Thursday, November 29, 2012

Our System Flushed (Lafayette)

What urban ley lines run here? I am quite bewitched by the array of apparently disparate elements here: crankcase flushing/Wrigley ads, Adam sprung to life, a Downtown Only 6 sign pointing to the depths, and the ever-handy Call-A-Head. Joy, joy, joy.

Monday, November 26, 2012

At the Plaza

I'm not sure why I'm so drawn to this building.  We pass this way pretty often, to-ing and fro-ing between Brooklyn & Astoria, and there it stands, flanked by a parking lot and a shut-down BP station.  At first glance, it's not an especially lovely structure, and it's clearly seen better days, but something about its vigil has a trace of romantic dignity.
29-14 Queens Plaza East (or 29-14 Northern Boulevard) was built as a branch of the National City Bank of New York, which later became Citibank.  At that time the area right around Queens Plaza was a central bank district.  You can still see the National Bank insignia, and traces of its deco facade.

Here's a more pristine image of a National City branch on Broadway at Lispenard & Canal

Yes, a grander building by far, but it still makes it easier to imagine the humbler 29-14 in better days. The building dates to 1931, but I don't know how long a bank operated at this address. The Long Island Star Journal reported a fire at the bank in 1946, but this didn't seem serious enough to cause major damage.  More recently the building has housed an insurance business (see the Peter Demetriou sign on a side wall), Dodger Limousine Corps, the Juan Pananga Discotheque, the Mercurio 2000 Salsa Club (see the sign at the front), something intriguing called Hopply and Pupy), Roka Studios, and the services of Hinode (advertised in a '97 NY Magazine classified under Role Play).  A James P. Demetriou, at this address, also had a number of registered trademarks for a variety of products.  Those for frozen pizza, bread, and mink coats (Shadow Mist Mink, Blue Mist Mink, Smoke Mist Mink, Dawn Mist Mink ) are dead, but Just Ask "personal concierge" services is still active, and seems to be a going concern in Florida.  29-14 is currently available, and given the adjacent land around it, one fears for its future.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Link (I think)

For some reason, my sad, inefficient computer wouldn't link to this, but the link seems fine elsewhere.  A new essay, The Coffee Pot, at Romy Ashby's Walkers in the City:

Friday - 4:00 p.m.

For a while, we were the only customers at Ruby's. It was late in the afternoon, and the place was about to close. There's still no power at most of the boardwalk businesses, but nearby Tom's is blasting with light. There was a little juice from extension cords though, so we got fries and fried hot dogs. In the brisk sea air of November, with beer and gin to wash them down, this was food of the gods.
Ruby's will be open until New Year's Day.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012


Remembering Carmelita's Reception House (Vanishing New York)
Jackie's Fifth Amendment - secession from Park Slope? (FIPS)
Can't say I blame them ...
An illustrated Yiddish children's tale from the 1930s: A Hen Goes to Brownsville (Brooklynology)
A hen goes to Brownsville to lay eggs. She has heard that the children in Brownsville are short, pale, thin and weak because their mothers often don't have money to buy fresh eggs for them..."
"24' is the kiss of death" - another wooden house demolition in the works (IMBY)

Mosco Street

Sunday, November 18, 2012

"Facadomy": The Urban Eye - 1995

"Each store window is a kind of work of art in itself."

Here's some Sunday viewing. This NY Public Access TV documentary, produced by Jerry Rio and Howard Finkel, is a mid-90s look at urban development  and the threatened "unrecognized landmarks" of the city. Seventeen years hardly seems that long ago to me, but how swiftly change barrels along. The camera catches 42nd street largely shuttered and awaiting transformation, some 14th Street:Children of the Damned "incidental art", and an unidentified man, a student of street signs, who waxes lyrical about a very different Bowery. The second part of the film has a great interview with Peter Poulos, owner of the original Papaya King at 86th & Third.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Friday, 108th Street

The stretch of 108th Street at the mid 60s is extra wide, with the kinds of parking spaces (diagonal? angular?) more common to a mid-western Main Street. On Friday at dusk, most of the stores were shuttered up for Sabbath. This part of Forest Hills is home to a large Russian, Bukharian and Israeli population. Hence the food you find here - a vast array of fish (smoked and fresh), preserved fruits (sour cherries, blackcurrants), pastries, dumplings, mysterious meats and pot cheeses.  Even here in Queens, a hint of Samarkand. I stopped by Monya & Misha and came home with several kinds of bread. Who could resist a tzarist loaf?

I may just keep The Nikolas II "light" bread for self-defense purposes. With a recommended serving size of half a slice, it's as dense as a brick. I also got a huge round loaf with a dark, crisp crust & a white country rye. I'd definitely go back when more stores are open, and I had more time to shop, but I think I'm forever immune to the lure of Baby's bologna. That chubby face enclosing pale, soft sausage could haunt my dreams.

