Tuesday, September 13, 2011

An East Village pep talk

Here's a recent email from a longtime resident who may be losing the East Village faith:

"The neighborhood has really been getting me down lately and I was wondering if you would ever post a pep talk, pointing out its good points. I'm not enjoying much about the East Village lately, but I can't leave because my apartment is rent-stabilized. Three high rises have been built within 50 feet of me within the last dozen years and God forbid I have to walk my dog on a Friday or Saturday night. The sidewalks are so clogged with drunken frat guys I can barely get through. I've also been mugged in the last few years so I don't necessarily think it's safer, either."

Thought we might make this a group exercise. Given what has closed of late, and what might be closing... Anyway, we sometimes talk about the stuff around here that we don't like ... how about sharing the things that you do like? Things that make the neighborhood the special place that it is.

And we're not approving any comments in which someone attacks a person's choice for things that they like. Unless it concerns Frogurt. Or cargo shorts.


Uncle Waltie said...

The fact that I can get 3 tallboys for $ 6.00 at 5AM any night of the week.*

*This comment has been endorsed by Marty Wombacher.

MUCH more to come.

Anonymous said...

I would say this. I left the city years ago because I needed a change, I know live in NJ and honestly I can't stand it. I spend every chance I get comming in just so I can walk around my old haunts and recharge my spirit. It has changed and it is changing but the reality is I still miss it and if I could I would move back in a second. Get up early on a sunday and just walk the empty streets and listen and feel the ghosts of all those who came before and you'll remember why you still want to live there.

Jeremiah Moss said...

i'm with that reader--in the same situation. St. Mark's Bookshop is one of the only things i still want to live in this neighborhood for. when/if it's gone? that will be a very bitter pill. i don't know what's left after that. there are only so many egg creams you can enjoy from Ray's and pretend that's enough to make a neighborhood livable anymore.

Anonymous said...

Echoing anon 7:55 on the early-morning walks — 10th Street bt 3rd and 2nd & 7th bt Cooper Square and A on a fall morning.

Anonymous said...

Community gardens!

Anonymous said...

I have lived here for more than 20 years, and I am frustrated by a lot of the changes, but there is still so much to love. One thing I still feel is a sense of community from the people who have been here for awhile. I love that I have neighbors in my building and on my street who care enough to say hello and ask how I am. I also love places like Cafe Orlin, which still has that East Village vibe, and the Yaffa Cafe, which is as kooky as ever. As much as I do find myself complaining these days, I still can't imagine living anywhere else. Check in with me again in 10 years, and I might think differently...

AC said...

Tompkins Square Park — always.

Melanie said...

Tompkins Square Park!!!
Nice to hear positive stuff about NYC--I like walking about early in the morning too--something special--late late night too.

Anonymous said...

I also highly recommend early-morning Sunday walks! Far east 14th, with storekeepers hosing the sidewalks. It's very peaceful. More to love:

St. Mark's Church in the Bowery

Chico murals and Jim the Mosaic Man

Trash & Vaudeville

East Village Books (St. Marks b/t 1st/A)

Dave on 7th said...

I love the neighborhood for the people. what
shocks me on a daily basis is that despite
the immense and inevitable change of the last
25 years, is how many people that I've
known over those years are still here. My
favorite day recently was the Sunday morning
after Irene passed through. As I stood outside
Ray's I realized that everyone I saw I knew
personally, or knew them by sight. It was a
great feeling. And it hit me once again that I
lived in the smallest town in America.

Ken from Ken's Kitchen said...

Pommes Frites and Russo's, Doc Haddock for kittens
Sapporo, DeRobertis, Kiehl’s, Alphabets for mittens
Kielbasa from East Village Meat Market all tied up with strings
These are a few favorite East Village things!

Sammy said...

"Smallest town in America." Dave on 7th nailes it. I have only been here for 12 years, but this same thought hit me the other day as I walked to the train. I have a running 'pay me when you can' system with the newspaper guy, a friendly smile with the fish monger/veggie juice fellow, and a slew of other familiar faces that pass me by. I like that I can go anywhere in the city and come back to what feels truly like a home and not just my apartment but the area surrounding it. Lastly, I enjoy that I can walk south on the weekend and almost always find something of interest. Despite the hundreds of times I have walked the same streets before. A building I missed, or a person who I have not seen for years, a person I hope I see again soon and on and on. That all being said, I rarely leave my apt. on Friday or Saturdy ights unless I have a destination solidly in mind. It is a shit show. But there is still much to love...

