Tuesday, May 1, 2012
Thursday, November 13, 2008
Stopped by Donnybrook the other day for a drink. This is the new upscale Irish pubby place that opened at the corner of Clinton and Stanton on Oct. 24.
Having lived across the street for nearly 10 years, we were curious about what became of the space. (We had moved up the way before the former occupant, the Lotus Lounge, closed.) First, the bar. Well, it looks as if the owners (same as Lucky Jack's) spent a fortune renovating the space. Everything is spiffy and buffed. They'll spend a fortune on Pledge.
The folks working were friendly. The bartender said they'd be serving "hearty Irish fare" in the next two weeks. There were two TVs on (mute) with some sort of sports; one TV was tuned to a rugby match that a group of people from the UK were enjoying. The Dave Matthews Band was playing on the house stereo. (And not just any old Dave Matthews -- this was a live recording with an extra side of jam!) We had two draft beers (imperial pints) and two glasses of wine. Our check was $32. It was all perfectly pleasant.
But would we ever go back? Well, it's just not really our thing. We like a little more grit and grime. And history. A friend, who has lived in the neighborhood for years, popped by for a drink and dryly remarked that it's "a little slice of Murray Hill right in the LES." (He must not get out much in the neighborhood these days.)
While at Donnybrook, we started reminiscing about the cluttered Christian Ministries thrift shop that was housed here before the Lotus. We bought some kind of dresser that weighed like 300 pounds. The proprietor, who looked like Jeremiah Johnson, was kind enough to help us lug it up five steep flights of stairs. He refused a tip. But! He wasn't in a hurry to leave. "May I ask you a question?" Uh-oh. "Have you accepted Jesus Christ as your lord and savior?" Somehow we got him out the door with only a pamphlet for the trouble. We also thought about the bodega where wd~50 is now on Clinton Street; the bodega with the cock-fighting ring in the back. Anyway, we did a little too much reminiscing at the Donnybrook. Which made me think that this bar is out place. Or rather, we're just out of place.
Thursday, July 31, 2008
For 30 years, Adam Petrella ran the funky newstand with the directions at Bowery and Canal called Petrella's Point. (You might remember his portraits of Bruce Lee and Marilyn Monroe that adorned his stand.)
As the Times reported, on May 16, 1997, "Giuliani signed into law new rules governing sidewalk newsstands, increasing the annual fee charged the city's 330 vendors from $538 to as much as $5,000, depending on the location. The law also provides for 100 more stands to be put out for competitive bids. Current renters will have five years before the city decides whether to continue renting the stands or to seek bids. The law is part of the initiative to replace current street furniture (newsstands and bus shelters) with new streamlined versions that will be built by the company that wins a 20-year city contract. The new items and 30 public toilets will be financed by selling advertising space on them, generating hundreds of millions for whoever gets the contract.
Mr. Petrella wonders when he'll become a victim of design and progress."
The newstand was removed in 2004 to make room for a bank. Petrella died in 2006 at the age of 85. According to his obiturary in The Villager:
"His is the story of a proud New Yorker who persevered and documented three decades of change on the Bowery. He is a true and significant source of inspiration for our own small museum,” said Dave Herman, president of the City Reliquary Museum in Williamsburg, Brooklyn."
Speaking of the City Reliquary Museum, Herman has some of Petrella's old newstand on display, along with the original 2nd Avenue Deli sign construction workers tossed when the restaurant shuttered in 2006. The Museum is holding a summer benefit tonight.
Friday, June 13, 2008
"The neighborhood was desolate, so underpopulated that landlords would give you a month's free rent just for signing a lease"
In November 2003, new editions of the bible, Luc Sante's "Low Life: Lures and Snares of Old New York" (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1991), included an afterword, which was also published in The New York Review of Books on Nov. 6, 2003. (I have an old copy of the book, and was unaware of the essay. By the way, the essay also appears in the booklet that accompanies the Stranger Than Paradise Criterion Collection.)
Here are a few of the many compelling passages from My Lost City:
I drifted down from the Upper West Side to the Lower East Side in 1978. Most of my friends made the transition around the same time. You could have an apartment all to yourself for less than $150 a month. In addition, the place was happening. It was happening, that is, in two or at most three dingy bars that doubled as clubs, a bookstore or record store or two, and a bunch of individual apartments and individual imaginations. All of us were in that stage of youth when your star may not yet have risen, but your moment is the only one on the clock. We had the temerity to laugh at the hippies, shamefully backdated by half a decade. In our arrogance we were barely conscious of the much deeper past that lay all around. We didn't ask ourselves why the name carved above the door of the public library on Second Avenue was in German, or why busts of nineteenth-century composers could be seen on a second-story lintel on Fourth Street. Our neighborhood was so chockablock with ruins we didn't question the existence of vast bulks of shuttered theaters, or wonder when they had been new. Our apartments were furnished exclusively through scavenging, but we didn't find it notable that nearly all our living rooms featured sewing-machine tables with cast-iron bases.
[For more amazing photos by Marlis Momber like the one above, please visit her Web site.]
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
Monday, April 21, 2008
Sunday, April 13, 2008
People waiting in line for an outdoor table at Zum Schneider yesterday afternoon. Meanwhile, activity continues at 111 Avenue C next door, home to the now-closed Bao 111. The Bao owners packed it in at the end of February and are reportedly moving to the West Village (emphasis mine) because the rents became too high on Avenue C.
On Oct. 16, 2005, The New York Times did a piece on how hip Avenue C had become. According to the article:
Raising the style quotient several notches is Bao 111, 111 Avenue C (between Seventh and Eighth Streets), (212) 254-7773, a slick Vietnamese restaurant that draws fashion model types.
(I saw James Iha, formerly of the Smashing Pumpkins, in there once!)
A prediction from the article:
"C will keep its edginess for five more years," predicted Melvina Goren, a partner at Porch, 115 Avenue C (Seventh and Eighth), (212) 982-4034, a candlelit bar known for its large backyard. "And then the scene will move on to Avenue D."
What do you think? We have two years left. Is C still "edgy?"
Sunday, March 9, 2008
This plaque is on a building on East Ninth Street between Avenue A and First Avenue. I'm always happy that such tributes survive through the years. Can easily see some new builinding owner or creepy super be like, "Who in the &*&^%$ is Astor Piazzolla...?" and take it down.
By the way, I wasn't familiar with him either until I first saw this plaque some years back.