It’s a building I walk by on my commute to work every day, and I’ve always been curious about it. A squat, little structure opposite the stately Flatiron Building on Madison Square, the regally-named Commodore Criterion seems like an unlikely landmark, but apparently it is one. Since as far back as I can remember, however, it’s been some sort of showroom for Christmas gear, although one that seems to have been closed for some time. I have no idea what's been going on in there for the past several years, if anything.
For me, though, the most striking aspect of the Commodore Criterion has always been the little Christmas figures that stand tirelessly above its entrance, silently bleating out their perpetual carols all year round. They’ve stood there through blackouts, blizzards, heat waves and even the odd hurricane (how they survived Sandy I’ll never know). The cellist -- or was that a double-bass? -- has only recently been stripped of his instrument. They’re all a little worse for wear, but they’re still up there.
Recently, however, I noticed that the window displays in the building had been stripped out and the windows had all been papered up. Clearly, something's afoot in the Commodore Criterion. I did a bit of Googling, and lo and behold, the address has apparently been recently acquired by a Spanish batroom fixture company called Porcelanosa. Originally thought to be reverting back into a a residential building, the Commodore Criterion now seems poised to become that venture's flagship store, which -- frankly -- is a bit dull.
I can't help thinking that one morning very soon, I'll be walking to work and will glance up to find the Commodore Criterion carolers gone, weathered vestiges of a bygone era tossed in the trash.
Enjoy them while ya can.