28 February 2010

Fultummys Gets Sign

Fultummys, the the new "international" sandwich shop that will open on Columbia Street in the space formerly occupied by the Piccolo Cafe, is finally showing some progress, after being dormant all winter. It now has a (very poorly made) sign. The words Piccolo Cafe has been painted over and the word Fultummys pasted on in a slapdash manner. I hope they take more care with their sandwiches.

26 February 2010

Lost City Asks "Who Goes to Monte's Trattoria?"

Long before other old eateries began to fascinate me, Monte's on MacDougal Street cast its spell. It was so obviously old, so stuck in time, so of another era, I became obsessed with it. I knew it possessed gobs of unknown Village history. I've been there a couple times over the years, attracted like a moth to its bewitching neon sign. I wish the food was better than it was, but I was happy to return for my latest Eater "Who Goes There?" column.

Who Goes There? Monte's Trattoria
Monte's, the subterranean MacDougal Street eatery, has seen other MacDougal Street landmarks like the Gaslight, the Kettle of Fish, Rienzi's and San Remo come and go, is ten years older than nearby Cafe Reggio, and still it makes with the lasagna and antipasti.
It is actually part of a two-restaurant empire of old-timey Village tradition. Monte's is owned by the same Mosconi family that runs the 34-year-old Villa Mosconi just a block to the south (and a previous Who Goes There? subject), and serves up the same sort of black-jacketed, red-sauce comfort food. Very likely, the Mosconi clan's tenure is a fairly seamless continuation of whatever Italian fare has been served at this address since 1918—first as a place called Razzazco, then as Monte's, all seemingly with the quirk of being closed Tuesdays.
I can find out little about the joint's incarnations as Razzazco or Monte's (which name it appears to have adopted in the mid-'50s). Whoever Monte was, though, he left behind a gem of a facade, the crowning glory of which is a neon sign featuring the profile of a fat chef toting a laden tray. Once down the steps, through the breakfront and inside the single square dining room, one gets a vague picture—in spite of the ceiling of acoustical tiles and the fairly modern decor—of what copping a cheap spaghetti meal must have been like for hip Villagers gone by. It's a quiet and unpretentious place.
The walls at Monte's hold some interesting secrets. This is the sort of old restaurant that inspires sentimental oil portraits and you'll find a framed depiction of the place near the bar. There's also a black-and-white picture of the Mosconi parents, looking stout, short and grim. And, most surprisingly, a poster of The Beatles, signed by all four of the lads from Liverpool. Papa Mosconi, the father of current chef and owner Pietro, the waiter explained to me, used to have a restaurant in London and was friends with John Lennon. 
Monte's is mentioned in a lot of guides to the city, so you get a lot of tourists here. "The steak is beautiful," an Aussie and his wife told me. They had been attracted by the TripAdvisor rating. "The lasagna is beautiful." Another family inside, on vacation, and with a kid who wore a snap-brimmed fedora, were back after having eaten there only the night before. I'm told, too, that you'll see the occasional celebrity and Yankee ballplayer eating here.
There are regulars, of course. An impressive silver-haired man in sweater vest and tie, who ate alone, checked his blackberry constantly and looked like he was the "mayor" of some block in Little Italy, was served his Caesar Salad and spaghetti marinara without asking for anything. And a voluble Mr. West whom everyone knew, lingered for an eon over a bottle of red, and promised to be back "soon, maybe Sunday." He was treated to a special panna cotta on the house and was introduced to the Italian guest chef who had made it.
You don't have to be a regular to get freebies, though. One four-top was occupied by a double date of two smart-dressed men who leaned heavily back in their chairs and kept smoothing down the fronts of their suits with the flat of their palms, and two blondes in frilly blouses who did most of the talking. The white mink hanging in the coat room very likely belonged to one of them. They weren't the politest of guests, referring to the thickly accented, kindly veteran waiter as "the Italian guy," and responding to the claim on the menu boast that Pietro has been named the 2005 Chef of the Year by Chefs de Cuisine Association of America with "whatever that means." But they got a round of after-dinner drinks gratis nonetheless. 
         —Brooks of Sheffield

The Green Mystery of Onderdonk Avenue

It seems to be the week of unsolved mystery buildings here at Lost City. Here's a corner structure in Ridgewood Queens, at Onderdonk and Stockholm, whose defining aspect seems to be that it's very, very green. (And, also, rather interesting looking.)

