A New Look for the Old East Village BathsAfter 115 years, the old-school shvitzes at the Russian and Turkish Baths on East 10th Street are getting just a little bit less old. A just-started renovation will add a new, larger sauna and steam bath to the East Village institution, where your bubbe and zayde bathed a century ago — when the Lower East Side tenements often didn’t have their own plumbing — and customers today range from Hasidic Jews to celebrities like P. Diddy and Colin Farrell to neighborhood locals, both hipster and non. “We’re basically getting rid of an old sauna and putting in a brand-new one,” 30-year-old Jack Shapiro, who manages the baths with his brother, told us. They’re also adding a new steam room and “prettying up” the stairs to the institution’s second level. August, of course, is the time to do this, because sauna business slows down when it’s already so hot and muggy outside. But it doesn’t stop completely. “After you take a 180-degree steam here,” Shapiro explained, “100 degrees outside ain’t bad.” —Mary Reinholz
The March of Progress in Red Hook
The old Revere Sugar factory in Red Hook is finally, completely no more, as Curbed called to our attention late yesterday. Ah, progress.
Empty [f.trainter’s Flickr via Curbed]
Also, Winnie Cooper Became a MathematicianHow have we never before realized that the Times employs as a business writer — one based out of Singapore, as we understand, specializing in Asian financial crises — Kevin Arnold’s doofusy, bullying older brother? Well, apparently it does, and we finally noticed this morning. Looking back, we see that’s the moment we realized everyone grows up, and sometimes the ones you never expected much from turn into respected newspaper reporters.
The Wonder Years [IMDb]
U.S. Stocks Open Lower After a Major Asian Sell-Off [NYT]
in other news
New Conservative Worry: Save George Washington High!How lovely it must be for conservatives today; how triumphantly they must have achieved all their goals. How else to explain the existence of the recent “Civic Report” we stumbled across on the Manhattan Institute’s Website, in which that bastion of urbane conservatism exposes a horrifying trend: Apparently there’s been a precipitous decline in the naming of public schools in the U.S. after presidents and other notables. Egad!
Now It’s Rose’s Turn to Cry — for $3.5 Million
Rose’s Turn, the Grove Street piano bar that’s been a West Village institution for seventeen years, will close Sunday after a last round of drinks and show tunes. Henry Pham, who owns the bar — his mother’s name is Rose — told Daily Intel that his family sold the building for $3.5 million. (The Observer’s the Real Estate blog reported the bar’s imminent demise yesterday.) “It’s time to move on,” he said. “There just isn’t much demand for this type of establishment anymore,” which would come as news to anyone who’s seen how packed it and its neighbors, like Marie’s Crisis next door, can be on a Saturday night. Renovation begins next week, he said; rumor is it will become a real-estate office.
Good-bye, My Coney Island Baby
We have no idea why Getty Images decided this was the right weekend to mark Astroland’s final summer with a package of wistful photos of Coney Island. But we’re not complaining: They’re pretty. A few more after the jump.
in the magazine
Summer of Sam Revisited: ‘New York’ on the Dems’ Lousy Mayoral CampaignThe Summer of Sam was also the summer of a hotly contested Democratic mayoral primary. Ed Koch, Mario Cuomo, and Bella Abzug were just a few of the politicians vying for the city crown amid all the chaos, and in a September 1977 issue of New York, Doug Ireland was disgusted with the whole process. “Surely this is the oddest Democratic primary in recent history. Seldom have the voters in our town had such a hopeless welter of nonissues thrown at them in a mayoral campaign,” he wrote. “[I]n a city still reeling from a swelter summer of blackouts, looting, criminally high unemployment, and Son of Sam, most candidates are as afraid of the voters as the voters are of the muggers in the streets.” Take a look at the whole article for a flashback to city politics, seventies style.
