to grab a quick drink before heading home. The entire place had kids drinking. We overheard a few kids talking about how Ryans is the only bar that lets the local college kids drink. I am not sure if anyone in the bar was 21 years old. Regardless, the building next to ryan's has been condemmed due to rodents. This was not a surprise because the rodents can be seen running on Gold street outside this dump.

I'm simply stunned a bar in New York had dirty floors! Hope it didn't bring the value down on his $1.5 condo! Anyway, Ryan's wasn't the greatest place around, but it had a divey ambiance to it that I appreciated --

Bonus review from a tourist:

Terrible pub with a very bad vibe!

07/27/2006 Posted by weesmcg
This is defiantly the worst pub visited in New York! Situated in a back alley near student accommodation its full of very young possibly underage drinkers at night time and it seems like a place where day time alcoholics go to try and escape their job in the financial district! Staff were quite rude and loud and only look after what seemed to be the regulars! The place is very dull, dark and no atmosphere probably due to where its situated! We werent made feel as welcome or at home as we were in other Irish pubs in New York! Very disappointed!!

Down on Fulton Street

As I've written before, my place of employment is near Fulton Street, that lovely stretch of misery between Broadway and Water. The street has been torn up for years. Meanwhile, businesses are seemingly struggling to survive. Still, there are some nice little spots tucked away on the side streets, like Ryan's, an Irish pub on Gold Street that's never too busy (except when the NYU and Pace kids get in with their fake IDs). Given the glitzy high rises going up nearby, you have to appreciate such a place. Haven't been there in a few months, so I thought I'd ... Oh. Shit.

Here's what remains of Ryan's and whatever was next to it. Torn down to make way for condos.

Well, at least Ryan's was able to move nearby. Meanwhile, I worry about some of the mom-and-pop shops on Fulton Street. Seems like someone is closing up all too often. And there's no place for them to go.

There's a nice cobbler on the street. An odd little jewelry store/barber stop combo. And the Blarney Stone.

Still making rubber stamps. But for how long?

So why are the little shops disappearing? Just look up.

Of course.

Earlier on EV Grieve:

Been on Fulton Street lately? What a treat!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

"'s not some perfunctory cinematic appendix to a popular series, but the beginning of a whole new string of films"

That's part of Mick LaSalle's glowing review of Sex and the City in the San Francisco Chronicle.

Hoo-boy, did he like this movie. A lot!

Yet even viewers coming in cold will appreciate "Sex and the City" as the best American movie about women so far this year, and probably the best that will be made this year. Indeed, at the rate Hollywood has been going, it may stand as the best women's movie until "Sex and the City II," if that ever comes along.

Meanwhile, Mick wraps it up:

There's something alive here. There's a feeling about this movie, that it's not some perfunctory cinematic appendix to a popular series, but the beginning of a whole new string of films. There's certainly no artistic reason "Sex and the City" can't be the women's equivalent of "Star Trek," with human emotion being the final frontier. Like outer space, that frontier is infinite.

Is it true that in space, no one can hear you scream?

So, what's going on in the world today?

The Post gives the film 1.5 stars out of four. As Lou Lumenick writes:

New Yorkers put up with noise, lack of privacy, tiny expensive apartments and countless other daily insults. But will they shell out 12 bucks for what amounts to a 21/2-hour "very special" TV episode of "Sex and the City" that feels like it was written and directed by an audience focus group in Omaha?

If the ecstatic reaction at the screening I attended is any indication, they might - at least if they're not heterosexual males bored by the movie's endless fashion montages, shameless product placements, lethally slow pacing and utterly predictable plot.

And how was the glitzy premiere of the movie last night at Radio City?

Everything must go?

The OTB drama continues today. As the Post reports:

The city's Off-Track-Betting Corp. is advertising today for an auctioneer to liquidate its assets as talks drag on in Albany on a new revenue-sharing formula to rescue the cash-strapped bookie operation before June 15.
Among the items that would be up for grabs are leases to 62 OTB parlors, a warehouse, a repair facility, a print shop and a storage depot.
Gov. Paterson, state Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver issued a joint statement on April 15 saying they're committed to saving OTB and its 1,500 jobs.
But one source said, "They're not close to consensus."
Mayor Bloomberg has threatened to shut OTB on June 15 if Albany doesn't change the formula that now forces OTB to pay out more than 100 percent of its profits.
"Everybody thinks this is going to go to the 11th hour, 59th minute," said one insider

If you have the Post, the public notice -- "request for expression of interest" -- is on Page 55.