But look closer and you see that that heavy coat of green paint has helped conceal a number of Jewish stars. (And, uh, four-leaf clovers.)

The Studio

There is a handsome brownstone at 146 Willow Street which is named, according to the chiseled letters above the ground-floor door, "The Studio."

This is a curious designation. Austere and respectable is Willow Street. Few buildings on this Brooklyn Heights thoroughfare are so vulgar as to name themselves.

This was not ever, as far as I can tell, a single-family residence. Bachelors lived here. In 1922, the New York Times referred to 146 as "the bachelor apartment house." In 1893, the Brooklyn Eagle called is "Mrs. Deming's Boarding House," a place that, apparently, burglars liked to have a go at. By 1900, it was "under new management." In 1936, it was still the residence of many families.

By why was it called "The Studio"? Were all these bachelors artists? Or were the rooms just very small? The name has the ring of an artists' colony.

25 February 2010

Loss of a Good Sign

On 37th Road, near 74th Street, in Jackson Heights, there used to be a music store. It was quite noticeable, because above it was this wonderful sign, a huge neon guitar about 10 feet tall. I loved that sign.

I strolled by the block a couple months ago and was dismayed to see that it was gone. The business there now is Bhim's Cafe. I could tell it was a the same address because the metal riggings that held up the sign are still there, even if the sign is now.

I can't find out much about the music show, except that it was called E&C Trading Inc. Such a remarkable sign, you'd think there'd be photos of it all over the internet. But there aren't. And I stupidly never took one. Any out there have a photo of that sign? The address was 74-10 37th Road.

24 February 2010

A Perfect Storefront: Jr. & Son

This Williamsburg storefront very aptly expresses the nature of this business: an old neighborhood bar that doesn't want to attract too much unneeded attention. Tan brick, brown awning, brown door, small windows. Not even a phone number on the awning, or something telling hours of operation. The only touch of whimsy are the martini glass silhouettes on the awning. That is, unless you count the name, in which a man named Jr. has a Son, which is sort of like saying Jr. & Jr.

23 February 2010

The Fat Black Pussycat, Then and Now

I've always thought it a shame that the only business concern with a presence on picturesque, lovely, crooked Minetta Street is the cheesy Mexican restaurant Panchito's, whose main entrance in on the tourist-and-B&T-laden Macdougal Street. How nice it would be if the 1950s-60s beatnik haven The Fat Black Pussycat still held the address.

There's still evidence of the Pussycat's former tenancy. The coffee bar's name is painted in faded black letters on Minetta Street just above the garishly red Panchito's back entrance. To the right of the words, in script, is the word "theatre," for, indeed, the Pussycat added a 148-seat cafe theatre in 1962. The cafe was owned by Tom Ziegler, who was also proprietor of the nearby (and recently departed) Cafe Figaro. The cafe opened in 1958 at The Commons. It was a big part of the beatnick, bongos, espresso culture that thrived in the Village back then. It had poetry readings, folk music and jazz and espresso, along with a languid, Bohemian ambiance. The Pussycat name was adopted after the expansion in 1962.

Among the performers the Pussycat showcased were Tiny Tim, Mama Cass Elliot, Richie Havens, Bill Cosby and Shel Silverstein. The place had a short life when you think of it; it became Panchito's in 1972 and has been such ever since. Yet, the Pussycat is a legend and Panchito's, well, isn't.

If you walk a block to W. 3rd Street, you might be fooled into thinking that the Big Black Pussycat lives. For right there at No. 130 is a bar and club with that very name, in the space that used to be the Kettle of Fish, a Kerouac hangout back in the day. As far as I can tell, however, the place has no connection to the original Pussycat; perhaps they bought the rights to the name. It's owned by Noam Dworman, whose family also owns the Comedy Cellar and CafĂ© Wha?

Confused yet? I know I am.

Home Is Where the Business Is

I find something endearing in businesses that set up shop inside what is obviously a house. It comes from growing up in the rural Midwest I think, where almost every roadside bar or restaurant operated out of the ground floor of what used to be, or still was, somebody's home. The only way to tell the plain old house from the house/business was the glowing Schlitz sign by the road.

You don't find that phenomenon as much in New York, but it's still around, usually on the side streets in the outer boroughs. A conglomeration of small businesses has nested inside this Jackson Heights home like a family of mice. A jeweler, a travel agent, an accountant, an astrologer. And despite all that activity, it still pretty much looks of a suburban domicile.

