Friday, October 31, 2008

A few scenes of Halloween

Some "Horror Business"

The Misfits, 1983. "Some Horror Business/"We are 138"

Now for something really scary

The horror: 14th Street and Ninth Avenue late on a Saturday night. A Chelsea resident chronicled the "intolerable noise." Indeed, what a horror show.

About that Obama/Luke Skywalker vs. McCain/Darth Vader video

Four weeks ago (Christ, where did October go?), I had a post on the Obama/Luke Skywalker vs. McCain/Darth Vader battle in front of the NYSE on Wall Street. It was obviously some pro-Obama propaganda. Sure enough, someone involved with the project sent along a note telling me that the final product was ready. So now you can watch the two light-saber battle (can this be a verb?) their way around some familiar NYC landmarks:

This is all fine. But, as an ethical journalist, I can't allow a pro-Obama bit to go by without hearing from the other candidate. I need to put my politics aside and be fair. So, in that spirit:

From coffee to compost

The former Alt Coffee (later Hopscotch) at 137 Avenue A will be the new home of Sustainable NYC...who's relocating from up the block at 147 Avenue A...Wonder if Sustainable NYC will have the "No OD's Allowed" sign in the bathrooms like Alt Coffee.

For one brief moment...

I saw the "Salsa" sign illuminated at Burritoville on Nassau Street yesterday. First time I've seen it on since the whole Burritoville empire shut down. And I got a little excited -- maybe they reopened!

Uh. No.

Baby it's you

Rosemary's Baby begins a one-week run today at the Film Forum. Will McKinley writes an appreciation of the Roman Polanski classic in this week's issue of The Villager. As for me, I love the intro...

Revisting a classic (movie, not post) for Halloween

I posted this, uh, post originally on July seems more approprate now for Halloween:

A CLASSIC! (And it's APPROVED by Bela Lugosi's estate!)

Here's how allmovie descibes this 1942 CLASSIC:

Bowery at Midnight casts Bela Lugosi as Professor Brenner, a psychology instructor at New York University (which looks a lot like Berkeley in the exterior shots!). When not enlightening his students — most of them buxom Monogram starlets — Brenner is engaged in charitable work, running a mission in the Bowery. In truth, however, the kindly professor is a fiend in human form, who uses his mission as a front for a vast criminal empire. When Judy (Wanda McKay), one of Brenner's students, stumbles onto the truth, she's targeted for extermination by the Dr. Jekyll-and-Mr. Hyde prof.

Can't wait for the remake, in which the kindly NYU instructor is a fiend in human form who uses his mission as a front for a vast condo/hotel development! (I shouldn't joke...)

Anyway, someone on YouTube was nice enough to upload the entire 60-minute movie, though they disabled the embed function. So you'll need to go here to watch some of it. I highly recommend that you do.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Light, camera...

In the stairwell at the Manhattan Center on 34th Street.

Shadows at the Last Shadow Puppets show

At the Manhattan Center tonight on 34th Street. Yeah, the band was good too.

John Penley update

John Penley hasn't left town just yet...just saw him at City Hall.

3:00 to 4:00 PM




"Improbable arrests" continue at Blue Door Video

Are cops entrapping gay men at Blue Door Video on First Avenue in the East Village? Gay City News has the story today.

Blue Door was closed in June under the city nuisance abatement law after vice cops made ten prostitution arrests there in January and February. The criminal complaints in those arrests were filed as part of that lawsuit. In every case, it was police who first mentioned money.

Two men were a couple, one was 36 and the other was 43, who gave a Central Park West hotel as their address and appeared to be out-of-town visitors. The couple, the police alleged, agreed to be paid $20 each to have anal sex with an undercover cop.

Russell Novack, a senior staff attorney with Legal Aid who handles thousands of prostitution cases each year, said he has seen European gay men prosecuted for prostitution in Blue Door.

"I really don't think that European tourists are coming down to the Bowery to be prostitutes," Novack said. "The police send undercovers in there to solicit guys."

