Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Superdive Diaries: In which a reader endeavors to see a midget pirate serving champagne

An EV Grieve reader decided to check out Superdive's new Champagne Tuesdays last night. This is the report.

I arrive at Superdive shortly after 10, eager to experience the
"cultural elitism and intellectual camaraderie" of its inaugural Champagne Tuesday. The cover strikes me as outrageous, until I realize the suggested donation at the Met is also $20, and Superdive boasts guys in white track suits humping the air with one leg off the ground while making a motorboat sound, which the Met most assuredly does not. I am eager to part with my $20.

The bar is filled with black and white balloons with ribbons. I can't see much but I'm sure everyone is dressed nicely and discussing philosophy. Then my world comes crashing down. I am denied entry due to the bar being "at capacity." I'm told to try back in 30 minutes, maybe an hour, but it does not sound promising. It seems less crowded than the grand opening, but there's nothing doing. I'm also told the bar will be closing early tonight, 12:30 at the latest. I am Jack's inflamed sense of rejection.

I stand by, hoping for a break, or at least a chance to observe the makeup of the Champagne Tuesday crowd. A group of nine girls and two guys exit, mostly in work attire. One fellow kicks over something metallic sounding and states "I didn't do that." The crowd is happy-drunk, and well behaved. A woman in leather pants exits and gains admittance for one of her friends who had been waiting outside. It's clear I will not get in, and I retire up the block.

A little bit of Hollywood on Avenue A

Well, let's keep the old movie theater theme going this week... Take a look at East Village Farms on Avenue A between Seventh Street and Sixth Street...and you'll likely be able tell that it used to be a movie theater...

According to the always-reliable Cinema Treasures:

Located on an ever-busy stretch of Avenue A, in the heart of the East Village, this theater is easy to miss. Opened as the Avenue A Theatre in 1926, it was operated by RKO, followed by Loew's, and was closed in 1959.

Today, it's merely a receptacle for retail space on the former orchestra level of the remains of the original auditorium, which have been converted into a health-oriented grocery store called the East Village Farm. The theater's lobby was also converted into retail space, but has been empty for several years.

Like other theaters in this area, the theater's auditorium runs parallel to the street, with a narrow entrance on Avenue A. Much of the theatre's exterior has survived, including its emergency staircase. The decorations in the auditorium are thought to survive, above the false ceiling of the ground floor store.

One of the Cinema Treasures commenters got a peak inside at the mysterious upstairs...perhaps this is where the never-ending supply of sea salt chips are stored...

And here's what the Hollywood looked like circa 1949:

Photos via Cinema Treasures commenters.

The dorm may have left 200 Water Street...

...but the vomiting remains... (with apologies...)

Have seen this three times now by the Rockrose condos on Water Street near John Street the last week or so. (Not that I'm going looking for it or anything...) And three is officially a trend. Late nights at the Hook and Ladder II?

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Angelika turns 20

On this date in 1989, the Angelika Film Center on Houston and Mercer opened. The theater was originally set to open earlier, on Aug. 18, but there were delays. As the Times reported on Aug. 18, 1989:

The Angelika Film Center, a new six-screen movie theater in SoHo that was to have opened today, has postponed its opening for at least a week. The opening of the $4 million center at Mercer and Houston Streets, which is to be Manhattan's only first-run, multi-screen movie theater south of Greenwich Village, has already been postponed several times because of construction delays.

"I have so much egg on my face, if I say Aug. 25, I don't want to have to eat it again," said Joseph Saleh, the president of Angelika Films, the New York-based production and distribution company that has developed the theater.

The postponement, he added, was because city inspectors had "raised objections about the plumbing and sewage-injection systems, which the contractor couldn't resolve in time."

The theater will present a mixture of "major and independent first-run feature films, retrospectives, foreign films and children's programming," including movies released by Angelika Films, Mr. Saleh said. It will open with "Let It Ride," a comedy starring Richard Dreyfuss and Teri Garr; a Disney action-adventure film called "Cheetah," and the American premieres of two Angelika releases - "Emma's Shadow," a Danish movie about a girl who orchestrates her own kidnapping to get her parents' attention, and "Shell Shock," an Israeli film about two soldiers after the 1973 Middle East war.

