Sunday, January 29, 2012

Those Signs?

The vertical, art deco subway signs at the Fourth Avenue station have recently been removed.  Renovation plans for the station include their restoration, so I'm assuming they are safe somewhere.

Last year

Saturday, January 28, 2012

"You're Priced Out. Now What?" is the headline on the front of this week's NY Times Real Estate section.   The Times, ever attuned to the needs of the average New Yorker, suggests some neighborhood alternatives for those of us who live on a bit of a tight income:

Upper West Side / Prospect Heights
"More affluent residents buy houses and commission half-million gut renovations in under a year."

Lower East Side/ Greenpoint
" ... now, wedged in among Polish businesses, the avenue also has an artisanal ice cream parlor that serves Earl Grey cones ..."

Hell's Kitchen/Long Island City
"Long Island City, Queens ... is growing its own forest of handsomely appointed residential towers.  Large condo projects are rising throughout the neighborhoods, overshadowing brick town houses, as well as garages and other businesses."

Carroll Gardens/Crown Heights North
The ever astute Times notes that "a number of the stores cater to West Indian & Panamanian residents," but, according to blogger Nick Juravich, "we have a sleek new wine-bar that would fit right in on Smith St."

Soho/Ladies Mile
"Some of the old department stores are being converted into condos, including ... the Cammayer, a former shoe emporium at 650 Fifth Avenue, where CORE is marketing a unit for $2.85 million."

Friday, January 27, 2012


Poe & Melville at The Coney Island House hotel? (Brooklynology)
Some Little Notes about Vali  (Walkers in the City)
Disappearing Novelties (Jeremiah's Vanishing New York)

And Shuttered


A beautiful evening on Fourth.  I could hear music as I walked along, & I came across a band at the Golden Touch Carwash.

Premiering Damon Dash's New Premium Auto Oil: Dash, Ski Beatz & the Senseis, McKenzie Eddy & Sean O'Connell.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The End

     So I guess this is really it.  Set for closure by New Year's Day, Timboo's managed a few more weeks. People wanted to believe that the place would at least make it to the Super Bowl, but no.  A last (championship) pool game, & a lot of talk about where the regulars would end up next.  Would it be McFadden's?  Or Joe's?  No one seemed to be sure. What's interesting is how far some people came to drink at Timboo's: from Sheepshead Bay, or up in the Bronx, & what's beautiful about it was the real sense of community you found there. On some of the chattering, snider Brooklyn blogs it got derided as a last resort dive bar, which is the stupidest shit out there.  It was a last remnant of a decent, blue-collar, South Slope bar scene, and patronized by people you'd never get the chance to meet in any of the newer places on the avenue.  With far better stories. People who were ready to talk to whoever came through the door, provided they came in with the right attitude. You could go in there alone, or with friends, & be welcomed, even as a casual visitor.  You'd be fed, and treated well.  Some of the best people around.  And while it had plenty of older customers, there was a fair number of younger drinkers too, especially on pool and football nights.  Originally Loftus's, in the 40s, the bar became Steve's in the 50s, and then Timboo's in '69.  On the walls, an array from the past: collages of drinkers past and present, of Dodgers & Mets, of Elvis, Seargent Pepper, of crooners (Sinatra, Carmichael et al.), & a fading wallpaper of Empire diners.  A paneled den of memories, but not maudlin or depressed in any way, like Jackie's down at 7th Street could feel.  Timboo's kept your spirits up, rather than sapping them completely.
     So what've we got coming in on this block now?  You couldn't call it a lovely stretch, but until recently it seemed to have resisted the forces of gentrification quite nicely, & that was a comfort.  Comfort no more.  A new pub will replace the closed jazz bar Puppets (a sad, short-lived venture), & an upscale baby store with Urban & Classic clothing lines is set to open shortly.  A French restaurant will take the spot where the Park Slope diner lasted for forty years.  Thrifty Liquidators & 99c Bazar (sic) are shuttered, & though they weren't the most exciting of places, they were cheap, & I fear their successors.  The Key Food (replacing the OTB) will be open soon, & that at least is a handy sort of change.  Not the rest though.  A couple of people tonight said that that the Timboo's name would stay on with its replacement bar, but I don't see the point of that.  None of the old customers will be back.  Hair Designs by Julie is still around, & it's just about my last hope for the older feel of the block.  The tattoo-faced mannequins there in the window  - ladies of uncertain age - are all ready for Valentine's Day.  Surrounded by blooming paper hearts, they stare with contempt at a changing world.  My sullen heroines.

