Burning Flags Press The website of Glen E. Friedman. Renowned for both his work with musicians like Fugazi, Minor Threat, Public Enemy, the Beastie Boys, Slayer (and many, many more) as well as his groundbreaking documentation of the burgeoning skateboard phenomenon in the late `70's, Glen has been privvy to (and has summarily captured on film) some of the coolest stuff ever. He's also an incredibly insightful and nice guy to boot.
SoHo Blues - Photography by Allan Tannenbaum Allan Tannenbaum is a local photographer who has been everywhere and shot everything, from members of Blondie hanging out at the Mudd Club through the collapsing towers of the World Trade Center on September 11th. You could spend hours on this site, and I have.
Robert Otter Photographs Amazing vintage photographs of New York City, specifically my own neighborhood, Greenwich Village.
oboylephoto Just some intensely cool photographs of abandoned places.
The Weblog of Spumco's John K. The weblog of cartoonist John Kricfalusi, crazed mind and frantic pencil behind the original "Ren & Stimpy," as well as "The Goddamn George Liquor Show." Surreal, unapologetic, uncompromising genius.
The explanation is probably strikingly banal, but I was at Five Napkin Burger on East 14th Street with my kids on Monday afternoon (they really wanted to try the sliders), and while I was looking out the window onto the grotty splendor of that particularly busy stretch of Third Avenue, I spied a sign I’ve frequently wondered about (see below).
At first glance, I’ve always assumed that the billboard-sized sign simply predated the taller building that stands in front of it, and the construction of the latter closed off the remainder of the sign from view, leaving only the cryptic letters “TML ets DNA” in view. But that doesn’t add up, as I can’t for the life of me think of any words that end in “TML” or “DNA.”
I posed the question to my kids, who were surprisingly as immediately fascinated by it as I was (Oliver likes anything to do with letters or numbers). Is it an anagram? Some fractured Latin? Some antiquated code?
The picture above is a photograph of my good friend Rob B. enjoying a bit of post-slice repose and some Spring sunlight in the lovely back patio of the Pizza Box on Bleecker Street between MacDougal & Sullivan. I snapped this pic in April of 1999, but Rob and I have been fairly regular customers at the establishment since as far back as about 1982 or 1983 (although the pizzeria itself dates back to 1957).
I wrote about the Pizza Box more extensively back on this post from 2009, when its future was first called into question. Back then, I wrote:
My friend and fellow music-geek Rob B. and I started hitting Pizza Box when we were in high school in the mid-'80s. After running the circuit of neighborhood record stores – including Second Coming (gone) , 99 Records (gone), Free Being (gone), Golden Disc (gone), Revolver (gone), It's Only Rock N' Roll (gone), Venus Record (gone), Subterranean Records (gone), Record Runner (still there, but seemingly never open) and Bleeker Bob's (amazingly still there, but still a dump), we'd dutifully repair to Pizza Box to enjoy a slice and review our new acquisitions. I vividly remember arguing between mouthfuls of pizza over the dubious merits of 7 Seconds' Walk Together, Rock Together and "She's On It" by the Beastie Boys within the `Box's humble walls. It wasn't high end pizza by any stretch, but it was a good, dependable, frills-free experience.
All of the above still holds true, although Bleecker Bob's (just a couple of blocks to the northwest) closes for good on Saturday (soon to be followed by Bleecker Street Records...formerly Golden Disc). I also neglected to mention Rebel Rebel, Route 66 (originally on Bleecker, but then on MacDougal, and now gone) and both incarnations of Kim's that held court on disparate ends of Bleecker (both long gone). Rebel Rebel, quite amazingly, is still there.
I lump Pizza Box in with all those music shops because, as I detailed above, stopping in for a slice after hunting for specific albums or singles was part of our long-standing ritual. I still stop in for a slice at Pizza Box on occasion. I brought my kids there only about a month ago. Every time I walk in, I'm still transported back to those days to the point where the opening strains of "Walk Together, Rock Together" fill my head.
You obviously know where this post is going, right?
I've never considered this blog to have an overriding theme. That was by design, to afford me the freedom to write about any topic that sparked my interest. Over time, however, certain issues started to gradually define Flaming Pablum. The slow, painful demise of my native New York City's once-thriving network of independent, mom'n'pop record and disc shops certainly edged me in the direction that now guides this blog, but I'd suggest it was one single, specific occurrence that really kicked Flaming Pablum into gear, that being the demise of The Cedar Tavern.
As I've laboriously pointed out in many, many posts on the subject (see arguably authoritative list beneath), the Cedar Tavern was something akin to my second living room. It was the perfect place, ripe for any occasion and any sort of company, cool without being exclusive or sceney and rich with civic history, personal history and personality. I sorely miss it and pretty much lost all faith in humanity when news came that it was gone for good.
It's been about six years since the place closed its doors. Since then, the place was demolished and gutted and rebuilt as a dreadfully shitty condo, but there's been absolutely zero business on the ground floor that the Cedar Tavern formerly occupied.
I walked by 82 University Place this afternoon on my way to the hardware store and was surprised to see something new in the window beyond a "for lease" sign. Evidently, the space that the Cedar Tavern once called home is now going to be a waxing salon.
Yeah, that's great. That's just what our neighborhood needs.
The wife and I had some old friends over for dinner the other night who now live out of state, and the conversation quickly turned -- as it frequently does in our house -- to the physical erosion of culture (for lack of a better description) caused by the jackbooted march of technology. By this, of course, I'm talking about how the alluring ease and accessibility of purchasing goods and services on the internet has virtually wiped clean the chances of long-term survival for independent, brick n' mortar mom n' pop establishments that sell stuff like, say, music and literature. In other words, record & disc shops and bookstores are all going bye-bye.