Democratic Dogfight: A Hopeless Welter of Nonissues [NYM (pdf)]
Earlier: Summer of Sam Revisited: ‘New York’ on the Search for Sam
in the magazine
Summer of Sam Revisited: ‘New York’ on the Search for SamThirty years ago this summer was arguably the lowest point in New York’s late-seventies bad years. The Bronx, as Howard Cosell informed the nation, was burning; July 13 brought an epic blackout; there was a heated Democratic primary for the mayoral race; Reggie Jackson and Billy Martin dramatically feuded en route to the Yanks’ World Series win; and, mostly notably, a serial killer calling himself Son of Sam was terrorizing the city, with police seemingly unable to stop him. ESPN started its eight-episode The Bronx Is Burning miniseries about that season last night, the Daily News is running recollections of the year, and we thought we’d join in the fun with some classic New York features from that long, troubled summer. In our first installment, here’s Robert Daley’s August 22, 1977, cover story, “The Search for ‘Sam’: Why It Took So Long.”
The Search for ‘Sam’: Why It Took So Long [NYM (pdf)]
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Redmond, Washington, Is Totally EdgyYou can argue all you want about whether Giuliani saved the city or destroyed it, whether Bloomberg is trying to protect it for the future or make it a playground for the rich, whether it’s really right to be nostalgic for a time when crime rates were astronomical and infrastructure was decaying. But as Gotham Gazette’s indispensable Eye Opener points out this morning, today’s New York has just been called dull by MSN. That stings.
The ‘New’ New York [MSN via Gotham Gazette]
West Village Rents Swallow PB&J
The decidedly quirky children’s store Peanutbutter & Jane, a nook near the corner of Hudson and Jane Streets for 26 years, closed its doors this weekend, the victim — like many other longtime West Village retailers — of wildly increasing rents. There was no formal celebration, but if you stopped by the shop Saturday afternoon — the last day of the month, and of the lease — there was plenty of misty-eyed reminiscence from nostalgic customers and grandmotherly clerks. “We’ve had customers coming in here for generations,” manager Timmie Reilly said. For the first time in decades, walls were visible in the typically hypercluttered shoebox of a store. Gone was the ruffle of tutus that previously hung from the ceiling, and only two pairs of ruby slippers remained. Moving men hauled off a shelf, and the now-antique light fixtures were sold to a dealer.
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Happy Birthday! Would You Like a Receipt?
While the rest of the world is looking ahead to the allegedly life-changing imminence of the iPhone, the Times’ consistently intriguing ephemera blog, the Lede, takes a look back at some actually life-changing technology. The ATM, it seems, turned 40 today. As noteworthy as we find that milestone, we’re much more jazzed about the photo the Times turned up to illustrate the story: a 1968 shot of a woman using what might well have been New York’s first ATM at the headquarters of the First National City Bank (which you know and love as Citibank). The text on the wall sign next to the machine, in case you can’t quite make it out: “This experimental cash-dispensing machine may be the forerunner of sophisticated electronic devices that will increase our capabilities to provide round-the-clock banking services. The machine dispenses a fixed amount of cash when a customer inserts a special card and keys in his own personal identification number. ‘The Cash Station’ is an electronic substitute for the conventional check-cashing system.” We like that term, “Cash Station.” We think we’re going to start using it.
Drop That iPhone and Wish an ATM ‘Happy Birthday [The Lede/NYT]
Inside the Chelsea: The Sun Through Yellow Curtains
We read all about the Chelsea Hotel, and we walk past the hulking building on West 23rd Street from time to time, and we’ve always been vaguely curious about what the place looks like inside. (Not curious enough to actually walk in the door, mind you. But curious.) Apparently we’re not the only ones: Agence France-Presse obliges today with a handful of interior shots of the storied building, pegged, obviously, to the hotel’s recent de-Bardification. Above, what was apparently Madonna’s room when she first came to New York in the early eighties. After the jump, a few others.
Brooklyn: Now With More Endangerment!
In a waterfront ceremony in Dumbo today, Brooklyn’s industrial waterfront was named one of America’s eleven most endangered historic places by the National Trust for Historic Places. The designation doesn’t actually do anything to protect the endangered places, other than give them some press. Indeed: Construction continues all along the waterfront, endangering history by building Ikeas and knocking down sugar factories and all that. After the ceremony, the dignitaries went for a boat ride.