22 February 2010

A Good Sign: Caskey Tavern

At the sign of the flaming goblet.

In Ridgewood, Queens.

The Lonely Beacon of Ben's Pizzeria

I find the ever-lit corner of Macdougal and W. 3rd Street belonging to Ben's Pizzeria—"Since 1956," "The Most Famous Pizza in the World"—to be ineffably sad, in the way a soup kitchen is sad. The double walls of glass doors always reveal the most despairing of midnight tableaus. Solitary, disheveled figures in heavy, rumbled clothes munch on heavy, reheated slices of what everyone knows is very far from the most famous people in the world. They don't speak. There's no life to the space. The pizzeria seems reserved for those members of the Village that no other place will take in. It's Bowery on Macdougal, pizza for the drunk, or for those so lost in their own existential trauma that they let the dinner hour pass, and the three hours after that, without eating anything.

The decor is grungy in that layered-with-time look some pizzerias get, in which one thing after another in hung or taped on the wall and nothing is ever taken down. The walls look like the pages of an aged, neglected scrapbook. There are three clocks for some reason, and a hard-to-look-at New York skyline etched into mirrored glass. The light is harsh and florescent. There are so many choices on the menu that you get the idea that Ben's doesn't care what they serve, as well as the suspicion that there's no way a place like this could make that many things well, so your odds of eating something good are quite low.

I like its never-changed-since-1977-because-that-would-cost-and-who-cares-anyway vibe. And Lord knows, I don't want it replaced by anything else. But the sadness of the place can't be ignored.

20 February 2010

This Week on Lost City

Trump Finds a Way to Make Ice-Skating Tacky and Annoying; Duane Read Gobbled Up by Walgreen's; Norah Jones Punches Out Window Number Three at Amity Street; The Jerks at the West-Park Presbyterian Church Don't Like Being Landmarked; We Found Out All About the Gypsy Tea Kettle; We Also Found Out All About Elpine Drinks;  I Like Pay Phones.

Comment of the Day

From Ed:

"I've glumly concluded that to do anything other than walk around in this city costs about $20 per person. If you pay less than $20 per person you are getting a pretty good deal."

19 February 2010

Central Park in Snow

Wollman Who?

I went to Wollman Skating Rink in Central Park yesterday. I suppose this is a stupid question, but has Donald Trump no sense of decency? Trump, as you may recall, purchased and spruced up the rink—originally a gift to the City from Kate Wollman—in the 1990s. And to remind us all, he slapped his stupid, fat, ugly name all over the place. No, he couldn't be the big man and let the name remain Wollman Rink. It's now called Wollman Rink Trump Central Park, which on top of sounding awful, doesn't even make sense. It's like someone tossed the five words in the air and, however they fell to the ground, that was the order they were put in. Might as well be Wollman Central Park Trump Rink, or Trump Central Wollman Rink Park.

"Wollman is invariably in small, black script, and completely obscured by "Trump," which is in large, red, black letters. Except of for Zambonis, which only say "Trump." The man would put his name a pooper-scooper.

As for the skating experience itself, it was pleasant enough. It's hard to beat that setting. But it's also an unconscionable rip-off. Adult admission on weekdays is $10.25, for kids under 12 $5.50. On weekends, it's $14.75 and $5.75. (Weekend prices apply on Friday. And if you pay on Monday and Tuesday, you only get access to the rink from 10 AM to 2:30 PM.) And that's just to get in. Naturally, anyone who pays admission to a skating rink wants to skate; they're not there for the $3 pretzels. But to rent the skates you must pay more: $6.25 a head. And then, of course, you need a place to put your shoes, so you'll have to rent a lock for $10.50! For the use of a lock for a couple hours! But wait, there's more. Rink rules say you can't have a bag or backpack or camera on the ice. They say this is a safely measure. But I'm pretty sure it's to make sure you have to rent at least two lockers, as they're so tiny there's no way you could fit shoes and a bag in just one.

They do not accept credit cards, only cash, by the way. But they refuse to give cash refunds.

Once you've paid your $60 or so to get in, you're treated like a war prisoner by the militaristic, killjoy staff, who never tire of sarcastically repeating the rink rules over the loudspeaker. (I've never met a skating rink attendant who wasn't part Nazi.) No bags on the ice! No cameras on the ice! Do not sit on the railings! Do now touch or throw the snow on the edges of the rink! Do not skate inside the orange cones in the center! Do not skate the wrong direction! "You know who you are," they say as punctuation. "It's clear. It's English."

