Sunday, April 13, 2008

Spring has sprung on Avenue C

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?"

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Signs of the times

Random collection of photos that I've taken in the neighborhood the past few years.

He would have loved the 37 bank branches that popped up around the corner

So someone told me that Butch Cassidy (as in Butch and the Sundance Kid, Newman and Redford!) lived briefly in the East Village. That someone was right. As the story goes, Butch Cassidy lived in a boardinghouse run by Mrs. Catherine Taylor at 234 E. 12th St. between Second and Third Avenues. This was in 1901. Butch (joined later by the Sundance Kid and his squeeze, Etta Place) hung out here for awhile, spending money, among other things, on their way to Argentina. There's no more No. 234 on the block. That building was torn down to make way for a nursing school. The building now houses a doctor's office and some nice-looking apartments.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Miracle on Pearl Street

Outside my jurisdiction again! But I do work around the corner from this project at Maiden Lane and Pearl Street. So I have the pleasure to see this concrete hell inch skyward every week day. As Curbed as reported, the developers are such preservationists that they decided to make the old facade at 211 Pearl Street a permanent part of this gaudy insult to centuries past. As the City Room reported, 211 Pearl Street WAS a five-story counting house completed in 1832 for William Colgate, the founder of Colgate-Palmolive.

Anyway, as I understand it, the lovely old Pearl Street Diner -- with that classic neon sign -- will live on. It closed for a few days when the construction began at the Rockrose stinkpit late last fall.

I'll do more on the Greek diner later. Until then, if you're in the neighbor (lord knows why), please stop's a rare gem (50-plus years) in a fast-changing neighborhood. With escalating rents and things like Subway and Chipotle (where you can get a week's worth of sodium in one meal!) open now around the corner on Maiden Lane, who knows how long Pearl will/can last.

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

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.

A little off point: I miss his "Dirty Sanchez" column that he wrote back in the day at NYPress. (And how I miss the sister of Sanchez!)

From an interview from 2005 with Doughty in the Black & White weekly in Birmingham, Ala., by his former NYPress colleague J.R. Taylor:

Sadly, Doughty’s less likely to return to rock criticism. I’m proud to be on record as part of a mutual admiration society, since Doughty’s post-fame stint as the pseudonymous scribe “Dirty Sanchez” was easily some of the best rock writing in the genre’s sad history. “Rock critics are just failed writers” was a typically great line—although Doughty doesn’t look back at his glory days with much compassion.

“I wrote all that angry shit just about when I first got clean,” Doughty says. “What a dumb thing to do. I was really mad about rock critics being mean to people, so I set out to be really mean to them. It was pretty much the ultimate in pointless, hypocritical behavior.”

"We want to show our opposition to right-wing Republicans opening yuppie wine bars in our neighborhood"

From today's Page Six:

BRUCE Willis is not being warmly welcomed by the anarchists, Marxists and counter-culture riffraff of the Lower East Side now that he's opened the Bowery Wine Company on East First Street. "We want to show our opposition to right-wing Republicans opening yuppie wine bars in our neighborhood," activist John Penley told Page Six. Penley, who is organizing the August celebration of the 20th anniversary of the riots in Tompkins Square Park, said, "We're getting a pig and we're naming it Bruce." The whole, roasted pig from Chinatown will be served while folk singer David Peel serenades with his anthem, "Die Yuppie Scum!"

East Village Podcasts recently paid a visit to BWC and filed this report:

BWC feels like an upper west side transplant with its wide-open, gymnasium-like space and track lighting. I’d say loft-like.. but the whole Avalon Place structure reminds me of a new development from the suburbs - spotless and well-fireproofed. Surely, there must be a few doctor’s offices nearby.

[Image Weber Anita/SIPA]

Monday, April 7, 2008

EV etc.: 40 years and 196 cultural works

This week's New York magazine looks at 196 cultural works "that best defined the city since this magazine began." Which was 1968. Haven't had time to dig through it at all, but I did see the list of movies they have. Pretty much what you'd expect.

In any event, the list reminded me again that it has been too long since I've seen The French Connection. I thought about the film last week when Jeremiah was disucussing the history of Ratner's. I remembered that scene where Popeye Doyle (Gene Hackman) and Cloudy Russo (Roy Schieder) do a stakeout at the now-defunct Ratner's on Delancey.

The bowery boys had some nice observations on this classic when it played last summer at the Film Forum.

What's new at 315 Bowery?

The New York Post has a piece today on the new John Varvatos boutique, which opened over the weekend at the site of the former CBGB on the Bowery.

