Monday, November 29, 2010

"Serious Whimsy"

Check out this group show at Littlefield Art & Performance Space, in Gowanus, starting on Sunday 5th (reception 6 pm - 9 pm):
Serious Whimsy: A Collection of Inevitable Objects
One of the exhibitors is Lisanne, of Found in Brooklyn fame, so I'm intrigued!.  For more details, look here & here.  The show runs until December 30th.
A 1981 BBC Arena doc. on The Chelsea Hotel (Stupefaction, via Jeremiah's Vanishing New York)


The Hitchens vs. Blair debate in Toronto (via Daily Dish)

Sunday, November 28, 2010

"It's enchanting to think of Lincoln as a Whitmanesque bohemian, setting new trends of informality and change in American culture."
Well I guess Andrew Sullivan had to pick up on this one: Adam Goodheart's essay Lincoln: A Beard is Born (The Antebellum Politics of Beardage)


I'm trying to keep track of some of the books I'd like to read in the near future. Often titles slip out of my mind when I'm at a bookstore, so I think it's time for some lists.  Here's one I made today:
The Memory Chalet -Tony Judt
Letters to Monica - Philip Larkin
The Pantomime Life of Joseph Grimaldi - Andrew McConnell Stott
Skippy Dies - Paul Murray
Great Granny Webster – Caroline Blackwood
Wait for Me – the Duchess of Devonshire
A Walker in the City – Alfred Kazin

Dwight Street

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Adam & Eve on President Street

She Comes in Colors

"When I was in Englandtown, the rain fell right down."  You have to love a song with lyrics as stupid as this.  It actually is a ballad though, & in some weird 60's way it echoes a much earlier tradition.  It's a winner.

Playground Deer

Listen to some of the winning stories from this year's Third Coast Audio Festival.  If you're not bowled over by the extracts from the last one,  An Interior Life (check in at about 38 minutes), well, there's no humanity in you.

Red Hook

"The sedge has withered from the lake,
And no birds sing."

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Queen in Bazaar's Brief Return

I always appreciate a good store name, and one of of my all-time favorites on Fifth was the long departed Queen in Bazaar, which sold electronics & other miscellaneous stuff.  Queen in Bazaar.  The combination of fractured English, punchy sales pitch & faint romance was a real pleasure.  A name worth a hundred smirking Eponymys. I don't think about it that often, but when I do I'm immensely cheered.  Last night, walking along the avenue, the name popped into my head, and I was trying to think what block it had been on.  14th?  13th perhaps?  I went by 11th, the Dreamy's Mattress store, & right above the orange awning, surrounded by scaffolding, like some message from the gods, there it was, uncovered.  How strange is that?

Saturday, November 20, 2010

A few years ago, I read in a biography of Whitman that one of his brothers lived for a while on Fifth Avenue, around 12th Street.  This was quite exciting news.  I thought it unlikely that the building he lived in survived to this day, unless it was the small building next to the OTB, which seems to be older than the others on the block.  When I first moved here, it was the home of Glasgow's, a dark and cavernous deli, popular with the punters and some of the drug crowd that hung around the corner.  Later it became Tacos Nuevo Mexico, until the business decamped next door, and exchanged its stark charm for a more eager to please, menu-in-English, Sex-on-the-Beach appeal.  Now the place is boarded up and derelict.  Every so often, I wonder if it was a Whitman home, and if Walt, hat jauntily tipped on head, ever sauntered down 12th to pay a visit.  I'll have to get down to the Municipal Building again one of these days & do some digging around.  From at least the 1780's the land between 9th & 12th Street, down to the Gowanus Road (following Fifth & Third Avenues) was farmland belonging to one Cornelius Van Brunt, and by the 1830's the land was divided between Adriance Van Brunt and Henry L. Clarke.  I don't know much more than that, but several of the older, semi-detached frame houses must date back to the mid 1800s at least, and might have seen the great man pass by.
Well, maybe the current Tacos N.M. site (491 5th) is also older?  It's smaller than most of the other buildings, though not as small as 493. I'm also wondering about Glasgow's.  I'm pretty sure it was at 493, but maybe it was 491?  I'm sure one of the older neighbours will put me straight.
From David S. Reynold's Walt Whitman's America:
His brother Jeff, an assistant engineer at the Brooklyn Water Works, was married in February 1859 to Martha Emma Mitchell ("Mattie" or "Mat" to the family).  They lived for a time on Fifth Avenue near Twelfth Street in Brooklyn but soon moved into the already-crowded Portland Avenue home, where they lived along with Mrs. Whitman, Walt, George, and Ed.