What do you expect for a rink run by a classless jerk like Trump? I suggest everyone go to the Wollman Rink in Prospect Park instead, which is not sullied by Trump's name, and only cost $5 for adults and $3 for children. (Skate rental is still separate and $6.50.)

And by the way, Don, I had a camera in my pocket the entire time I was on the ice, I touched the snow and I kept your goddamed lock.

Some Stuff That's Interesting

The Village East movie theatre on Second Avenue, formerly the old Yiddish Art Theatre, has been restored. [Curbed]

Landmark Tribeca bar Walker's is to start serving pizza. Why not? Everyone else is. [Eater]

"The Museum of the American Gangster"? Like this nation doesn't stupidly celebrate and mythologize the Mob enough. I'm sorry, I wish Theatre 80 all this best, but what a terrible, misguided idea. [EV Greive]

A Walk Down Myrtle Avenue. [Forgotten NY]

Walgreen's Has Worse Christmas Displays Than Duane Reade, Sez Restless.

18 February 2010

The Un-New-Yorking of Duane Reade

Say what you will about the ubiquitous Duane Reade drug store chain. (And I've said plenty of the years, little of it complimentary.) It was New York's pharmacy chain—born here, grew here, dominated here. It was soulless, yes. The clerks were horrible. There were too many stores. They killed mom and pop pharmacies. But it had a more Gotham-y aura that Rite Aid or CVS. It was eccentric, taking up residence anywhere it could, in former movie theaters and ballrooms. It seemed scruffier and scrappier. And it was named for two Manhattan streets.

Now, Duane Reade won't belong to New York anymore. It's been sold to Walgreen's, which has over 7,000 stores (DR has 229) and was founded in Chicago and is based in Dearfield, Illinois. Price tag: $618 million. There, above, are the two suits who made the deal. One's the head of Duane Reade, the other of Walgreen's. Doesn't really matter which is which. Basically the same guy, right?

What will happen now? Will we really notice if Duane Reades become more Walgreen's-like? Probably not. We will notice, however, if Walgreen's chooses to retire the whole Duane Reade name, and close many of its branches, which they apparently intend to do. It's all about getting bigger, folks. Bigger and bigger until you can't get any bigger, and you inevitably get smaller, or go bankrupt, or get gobbled up by another fish determined to get bigger than you. Capitalism's like building castles in the sand. You can created a beautiful sand castle, one people love, one that wins contests, but there's always some bully waiting to kick it down, just because he can, and never imagining there's bigger bully somewhere who will kick down his castle.

17 February 2010

Norah Jones Busy Punching Holes in Amity Street

Norah Jones is gonna see that Brooklyn sunset over the East River if it kills her.

As previously reported, the singer won her battle against Cobble Hill preservationists to cut out seven news windows on the formerly windowless western face of the landmarked townhouse she purchased on Amity Street. (She originally wanted ten.)

Got Wood?

Savoia, on Smith Street, does.

A Good Sign: Thomas Pizza

Thomas Pizza. Maybe it's just me, but I think it's funny for a pizzeria to be owned by someone names Thomas. Thomas doesn't sound like a pizzeria-owner name. Di Fara, sure. Liugi, Roma, Sal, Sam, Leonardo, Patsy, Grimaldi, all good. But Thomas? It's like Jeffrey Pizza. Or James Pizza. Funny.

In Jackson Heights.

Some Stuff That's Interesting

The idgits who run the beautiful Upper West Side West-Park Presbyterian Church are actually angry about the pile of bricks being recently landmarked. They're actully trying to get the Landmarks Commission to overturn the designation, complaining about "marauding preservationists." (Oh, they're just the worst, aren't they?) One things for sure: this City will never be free of short-sighted Philistines. [Observer]

East Village cocktail bar Death & Co. has a cold-hearted new doorman. [EV Grieve]

The worst, most egotistical, most nauseating, absolute-indictment-of-mankind sign in town. [Scouting NY]

Nice shot of A&A Coffee shop in SoHo, with a very familiar-sounding headline. [Greenwich Village Daily Photo]

Remembering the San Remo. I personally never forgot it. Wish I could have gone just once. [Ephemeral NY]

A Baker After My Own Heart

This past-obsessed Park Slope baker sound like someone I could get along with. Also, like someone hoping for a "Julie and Julia" type book and movie deal. Still, I wouldn't mind tasting some of those cakes.