Previously on EV Grieve:

Scenes from a Derby day

So long, OTB (and happy Derby day)

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

"So I came to New York for the reason everyone comes to New York, because it is the city of changes"

So let's continue on with linking to about every article in this week's New York magazine...(Hey, lots of stuff that's of interest to me...)

Such as:

The 25th Hour of Florent Morellet...Florent will be closing soon after 23 years.

Says Morellet:

“I am from Bumfuck, France, okay? And when I grew up I wanted to kill myself every Sunday because nothing happened. So I moved to Paris, but you know what? Paris is awful! Americans, they love Paris, but I absolutely hate Paris. It is always gray, it is always the same. So I came to New York for the reason everyone comes to New York, because it is the city of changes. People forget this is what they love about New York. They get old, they get grumpy. They get … nostalgic.”

Speaking of restaurants, there's a small write up on Kafana, the new Serbian restaurant on Avenue C owned by former Sophie's bartender Vladimir Ocokoljic. (Despite the blog's origins -- see By the Way below -- I didn't know Vlade personally.)

In the movie reviews, David Edelstein likes Sex and the City! He calls it a "joyful wallow." (I always prefered "flounder.")

And finally, in the Approval Matrix, this falls under the "highbrow despicable" category:

"A preservation group calls the Lower East Side an 'Endangered' neighborhood. Should we also landmark the neighborhood from City of God?"

"Everything has a price. Everything except outsider eccentricity, which evidently is bad for business"

Excellent essay in New York magazine by Jerry Saltz on the Tower of Toys (RIP).

On the tower's creator, Eddie Boros:

He was a fixture in a neighborhood of human fixtures, a reminder that the East Village was still marginal, where odd things were normal and normalcy was odd.

On art and gentrification:

It wasn’t beautiful, but it was beautifully eccentric, part of a folk-art tradition put together from the detritus and wreckage of once-raggedy neighborhoods by individuals working on the edge of society. Adam Purple’s glorious “Garden of Eden” on Eldridge Street was torn down in 1986; the metal-sculpture garden on Avenue B and East 2nd was evicted in 1995. And last week, the Tower of Toys came down. All of these projects, and others elsewhere in the city, served as demarcation lines, stopgaps against encroaching gentrification. Now there aren’t any peripheries in Manhattan, and there are few anywhere in the city. Everything has a price. Everything except outsider eccentricity, which evidently is bad for business.

Monday, May 26, 2008

At the Loisaida Festival, May 25

Several of us were watching the couple passionately kissing by the port-o-potties.

Bonus: Part of the live entertainment

OMG! Isn't that Oliver Platt?!

New York magazine has a listing of some of the movies that will be filming around town this summer. In the LES, two projects are listed, including the new film by Nicole Holofcener starring Catherine Keener and Oliver Pratt (an EV Grieve favorite, by the way). Among the locations: Economy Candy. And the premise: It "concerns a family that wants to expand its two-bedroom but must wait for the cranky old lady in the apartment next door to die." Hmm, based on a true story?

Meanwhile, the listing didn't mention the new Woody Allen film with Larry David that was shooting in the neighborhood in recent weeks. (I was walking on St. Mark's when they were filming at Cafe Mogador. I sure appreciated the young twentysomething PA who yelled at me to keep walking when I was, in fact, walking.)

Anyway, just a few short months before the filming starts on Night at the Museum 2!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Breaking: Living in Manhattan can be expensive for young professionals

The Times has a piece today -- titled Starting Salaries but New York Tastes -- on how difficult it is being a young professional trying to live in Manhattan. What some people have to go through!

As the article notes:

Some tactics have long been chronicled: sharing tiny apartments with strangers. Sharing those apartments with eight strangers. Eating cheap lunches and skipping dinners — not just to save money, but so that drinks pack more of a punch and fewer need be consumed.