Wig Drop Action

I've walked past this Wig Drop box on Van Brunt many times, but today was the first time I ever saw an actual donation.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Time for a Little Music

Eartha Kitt, from 1962, singing I Want to be Evil:

La Classique

I've often wondered who goes to La Classique Boutique, one of those curious second floor stores on Seventh Avenue.  Not the Merrell loving co-op members, surely, or the sleeker transplants who favor Bird, or head to that other Coop over on Atlantic?  I never see anyone around here dressed like this (sort of seventies, un-retro style) but the store's been around for ever.  Quite an enigma.

Dog Day Afternoon Retold

I think my favourite American film of all time is Dog Day Afternoon.  Today I was sent a link to this art video by the French artist Pierre Huyghe, featuring the late John Wojtowicz (played by Al Pacino in the movie) in a renactment of the bank robbery.  I don't know anything about the making of this, or about Huyghe, so I'll have to do a little research, but Wojtowicz is well worth listening to:

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

More Sky

Shelter from the elements is rapidly disappearing on the 4th Avenue F & G platforms, as the asbestos removal kicks in. At least I think that's what's going on. 

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Hilary Mantel in Hospital

A terrifying essay on her recent illness (The Guardian)

Quentin Crisp's Apartments

Yesterday's Vanishing New York had an interview with Adrian Goycoolea, the great-nephew of Quentin Crisp. Goycoolea's current installation (on view through tomorrow) is a re-creation of Crisp's East Third Street apartment.  This took me back to early days in New York, when it was a great thrill to be only two blocks from Mr. C.  Seeing him about the neighborhood always gave the day more of a brave dazzle.   The V. New York piece led me to the Quentin Crisp archives & a whole host of Youtube videos, including a 1970 World in Action portrait, showing Quentin in his pre-New York digs.  Here's the first part:

Signs of the Times

A line of people looking for jobs at Petland Discounts, with more applicants inside...

the plywood window replacement still there at Rite Aid (three months on)

and the ex OTB corner looking pretty damn sad.

Day After the Fire at Associated

5th Avenue between Prospect & 17th was still blocked off this afternoon, and there were still plenty of Fire Department & Red Cross staff at the scene.  Also still there - a crowd of stunned onlookers.  Most of the block on the eastern side of Fifth looks pretty devastated, with damage also extending up 17th. 


Shoes on 18th Street

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Tip Top Gift

Taste of Things to Come?

Soigné is now cream and chocolate in colorHere's Park Slope links to its catering menu, which certainly eschews simplicity. It includes coconut foam, white truffle perfume, sunchoke emulsion & vanilla aioli. 

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Morning & Evening Skies - Midtown & Fourth Ave.

Sixth Avenue

There's something interesting about this building on Sixth Avenue.  I suspect it's fairly old, & wonder what its original status was.  Carriage house, or stable of some kind?

Monday, November 8, 2010

Number on a Green Door

Here's a front door without an ounce of timidity.  A fat, oversized number sits on a door of vivid green.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Welding in Chelsea

We Help Get Hack License

Fourth Avenue Entrance To Be Reopened?

Must I keep my cynicism in check? There was surprisingly good news at today's Civic Council walkabout - it seems the MTA is planning to open up the eastern side of the Fourth Avenue Station, with entrances on the avenue & on Tenth Street. No token booth, alas, & only a security camera to monitor the goings on (so you might feel a little leery of this access at quieter times of day), but still, this is pretty exciting news. Apparently the unused section of the station is in decent structural shape (perhaps better than the rest of the place?) & has all the original tiling & whatnot in place. Let's hope the MTA come through... it all seems a little too good to be true.