The center will include two theaters with 265 seats each, and one each with 210, 190, 130 and 85 seats, as well as a 7,000-square-foot lobby with an espresso bar and cafe catered by Dean & DeLuca. It occupies the basement and ground floor of the Cable Building, which was designed in 1894 by McKim, Mead & White to store Houston Street cable cars.

Tickets will cost $7, and can be reserved in advance by credit card.

As commenter King Biscuit noted at Cinema Treasures, only four of the six screens were ready on Sept. 29 (the other two opened on Oct. 4 and Oct. 13). The premiere engagements were "Shell Shock," "Emma's Shadow," "The Navigator" and "Shirley Valentine."

I haven't been to the Angelika in years. It's perfectly pleasant on a weekday afternoon, when not many people are around. Otherwise, my gripes about it are the same as everyone else's gripes: You know, those uncomfortable seats. (Did they ever replace them?) Terrible sightlines. Etc.

Some good memories, I think, through the years. I remember taking an afternoon off, and sitting in an empty auditorium watching Hal Hartley's "The Unbelievable Truth." I also recall being coerced into to seeing "The Crying Game" at the height of its hype, and standing in some crazy line for tickets. And some wisenheimer walks by and divulges an important penis-related plot point to those of us in line.

And maybe I never got over that now-commonplace concept of cafe and theater, which I always thought took the emphasis away from the film. (Nothing so bad as the decision-makers who decided it was a good idea to sell and serve nachos in a theater...)

Back to some history. As that Times article mentioned, the building was once home to McKim, Mead and White's grand Cable Building. Forgotten NY notes, this once "powered Manhattan's cable cars in the late 1890s and early 1900s. Yes, Manhattan once had an extensive system of cable cars rivaling San Francisco's. The building housed the enormous machinery that was necessary to run the cars in Manhattan as far north as 36th Street. The cable rails were converted to electricity in the early 1900s, and largely eliminated by buses by the 1940s."

Here's a shot of the cable building circa 1894:

According to Architecture NY, "the building to the left of Vogel's window (above) was demolished in the 1950s when Houston Street was widened from it's original 2 lanes to 4 lanes. Three other buildings still further left in the first view were also demolished -- around 1915 to make way for a taller office building of 12 stories. The one that was featured with some kind of 'art' bolted to the side wall that created a big stir when the owners wanted to remove it for a billboard. I believe there is Club Monaco on the ground floor still of that 12 story building."

NYC Architecture has everything else that you'd ever want to know about the Cable Building. (There's plenty more information here.)

Before this, the site was home to St. Thomas Church, which burned down in 1851. The church was rebuilt and then demolished circa 1890. Sounds familiar.

Top photo via.

Other photos via.

At Superdive tonight: Unlimited champagne served by a midget in a pirate costume

The buzzy, pre-opening, OMG-are-they-really-serving-kegs? days of the summer are over for Superdive. Now it's time to do something really stupid to get people talking again! (Guilty!) UrbanDaddy has the Superdive scoop, of course.

Tuesday nights. Unlimited champagne. Sabered open for you. In a bathtub on wheels. By a midget dressed as a pirate.

Let's just let that marinate for a minute.

Welcome to Champagne Tuesdays at Superdive, a new bastion of cultural elitism and intellectual camaraderie, debuting tomorrow in your favorite beer-scented pit of depravity in the East Village.

If ordering a keg to your table, doing a keg-stand on said keg, or generally gallivanting about in the Wild Wild West of dive bars just was too tame for you, here's your chance to let your hair down a little more. Twenty bucks and an appetite for champagne and destruction gets you all the bubbly you can drink, and, yes, that champagne will be sabered and served to you by a little person named Nick wearing a pirate outfit.