According to the Post article, written by Serena French: "[P]unk preservationists will be glad to hear that the Bowery site - which once hosted such pioneers as the Ramones and Blondie - hasn't been sanitized beyond recognition.
The stage is gone, replaced by a tailoring shop, but it's encased with gold Alice Cooper records.
And those who remember the walls encrusted with posters and stickers will be relieved to find them intact and preserved behind glass."


So Varvatos has reportedly made the shop equal parts museum and retail space. "I wanted to combine music, fashion, memorabilia and really make it like a cultural space," he told The Post. He's planning on holding monthly concerts there too.

What do some old-timers think?

"I like it. I'm relieved," Arturo Vega, creative director for the Ramones, who has lived around the corner from the club since 1973, told the Post. "We were expecting a drug store in the space," he said. "So when I found out it was Varvatos moving in, it was a relief."

Yesterday, in the Post's Page Six Magazine, Dana Kristal, son of CBGB founder Hilly Kristal, was asked whether he thought his father would approve of eight high-profile new ventures on the Bowery. Interestingly enough, he wasn't asked about this shop.

Meanwhile, I'll have to check out this space for myself. I've been following the progress via Jeremiah.

[Photos: Victoria Will/New York Post]

Sunday, April 6, 2008

What would Hilly think? Let's ask his son

Page Six Magazine, which is FREE every Sunday in the New York Post (even though you pay $1 for the paper), has a feature this week titled "New kids on the Bowery." As the sub-head says, it's "a look at the next generation of gentrifiers descending on what was once Manhattan's seediest strip." The Post highlights eight of the new people and places taking over the Bowery, and gets Dana Kristal, son of CBGB founder Hilly Kristal, who died last August, to say whether he thinks his father would approve of the new venture/person.

Oh, none of the content from the magazine is ever online, oddly enough. And I don't have a just a few highlights:

Designer Rogan Gregory, who's opening a shop at the old Bouwerie Lane Theatre space this spring. Would Hilly approve? "It's an insult to have upper-crust stores next to shelters," Dana told the Post. So. No.

Extra Place, the incoming pedestrian mall in the old alley behind CBGB. Would Hilly approve? "My father was planning to take CBGB to Vegas before he died," Dana said. "He'd braced himself for this kind of change."

The new rock-type bar Bowery Electric. Would Hilly approve? Yes! "A place like this improves the area. These musicians can rebel against the rich people."

That socialite guy who calls himself Izzy Gold, aka Francesco Civetta. (The Post describes him an "artist-DJ-designer" who has become "one of the 'new' Bowery's most vocal self-appointed representatives.")
Dana? "People with money are making all these changes without asking for a consensus from the majority."

Daniel Boulud's new upscale burger joint coming to 299 Bowery. Would Hilly approve? "Opening up a fancy restaurant right where hungry people live is callous," Dana said. "But one more won't make a difference."

The Morrison Hotel Gallery. Would Hilly approve? "Artists can still be pretentious, but a gallery is more authentic to the vibe of the neighborhood," Dana said.

If you want the rest, get your FREE copy of Page Six Magazine today in the New York Post for only $1!

I missed the news that Nicole Richie and that guy she's with from some band bought a "simple" 1,000-square-foot pied-à-terre at 199 Bowery (NoLita Place) for $1 million.

P.S.S. (for no reason, CBGB)

[Top photo: Ting-Li Wang/The New York Times; bottom photo: Ozier Muhammad/The New York Times]

Tompkins Square Park, 7:42 a.m., April 6

Forgotten NY's tour of the East Village

Forgotten NY toured the East Village and took some excellent photos that capture the spirit of the neighborhood. There's Avenue B. Also, some photos taken in June 2006. And the secrets of Tompkins Square Park.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Just steps from Avenue Sea

From an open house sign:

East Ninth Street between A and First Avenue, 7:45 a.m., April 5

Coming soon....something else we don't want or need?

This place was Rice Bar, 158 Avenue C at 10th Street, a pan-Asian-fusion something-or-another joint that opened in the fall of 2004. I can't remember when it closed. It was never full when I'd pass by. At one time it was the Futurama Cleaners. Thankfully, that place got priced out of the neighborhood. Who needs things like laundromats and cobblers when you can pay $19.95 for some rice with two shrimp in it?

Anyway, sarcasm aside, there has been activity in here. Looks like another restuarant-type place. I would have asked a worker, but no one was around. And I even stood there for a bit. Could have gotten away with a wheelbarrow and some sawhorses.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

EV etc.: Bowery Electric opens, and the owners at least understand and appreciate the area's history

Bowery Electric officially opened last week at the site of the former Remote Lounge (never went) at 327 Bowery near Second Street.