Music and Passion Not Much Longer the Fashion: Copa to Close July 1
The famed — if these days sort of down-on-its-heels — Copacabana nightclub is set to close in its current 34th Street location on July 1. It’s been known for some months that the club will become a casualty of Hudson Yards redevelopment: A stop on the extended 7 line will go in its spot. But the actual closing date was first confirmed to us yesterday afternoon by a club publicist. The original Copa was on 60th Street; it relocated first to 57th Street and Eleventh Avenue, and it has been at its current location for the past five years. Some of the club’s current parties will move to Columbus 72, which is also owned by the Copa crew, but there’s no new location yet for the famous club. “Eminent domain,” grumbled the club’s publicist. —Tayt Harlin
in other news
Much Has Changed Since 1988, But The Donald Stays the Same
Polish media reported over the weekend — and American outlets enthusiastically passed along — news of a Warsaw man awakening, faculties intact, from a nineteen-year coma. Which is to say, Jan Grzebski slept through the fall of Communism. While this is all nice and cinematic, and some dolts in the press are already digging up Terri Schiavo for the occasion, the real question on our minds is this: What would a New Yorker who fell into a coma in 1988 make of today’s city? Aside from the sadly obvious “Hey, weren’t there two huge —,” we imagine the following queries:
• “Wow, you guys sure like Duane Reade.”
• “Cuomo’s kid is the A.G.? Well, if George Bush’s no-good son can be president …”
• “What do you mean you live on Avenue B? You’re a doctor!”
• “I don’t know what an ESPN Zone is, but it’s in Times Square, and it sounds dangerous.”
• “Bloomberg? The guy with the two-screen gizmo?”
• “Well, at least the fashion hasn’t changed.”
Polish Man Wakes From 19-Year Coma [AP via AOL News]
McCourt, Gopnik, Hamill — Plus Other Aging Literati — Celebrate the Strand’s 80th
The Strand Bookstore turned 80 on Saturday, and owners Fred Bass and Nancy Bass Wyden threw a big party in its honor. You may not have been there, but New York’s Party Lines team was. What’d we learn? That Frank McCourt dislikes lettuce and parsley, that Kurt Andersen was inspired to write novels by Don DeLillo, that Adam Gopnik is willing to wear silly hats, and that, at least on special occasions, Nora Ephron will display her neck.
Strand Bookstore Celebrates Its 80th Anniversary [Interactive Party Lines]
Earlier: The Strand Turns 80
The Strand Turns 80
The Strand Bookstore turns 80 tomorrow, all eighteen miles of it. It was founded by Ben Bass on what was then Book Row — Fourth Avenue, from Astor Place to Union Square, was home to 48 bookstores. Today the Strand is the only survivor, relocated around the corner, to Broadway and 12th Street, and the store is run by the next two generations of Basses, Fred — who took over management in 1956 — and his daughter, Nancy. After the jump, Bass reminisces about famous customers and famous books, and explains why he likes being surrounded by Barnes & Noble stores.
in the magazine
Radical Chic & Mau-Mauing the Brooklyn DevelopersThe ever-cantankerous Copyranter points us today to a subway advertisement for Twenty Bayard, billed as “Williamsburg’s premier parkfront condominiums.” He’s mostly upset by the obnoxiously and self- consciously diverse foursome in the ad’s Warhol-esque portraits, but we’re more troubled by the ad’s tagline, “Radically chic. Chicly radical.” Not to get possessive about this, but when did Radical Chic become a desirable thing? The term was coined in a 1970 issue of New York, when Tom Wolfe wrote about “that party at Lenny’s,” a fund-raising soirée Leonard and Felicia Bernstein threw at their Park Avenue duplex for bigshots to raise money for — and actually mingle with! — Black Panthers. The piece is devastating and hilarious, an classic indictment of do-gooding but oblivious limousine liberals. Need to refresh your memory? From the magazine’s archives, here’s the original article.