But there are smaller measures, no less ingenious, that round out the lifestyle. These young people sneak flasks of vodka into bars, flirt their way into clubs, sublet their walk-in closets, finagle their way into open-bar parties and put off haircuts until they visit their hometowns, even if those hometowns are thousands of miles away.

Ms. Werkheiser’s salary as a publicist, while well south of six figures, might be considered enviable elsewhere in the country, but in New York she has had to reprioritize. So the remote wardrobe was not her only money-saving tactic. She also gave up being a blonde.

Before moving from San Francisco last fall, Ms. Werkheiser realized that paying salon prices for platinum tresses in New York would require cutting back on needs like food and shelter. “So I went natural,” said Ms. Werkheiser. “I dyed it dark, a New York brunette.”

She and her friends have also located just about every B.Y.O.B. brunch spot in the city, plotting them out on Google maps. The cost-consciousness, Ms. Werkheiser says, is worth it: She adores New York and lives, with two roommates, in a $3,450-a-month three-bedroom apartment on the Lower East Side, verily the center of the universe for Manhattan’s young and hip.

A model co-op

Catching up on this week's New York Observer today. According to a real estate piece by Max Abelson, 21-year-old model Lily Donaldson bought a co-op on Avenue B along Tompkins Square Park for $2.2 million.

As the article notes:

Very blond, well-boned, expensively jeaned buyers have been pouring into East Village apartments for so long that it’s hard to find new excuses to complain about the area’s über-gentrification. But then again, it’s hard to remember when someone as upsettingly young as Lily Donaldson, the 21-year-old Vogue cover girl, spent anything like $2.2 million on a neighborhood apartment, especially one that happens to be as far east as Avenue B.

Her new two-bedroom place on Tompkins Square Park around East Eighth Street could be the most expensive co-op ever sold on the block, according to listing broker Danny Davis.

She has Brazilian cherry wood floors (“that glow with the setting sun,” according to his listing), two bathrooms with original pedestal sinks and cast iron tubs, a 40-foot-long living room with six windows facing three directions, and, of course, a dressing room off one of the two bedrooms.

On the downside, the building is massively nondescript and un-frilled, plus the apartment needs work. “I’d put money into it,” Mr. Davis said, “I’d bet she will, too.”

If you know the neighborhood, then you know the building. I won't be all creepy/stalky (creepier and stalkier?) about it and name it. Anyway. If she's paying $2.2 million for something that needs work and doesn't have a lot of amenities...uh, what will someone be paying for something new and pristine...? Plus, this just blows the co-op curve off the chart.

Back to the article:

The last sale in the building, according to city records, was a $650,000 deal just one floor down. That was in October 2004.

Meanwhile, sort of not really related:

Have you seen the window display in that newish women's boutique on 9th Street between First and Second Avenue?

10th Street between First and Second Avenue, 8:07 a.m., May 25

Revisiting: "How many rich jerks that want to be in Sex and the City can there possibly be in America?"

I originally ran this post on April 9. But it seemed like a good thing to repeat, given what's facing us next Friday...

In a Q-and-A published at Gothamist today, singer-songwriter (and Brooklyn resident) Mike Doughty was asked: If you could change one thing about New York what would it be?

His answer (bravo!):

The forward march of the gentrification cold-front. But I keep in mind that gentrification hasn't been around forever, and is a trend, not a universal unstoppable force. How many rich jerks that want to be in Sex and the City can there possibly be in America? OK, a lot, but there's not a limitless supply. If the upcoming Sex and the City movie tanks, it will be for the societal good.

Meanwhile, back to the present...

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Minetta Tavern is one of Esquire magazine's "Best Bars in America"

I noticed the coverlines on the June issue of Esquire touting its next installment of the "Best bars in America" feature. Was a little curious to see if they picked any bars in the neighborhood, some place the editorial assistants told the bosses to include. (Which may explain why/how my beloved Grassroots was picked in 2006.) Anyway, I went to their Web site today to check out the list. I saw where Minetta Tavern made the list at No. 6! Deserving! But who wants to tell them that the place closed last week? (Perhaps this is last year's list...though the home page does have the June cover subject, Barack Obama, featured....)

Meanwhile, someone should also tell the good people at Citysearch the same news.

Third Avenue, 7:47 a.m., May 24

[And warning: Street festival on Third Avenue today!]