Instead of Keyboards … Typewriters
The Sellers: “On a computer, you’re distracted—you check Facebook, you iChat—but the only thing a typewriter was built for was to write,” says Brandi Kowalski of Brady & Kowalski Writing Machines (bradykowalski.com), a sixteen-month-old company that sells refurbished typewriters at the Brooklyn Flea (brooklynflea.com). Kowalski and partner Donna Brady have become the city’s foremost champions of type, refurbishing machines from venerable brands and in aesthete-pleasing colors: an aqua Smith Corona Cougar from the sixties ($250); a 1969 red Olivetti Valentine ($950). There are only a few repairmen who still know how to oil a machine, replace a tired ribbon, or realign tangled keys. The most trusted among them is Tony Casillo of Long Island’s TTS Business Products (325 Nassau Blvd. South, at Warren Blvd., Garden City South; 516-489-8300), and Paul Schweitzer of Gramercy Typewriter Co. (174 Fifth Ave., nr. 22nd St., Ste. 400; 212-674-7700).
The Scenes: The children’s room at Poets House (10 River Terr., nr. Murray St.; 212-431-7920) is outfitted with eleven vintage manual typewriters, on which kids write poetry during the school year. Michael Ardito, owner of Hometown Business Machines (hometownbusiness machines.com), has organized a Staten Island Type-In for July 16 at Full Cup coffeehouse (388 Van Duzer St., nr. Beach St., Stapleton; 718-442-4224; RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org), where attendees can compete in a speed-typing competition and the grand prize is a vintage Smith Corona. On the performance-art front, Brooklyn’s masked duo the Bumbys (facebook.com/thebumbys) type out “honest appraisals” of people’s appearances at parties using a Brother GX-6750 Daisy Wheel. Says Gill Bumby, “The clicking sound makes it seem like things are being carved in stone.”
Instead of MP3s and iPods … Vinyl and Turntables
The Sellers: There have been a few record-store casualties in the recent past (R.I.P., Birdel’s Records and Fat Beats), but mainstays Academy Records Annex (96 N. 6th St., nr. Wythe Ave., Williamsburg; 718-218-8200), Other Music (15 E. 4th St., nr. Lafayette St.; 212-477-8150), Turntable Lab (120 E. 7th St., nr. Ave. A; 212-677-0675), and Sound Fix (44 Berry St., nr. N. 11th St., Williamsburg; 718-388-8090) soldier on. Newer to the circuit is Black Gold Records (461 Court St., at Luquer St., Carroll Gardens; 347-227-8227), a hybrid coffee bar–antiques store–record shop, and nine-month-old Audioarts (1 Astor Pl., nr. Broadway; 212-260-2939), which specializes in rarefied two-channel and hi-fi audio equipment from brands like 47 Laboratory, Brinkman, and Jadis. Dijital Fix (218 Bedford Ave., nr. N. 5th St., Williamsburg; 877-345-4349), meanwhile, is the go-to boutique for affordable listening gear, including turntables (some with USB hookups) and headphones.
The Scenes: Truth be told, listening to records is more about ritual than sound quality. As Gabriel Roth, co-founder of Brooklyn’s vinyl-obsessed Daptone Records, puts it: “You can’t roll a joint on an MP3.” D.J. Scribe’s I Love Vinyl parties (ilovevinyl.org) come off “like pre-Giuliani era,” says Scribe of the two-year-old vinyl-only affairs, held most Saturdays at (Le) Poisson Rouge or Park Slope’s Southpaw. D.J. Jonathan Toubin’s all-45s NYC Soul Clap & Dance-Off (newyorknighttrain.com) pops up every few months at some Brooklyn warehouse or rock club. For store pilgrimages and listening sessions, dozens of LP lovers congregate with the help of the NYC Vinyl Meetup (meetup.com/nycvinyl), while jazz aficionados gather at Mono+Mono (116 E. 4th St., nr. First Ave.; 212-466-6660), a Korean fried-chicken joint and “analog pub” that features music piped through vintage tube amps and a glass display case housing more than 30,000 records.
