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.
Trying to keep track of changes on 8th Street seems like an exercise in futility, but I couldn't help noticing yesterday that they were clearing stuff out of Burger Creations between Mercer and Greene. Sure enough, despite its jaunty Halloween decorations, Burger Creations looks to be no more.
Can't say it's a great loss, actually. The creations in question left a bit to be desired.
I know many of you loyal readers probably think Facebook is a fatuous waste of time, and — honestly — you’re probably correct. That all said, there are some things to be found there that, in my opinion, do make it all worthwhile. If you’re a fan of the type of content you find here on Flaming Pablum, you’d do well to check out a group I’ve cited several times, that being Manhattan Before 1990, a very structured and orderly gaggle of folks fixated with images from NYC’s past. The photos I’ve encountered on same frequently stop me in my tracks. The one below is no exception.
As the discussion developed, a few of the group members thoughtfully provided images of 69 Bayard today — refreshingly not too different from the image Shore captured in the dead of night all those years ago.
I should preface this post by saying that I've never liked Reservoir as a bar, and I've never spent any time or money within its walls. It's just not my scene, and I've never given a damn about it.
But while my comrades Jeremiah Moss and EV Grieve are exceptionally more suited to providing reportage regarding sudden closings and the rumors of closings, I heard a bit of speculative talk recently that I thought warranted a mention.
While procuring some goods in a neighboring establishment just down the way, I overheard the shop's somewhat legendary clerk discussing with the patron in front of me the sudden sale of 70 University Place, the building that houses Reservoir on its ground floor. The patron mentioned that the bar would probably soon be closing, in order to accommodate a developer's new plan for yet another new condominium.
Now, again, I have zero idea of the veracity of this story and of the credibility of the tale-telling patron in question, but if it's true -- or even if just part of it's true -- it only spells more change for University Place (and, for that matter, downtown as a whole).
Like I said, I don't really give two hoots about Reservoir. There is absolutely nothing distinctive about it. It might as well be in Pataskala, Ohio for all the character it exudes. It's a depressingly formulaic sports bar with too many televisions.
Once upon a time, however, the space that Reservoir currently occupies was Bradley's, a fabled jazz club.
You can read an authoritative account of Bradley's via this New York Times piece. Now, I am not -- nor have I ever claimed to be -- anything of a jazzbo (I own maybe four credible jazz records -- and most of them are populist cliches), but still ... I respected Bradley's for its cool cache and cultural significance -- despite the fact it was the type of place where you'd prompt a lot of emphatic "Shhhhhh"s when you ordered a beer.
Despite maybe the layout of the room, pretty much everything that was cool about Bradley's is invisible in Reservoir, but it seems likely that the next incarnation of 70 University Place (if it's really going) will erase everything about its former glory.
You can catch a fleeting glimpse of Bradley's in this clip of NYC jazz clubs of the 1990's -- many of which are also gone. Watch for it at about 06:19 minutes in.
While it's a bit touristy, I logged many an hour in Katz's myself, usually after a heroic amount of beers consumed in the largely now-vanished bars of Ludlow Street in the 1990s. I even attended a festive "pastrami toss" there, when Cop Shoot Cop signed with a major label. Katz's, meanwhile, is probably most famous for being the location of a laboriously over-referenced scene from "When Harry Met Sally."
I've lamented the changes to Ludlow Street a couple of times here already. The northern end of the strip in question used to be an endearingly desolate area (although said desolation sometimes came with a price). Now, much like the westernmost end of Spring Street on the other side of town, real estate developers seem feverishly intent on making it a densely populated hive of monied exclusivity.
With all this in mind, I exhumed a photograph I took with my then-new wide angle lens in 1998 (click on it to enlage). Here's a potentially final glimpse of the bright, empty skies over Katz's and the northern end of Ludlow Street. And I wouldn't be surprised at all if Katz's was soon to vanish too. Just sayin'.
Don't panic .... Yaffa Cafe isn't going anywhere (or at least I don't think it is).
Back in the late 80's and into the 90's, I was something of a regular patron within the sparkly confines of this venerable St. Marks Place establishment. A good friend of mine dated a Yaffa Cafe waitress for a while. It was strategically located as a great staging point for various downtown missions. Alone with Sin-E down the street (long gone), it anchored its storied little strip of East Village quite nicely.
I stopped going at some point. The last time I was there may have been in 1993, when the Yaffa Cafe served as the location of my interview with all four members of Blur. This was just a little prior to their stardom-courting days of feuding with Oasis. I don't think I've set foot in the place since, sadly.
In any case, while walking by it yesterday, both of my kids couldn't help commenting on the Yaffa's signature mural, so I stopped and took the picture above ... instructing them to mimic it. An elderly gentleman sitting nearby smiled and noted that the mural in question was thirty years old. Unlike the comparatively recent Joe Strummer mural a block and a half to the east, it refreshingly hasn't been touched up, but nor has it been messed with. Long may she scream.
Anyway, I'm hoping to jump-start a new meme: #Yaffing.
Back in December, you may remember, I composed a weepy litle entry about the death of the New York City diner, prompted by the sudden closings of long-time Greenwich Village greasy spoons like Silvers Spurs on East 9th and Broadway and the University Restaurant on East 12th and University Place. Places to procure eats on the cheap in my neighborhood are vanishing with the quickness.
Anyway, as much as I love to lord my status as a native New Yorker and arguably hip downtowner (this means nothing anymore .. if it ever did) over people, if truth be told, I actually grew up on the not-at-all hip Upper East Side, and didn't officially move south of 14th street until 1996. Most of my tweens and teens were spent roaming the leafy byways of Carnegie Hill and Yorkville.