Park Slope baker will bake 100 cakes from '30s and '40s era and chronicle efforts in blog
A Park Slope baking enthusiast is making a mission of cooking her way into the past.
Susan LaRosa, 54, spent years collecting old boxes and scrapbooks full of homemade recipe cards from the first half of the 20th century at estate and yard sales.
"They were really treasures, and almost historical documents that reflected what people were really eating in the 1930s or 1940s," LaRosa said.
Now, she has vowed to make about 100 of them over the next year, and she is chronicling her efforts in a blog, acakebakesinbrooklyn.blogspot.com.
LaRosa views the recipes - often typed or handwritten - as windows into the lives of the people who authored them.
A yellowed and stained recipe card for buns bears the name "Ida Zepp," and notes at the bottom that, "These rolls were served hot at Ida's announcement party, May 1, 1937."
Some index cards with basic cake recipes have been given overly romantic names, like "Gold" and "Moonlight Lemon," which LaRosa attributes to a frustrated housewife.
"These are the personal papers of women in an age when they didn't have a voice," LaRosa said. "I think a lot of creative women expressed themselves through baking."
LaRosa, director of marketing at the Henry Street Settlement and a largely self-taught baker, has lived in Park Slope since 1982 with her husband, Paul, a television journalist and former Daily News reporter.
Deciphering the recipes isn't always easy, especially when they give measurements like "butter the size of a walnut," or leave out key details such as pan size.
A gingerbread cake LaRosa made from a 1919 collection of recipes put together by Mrs. Osbourne of Bay City, Mich., bubbled over after she underestimated the pan size, and ended up a smoking, charred mess.
Many of the recipes seem to represent the culture of their time, although LaRosa found that some may have been better left in the dusty annals of history.
For example, a raisin spice cake concocted during the lean years of World War I - dubbed Canadian War Cake - was made with no eggs, milk or butter, and only a modest amount of shortening. "It looked and tasted like a brick," LaRosa said. "It makes you happy we don't have rationing during these war times."

16 February 2010

The Gypsy Tea Kettle

I recently posted an old photo of an Elpine Drinks stand in Times Square. Above the stand, on the second floor, one reader noted a business called the Gypsy Tea Kettle, and wondered what its story might be. So I looked into it.

Weirdly enough, Gypsy Tea Kettle was the name of a chain of restaurant/tea-leaves-reading joints. It's strange to think of that sort of dicey line taking on a corporate structure. There were several in Manhattan, including one which began in 1931 on the second floor at the building at the northeast corner 42nd and Fifth Avenue, right near the Public Library. The various "readers" would tell your fortune by looking at the leaves at the bottom of your tea cup. ("It's all in the tea leaves.") Yet these were primary dining places. People ate there, drank their tea, and then got their fortune told at the end. A bizarre gimmick. And kinda fun-sounding.

There was also one at Broadway and 39th, northeast corner, begun in 1930, and at Fifth Avenue and 38th Street. And, of course the one at W. 50th Street and Broadway found in the picture.

In 1971, there was some trouble when Gypsy Tea Kettle Inc. was named a co-defendant in a City case against the Radio Centre Hotel on E. 50th. The City contended that illegal activities, including prostitution, were going on on the premises.

The chain hung around, after a fashion, into the 1990s. A 1995 article in the New York Times describes a visit to a Gypsy Tea Kettle on Lex and 56th, near Bloomingdale's. Apparently the dining aspect of the experience had faded away. The place still looked like a lunch counter, but there was no food. You paid $10 for a 15-minute reading to a man behind a glass case. He wrote out a restaurant check assigning you to a psychic, who was sitting inside a green vinyl booth. There were six booths. Each psychic told your fortune using ordinary cards. No one read tea leaves anymore.

There was a scene in the stage musical "42nd Street" where some chorines gathered at a Gypsy Tea Kettle.

15 February 2010

Elpine Drinks

Aaron Signs, blogger possessed of great old pictures of mid-20th-century New York, has posted two photos of Elpine Drinks stores, one at 46th and Seventh (I think), above, and one on W. 50th Street, below.

Which is enough motivation for one to ask: What's Elpine Drinks?