Instead of Camera Phones, YouTube, and Netflix … Celluloid Movies
The Sellers: A multitude of apps can approximate the crude charms of lo-fi celluloid film, but as J. J. Abrams could tell you, nothing beats the original. Pac-Lab (37 E. 1st St., nr. Second Ave.; 212-505-7797) peddles all sorts of camera film as well as Super 8 processing, 16-mm. reversal, and film-to-tape transfers. Brooklyn Flea vendor FDR to JFK (212-217-0467) carries a selection of old Super 8 and 8-mm. cameras (some working, some not), as well as film projectors, Viewmasters, and Kodak Duaflexs. The owners at Williamsburg’s Sunday Love (624 Grand St., at Leonard St.; 347-457-5453) scour flea markets and tag sales for their vast selection of celluloid cameras. Their Super 8s are priced around $30 apiece—or “cheap enough that if they didn’t work,” says partner Greer Keeble, “you could [still] hang it in the corner of your bathroom and pretend you’re filming people.” For the celluloid curious, Millennium Film Workshop (66 E. 4th St., nr. Second Ave.; 212-673-0090) rents Super 8 and 16-mm. cameras, light kits, slide projectors, and film-editing equipment by the hour.
The Scenes: If you don’t know how to thread a projector, sign up for DIY Super 8 filmmaking classes at 3rd Ward (195 Morgan Ave., nr. Stagg St., Bushwick; 718-715-4961) or entry-level Super 8, 16-mm., or hand-processing classes sponsored by Mono No Aware (mononoawarefilm.com). Those who would rather watch than film celluloid flicks can head to Williamsburg’s new Nitehawk Cinema (136 Metropolitan Ave., nr. Berry St.; 718-384-3980; nitehawkcinema.com), which will screen 35-mm. films in addition to digital projections, and has a nostalgia-sparking “VHS vault” in the lobby bar. The Cinebeasts collective (cinebeasts.com) occasionally screens celluloid around town; recently, the group invited archivist “Movie Mike” Olshan to co-host a screening of old education films and 16-mm. PSAs. Fringier still is the eclectic Cine Soiree series (cinesoiree.blogspot.com). There, filmgoers view a mash-up of original and found 8-mm., Super 8, and 16-mm. films backed by a humming Victrola.
Instead of Tumblrs, E-Books, and Evites … Zine Publishing, BookBinding, and LetterPressing
The Sellers: The printed page lives on at Jessica Williams’s six-month-old small press NSEW (nsewpress.com), which focuses on limited-edition zines and paper-based art objects; several of Williams’s earliest efforts were picked up by artist-book mecca Printed Matter (195 Tenth Ave., nr. W. 22nd St.; 212-925-0325). Early this year, Storefront Gallery in Bushwick (16 Wilson Ave., at Noll St.; 646-361-8512 ) launched Brain Waves, a zine department that stocks more than a dozen titles. The Brooklyn Art Library (103A N. 3rd St., nr. Berry St., Williamsburg; 718-388-7941) sells journals, writing supplies, and vintage publishing ephemera and allows visitors to thumb through its exhaustive collection of 10,000-plus artists’ sketchbooks. Desert Island (540 Metropolitan Ave., nr. Union Ave., Williamsburg; 718-388-5087) stocks indie zines and comics, and Ugly Duckling Presse (The Old American Can Factory, 232 Third St., at 3rd Ave., Ste. E002, Gowanus; 347-948-5170) still cranks out poetry and art books on a hulking letterpress. Publishing festivals are also multiplying: The Camera Club of New York’s Zine and Self-Published Photo Book Fair comes July 16 and 17 (cameraclubny.org), and pop-up zine shop–gallery–reading room Show and Tell will roam the streets via truck August 13 and 14 (show-and-tell.net). Meanwhile, at one of the city’s venerable letterpress printers, Sunset Park’s Peter Kruty Editions (peterkrutyeditions.com), Kruty and partner Sayre Gaydos can press everything from art books to wedding invitations.
The Scenes: Brooklyn Brainery (515 Court St., nr. W. 9th St., Carroll Gardens; brooklynbrainery.com) offers classes in bookbinding, postcard-making, and zine creation, but the mother hub of all hands-on workshops is the Center for Book Arts (28 W. 27th St., nr. Broadway, third fl.; 212-481-0295), home to more than 2,000 artists’ books and classes in letterpress printing and relief printmaking. Would-be zine-makers can fraternize at artist Tuomas Korpijaakko’s “Zine It All” workshops on July 9 and 16 (register at 212-260-9927; cameraclubny.org), or just pick up a copy of Ayun Halliday’s newest book, The Zinester’s Guide to NYC: The Last Wholly Analog Guide to NYC. Technophobic parents can take their kids by Viva Snail Mail! (vivasnailmail.com) blogger Melissa Lohman Wild’s “Make Mail!” event on August 13 at the Greenwood Playground in Windsor Terrace. Children need simply bring the mailing address of someone they want to correspond with, and Wild will provide the stationery, stamps, and an impassioned defense of old-fashioned letter writing.