At this point, you might be asking yourself why a tiny pirate wielding a tiny saber meant to chop the top off of a champagne bottle is manning a mobile bathtub full of bubbly bottles. And you also might be asking yourself why you would be purchasing champagne from this tiny Jack Sparrow.

Well, because it's Tuesday.

At Le Gamin: à tout à l'heure!

Thanks to everyone who left a comment or sent me an e-mail about Le Gamin Cafe on Fifth Street between Avenue A and Avenue B. Apparently the place is being renovated and will reopen in a few weeks with a new theme. (Dumb question: Does a French-style cafe really need a theme?) Eater has other details. (Image via Eater too.)

P.S. Apologies for that headline. Trying to pad my Google search results in France.


New bank branch for Avenue A?

Thanks to the dear EV Grieve reader who passed along this....On Avenue A near 12th Street.

Monday, September 28, 2009

When 72 Avenue B was a luxurious 1,750-seat theater

You'll recognize Fifth Street and Avenue B here...

But until 1957, it was a Loew's theater...

According to Cinema Treasures:

Loew's Avenue B is part of one of the great rags-to-riches stories of showbiz history. Movie mogul Marcus Loew erected it on the very site of the tenement building where he was born. Needless to say, his birthplace was demolished to make way for the luxurious 1,750-seat theatre, which was designed by Thomas W. Lamb and first opened on January 8, 1913, with vaudeville as its main attraction and movies thrown in just as fillers.

The Avenue B was the top Loew's house on the Lower East Side until the mid-1920s, when the circuit took over the Commodore on Second Avenue, which was a much busier area for entertainment and shopping. The Avenue B was reduced to playing movies at the end of their Loew's circuit run, and remained so until its closure around 1957-58

As Cinema Treasures commenter Warren G. Harris noted:

The theatre cost $800,000 to build. In his opening night speech, Marcus Loew said "This is the most pretentious of the houses on our string, because my better judgment was over-balanced by my sentimentalism and my longing to do something better here than I ever did before." According to corporate histories, the Avenue B was never successful, but Loew's kept it running for decades as a memorial to its founder, who was born on the spot.

Top photo via.

Previously on EV Grieve:
Former landmark countercultural theater now for rent on Avenue B

Now and then: Bowery and First Street

Bowery at East First Street looking south toward Houston

Late 1970s...


Top photo reprinted with permission from Randall's Lost New York City Collection

Au revoir, Le Gamin?

A reader notes that Le Gamin Cafe on Fifth Street between Avenue A and Avenue B is now closed.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

The Giants win the pennant!

In East River Park earlier this summer. One of the many photos that I never did anything with... The kids asked to have their photo taken. They said the Giants were the best.

Summer loving...

Another photo from East River Park this summer ...

Friday, September 25, 2009

Still more Howl!

There's some Howl! left this month. Check out the East Village Howler for more.

Rumormongering: Copper Building film festival

A fairly credible source told me that some EV thrillseekers have been showing films on the white sheets that covered parts of the under-construction Copper Building on 13th Street and Avenue B. Not sure on all the logistics about how this happened exactly, but when pressed, I was assured that this happened several times over the summer. Would have liked to have known then, so I could have joined them...

Meanwhile. Progress! Those sheets are coming down at the Copper.


Posts that I never got around to posting: New 16-foot Subway sub looks like rolled linoleum for some reason

Heh. No, no... just a few workers entering a building next door to the Subway on Second Avenue near Ninth Street.

Posts that I never got around to posting: Unusual fenestration pattern

City Reality listed the Pros and Cons for One Ten Third Avenue...

Roof deck
Good public transportation
Close to Union Square
Many balconies
Unusual fenestration pattern
Fitness center
Close to Strand book store
Close to many movie theaters

Considerable traffic
No sidewalk landscaping
Unusual fenestration pattern

Posts that I never got around to posting: Nothing but the best for the new Rockrose condos

Out front on Pearl Street.


Posts that I never got around to posting: Donut calamity

Barely visible on this tag on Sixth Street...Dunkin Donuts calamity....