According to a New York magazine article in June 1969, the stand at 46th served, "orange juice squeezed to order 24 hours a day every day of the year, 7 ounces for 35 cents, 10 ounces for 50 cents. You can sit down on a stool in the rear, but most patrons drink alfresco, standing on the sidewalk of Times Square."

According to the signs, the joints also served pure-beef hamburgers and grilled frankfurters. But "Elpine Fruit Drinks" seems to have been their calling card. Pineapple, papaya, coconut, etc. The inside signage reminds me very much of Gray's Papaya.

A reader who remembers the place on 46th writes "I can still see the plastic cone cup holders that held the wax paper cups filled with pulpy juice."

I can not be sure, but, judging by the picture, and my memories of the movie, I think the 46th Street stand was used in the opening scene of "The Sweet Smell of Success," where Tony Curtis as press agent Sidney Falco scans J.J. Hunsecker's column at the counter before throwing it in the garbage in disgust. A 1956 New York Times item mentions the store was used in a shot for the film. I just looked at the film. A lot about the site matches the scene (the wall of glass doors, the location, the big "Frankfurter" signs on both sides), but some parts look different. It could be a matter of a revamp between when the film was shot and when this picture was taken.

There was an Elpine down on Nassau Street, too, opening up in the early '30s. The Broadway store was around at least until 1973, when it received a health code violation.

14 February 2010

Can a Parking Garage Be Beautiful?

Yes, I say!

As evidence, I present this handsome structure on E. 31st Street, near Third Avenue, a fine, six-story face of red brick interspersed with tooth-and-groove stripes of cream brick. The window are fine, with old wooden panes.

Corner of Essex and Delancey

One of my favorite site, Aaron Signs, finally posted some new pictures of old New York, for the first time in four months.

Above is the northeast corner of Essex and Delancey in, I'm guessing, the 1950s. Levy's Frankfurters. The corner has long been familiar to today's New Yorkers at Roma Pizza. I wonder if there are any remnants of the Levy's sign under that Roma awning.

13 February 2010

I Never Have Trouble Finding a Pay Phone

There have been a lot of stories in recent years about the growing scarcity of public pay phones. I don't know. Maybe I have a weird honing device in my head for arcane machinery, but I never have trouble finding a pay phone. I use them fairly often and I know just where to look. The grungier looking delis and pizzerias usually have one outside. Old bars and restaurants keep a pay phone inside out of habit, particularly if they have a roomy vestibule just inside the entrance. Blocks near police stations are a good bet. Gas stations, too. And any mass transportation hub, like LIRR stations or Port Authority. And, for some reason, badly kept, dirty city blocks are more likely to have a pay phone than clean ones.

I never owned a cell phone until Christmas 2006, when my wife gave me one. Until then, I relied on land lines. I was aware that people treating me as a sort of freak because of this, but some actually expressed their admiration and envy that I could get away with such a principled quirk. I liked and hated having the cell. It was helpful in arranging play dates for my son. And I seemed to get more calls from my cell-addicted siblings than I had before. Still, mainly I felt most of the incoming calls I was getting dealt with a lot of unnecessary stuff, and confirmed my belief that people don't need to talk, at that moment, about most of the stuff they talk about on cell phones. And, unlike most of humanity, I felt like a jerk whenever I used my cell in public.

My cell phone just kinda konked out last September. There was some talk for a while in my house of replacing it. But that hasn't happened, and I don't feel I'm missing anything. No one's complaining I'm hard to get ahold of. And I can walk the street without feeling I'm on a mechanical leash.

When I do need to call home, and aren't in an office, I do it by pay phone. This is more than easy. And it only costs a quarter. The thieves at Verizon charged me more than that just to receive a text message on my cell.

Above is a cool map from Gothamist of the 16,258 pay phones still left in the city. That's down from 33,335 in 2000. But still a lot. The top-used phones seem to fall into my criteria stated above: transportation centers, police stations, and gritty intersections. The northwest corner of 42nd and 8th. Yeah, I know that phone.

In my area, there's a pay phone by the President Street entrance to the Carroll Street F train stop; the northwest corner of Court and First Place; the Shell station on Atlantic and Henry; the southwest corner of Court and Kane; outside Cobble Hill Cinemas on Court; outside the Optimo shop on the north west corner of Court and Degraw; the northeast corner of Court and President (near the check cashing place; very popular) the northwest corner of Court and Sackett; the northeast corner of Court and Union; midblock on Court between Degraw and Douglass, outside the vacuum cleaner shop. There are more.