Instead of JPEGs and Camera Phones… Film Photography
The Sellers: Instant, toy, and retro cameras crowd the gift shop at the International Center of Photography (1133 Sixth Ave., at 43rd St.; 212-857-0000), while those who crave an original-issue button box can find a functional Polaroid for about $140 at vintage-clothing store Dusty Buttons (441 E. 9th St., nr. Ave. A; 212-673-4039). Polaroid revivalists seeking the slickest gear, however, should start at the Impossible Project Space (425 Broadway, nr. Canal St., fifth fl.; 212-219-3254). The group picked up where the instant-film behemoth left off when it shuttered its last plant in 2008—manufacturing, selling, and glorifying white-bordered Polaroid prints and the boxy contraptions that expel them; a refurbished Polaroid 600 Close Up camera with two packs of film goes for $149. Kicking the kitsch factor up a notch are the two Lomography Gallery Stores (41 W. 8th St., nr. Sixth Ave.; 212-529-4353; 106 E. 23rd St., nr. Park Ave.; 212-260-0240), each of which is crammed with a rainbow of Lomo repros and an in-house processing lab. For repairs, turn to the analog-savvy team at Photo Tech (110 E. 13th St., nr. Fourth Ave.; 212-673-8400).
The Scenes: Both Impossible Project and Lomography organize themed photo walks, meet-ups, and rotating gallery exhibits. The former is running an “Intro to Impossible 600 Film Photography” workshop on July 10, and the latter holds social mixers every Monday at its West Village branch. “They’re like old seventies key parties, but with film,” says Liad Cohen, Lomography’s U.S. general manager. Just drop a spent roll in the bowl, grab someone else’s, shoot on top of it, and develop it to see how the images melded. Daguerreotype devotees can congregate at the Center for Alternative Photography (36 E. 30th St., nr. Park Ave.; 917-288-0343) to learn about wet-plate collodion and other obsolete emulsion-based processes.
Instead of Xbox, Wii, and FarmVille …Vintage Video Games
The Sellers: Admittedly, there’s no such thing as a non-digital video game. But the earliest arcade games certainly feel authentically analog. The selection of first-generation Atari, NES, N64, SEGA, and Gameboy titles available at Video Games New York (202 E. 6th St., nr. Cooper Sq.; 212-539-1039) and 8 Bit and Up Video Games (35 St. Marks Pl., nr. Second Ave., second fl.; 212-674-0201)—both of which tender repair services—are unrivaled. Hunters might also strike gold at the Brooklyn Flea, where sellers Sam Reiss and Jarontiques’ Jaron Cupak (jarontiques.com) hawk vintage games and consoles. Brooklyn hacker Jarek Lupinski, meanwhile, just raised $15,045 on Kickstarter to fund Chip Maestro, a music project that flips old NES gaming systems into bleeping, blooping midi-chip synthesizers (soniktech.com).
The Scenes: The five-year-old Pulsewave dance series (pulsewave.org) is still the fête of choice for fans of video-game-sampling chiptune music. And 8bitpeoples (8bitpeoples.com), a collective, produces audio and visual works using fossilized gaming systems and early home computers. The vintage arcade at Astoria’s recently redesigned Museum of the Moving Image (36-01 35th Ave., nr. 37th St.; 718-777-6888) is also a magnet for the gaming-curious. Executive director Carl Goodman says his kids, who always beeline for Sonic the Hedgehog, “find it fascinating that video games were so rudimentary.” Which brings us to pinball, also enjoying a resurgence. Four beautifully restored machines are on hand at Reciprocal Skateboards (402 E. 11th St., nr. First Ave.; 212-388-9191), a favorite of Kristopher Medina, founder of the seven-month-old coed league Pinball New York City(pinballnyc.com). “My problem with techno culture today is that it has taken people away from one another,” he says. “Avatars and emoticons are poor substitutes for one’s physical presence. Whereas pinball is physical, three-dimensional, and tangible.”