Radical Chic: That Party at Lenny’s [NYM 5/6/1970]
The Four Fashionable Faces of Williamsburg [Copyranter]
Bank-Branch Infiltration Reaches Madison Square Garden
This just in via e-mailed press release: The space formerly known as the Theater at Madison Square Garden, formerly known as the Paramount Theater and even more formerly as the Felt Forum, will now be known as the WaMu Theater at Madison Square Garden. “The name of The Theater will be changed immediately,” the release reports, and the deal will include signage throughout the Garden and eleven WaMu ATMs at the venue. (Please tell us this doesn’t mean the end of the Chase machines near the Seventh Avenue entrance. WaMu, as we discovered the other night, is now up to a $2 charge for using its ATMs. So much for the buck-fifty stopping there.) Six months ago, the city’s three major sports venues — the Garden, Shea Stadium, Yankee Stadium, — remained proudly unsponsored. Now the Garden’s got WaMu, at least peripherally, Shea’s gone Citi, and only one question remains: Which bank will meet Steinbrenner’s price? Full press release is after the jump.
Morris Brothers No More
And another landmark store bites the dust. Morris Brothers, the sportswear purveyor on 84th Street and Broadway, which has been selling the required T-shirts, tube socks, and name tapes to campgoing youngsters on the Upper West Side for the past six decades, unveiled new window displays this week and they’re not pretty. Banners proclaiming final sales because of their imminent departure from the neighborhood were unfurled. According to local buzz, the rent for the 5,000-square-foot space has more than doubled, sending the owners packing. No word yet on what’ll set up shop there once the sale ends in July, but we’d be happy to start a pool: bank branch, Starbucks, or nail salon? Heck, it’s a big enough space, maybe all three! —S. Jhoanna Robledo
in the magazine
When Imus Stopped Giving Interviews (the First Time)Leafing through some seventies issues of the magazine earlier today, searching for David Halberstam’s contributions to New York, we happened across the most curious thing. It was the October 30, 1972, issue, and Halberstam’s piece was on the ascent of Spiro Agnew. (No, we couldn’t make it all the way through.) But on page 62 we found this: “Why I Won’t Talk to Journalists Any More.” It was a media column by Don Imus. “I want to say right up front that I am a star,” he begins.
I am in fact a very big star. The hottest thing to hit radio in 50 years. I have been in New York less than a year, and when you are not in New York City the national press ignores you. I was a big star last year in Cleveland, but the New York press was not bright enough to realize what I was going to mean to them. Now everybody in the country wants to write about me.
Remembering Kitty Carlisle Hart, a Last Link to Glamorous New York
Kitty Carlisle Hart belonged to the heyday of the ‘21’ Club and Sardi’s, of Harpo Marx acting up at parties where George Gershwin (who once proposed to her) played only his own songs. Her death today, at a vibrant 96, severs one of the last links to a New York that had more glamour than celebrity, more sophistication than wealth. In a newspaper interview a few years ago — between cabaret engagements, dates with beaux, and the other social commitments incumbent upon a “living landmark” of the city — she wondered what had happened to the place. Decades ago, she recalled, “we used to get all dressed up and go out dancing, then we’d go out for breakfast, and then we’d go to work the next day. I don’t know why they don’t do that anymore.”
in other news
At Last, Another Good Thing in New York Rudy Hasn’t ClaimedFrom Ben Smith’s blog on the Politico today:
A reader points out that the New York State Comptroller’s unclaimed funds registry includes four entries since 2004 for Rudy Giuliani, with money due from a couple of health-care providers. He also appears not to have deposited a 2004 state tax refund check.
He also has money due from a Los Angeles payroll company that does work for the entertainment industry, SCIE LLC, for which his listed address is the same as the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists.
It’s good to be rich.