Marty Wombacher said...

International Bar
Coal Yard
St. Mark's Bookshop
Boca Chica
Ray's Candy Store
Uncle Waltie
The Chillmaster and the entire Chillmaster Crew (including anyone who's ever attended a Chillmaster Party)
The shell of the Mars Bar
The Free Willie Nelson RV
The jukebox at Joe's Bar
And in the future: A Gruber MacDougal sighting at the IHOP of him enjoying a big stack of Rooty Tooty Frooty Juicy Lucy Lady Gaga Pancakes

Shawn said...

I am not gonna post a damn thing about the East Village/LES ya know why?

The more "cool" and "great" stuff you talk about, the more read it, the more want to move here, causing:

1. Higher rents
2. More yuppies
3. Loss of NYC culture

Seattle did this well for years saying "it always rains here" which is a load of BS. But it kept people from moving there in droves until the 90's.

Stop raving about the EV/LES. Instead, say it sucks!

It's unsafe!
It's trash!
It's shit!
Then people WON'T come here.

Ya got it all backwards! Don't praise the EV/LES, tell people how much you hate it!

I hate it here!
It sucks!
Stupid crappy food and everything closes early!
I can't wait to move!

Don't move here you'll hate it to! Grammercy Park and Murray Hill are WAY BETTER and I can't WAIT to move there and get out of this "Yeast Village Infection!"

Billy said...

I also agree with early morning walks. And crusties. I always say that as the crusties go, so goes the neighborhood.

We almost moved out two summers ago. Even left a deposit on a new place. We ate the deposit and stayed. Haven't regretted it once.

Steph said...

Early morning walks.
Marble Cemetery - open hours are magical
International Bar
Tile Bar
Coal Yard
Community gardens - can't express how much I love walking around on a summer weekend going into the gardens.
Summer weekends - w/o college kids and everyone being out of town makes me renew my love with the hood.
Hell's Angels
The sense of community and the diversity of people - it's still here. It's still better than all of Manhattan and don't even mention Brooklyn.

Anonymous said...

That the neighborhood's best bar is between a McDonald's and a Dunkin Donuts. HOPE.

Anonymous said...

It may sound pathetic but my favorite thing is my window, with strong sunlight and view of what I call my tree.

The ground floor business, which isn't yet opened, has obstructed my window with giant vents cutting off half of the view and light that I used to have.

I know it sounds pathetic, but I am grateful for the one eye that I have left.

Anonymous said...

I have to move very, very soon because I can't afford my $1000 rent anymore (and have no idea where I'll be able to go), but I want to stay in the neighborhood. The person who wrote this should just be glad they have affordable housing. :(

Anonymous said...

Bon Yagi's Japanese restaurant mini-empire on 9th and 10th streets: Shabutatsu, Currya, Rairaiken, Decibel, Hasaki, Sobaya, Robataya.

Anonymous said...

To the poster who has $1,000 rent, I wish I could trade with you! I have a rent stabilized apartment, too, but my rent isn't that cheap. I don't know anyone paying $1,000 a month. Can you try to stick it out? There isn't anywhere else you could go in the city for that kind of rent.

Anonymous said...

@ anon 11:27

Are you referring to the post prior to yours? How do you know that this person lives in affordable housing?

One of my favorite things is when ignoramuses leave the area.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, lots of mixed feelings here. Many lovely people, but the newer ones are for the most part selfish spoiled brats. My new next door neighbor left a note "Dear Unkind Neighbor, blah blah you took my newspaper blah blah..." I felt like ripping the note right off the wall. The frat boys and girls will leave, but there will continue to be late-night courtyard parties that keep 2 blocks of neighbors awake until 5am. Now, I'm not a hater per se, but I am tired to the spoiled brats populating my neighborhood. They need a good slap and some manners. So there. Otherwise I'd kill to keep the B&H, The Neptune, Angelina's, Casimirs, and my man Isaac etc. etc.