The ice storm

In downtown Manhattan, two artists, Marshall Reese and Nora Ligorano sculpted the word "ECONOMY" from a block of ice to symbolize the economic downfall
. The 1500 lbs. of ice was put on display in front of the Supreme Court and marked the day the stock market crashed that led to the Great Depression 79 years ago. (New York Post)

Might as well dance.

Stories from the front lines of renting: Recent Yale grads get a deal on an apartment in the LES

From The LES Free Press, written by students in the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism:

The apartment is tiny. None of its three bedrooms holds a bed bigger than a twin. But it’s renovated, clean, and it’s in the middle of the fast-moving Lower East Side – the perfect place for three newly-minted Yale graduates to make their first mark on the city. Apartment hunters Andrew Cedotal, Allison Guy and Danielle La Rocco are on the fence, however. For almost $3,300 a month, they expect more space.

“It’s a great apartment, but it’s a little smaller than we’re looking for,” La Rocco says to the agent showing the place.

What happens next is something that would have been unheard of even a year ago, but that real estate experts say is becoming more common: the agent offers to broker a better deal if the three will take the apartment today. Within minutes, the trio has reduced their rent by a few hundred dollars a month, and La Rocco is dispatched to get a money order while the other two fill out applications. The deal is done.

Do episodes like this mean Manhattan’s notoriously bullish rental market is softening? Daniel Baum, a broker who runs the Real Estate Group, an industry organization that puts out an analysis of Manhattan rental prices each month, says yes.

Then the woman with the Starbucks cup entered the frame

Every once in a while I feel like I could be in another NYC era, just for a moment...On 13th Street near Third Avenue.

John Penley taking a break from Slacktivating

From Scoopy's Notebook in this week's issue of The Villager:

John Penley tells us he has had it, is “burned out” and is leaving and “going somewhere else,” to “parts unknown.” He wouldn’t be more specific. “I’m really busy, I’m moving my photo archives right now,” Penley said when we called on Tuesday afternoon. “I’m tired — no one had to walk in my shoes this summer.” It just won’t be the same without Penley leading the L.E.S. Slacktivists in chants of “Die Yuppie Scum” and feeding us items about…well, about everything and everyone under the sun in the East Village and Lower East Side. But apparently a summer spent tilting at Bruce Willis, the Economakises and the Christodora House has worn him out — but only temporarily, we hope.

Penley in action during the "Let them eat cake" protest last July:

Previously on EV Grieve:
The John Penley collection

Wait, are we walking or stopping here?

On Third Avenue.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

A collector of New York ephemera

The Times has an obituary today on Herbert Mitchell, 83. "At the Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library at Columbia, where he worked from 1960 to 1991, and in his own sequestered apartment, he assembled something extraordinary, if slightly beyond description," the Times notes. “His was the most eclectic collection of the valuable, the semi-valuable and the somewhat-not-valuable,” his attorney said. Much of it is to be given to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, he added. Among the treasures he had already donated: 3,866 stereographic views of New York City from the 19th and early 20th centuries that show Central Park not long after its construction. “One of his real interests was ephemera — that part of history that disappears,” said Kitty Chibnik, the associate director of Avery. The above image from his collection was described by the Times as "The Everard Baths on 28th Street, where gay New Yorkers met."

All along the water towers

For the past two years, Gary Conger has been painting portraits of the rooftop water towers (like the one above) that he sees from his apartment. According to his Web site:

The water towers in my neighborhood (Flatiron/Madison Park) represent an older New York, a city of smaller brick buildings and rooftops that offer living and playing space as well as the hardware needed to run the building. Views of these rooftops and water towers though are being blocked by the new glass towers rising up all around us.

An exhibition of his work, titled "Vanishing New York" (Hey Jeremiah!), is now on display at BooMA, the art gallery at the public relations firm M Booth & Associates, 300 Park Ave. South at 23rd Street, 12th floor. According to the Booth site, "BooMA (with affectionate apologies to MoMA) is one of very few art collections mounted in the halls of New York City public relations firms."