Monday, January 23, 2012

I've always liked the look of this secretive house, tucked away down a passageway, back of the hot dog joint on 9th (Second & Third).

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Light Snowfall, Part I: At the Station:

Off goes the F train:

Looking towards Thomas Aquinas, & the melancholy vision of a closed Catene:

The Williamsburg Bank Buiding, from afar:

Friday, January 20, 2012


Just the thing.  A beautiful story by Romy Ashby (Walkers in the City), from 2007.


It's been a long & dreary week.  I've scuttled from home to work, & home again, with little time or energy to look around me.  I've barely walked in daylight, & seem to have paced the world with blinkers on.  This sort of existence is intolerable - no kind of life at all.  I said goodbye to the five day grind with a quick drink at Timboo's & tacos el pastor at Guerrero Food Center.  Timboo's is almost at its end - expected to close in three or four days.  

Pacific Street (Brownsville)

From time to time I come down this block of Pacific on my way home from work. These buildings are close to Our Lady of Loreto, between Sackman & Eastern Parkway.  After a fierce campaign, the church was saved from the diocesan wrecking ball in 2010. Affordable housing units will be built around it, on its two acre site, & the church itself is to become a community center.  This area was once farmland owned by New York's first Italian American immigrant, Pietro Alberti.  Alberti came to New York in 1635.

It's well worth checking out the link for photos of the church - a very grand building indeed.  I don't like using other people's pictures without permission, so I'll just have to stop back & take some of my own. 

Saturday, January 14, 2012


The last couple of times I've headed to Sandy's (16th & Fifth), it's been closed.  I hope it's just bad timing on my part, but it's usually open six days a week.  The last time I went in was late December. Though the rents are lower on the side streets, it's harder getting business.  Sandy's two dollar tamales are the best, & it's always a nice (internet-less) cafe to linger in & chat, but it's has always been on the quiet side when I've gone in there. I hope the shutters are up next week, & if they are,  I urge people to go & give some support.

Sixth & 9th

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Station News

The newstand at the Fourth Avenue station has been closed since the end of last year.  It was operated by the same people that run S&P, up the block at Fifth & 9th, & has apparently been shut down as a consequence of MTA station renovations.  It's by no means clear who'll operate it when it re-opens - the guys at S&P are hopeful, but will have to compete with others for the spot.  I hope they get to stay there, but doubt the MTA cares much about keeping their old tenants.  I fear a Cemusa style upgrade. Both the place on Fifth and this one are favorites of mine.  I liked the succession of huge cats that lounged on the counter at Fifth (the grandest of the bunch was catnapped several years ago & though it was replaced, I haven't seen any there for a while), & enjoyed conversations with the incense burning gentleman at Fourth.  Sometimes I waited there while he was at prayer. I wonder what will happen to the other, long-shuttered station stores on either side of the avenue.  Dunkin Donuts & a Subway coming soon?  I'd like a diner.


Fourth Ave news, surrounded by the nicotine-hued tiles of the station.


Walking down Thirteenth Street, as the night set in, I came across this tiny figure hunched on a windowsill.

Saturday, January 7, 2012


Torpor.  I seem to be recovering from vacation & the first week back at work.  Today I shuffled around, buying food & returning library books.  I achieved very little else.  I've been lazy in body & mind.  Getting to the library was good though. I do like the Pacific branch of the BPL, with its semi-circular design, & elegant balcony.  It was the first Carnegie branch library in Brooklyn, opened in 1903,  and was almost demolished in the 70s.  There's a good deal of original detail left, and the children's room (a real room, not a section) has a comfortable, lived-in feel.  It's the perfect size for a library branch, & exudes an air of both domesticity & grandeur.  When you step through its doors you're a Reader, and here, at least, the act is holy.