This Week on Lost City

Totonno's Finally Reopens; Jackson Heights' Cavalier Restaurant Calls It a Day; We Learn About the Legend of the Dragon Seed; We Ask "Who Goes To Suzie's Chinese Restaurant?"; It Snows a Lot; Winn Discount Finishes Its Remodeling; Village Paper Goes Up in Flames.

Totonno's Pizzeria Finally Reopens!

After 11 months of being out of commission, and many promises to open next week, next month, soon, etc., Totonnos Pizzeria of Coney Island has finally reopened. Feb. 12 was the day and professional pizza east Adam Cuban was, of course there. Apparently, the place looks the same as before, except the great black and white checkered floor is gone. Thank God. No verdicts on the quality of the pizza yet.

These splendiferous photos are from Nick Sherman, who hightailed it down there and saw and ate first hand. Thanks, Nick!

12 February 2010

Some Stuff That's Interesting

A history of Village landmark and fire victim Village Paper. [JVNY]

The unending and seemingly inexhaustible battle to save Ray's Candy Shop continues with a new delivery service. So do they deliver egg creams? Is that even possible? [EV Grieve]

Edgar Allan Poe is remember in the Bronx by not an avenue or a street, but a dead-end alley. [Forgotten NY]

The putzes that own the wonderful pre-War Lincoln Building on 42nd Street renamed it, with spot-on Donald-Trump-taste, One Grand Central Place, yanked the bronze plaques of the Gettysburg Address and Second Inaugural from the walls (who the hell cares about that stuff?), and evicted the Daniel Chester French statue of Lincoln from the lobby. Morons. Fred C. Posniak of W&H (Wankers and Hooligans) Properties said, unctuously, "It confirms the building's reputation as the premier prewar trophy property within the Grand Central district." Whatsamatter, Fred? The name of Lincoln wasn't bringing in enough cash-a-roony? [City Room]

Jerkizoid developers want to tear down the 101-year-old former Sheepshead Bay home of pioneering cartoonist Winsor McCay. And put up condos. Of course they do! That's what you do in this loser, soulless city. [Sheepshead Bites]

Whose Laundromat?

My Laundromat.

Would you like to fly in my beautiful baloon?

In Jackson Heights.

Overly Specific Instructions

Think they're big tippers?

In the East Village.

Two Empty Hulls

Skyline Books, a week or so after its closure. Nothing left inside.

And Village Paper after Wednesday's disastrous fire. It will be a miracle if it reopens.

A Perfect Storefront: Waverly Restaurant

Little wrong with the urban aesthetics on this Greenwich Village storefront. A corner location; attractive, multi-colored (and completely lit) neon coming at you from the north, and west and on the diagonal; "Breakfast. Lunch. Dinner." giving you the city-never-sleeps message; a white-painted facade so the overall effect doesn't get too heavy. Plus, a subway entrance right alongside for that percent metropolitan touch. Hollywood couldn't do it any better.

Other Perfect Storefronts

A Plea to the Owner of 229 Smith, aka Golden Eagle Alleys

A week ago, a commenter named "Landlord" responded to my post about the history of 229 Smith, in which I pointed out its colorful past history as the Golden Eagle Alleys. I assumed the bowling lanes were long gone. But Landlord said: "Actually, the remains of the two lanes still in the basement."

Landlord, I don't know how to get ahold of you, but I beseech you: please contact me at lostcitybrooks@gmail.com. I mean no mischief. I am just a curious history cat and I really want to see those old, 19th-century bowling lanes before they disappear for ever. I'll take up only 10 minutes of your time.

Lost City Asks "Who Goes to Suzie's Chinese Restaurant?"

With affordable joints in the Village going the way of the Dodo, I'm awfully glad humble, dependable Suzie's is still holding firm on Bleecker. In a certain way, to me, this is what the Village should be all about: cheap, hot, decent meals for strivers who don't have a lot of dough and don't need a lot of glitz, just a place where they'll be treated decently, respected for the few bucks they've got, and can get ample fuel so they can go back home and newly attack their various endeavors.
Who Goes There? Suzie's Chinese Restaurant
Suzie's Chinese Restaurant. The name is so plain, so charmingly unassuming that it actually stands out on Bleecker Street because of its mundanity. Bars are still named in that this-is-my-joint way, and pizza places. But restaurants? I doubt Batali ever thought of calling any of his places Mario's Italian Restaurant.