Grub Street ran this quote from the press release on the bar opening from Mike Stuto, also owner of HiFi:

“Being located adjacent to Joey Ramone Place and the former CBGB location we feel a sense of responsibility, especially as so much of that era of New York rock is gone.… We are looking forward more than backward, but a true respect of history is a key part of looking forward correctly.”

(Grub Street's response to this? "Whoa, easy, Barack, it’s just a bar!" Ha.)

Maybe I'll swing by one of these days, though it looks a little nice and fancy for my tastes. And it's so close to Avalon Place, that soul-sucking eyesore that has taken over the neighborhood. Still. Perhaps BE will have an affordable happy hour. HiFi does a 2-1 till 8 p.m. that's nice (crowd depending, though you can almost say that about any place).

[Image via Grub Street by Melissa Hom]

By the way, whatever happened to the ethereal duo Bowery Electric? Portishead killed that sound for many people, but I also thought this Manhattan-based duo was better than the rest.

Well, in their honor:

Monday, March 31, 2008

Madonna is over New York

Former East Village resident Madonna, a singer who, like Cher and Donovan only goes by one name, is over New York. She says this in the new issue of Vanity Fair.

As reported on by New York magazine's Daily Intel:

“It’s not the exciting place it used to be. It still has great energy; I still put my finger in the socket. But it doesn’t feel alive, cracking with that synergy between the art world and music world and fashion world that was happening in the 80s. A lot of people died.”

Daily Intel's response: "Oh, yes, because living in a giant, ultraluxe townhouse in Marylebone, London is so CBGB circa 1983, Madge."

[Image: Madonna © 1983 Amy Arbus]

It's not your imagination: There are more buildings going up (and why you can blame Albany)

Says this week's New York magazine:

According to a Department of Buildings spokesperson, there’s been “a significant jump in the number of jobs filed for residential-building permits between January and February.” For all five boroughs, the DOB has received notifications—meaning that excavation’s starting within days—for 298 jobs, noticeably up from the year before. Brooklyn saw an increase of more than 20 percent. (The actual number of permits has fallen a bit, but that appears to be a paperwork lag.)
Why? A tax program known as the 421(a) abatement is set to expire—at least in its current form—this summer, and developers are rushing to get started before the deadline...

Yankee Stadium 2009 Opening Day

Every so often, EV Grieve will -- gasp! -- venture above 14th Street. Such as catching a game at Yankee Stadium. Today, of course, is opening day at Yankee Stadium, the last one in its current home. (Not that they'll even play today -- looks like rain.) What will opening day in the schmancy new stadium look like next year? Here you go. Meanwhile, I'll go look for a $14 cup of Budweiser and $7.50 stale pretzel.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Meanwhile, just another day in the neighborhood

And our dumpsters being rated today? Wonder what a two-star dumpster looks like? (Sorry...)

27 years, 1 dumpster

Jeremiah had the awful news about Fontana's shoes being gutted on Friday. Walked by myself and saw the aftermath.

He had been at this location for 27 years; been in business in the neighborhood since 1962. Jeremiah has more photos here. And there's this feature from The Villager. Meanwhile, I can't help but wonder what Angelo is doing now. He's 75, and doesn't want to stop working.

“I would like to stay another 10 years, well maybe five years,” he told The Villager. “I’m used to working all my life. I don’t want to stop now. I don’t know what I’ll do. I’m not the kind of person who sits and watches TV all day. I like to be active.”

Why was this man's life destroyed? So the landlord could try to make an extra $1,500 a month in rent from Angelo, who was already paying $4,000 a month.

This whole thing bothers me on so many levels...the greed...the heartless removal of a neighborhood institution...the fact that this kind of thing is happening too often today...

There was also something comforting about the shop. For several years my walk home from work took me by his matter how shitty things seemed to be, you could always count on seeing Angelo working away in his rather ramshackle store ... the TV with the rabbit ears that was always on but no one ever seemed to watch...

My walk home included passing by the Bendiner and Schlesinger medical buildings on the northeast corner of 10th Street and Third Avenue. The buildings weren't much to look at, though there was a plaque on the 10th Street side commemorating Peter Stuyvesant, whose family once owned the buildings. Oddly enough, I found comfort in this place too. At night, I'd look up to a paneled office in the lab. I could see enough to tell that it looked as it the place was frozen in time circa, say, 1974. It reminded me of an office my father had.

Of course, though, these historic buildings were demolished in 2005 to make way for more soulless apartments and a Commerce Bank. You can read more about it here.