Not That He Needs the Money [The Politico]
Kurt Vonnegut at the AlgonquinAt the end of 2000, New York did a “My New York” issue. For it, 50-odd New Yorkers told us about their favorite places in the city, and Kurt Vonnegut, who died yesterday, spoke fondly of the lobby of the Algonquin Hotel. Growing up, he told contributing editor Logan Hill, he’d never been to New York but knew the legend of the Algonquin. When he arrived here for the first time to meet his sister, she asked him where they should meet. Not knowing anywhere else, he told her to meet him there, by the grandfather clock he’d seen in pictures — and in subsequent years that’s where he would always meet friends. After the jump, his reminiscence as printed in the magazine.
in the magazine
Imus in the Seventies“There are those who would claim that Imus occasionally lapses into good taste,” Mike McGrady writes in New York. “If true, this may well be a result of several lengthy discussions he has had with the station manager and the program director, his ‘Mr. Vicious’ and ‘Mr. Numb.’ The upshot of those discussions is that he will never, never, not ever do any more jokes about Chappaquiddick or, for that matter, anyone else involved in a personal tragedy.” McGrady’s profile is from the April 3, 1972, issue. The I-Man was 31 years old, freshly arrived at New York’s WNBC, and he was a new and jarring force in radio. He was also, it seems, very much the same guy he is now. Which New York radio personalities did Imus admire?, McGrady asked. “David Steinberg —he’s very funny for a Jewish person.” We’ve dug the profile from the archives; you can read it as a PDF.
Radio Therapy: Shock Treatment in the Morning [NYM, PDF]
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Countdown to Saint Patrick’s Day: C Is for Cookie
At Saint Patrick’s Day approaches, the man who might be New York’s angriest blogger, Copyranter Mark Duffy, reminds us of an artifact of our not particularly Irish New York youth: Carvel’s Cookie O’Puss. Specifically, he found what we think is the TV commercial that initially introduced regular Cookie Puss’s Irish friend. It’s from 1982, and dig those low-fi special effects. Copyranter, we thank you for your patronage.
Cookie Puss [Copyranter]
It’s 10 a.m.: Do You Know Where Your Children Are?Omigod! It’s finally here! As you’ve no doubt heard in countless promos aired during American Idol, 24, Seinfeld reruns, and whatever else you might happen to watch on Channel 5, this year is the 40th anniversary of the station’s ten o’clock news, the first newscast at that hour in New York. And today, dear readers, is the actual birthday. Yup, 40 years ago tonight, Bill Jorgenson — whom Tim Murphy interviewed for the current issue of New York — anchored that very first broadcast, and to mark the occasion, Tim dug up some great YouTube clips. They’re funky, they’re pompadoured, and they’re after the jump. Enjoy.
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Well, It’s a Marvelous Night for Luxury Condos
Fulton Mall isn’t the only cityscape element earmarked for the insta-nostalgia scrap heap today. Moondance Diner, the Soho staple beloved by tourists and film crews, is heading into the sunset as well. And as much as we’d love to tell you that the diner and its adjacent parking lot are being replaced by a community center teaching disadvantaged kids interior design and molecular gastronomy, that’s not the case. The case is l-u-x-u-r-y c-o-n-d-o-s. (When the city is entirely luxury condos, where will people eat? Shop? Park? Are we the only ones who wonder this?) It remains to be seen if the developer, Hudson Island LLC, will add insult to injury by, say, appropriating the shimmery texture of the Moondance logo for the lobby walls.
Goodnight, Moondance [NYS]
in the magazine
Anna Nicole and ‘New York’: A No-Love-Lost StoryWe said yesterday that there was no particular New York connection to Anna Nicole Smith. But as it turns out, there is a New York connection. Savor, if you will, our August 22, 1994, cover (click on it for a larger version), which featured the then- already-former Playboy Playmate illustrating a Tad Friend analysis of the ascendant “White Trash Nation.” Miss Smith wasn’t pleased with the depiction, filing a $5 million defamation suit against the magazine in Los Angeles Superior Court that October. “She was told that she was being photographed to embody the ‘All-American- woman look’ and that they wanted glamour shots,” her lawyer told the Times then. The avec–Cheez Doodles pic, he charged, was a just-for-fun outtake and wasn’t supposed to be used.