Bowery Boogie has a nice post from last month on water towers. Jeremiah also has some thoughts on water towers. As he wrote, "I think of the iconic wooden water tanks as lovely anachronisms, symbols of the old New York that is rapidly vanishing."

The Ex files

Remember these stupid fliers plastered all over the neighborhood...which turned out to be a viral campaign for the new CBS series "The Ex List"....?

Anyway, the show just got canceled.

Transportation in New York circa 1951

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Five photos taken in the back of a cab that was probably going a little too fast during a rainstorm Tuesday evening

Wow, that headline is really concise! On West Broadway then Houston.

The layers of Fulton Street (aka, that big hole in the ground)

I've been keeping my eye on the looooong-delayed and increasingly expensive Fulton Street Transit Center at the corner of Broadway in the Financial District. It doesn't seem as if much progress is being made. The top two photos here show the construction site last week.

Here's what it looked like in July. I can't really see much difference.

Meanwhile, the Fulton subway entrance pictured below has been shuttered during the recent construction. The businesses shown here in July have been relocated to other parts of Fulton Street. These mom-and-pop shops that line entrances and exits of the subway give this city a little character, a little of which continues to die.

Red Square has Lenin; Cooper Union now has Stalin

City Room explains.

EV Grieve Random: A touch of evil

Roger Ebert recently trashed an independent movie that he only watched for eight minutes....Which prompted Miami Herald critics to share their worst review experiences. As pop music critic Michael Hamersly notes:

I was tempted to destroy my stereo with a sledgehammer probably two minutes into Deborah Harry's ironically titled October 2007 release Necessary Evil. It's an excruciating CD, full of random, cheesy musical styles (smooth jazz? hair metal?) and embarrassingly inappropriate lewdness (the 60-year-old woman sings about the devil's d--- and her curlies, for God's sake).
But whether it was professionalism or, more likely, morbid fascination, I stuck it out. Sure, I gave the album no stars (and got plenty of hate mail for trashing the icon), but I felt the ex-Blondie singer's star power warranted a review, good or horrid. If the artist had been a nobody, I would have simply ignored it.

Monday, October 27, 2008

MORE NYC album art

Well, Alex has been running laps around me in our NYC album art back and forth. So, in desperate times like these, I'm breaking out my secret weapon: boobs. OK, OK, I mean, it sort of has something to do with NYC...The original cover of the third record by Jimi Hendrix, "Electric Ladyland," showed a harem of nude women. The cover was banned in the United States...but was OK to use for the U.K. release.

Meanwhile, a few other NYC-related covers that I like...

An examination of hipsters

Meanwhile, in Australia, Lisa Pryor at The Sydney Morning Herald weighs in with a screed titled "How to be a bona fide hipster -- try to be different by being the same." Here are a few excerpts from the article:

Hipsters are hard to describe because they are so full of contradictions. But like a toupee or AIDS-related wasting, you know it when you see it. Hipsters hate fashion but take meticulous care achieving exactly the right degree of rumpledness. They value originality while looking the same as one another.

Thanks to these contradictions, hipsters find themselves always hurtling, psychically, towards a black hole of self-hatred, denial and irony, both intended and unintended. Ever seen someone walk into a cool bar and say "Oh my God. Look at all these try-hard wankers" not realising they look exactly the same? Classic hipster.

This week I am writing to you from the world headquarters of hipsterdom, the Brooklyn neighbourhood of Williamsburg. This slice of New York is the Haight-Ashbury of ironic self-loathing. In Verb Cafe on Bedford Avenue, a sign reads "Missing: brown felt fedora". Only four guys in the cafe are not wearing fedoras. Young men with messy hair, forearm tattoos and full beards abound. Around the corner at egg, an uncapitalised cafe, the beardage rate tops 50 per cent.