Anonymous said...

Still plenty of good theater left. The East 4th Street Cultural District. What Lorcan is doing with Theatre 80. The 13th Street Repertory Company.

And what about treasures such as Gathering of the Tribes, the Nuyorican Poets Cafe and Anthology Film Archives?

East Village Yuppie Hater said...

I'm with Shawn Chittles!! Let's get rid of all the Yuppies! Nothing kills a community faster than Young people living in an Urban environment that are Professionals in their jobs!! Booo Yuppies. Yay Yuppie Haters!!!!!! In a broad, sweeping generalization...they're better!!!

Anonymous said...

You live in a rent-stabilized apartment. 'Nuff said.

Jonny Champagne said...

I just LOVE the fro-yo joints ... and Whole Foods!! Yay!
Oh, and Tompkins Square is the BEST PARK EVERRRR!!!

HippieChick said...

The tall, straight oak tree in front of my building and the apple tree right next to it. DeRobertis lemon ice (which I wish they had all year round). Russo's fresh pasta and prosciutto. East Village Meat Market (great stuff correctly priced, and so clean!). Ninth Street Bakery. Moishe's. Luke's Lobster. But don't any more yuppoids come, and no more bars.

Laura Goggin Photography said...


East River Park.

Community gardens - I can't believe how many people don't take advantage of them.

All the trees that line our streets.

That small town feeling - I love being able to walk around an run into people I know or just say hi to familiar faces. I used to get mail at Mars Bar. That was awesome.

The fact that I can go get a coffee in my PJs and blue wig and no one will question me.

Anonymous said...

Geesh - the local blog(ger)s, of course! And, and... the remaining mom and mom or mom and pop or pop and pop stores/eateries like Ciao for Now or Jane's Exchange or Giova or Muzzarella or Ray's...
St. Brigid's. The Lower East Side Ecology Center. G.O.L.E.S. and much, much more.

Janos Marton said...

Odessa, Ray, Manitoba, Indian restaurant row, all the great used book stores, record stores, music venues, thrift stores, the 11th street flea market, Tompkins Square Park, jogging by the East River- it's amazing how endlessly the list could go on for such a small geographic area.

Uncle Waltie said...

The fact that I have spent more time here than anywhere else, yet still feel like I just moved here a couple of days ago. The never-ending influx of people who come here with the same or similar aspirations I once held, holding a mirror to my face and thus strangely validating and revitalizing my choices. The fact that I feel that down here 'we' still outnumber 'them'. Not to mention Astor Wines at East 4th & Lafayette or Warehouse Wines & Spirits on Broadway. Not because I'm a drunk, but because I drink responsibly and economically.

Krikor said...

I think we can all agree that the key to enjoying the neighborhood is to not go out between 5 PM Thursday and 5 AM Sunday. That said, I think the good definitely still outweighs the bad around here. Some places not mentioned that I love (assuming I'm visiting outside the above hours): Max, Mama's, Casa Adela, Bua, Veselka, Lucien, Crooked Tree Creperie, and 7B. And I love that the shoe store on St. Marks and First has managed to survive this long.

BTW, if you do find yourself out on a Saturday night and need some cheap entertainment, grab one of the window seats at Nino's, eat a slice and enjoy the neighborhood's best view of the shitshow.

Nathan said...

In addition to the many great comments others have made, I'll add some of my favorites:

1. East Village Books. St. Mark's is great, but I prefer East Village Books

2. Little Poland

3. East Village Cheese

4. Porto Rico Coffee

5. Xi'an Noodles (a relative newcomer to the neighborhood, I know, but really great food and fair prices)

VH McKenzie said...

Takahachi and the boys at East Village Wine!

Anonymous said...

I love that this is the first place I've lived in NYC that truly felt like home. I'm a relative n00b, having been in the EV for only two years, but this is the only place I've ever lived where I know my neighbors and the small business owners around me. I love that I can walk down the street and say hi to people (and sometimes, their dogs) as we both go about our usual routines. Everything I need is within walking distance, and I don't have to go to big chain stores to get it.