Posts that I never got to around to posting: The Lotus club

Fourth Avenue at 10th Street.

Posts that I never got around to posting: Post no bills on the St. Brigid's plywood

Posts that I never got around to posting: Midtown Express

About 10 tickets on the windshield of this Midtown Express truck on 12th Street between First Avenue and Second Avenue... Express?

Posts that I never got around to posting: Wet Red Paint!!!

On Avenue A. And I think a good band name. "Hi, we're Wet Red Paint." Or not.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

My blue Manhattan

When you see the new window display that went up yesterday at the Morrison Hotel Gallery on the Bowery, you'll figure someone is having a little fun with all of us...

A gallery worker told a tourist out front that this was simply "the artist's statement," and that she did not know what it meant. Uh-huh.

And, if you don't know already, the artist is Ryan Adams.

People get ready

We get press releases!

I recently came across your blog and can see that you have a large following in the New York City area. Because of this, I wanted to reach out to you about a new campaign aimed at educating New Yorkers about how to prepare for emergencies.

September is National Preparedness Month, and in order to encourage New Yorkers to prepare for disasters the New York City Office of Emergency Management, the American Red Cross in Greater New York and the Ad Council have launched a new public service advertising campaign called Ready New York.

The campaign asks individuals to get prepared by taking three simple steps:

1) Get an emergency supply kit.

2) Make a family emergency plan.

3) Be information about the different types of emergencies that could occur and the best responses to them.

It is important to engage your readers and all New Yorkers in becoming better prepared for emergencies in their homes, business and schools.

Toward that end, we encourage you to write about Ready New York on your site and share the following “easy-to-use” social networking tools in your post:

Ready New York City campaign website

If you were a college student, what would you prefer to do?

Not to mention Dennis Franz through the years

Just in time for the new fall TV season, reportedly. Thanks to the EV Grieve reader who came across this mashup of the "NYPD Blue" intro...which covers all 129 seasons. Past and present NYC icons include the Mars Bar, Leshko's, the Tower of Toys and the DKNY mural...

Is it me, or does this show seems as if it was on about 50 years ago?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


And who's the lucky 'hood?

Williamsburg! Woo!

No. 2. Lower East Side!


Best place to meet people on the Lower East Side

Vanessa’s Dumpling House

Pickup lines to try while you wait for your food:

Beginner: “So, how long have you been in line?”

Intermediate: “I just found a quarter in my couch—can I buy you a dumpling?”

Advanced: “I bet you’re just like this dumpling: smooth and slick on the outside, complex and delicious on the inside. I am too.”
118 Eldridge St between Broome and Grand

In case you were feeling good about things...

Crain's New York has the story.

To Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, the recession may be over. But in Queens, Anthony Fodera isn't buying it. The president of 80-year-old bakery-goods distributor Fodera Foods says checks are being returned from customers who had pristine payment histories and orders are off by nearly 25% compared with this time last year.

I don't see the recession being over, especially in New York City, where so much of business revolves around Wall Street,” Mr. Fodera says. “It's my gut [feeling] from what I'm seeing.”

For the city, Mr. Fodera's gut appears to be a better indicator than Mr. Bernanke's statement last week that “the recession is very likely over at this point.” With tax receipts, office and hotel room rentals and Broadway ticket sales all tumbling and unemployment continuing to rise, the city's economy has further to fall before the impact of this epic downturn finally subsides. Even the most optimistic economists' estimates have the five boroughs losing about 150,000 more jobs, on top of the nearly 100,000 jettisoned since August 2008. Experts, drawing on past experience, say the bottom could be more than a year away.

Recovery in the city traditionally lags the nation. For example, in 1991, the national recession ended in March, but the city's jobless rate rose for another 18 months. And unemployment in the city didn't peak until 14 months after the national downturn ended in November 2001.

If the recession is ending now, we're probably looking at the end of next year before peak unemployment arrives,” says James Brown, principal economist at the state Department of Labor.