In any case, this past weekend, I brought my kids back uptown to go romp around in Central Park. After a beautiful, sunlit morning of strenuous running about, I suggested that we go get some lunch. Since we were near one of my former neighborhoods, I figured we could go grab a burger at the age-old Jackson Hole diner on the corner of East 91st Street and Madison Avenue. That sounded like a reasonable plan.
For a large swathe of my childhood, I lived on East 93rd Street. My sister went to school on East 91st and I attended one on East 89th. As such, Jackson Hole was kinda ground zero, and a place we both frequented for fries, burgers and the like. In the early 80's, there was a candy store next door called The Sweet Suite, featuring a second tier that boasted a "Missle Command" machine you could re-start without needing a quarter. I remember buying a several dorky rock pins (Pink Floyd, primarily) at the Sweet Suite and then repairing to Jackson Hole with some friends and affixing them to my backpack over a plate of fries. It was that kinda place.
Back here in 2014, as I was regaling my disinterested children with such tales while we walked up the avenue, I was shocked and saddened to find Jackson Hole gone, its shades drawn down and a big "FOR LEASE" sign in its window. Normally, I'd have taken a picture, but I was too depressed by the sight of it.
The place had been there since about 1972. It had a few other incarnations around town (one on the Upper West and another over on Second Avenue), but I don't know if the same fate has befallen them. I stood there with my mouth agape for a moment, before breaking the news to my hungry kiddies that we'd have to go somewhere else.
Around 1985, my family moved over to East 86th Street off York Avene. When we lived there, one of my regular stops was Gracie's Corner, another diner over on First Avenue and 86th. Today, I learned that that's going too.
As I mentioned there, I've always been a big fan of East 12th and Broadway. Yes, it was the original home of Forbidden Planet, and later my own corner when I lived there between 1996 and 2003, but I also just love the visual aesthetic of the corner. If you approach it from the east (say, on the southeast corner), the building on northwest corner looks like the bow of a vast ship.
In any case, I found a couple of interesting pictures that I thought I'd add to the equation.
Here's that corner today in 2014. It's an immaculatey clean if cripplingly characterless Pret A Manger.
Here it was back in 2003. I took this shortly before I moved off the block. The corner business at this point was a shoe out called No Difference. Obviously, there was a massive protest going on about the Bush Administration's decision to go into Iraq.
Here's a shot of the corner when it stil played host to the original Forbidden Planet in 1989. This was taken by Andrew Buckle. See more of his work here.
Below is a shot from a vantage point slightly more to the east. No clue what year, but I'm guessing the `60's or early `70s.
In any case, I can never pass that particular plot without thinking of the incident. This evening, I meant to take my kids to dinner at our beloved Veselka on on the corner of 9th and Second Avenue, but it was mobbed, with a 25 minute wait (not an option with two little kids), so we strolled deeper into the East Village. As soon as we hit the corner in question, I couldn't help but replicate the shot once again.
I first heard about the impending changes to University Place between 12th and 13th streets via Japonica, my favorite local sushi place on the southwest corner of that strip. I'd popped in to pick up an order to go and was chatting with the manager, who grimly informed me that the landlord was looking to oust them to sell the building. That was only a couple months back.
In the ensuing time, EV Grieve reported the news that the building -- which also houses Bowlmor, the tobacco newsagents, Stromboli's Pizza, a parking garage and a couple of other businesses -- was being razed to accomodate the development of -- WAIT FOR IT --luxury condos. The tobacco newsagents have already reserved space across the street (in the spot the doomed eyeglass place operated). No idea if Japonica have plans to move (they could move back to their original spot a block to the south, which remains empty after the ramen noodle place moved to Waverly, although the space is much smaller than Japonica's current incarnation).
Today, however, I was stopped dead in my tracks by the sight of the below. Stromboli's Pizza has been a fixture on this strip of University Place since before I was born (by a year, technically). After 47 years and without so much a whispered "seeya," they are apparently shuttered. Those are my kids up top enjoying Stromboli's last summer.
While never particularly gourmet, Stromboli's made and sold pefectly solid, dependable pizza, and the place exuded a great sense of place and neighborhood. My favorite memory of the joint -- beyond many a late night visit after an ill-advised consumption of beers in my pre-parenting days -- dates back to only last summer, when during a light summer rain, I peered into Stromboli's to see original NYC punk rocker Tom motherfucking Verlaine casually enjoying a late night slice of his own. If it's good enough for the man who penned "Marquee Moon," it's assuredly good enough for me.
But now,.... it's gone. That's my little boy Oliver in front of what currently remains.
Walking home down University Place this evening, I spotted something that really made me stop and practically spit.
The burger bar Stand on East 12th between University and Fifth Avenue closed unceremoniously towarsd the latter end of 2013. Prior to it being Strand, it had been an ill-considered Asian seafood place, and -- prior to that -- a Kinko's. Thought dormant these past several months, it is now newly papered up and titled with new, illuminated signage. The space is shortly to reveal itself as (yet another) Chipotle.
Why does this upset me? Well, despite the fact that there is already a Chipotle just to the north of Union Square on Broadway and another on 8th street between Broadway and University Place, the new spot sits uncomfortably close to Dorado Tacos, Tortaria on East 12th and the long-standing El Cantinero just around the corner and down the block. What's the common thread? All these establishments already serve original and lovingly executed Mexican fare with distinctive aplomb.
We need a Chipotle here like we need another bank branch.