The predictable retorts about the "brilliant user-friendliness" of Kindles and the convenience (the dreaded "c" word) of Amazon ensued, but I'm far too stubborn and pig-headed to cop to those arguments. It probably sounds ridiculous, but I still feel pointedly guilty anytime I order something from friggin' Amazon, and usually only resort to that after I've vainly combed the city's comparatively dwindling network of stores for whatever item it is I'm searching for and come up (predictably) empty-handed.
Anyway, blah blah blah, moan moan moan, gripe gripe gripe. To drive my point home, I started citing a laundry list of formerly beloved book and record shops that have since gone the way of the wooly mammoth. The Pageant Book & Print Shop, formerly at 109 East 9th Street, was near the top of my list, which reminded me that I'd "favorited" the shot below on Flickr by one Kccnola. Ideally, they won't mind me re-producing that photograph below.
A longtime neighborhood fixture (when the neighborhood had more bookstores than banks, coffee shops and pharmaceutical chains), Pageant was a lovely shop, staffed by intimidatingly literate albeit entirely friendly folks. I believe it made the odd cameo in a Woody Allen flick or two. In any event, the shop shuttered in 1994 and was replaced a couple of years later, if memory serves, by a bar who kept the name Pageant. That decision must have been bad karma, as the venture flopped. Sometime in the early 2000's, I want to say, the place re-opened as The Central Bar, a perfectly decent -- if strikingly indistinctive -- Irish Bar choked to the rafters with widescreen televisions that play sports at you around the clock. I've certainly put away a few pints there in my day, but it's never my first choice.
Anyway, here's my inevitable Then & Now entry...
The Pageant Book & Print Shop at 109 East 9th Street circa the early 1990s (courtesy of Kccnola)
Okay, I’m no architect, but this seems kinda strange, no?
The dreadful 82 University Place is sporting a fresh new patina of scaffolding this week, despite the fact that the building is only five years old. How can that be? How much wear and tear could have transpired? From what I can tell, the building still boasts many vacant apartments. What’s going on here?
New readers may be wondering aloud: “Why does he give a fuck?”
Well, the ugly eyesore at 82 University Place stands in the former footprint of the late, lamented Cedar Tavern (which I’ve written about here quite a few times, notably here and here, to cite but two). If anything, the closing of the Cedar Tavern jumpstarted my preoccupation with the transformation of downtown.
The actual space on the ground floor that technically was once occupied by the Cedar Tavern remains thoroughly devoid of any activity whatsoever. It’s a cruelly telling example of this city’s avarice and disregard for history and community.
The last I'd officially heard on the matter was in January of 2011, that being that Max Fish, the storied bar on Ludlow Street had been granted a stay of execution after it had been read the proverbial riot act. I'm not entirely sure what's transpired since then, although my pals at Bowery Boogie recently reported some doomy goings on over on Ludlow. Things probably aren't looking too swell for the future of the `Fish.
I've mentioned it before, but time was when I was a Ludlow Street regular. Those days are long over, of course, since I become a dad twice over and, well .... old. In any case, I spotted this clip on YouTube this morning and thought I'd share it here. If you don't make it down to the art-splattered walls of Max Fish any time soon, let this serve as a reminder of what it is/was like.
Way back when, I used to routinely post round-ups of interesting little tidbits I’d spotted around the internet that I called – awkwardly and presumptuously – Stuff You Might Have Missed. I’m not quite sure why, but I stopped doing that some time ago (the last one I put up was in 2010). In any case, there’ve been quite a few little things I’ve wanted to call out here, but haven’t had the time to, so I’m now going to revive the practice. Hooray. You’re welcome.
First spotted on the Facebook page of SWANS (the whole notion of Michael Gira sitting at a keyboard logging onto Facebook never fails to make me furrow my brow), "Viva Loisaida" is a visual trek through the East Village, Tompkins Square Park, Alphabet City and surrounding L.E.S. neighborhoods circa 1978.
I can't speak for you, but I've always been hugely enamored of leisurely strolling around the Museum of Natural History on the Upper West Side ... preferably on days when it wasn't choked to the rafters with tourists and children. I do seem to remember days in my youth when it seemed I had the entire museum to myself, but I'm not sure those sorts of days exist anymore. In any case, I was intrigued by this article in Gothamist (with video) about how the Museum restores its fabled animal dioramas.
The sidewalk shed that's covering it must have gone up over the summer, but on my way back from taking my kids to school, I got to stroll by and take a closer look. Seemingly without any warning (or none that I'd heard, anyway), it seems that 119, the humble, blink-and-you'll-miss-it bar on East 15th street between Union Square and Irving Place, is no more.
Since time immemorial, If you were ever attending a show at Irving Plaza, 199 was THE dive to meet up in. Dark, dingy, dank, shady... it bore all the necessary trappings of a great bar. It felt like the place to go if you were organizing a clandestine event or trying to lay low. If Han Solo had ever lived in Lower Manhattan, 119 is where he and Chewie would have hung out.
Back in my regular gig-going days, I was something of a regular at 119. The beers were reasonably priced, the atmosphere was cool, the pool table was accommodating and it was just a stone's throw from Irving Plaza. It was so dark inside that you could barely see who was walking in or out of the place. That said, I distinctly remember sitting in one of the booths, glancing up and seeing Shane MacGowan of the Pogues stagger through. On another occasion after a Killing Joke show, I remember accosting one of the twins from the School of Seven Bells and talking her ear off. It was too dark and unassuming to be pretentious. It was great. And now, it's gone.
As I walked by, I noticed the shed door open, so I snapped the photo below. From what I can see, the 119 I knew is gone ... invariably to be replaced by some ersatz Tuscan eatery or exclusive wine bar.