I sat up in the balcony, reading Ben Katchor's The Cardboard Valise, & glancing down from time to time at the hushed & almost empty floor below.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Broken Glass

Well I've no idea who threw the rock through the window of the new restaurant Sweet Wolf (HPS), at Sixth & 12th, but there's plenty of lingering resentment when new and old worlds collide.  Elderly neighbors I know feel increasingly anonymous as the newer, wealthier residents ignore them.  Younger ones get driven out from the area they grew up in by the ever-soaring costs of real estate.  The familiar landmarks they know disappear, one by one.  I don't know what happened here, but I do know of a savage vendetta waged upon a newly moved-in family not that far from here, a few years back..  It went on for a long time & it wasn't pretty.  I hope this is just a random act, but even in the land of baby stores & pourover coffee, there's more than a little ill-will from the dispossessed.  It would be naive to think otherwise.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

One More Down

" Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
I love) I shan't have lied. It's evident
the art of losing's not too hard to master
though it may look like (Write it!) a disaster"

                                                    One Art  - Elizabeth Bishop

Here's Park Slope reports that the great deli Catene's (Fourth & 9th) closed late last year, after 46 years in business.  The men who worked there were maybe the gentlest, kindest deli guys I've ever had the pleasure to encounter, & the atmosphere behind the counter was sober & purposeful.  It was a real, honest, no-nonsense place.
Here's a photograph from last summer:

Concrete Pouring, Fifth & 12th

Monday, January 2, 2012


Henry Shapiro, & Sheldon Silverman, two veteran stenographers, retire from Brooklyn courthouse after forty years (News):
By Shapiro's estimate, he's churned out 20,000 pages of transcripts annually for the last four decades -- roughly 800,000 pages of testimony and argument.
Only Federal Judge George Rosling changed a word after ranting "Let the bastards starve" about inmates staging a hunger strike at the Manhattan prison known as the Tombs.
"He changed the transcript to "Let the fasters starve," Shapiro recalled.
...Silverman, who could not be reached, was also notable for his broad-shouldered suits especially the purple and mustard-colored ones.

Fifth & 9th

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Timboo's - New Year's Eve

The TV screens were all tuned to Times Square, with a beaming Ryan Seacrest & a million-strong crowd, but no-one at Timboo's wished to be anywhere else than right there at the corner of Fifth & 11th.  According to earlier reports this was to be its last night, but as with many lingering, end-of-the-run institutions, this was a fluid date.  It was up & running today, & may still stay open a few more weeks.  It was the last New Year's Eve, at any rate.  Free food abounded & at midnight, plastic glasses of champagne were dispensed.  We wore our party hats.  While most of the crowd was long-time local,  newer customers were treated well.  The couple of blonde young women whose annoying,self-absorbed dance moves kept nudging them into their neighbors were forgiven, & the tall young man with the cardboard tiara & beads was mercifully left in peace.  As the juke-box played a stream of oldies (Michael Jackson, Frankie Valli, Stones, Al Green) the postal worker next to me, a black plastic topper perched on his head, turned to discussing Sylvia Plath, & seethed with hatred for Ted Hughes.  Later, outside, Bobby Booras (the Boo of Timboo's) talked about the last forty years, about there being a dozen or more bars close by when he started, and the way the local owners helped each other out.  Now it would be down to Jackie's (a pale reflection of its earlier self) & Smith's, which might or might not be around much longer.   I asked Bobby about Whitey's ashes, which, as he had requested, had been kept behind the bar but were no longer there, and he said they'd been claimed by family a while back.  He talked about the endless Department of Health demands inflicted on businesses these days (even on bars that served no food) & the different way that problems were resolved back in the day.  He was sanguine about the future, and ready for a new boat and a lot of fishing.
With Timboo's almost gone, one more piece of the old South Slope fades away.