‘New York Was His Town, and It Always Would Be’
The Film Forum’s three-week Woody Allen marathon is winding down this week, ending Thursday with a double feature of Crimes and Misdemeanors and Deconstructing Harry. But this weekend’s show was Manhattan, and, well, if you haven’t seen that opening sequence recently, take another look. It’s yet one more reason to love New York.
Manhattan Opening Sequence [YouTube]
Essentially Woody [Film Forum]
Reasons to Love New York Right Now [NYM]
in other news
Old East Villager Distressed By Starbucks Influx; Also, Sky Is Blue
As lead-a-counterculture-icon-around-his-old- stomping-grounds pieces go, there’s not much surprise in today’s Times profile of Dog Soldiers author Robert Stone, whose memoir of the Beat Generation, Prime Green, drops on Tuesday. As the author trundles through the East Village, there’s the fond memory of how back in the day you could give a bum a dime to watch your kid; the lament that newly cleaned buildings have ruined the neighborhood’s “grimness”; and an odd story about how returning GIs, given their first slice of pizza, put scoops of ice cream on it because they thought it was pie. Still, the biggest watch-and-weep moment comes when the old soldier comes face-to-face with the Devil itself:
Heading toward Astor Place, he discovered that one of his favorite coffee shops had been turned into a Starbucks. Stopping for a light, he said, with less sadness than surprise: “I used to have such a tremendous sense of the city and of this neighborhood, and it’s lost to me now.”
Well, yes. We all know the Starbucks-is-taking-over feeling. But we’d suggest Stone dig deeper. After all, last time we checked, that Astor Place Starbucks had bathrooms grim enough for any old-timer. Plus, we hear they’re doing a brisk business in Venti PizzaCremas.
Counterculture Lion, Back in His Tidy Jungle [NYT]
Mom’s Art Makes Matthew Broderick Nostalgic for Old Greenwich VillageMatthew Broderick — owner, with his wife, Sarah Jessica Parker, of that perfectly maintained, multi-million-dollar brownstone around the corner from the Magnolia Bakery — is saddened by the moneyed gentrification of Greenwich Village. He’s been thinking about the Village of his youth — when he grew up a few blocks from where he lives now, on Washington Square North — after pulling together the catalogue biography for an upcoming show of work by his mother, Patricia, a painter who died in 2003, at the Tibor de Nagy Gallery. “It was definitely more bohemian,” he says of the old days. “Now it’s very cleaned up and a lot richer. It used to be a lot of fun — there was music, we played stickball. I’m making it sound like the thirties now. Oh, yeah, we played kick the can, we rolled our own cigarettes …” Patricia Broderick’s paintings, priced from $14,000 to $25,000, are mostly portraits and landscapes from that earlier Village era, and Matthew is finding them a bit tough to part with. “It’s upsetting,” he says. “The gallery just sold this painting of a naked woman dancing with a dog, and I always loved that painting, but I guess someone else did too.”
— Emma Rosenblum
Tibor de Nagy Gallery [Official site]
Neon Lights, Big City
Though music fans are still busy saying good-bye to CBGB, which shut its doors last week, Jay Grossen is not yet done mourning the loss of the Howard Johnson’s in Times Square. The restaurant closed a little over a year ago, but he’s still talking about its signature neon sign. “It’s iconic in New York, and it’s gone, gone forever,” he said. “Nobody really knew what was going to happen.” At New York’s second Nerd Nite — a popular, hipsterish learn-while-you-drink event imported from Boston and held at Orchid Lounge last night — Grossen gave a speech titled “Fuck the Trees, Save a Neon Sign.” He kicked off his PowerPoint presentation with Ace of Base’s “The Sign,” naturally, and went on to discuss the dire state of these bright-light billboards worldwide. “Especially in New York with condos going up on every corner, these are going,” Grossen explained. “And where are they going? To the trash.” (“Awww,” the crowd dutifully sighed at this point.) He described seeing the old McHale’s sign in a Chelsea antique shop and encouraged the audience to get involved in neon-sign preservation. Are we convinced to make this our new cause? Not entirely. But the things look cool, and the guy’s got a point.
— Lori Fradkin