Even when I hole up for the weekend to avoid the usual craziness, I love that I've got a huge choice of great places that will deliver any kind of food to me 24 hours a day (or that I can venture out to if I'm feeling particularly brave).

I love that I can leave the house in whatever I want, doing whatever I want, and nobody will bat an eye (But I will totally give the stinkeye to kids running around in short dresses, high heels, popped collars, and no jackets in the winter).

I love the neighborhood fixtures who give this place its flavor and personality, and that there's so much neighborhood pride. If I ever have to leave the East Village for good, they will have to drag me out kicking and screaming.

Anonymous said...

St. Mark's Church in-the-Bowery and Tompkins Square Park.

francesca said...

I love Tompkins, the east River Park, Manitoba's, Fun City, Trash and Vaudeville, Angelica Kitchen, exit ( and Alphabets for totally useless but cool stuff (remember Little Ricky's), Enchantments and C squat.Venus Body Arts too.I like that no body looks at me funny because I have body mods, when on the Upper East Side, where I work, people are sometimes openly hostile to me.I'm moving out of NYC when my lease is up and I will miss this neighborhood. I can't afford a bigger place and I'm sick of living in a box with a loftbed so my dog has some room to stretch her legs.

Rent stabilized does not mean affordable, FYI. Rents can go up to $2,000 then the apartment becomes deregulated. If I moved to Washington Heights I could get triple the space for less money.

Ken from Ken's Kitchen said...

Hi francesca

A rent stabilized apt can only get de-stabilized when:

a) Your rent hits the $2,500+/mo mark AND
b) household income exceeds $200,000/year in each of the 2 preceding calendar years.

However, if your landlord is receiving tax abatements from New York City (under the J51, 421-a or 421-g programs) the "luxury" de-stabilization provisions won't apply no matter what your rent is or how much you make.

Quiet 'Tude said...

Here's another pep-talk from a relative newcomer. When we moved to New York City from San Francisco two years ago, my wife and I planned to use our one-month sublet in the East Village as a base from which to look for an apartment of our own. We assumed that apartment would be somewhere in Brooklyn, but I immediately bonded with this neighborhood that seemed to embody everything I hoped New York would turn out to be. So we looked and found we could find a place at the upper frontier of our price range, but the apartment would just be really tiny. We were happy to make that trade-off.

Here's why.

Start with the diversity: all kinds of people live here, which necessarily includes kinds of people we're supposed to like and kinds of people we're supposed to dislike. They're all here. On a good day you'll see six kinds of crazy and ten kinds of sane within two blocks of the front door, but maybe that's cheating because Tompkins Square Park is within those two blocks.

Tompkins Square Park, as most of the other posters here concur, is a category unto itself of Reason to Love the East Village, and it encompasses all the other reasons. It's a place for things to happen; a place for neighbors to run into each other; the reason our dogs aren't all insane like in the rest of the city; a place where the punk show doesn't for a moment interrupt the drumming circle, or vice versa; a historical site that clearly hasn't seen its last historical moment.

There are also all kinds of places here. Yeah, it feels sometimes like only the most obnoxious businesses survive, but that isn't true. Go down Second Avenue and you'll see places that have been there for several generations alongside places that are changing over every few months. Some people's dreams in the making, some terrible ideas that work and some that don't, and some people's grandparent's dreams living on.

The East Village is still most of what I know of New York City, so it may be that much of what I describe could be said about a lot of the city. But don't deny that you can say it about this neighborhood. Regardless of whether it used to be more true, it's true about this place today.

Spike said...

Russ & Daughters, choice of a couple good arepa places, that Mexican deli that sells tacos on Ave A & 13th, Farmers Market at Tompkins on Sundays, the view from my leaking rooftop (with beer in hand), Marble Cemetery (also the view from my roof), running into someone i know just about every day, my wife's shift at a local boozer, and especially that most of Marty's best nights are when he goes out in the East village!

Anonymous said...

The women. I'm not being a pig either. The East Village has beautiful women of all ages.

Anonymous said...

I love all the East Villagers who paid respect to the fallen willow at La Plaza, who knew we could all feel that deeply about a tree?

I love all of us hanging on by a thread, inexplicably, tied to this neighborhood because of an idea, memory or hope of what we want out of life, we believe the answer to lie here.