Whether they live in New York or Sydney, hipsters share many of the same qualities, particularly in the love-hate relationships they have to the hot topics of gentrification, fashion and queueing.

First, gentrification, a topic on which hipsters have passionate, confused views. They hate watching property prices rise in cool neighbourhoods partly because they do not want to see the earthy, quaint, ethnic working class displaced by white professionals with modular sofas who love painting their front doors red, but mostly because they realise they can no longer make a killing by buying cheap terraces and later flogging them off. And despite hating gentrification, they refuse to move anywhere that has not been gentrified.

A Pioneer no more?

Ugh. This one hurts. New York magazine has the story:

Another East Village institution is shuttering: Two Boots Pioneer Theater, which specializes in indie, underground, and cult fare, will most likely close at the end of the month. “I’m still hoping for a reprieve,” says Two Boots owner Phil Hartman, who’s seeking a partner or new owner. “But it was always a labor of love and never commercially viable.” Hartman and his wife founded the cozy 99-seat cinema in 2000, but the venue seemed older: It attempted to resurrect the lost atmosphere of old, offbeat downtown movie houses. Now it’ll share their fate, done in by a looming rent increase and tough times in the exhibition business.

Looking at the neighborhood circa the late 1970s

A friend gave me a used copy of "The Lower East Side: A Guide to its Jewish Past" by Ronald Sanders. The book, published in 1979, provides a straightforward history of the neighborhood from the 1870s to the 1920s. Text aside, I appreciate the many photos (99 in total) taken by Edmund V. Gillon, Jr. Here's a sampling of them, circa late 1970s:

Eighth Street and Avenue B.

10th Street.

Second Avenue near Sixth Street.

On Second Avenue (a cross street wasn't given).

At the Christodora on Avenue B before it was refurbished.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

NYC's coffee boom

The Times today examines the number of new (non-chain) coffee places that have opened in the city the past few years...places that serve "well-made, well-prepared coffee." Including in the piece are East Village favorites Abraço Espresso on East Seventh Street and Ninth Street Espresso. "There are so many of these places that some people claim that New York is experiencing a coffee renaissance," writes Ted Botha, who did the piece for the Times. Here are a few passages from the article:

“What you see going on now is a de- Starbuckification, if you will,” said Suzanne Wasserman, a food historian who is director of the Gotham Center for New York City History. “People are yearning for authenticity.”

It will probably be a while before specialty coffee shops are as prevalent in the city as wine stores. Most New Yorkers must still travel several miles to find the perfect espresso, and price is often a deterrent to patronizing these places.

Nancy Ralph, the director of the New York Food Museum, describes paying more than a dollar for a cup of coffee as extortion. She also doubts whether $4 mochas will be enough to cover ever-rising rentals in the city. “You’ll have your answer in a year,” she said.

Because I'm a Creeper

Some members of the younger generation in my office were discussing seeing Saw V this weekend.


This is more my speed...Alfred Hitchcock Presents. Via the magic of Hula, here's a Halloween warmup. This episode from 1956 is titled "The Creeper," in which a serial killer known as the Creeper (duh) is terrorizing the women of New York.

[Apologies for the Dove ads...]


The average sales price for three-bedroom apartments in the 10003 zip code is $3,863,550, according to the appraisal firm Miller Samuel. Which makes this three-bedroom on Ninth Street at Third Avenue a steal for $1.5 million. In fact, it's the "Buy of the Week." (New York Times)

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Why a cow was being spit-roasted today on Avenue C

The Sunburnt Cow on Avenue C celebrated its fifth-year anniversary today, in part, by spit-roasting an entire cow in front of the restaurant. And, we swear, the cow was named Bessie.

[Photos by Mrs. Grieve]

Dreaming of making it to the top in New York City....

Nice trench coat, yuppie! Go back to [insert state from Midwest here]!


If you stare at him long enough, I swear that he winks

On Avenue B and Fourth Street.


In front of Cheap Shots, First Avenue near St. Mark's Place.