Postscript: While waiting for my ride home, I stood across from the Annadale Playground at 65th & Yellowstone, site of the 2007 death of Bukharian immigrant Daniel Malakov. His estranged wife, Marina Borukhova, also Bukharian, was found guilty of murder & conspiracy in the apparent contract killing. The case became the subject of a book, Iphigenia in Forest Hills, written by New Yorker writer Janet Malcolm.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Alley Blonde

Right after the hat-tipping, which made me as pleased as Punch, I came across a photo shoot in Cortlandt Alley.  Ecstatic in heels.

Street Crossing

Crossing Lafayette at Walker, an old man who didn't so much walk as trot.  Tiny steady high steps like a dressage horse.  He was in a hurry.  Clothes a ragged bundle of brown and gray.  Face streaked, and hair a mane.  He looked apocalyptic.  I felt I might have gone back in time. It was more like a dream of an encounter than the real thing.  As we passed - and this was the gesture that made me doubt the year completely - he tipped his hat.

Monday, November 12, 2012


Thousands still without heat and power at Red Hook Houses (Gotham Gazette)
Red Hook restaurants & bars struggle to re-open after the storm (Village Voice)

On Catherine Street

Knickerbocker Village, two weeks after Sandy. Still without heat & mostly powerless. A row of stores are closed, though a corner grocery has a generator. At corners, the elderly stop, check on neighbors, ask about the housebound, compare stories. One woman had just bought a blanket at Century 21. "It's so cold at night." Across the street, the elementary school is a warming center, and on Cherry, there are tents where food is served. A mobile boiler arrives. On Madison a bunch of FEMA guys standing around chatting. A week ago a 101 year old woman died here.


Thursday, November 8, 2012


Volunteers sought for food delivery as thousands in Red Hook Houses still without heat, power, running water (Red Hook Initiative)

Fibrous Menu Concept

Not getting good ratings, apparently, even at knockdown prices.  Precio no valen.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

F Train Back in Full Service

Written back up on the board this morning. Fourth Avenue station.


I walked from 36th to Butler on Fourth.  Most gas stations were open, but with long lines of cars & pedestrians.  Police were present, and the queues seemed quiet.  At one station, firemen were filling up gas cans.  Around the corner on Sackett, a first responder (sanitation) told me he wasn't considered a priority customer & was finding it impossible to find fuel.  According to him, a lot of retired cops were jumping the lines. Over in Red Hook, his mother's house, that had been in the family for generations, was ruined. They might as well tear it down,  he said.

On Fifth, there were the usual Sunday lines for brunch.  And the usual signs of self-absorption. Behind me as I walked, one woman complained that she hadn't had nearly enough hollandaise with her eggs.  A cafe board declared an outage of pumpkin spices (a triple exclamation hardship).  At Washington Park, a cluster of mothers was petitioning (Leave Our Zone Alone) against proposed changes to the 321 district, which would jeopardize their children's education, and, perhaps more importantly, have negative effects on property investment.

I Am

I am green, the color of the
grass, a stallion leader of
the horses,
banana, the ripe
she of the sun, Marcus Garvey
man of peace, snow,
the whiteness of an angel's wing,
spring flower, bloom within,
I am an airplane that
soars across the sky
I am a ship that
flows across the sea
I am a parrot that speaks
my own words
I am the cotton that heals
your wounds.
                           K., 4th Grade. P.S.219 (Writing Workshop, 2001)

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Re-Scheduled: Alive in the Inside

Richard Eagan's reading of his play, Alive in the Inside, which was to have taken place tomorrow at the 440 Gallery, on Sixth Avenue in Brooklyn, has been rescheduled (a consequence of Hurricane Sandy) for Sunday, November 11th, at 4:40 p.m. The gallery is currently showing work by Eagan and Philomena Marano in Art of the Coney Island Hysterical Society, and the exhibition runs until November 25th.  Eagan and Marano co-founded the Society in 1981, and on November 18th will present an illustrated talk about its history.


At Gerritson Beach
Sheepshead Bay needing help, & ONE warming center open in Brooklyn (Sheepshead Bites, Gothamist)
Sea Gate in photographs (Eugene Mim's pictures at Gothamist)
Coney Island volunteer work today, & ongoing;  Paul's Daughter burger missing  (Amusing the Zillion)
Rockaway Residents Complain of Lack of Assistance (Post)
Powerless in Public Housing (Coney Island, Red Hook, LES) (NY Times)
Staten Islanders Feeling Forgotten (NJ .com)

Benson, Bayside, Gatilleros, Harvard et al.

Friday, November 2, 2012

A Year Ago

Getting to & from work is taking up extra chunks of time right now, so here's a look back to last November.  Sunnier days.