And to get specific, I love the Gardens, the East River, Dry Docks Pool on 10th btw C & D, East Village Cinema, St. Mark's Church & Cemetery, St. Mark's Books, that magazine shop on Ave A, Sapporo East, East Village Cheese, Juicy Lucy, B & H Dairy, Yaffa Cafe, Odessa, anybody who still has the guts to dine alone, and the fact that Veselka still hires folks over 60. Thank-you!

onemorefoldedsunset said...

Long away, but I always come back. Ditto to lots of previous comments. I'll add Stage diner, Ukrainean EV restaurant, Streecha, Polish G.I. deli, Grassroots. LUCY's!

Dick Hell said...

You're all such snobs. There are some really great newer spots in the 'hood to be appreciated too such as The Beagle, Momofuku, Artichoke Pizza, brunch at Prune, Lukes Lobster, Death & Co., Big Gay Ice Cream, Diablo Royale, Le Souk (RIP), and I can't wait for IHOP!

Dick Hell said...

Oh and I almost forgot- Sunday afternoon street hockey in Tompkins.

jose garcia said...

does anyone but me remember way back in the very late 80s or very early 90s there was a regular neighborhood elderly-ish man, possibly homeless, but he was followed all over the neighborhood in and around the park by his pack of dogs, possibly as many as 8-10 dogs, all rather mutt-ish looking but so loyal to him they were always at his side. no leashes or anything. and the very oldest of the dogs always carried up the rear. i miss him and them too.

Anonymous said...

East Village anecdote for ya. My wife and I come home from work separately and sometimes stop in the corner Korean deli to buy groceries for the kids: milk, bread, bananas, etc. One night I came home from work late, pick up some milk and bananas and put them on the counter. The Korean guy smiles and says, "You don't need to buy bananas."

Anonymous said...

IHOP is open, Dick Hell. I just passed it an hour ago.

Speaking of the greatest things about the EV ... you should really stop calling yourself that.

Anonymous said...

East Village early morning walks - Yes! Especially on Sunday mornings. Often after staying up all night on my vampire schedule, I take those pre-dawn and just after dawn walks. Stop in to a church or two, wanter the park, get something from one of the bakeries as they are opening.

Favorite East Village bits:
- Tokio 7
- Veselka
- Moishe's
- all the vinyl stores - even ones that opened recently! Norman's, Tropicalia in Furs, Good Records, Other Music
- NuBlu (please stay in the EV!)
- 2 library branches!! (Take that, SoHo)
- beautiful women, yes!
- St Mark's Books
- the international community
- the older people who still live in the EV
- every kind of cuisine at reasonable prices
- La MaMa
- SideWalk Cafe
- live jazz every night @ Jules for no cover
- everything is walking distance
- etc etc

- East Villager

Modern life is rubbish said...

McSorelys Ale House !!!

Anonymous said...

all these posts brought tears to my eyes! After 31 years I still love the East Village. Home Sweet Home.
oh and do remember that guy with the dogs. We called him The Herder.

Anonymous said...

You're all making this so much harder for me. I leave tonight for a new life in Chicago after 18 years in the east village. I've chosen Frank as my last supper where I'm writing this entry. (their rigatoni ragu captures my grandmothers ragu more than any other) Last desert - probably a Van Leuwen sundae.

What I'll miss most? Sundays mornings at the Bean with my dog Olive. (The original Bean). And how the residents really care about the East Village as if it were a member of their family. Case in point: an amazing blog like this can only exist here.

The list of other thing to miss is endless.

Love the bananas story. Lol (for real, ask the woman eating next to me) My anecdote would be a memory of my ex-laudromat guy who would allow you to bet your shirts (literally) on any pro game. You win - shirts done free - lose, pay double. Or let it all ride for the next time. Tallys were kept on post-its. 10 years after his business closed he still says hi even if I run into him in another part of town, which actually happens. And he still remembers my name.

Sarah said...

I've seen a lot of the obvious here, which tells me that some of you (especially those who came in the 90s and after) are as limited as the yuppies you rail against.

How about:

1. Szold Place and the environs around the Con-Ed station on 14th street

2. The mosque on 1st avenue, and the multitude of cabs that park at meters during the 1 p.m. and Friday prayers

3. The halal food truck that those cabbies go to on 11th Street, and the sense of brotherhood you find there among those who are in line

4. The Ukrainian museum, the Ukrainian yearly festival, St George's church (don't forget the people WE--ie, those who came in the 70s and 80s-- displaced)

5. And yes, Tompkins Square Park, as always.

Anonymous said...

Yes, how could I forget the Ukrainian Museum! A great and unique cultural institution right in the midst of the EV. The exhibits are often fascinating, and there are events (movies, concerts, talks) here all the time. SImilarly the Shevchenko Scientific Institute.

Not all the Ukrainians are gone!

- East Villager

glamma said...

high percentage of REAL new yorkers who actually LIVE here.

francesca said...

I remember going to the Ukrainian Museum as a kid to make Ukrainian Easter eggs. My mother kept that egg for years.

I guess it doesn't really count as East Village but Stuyvesant Cove park.

@Sarah, how does liking any of the things mentioned make anyone like the yuppies. Is there a time frame that you have to have lived here in order for your opinion to be valid? Anyone who moved here after the 90s isn't a member of the community?

What I have seen happen is a lot of single young people who don't plan to stay here long moving in and complaining about things like the crusties and punk shows in Tompkins and the City caving in to them. And that creates justifiable resentment.

glamma said...

Mom's, Rosa's, and Family Value on D. Pitt Street Pool. Church of Graffiti. Manitobas. Lucys. Sophies. Joe's. Monas. Speakeasy. San Loco. Max's. Cafecito. Rue B. Tompkins for Life. Mini Thai Cafe. Native Bean. Magazine Store on A. Ray's. Gem Spa. Thrift stores. Bookstores. Used CD stores. Veneiros. Juicy Lucy's. Nublu (they are now in the basement of lucky chengs). Boca Chica. Neptunes. Hop Devil. All the good Mexican places. All the cultural institutions. Taking ballet class on ave c with girls in ripped fishnet tights, tatoos and plaid, pleated punk skits. St. Marks place. Mamouns. Porto Rico. PUERTO RICANS. Casa Adella. The Russian cobbler. Lit. Pomme Frites. Colorful people everywhere, all the time. The history of how this neighborhood was built. And every resident and institution that seeks to preserve and honor that history of diversity, class equality and cultural progression... SHHHHHHHHH do not tell the masses...... that this is still far and away, the best neighborhood in all of manhattan.

Anonymous said...

John's Italian Restaurant on 12th Street, DiRobertis Cafe...two great old-school Italian joints that have been here for years and years and years.

Sarah said...

No, I didn't compare people on this post to yuppies or to claim that those who came after 1990 are illegitimate presences. I only tried to note that many of the choices struck me as carrying their own kind of specialized interests. There's nothing wrong with that, though I'm a little sick of reading about EV bars and stores. As everyone knows, the East Village is also the Ukrainian, Muslim and Hispanic population, the history, the world east of Avenue C. It would've been nice to read more posts on that.

Jeremiah Moss said...

how could i forget John's on 12th? the best.

Graydon said...

I have always loved the EV because you don't have to have a particular profile to fit in. Nobody cares what you look like, how you dress, how much money you have, etc. -- which cannot be said of other hoods.

I also appreciate the sense of community in the EV; it's the strongest of all hoods in Manhattan.

I feel that the neighborhood has changed so much in the last year for the worst. I'm not happy here anymore. After many years of living in the EV, I've decided to go elsewhere in Manhattan. I'll always consider myself an East Villager, but for now it's not a place I want to be.

pennys herb co. said...

why i live here since 1972 :
the native neighbors
great public schools for my son
the stores :
de roberts
chinatown {great shopping
open pantry
gem spa
b&h dairy
angelica kitchen
jaguar {on rivington
ace n safi hardware
surma {general store {7th st.
trader joe {14th st
kossar bialys
mogrador cafe {yossi n rifka {thank you!!!
east village books
st. mark book store
east village cheese
neighborhood school
thom. square middle school
franks bicycle shop {grand st.
i can go on n on {but i wont
we are loving our neighborhood for...39 years now!!!