31 October 2008

Trader Joe's Makes Good on Its Promise

Trader Joe's has fixed the clock!

Word comes to Lost City from a watchful reader that the Brooklyn branch of the hipster supermarket has finally mended the double-sided clock on the outside corner of the old Independence Bank Building which Joe's calls home. It had stopped working some after Independence moved out.

A Joe's spokesman had said earlier that he expected it to be running by the end of October. And here it is Oct. 31 and it's running!

30 October 2008

Good Pizza; Bad Architecture

Many, including yours truly, were pleased with the recent redesign of the House of Pizza and Calzone on Union Street in Brooklyn. It looks completely different from what it was, but the look is an attractive, tradition-conscious reimagining of the space.

What a disappointment, then, that the pizzeria's owner, Gino Vitale, didn't bring the same sense of style and appropriateness to the faux-Italianate piece of crapitecture he's erecting at 91, 93, 95, 97 and 99 King Street, corner of Richards Street, in Red Hook (below). According to a article in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle that reads like an advertisement (a quote from the broker saying the building is beautiful and unique? Come on!), Vitale based the five single-family townhouses on carriage houses he saw during a recent trip in Italy. A guess a few arches makes for a palazzo, huh?

Granted, this creation of Vitale's (he designs everything he builds) is a notch about the usual callous pile of bricks that we see these days. But it's also more vulgar, because those pile of bricks don't pretend to be grand or artistic. They're just crap. He's built fancy crap and is calling it gold.

The one-to-three bedroom homes are going for $750,000 to $1.3 million. Buyers can enjoy "skylight-lit living areas and a full package of high-end appliances." Vitale thinks they'd be great for artists, given the high ceilings and large windows. He must mean established artists. What other artists have a mil sitting in the bank?

The worse news? "Vitale...plans 20 more similar carriage house-style homes."


Air travelers who follow the laws of Kashrut need not suffer at John F. Kennedy airport. In one terminal, there is a long row of kosher vending machines called Kosher Cafe. The delicacies inside—onion rings, french fried, vegetable cutlet, knish, extra cheese pizza—are called "Hot Nosh" with the cheeky subtitle of "24/6." (Not 24/7, because the Sabbath must be observed!) As that tabloid witch, Cindy Adams, says: Only in New York.

29 October 2008

Landlord to Denude Cafe Un Deux Trois of Fabulous Signage

Cafe Un Deux Trois's new landlord, who apparently thinks Times Square is a posh, subtle place, is insisting that the longstanding eatery take down its classic signage in favor of a more subdued frontage.

The "Cafe 123" sign (seen below in happier times) that used to hang out front has already been removed, replaced by a sad little black and white cloth banner. The remainder of the glorious white-bulb signs that festoon the facade will follow it into oblivion. The restaurant owner told Lost City that there's nothing he can do about it; the landlord is adamant.

This is deeply unfortunate. The Cafe Un Deux Trois signage was a joy to behold, and one of the classiest, New York-iest day-for-night jobs in the district. Only an ignoramus would consider the signs vulgar.

The owner said he plans to sells the signs on eBay soon. So signage fans better keep an eye out.

28 October 2008

Now That's Just Sad

The New York Sun passed into New York newspaper history almost a month ago, but a reminder of its six-year existence remains on 43rd Street near Broadway.

It's kind of sad to see this lonely newsbox sitting there, never to be refilled. And there's still a newspaper inside, unbought! (Does that now rank as a collector's item?) The paper, however, isn't the Sun's last edition, which was Sept. 30. Strangely, it's the July 7 edition. Can't figure that one. Remember July 7? Lehman Brothers still existed. Our country still had an ostensibly sound financial system. And no one outside Alaska had heard of Sarah Palin. Happier times.

Ratner's Sleeps

Ratner's had to go. I understand that. It was no longer a viable proposition. It served a public that no longer made the area its stomping ground. It was a relic.

But did it have to be replaced by a Sleepy's? I mean, the indignity. What was once arguably the Lower East Side's oldest and most famous kosher restaurant is now a mattress showroom, one link in a chain with a horribly garish red sign, an insipid mascot of a drowsy man in nightcap and nightgown, and the bizarre motto "The Mattress Professionals." (What does that mean exactly?)

I scanned the store to spy traces of the grand old dairy restaurant, but there's little left. The kitchen was gutted to make more room for Sealy and Simmons. The tiles outside the glass door are still obviously those of Ratner's, though heavily worn down. And there are decorative half-circle shapes were part of the Ratner's interior design. But that's it.

Ratner's opened in 1904 and had a run of 98 years, closing in 2002. The famous neon sign came down in 2004. (Anyone know where it is?) It was founded by Jacob Harmatz and his brother-in-law Alex Ratner on Pitt Street. To decide whose name would appear on the sign outside, they flipped a coin. Ratner won. It was a bad toss, because Ratner got out in 1918 and moved to California, and the Harmatz's ran it ever since. That same year, the eatery moved to Delancey. Harmatz's son, Harold took over the business in the mid-1950s; he worked there until it closed. His son Robert made a last-ditch effort to make the place hip by opening the hideaway bar Lansky's Lounge in the back. This irked many regulars, because the bar did not keep kosher hours.

Barley mushroom soup, perogies, blintzes, vegetarian chopped liver and the onion rolls were among the treasured specialties. Like Katz's still is, Ratner's was once a political whistle stop, a place for a photo op of a mayoral hopeful biting into a blintz. Every famous Jewish comedian there was ate there, from Groucho Marx to Fanny Brice. Certain waiters worked the floors for decades.

For one of the last cinematic glimpses of Ratner's, check out 2000's "The Boiler Room." Ron Rifkin and Giovanni Ribisi have brunch there. And there's a nice old picture of the interior here.

27 October 2008

Bad Ad

HSBC is currently running a revoltingly stupid ad in the subways.

The ad pictures three containers of bottled water. One is labeled "Healthy," the second "Fashionable," the third "Wasteful." The tag line below reads "Different values make the world a richer place."

No, fuckers. The first two ideas make the company who makes the bottled water a richer place—not the world. The third idea actually makes the world a better place.

No doubt the bank thinks the ad wonderfully broad-minded. But it comes off as a stealth, wolf-in-sheep's-clothing job, disguising selfish, capitalistic behavior as just another valid "choice." Different, but not wrong. And besides, who looks to banks these day for exercises in moral relativism?

Hooray for Beer/Thank God for Wine

This advertising juxtaposition at the corner of Rivington and Essex is quite interesting, culturally. It basically represents a clash of the Old Lower East Side and the New Lower East Side.

At the bottom, you have an aged painted ad for Schapiro's Kosher Wine, an old concern which until recently had a small plant on Rivington, providing sweet ritual wine to the observant Jews that once lived in the area. The Red Stripe ad, meanwhile, is cloth and relatively new, the "Hooray Beer" campaign being of this decade. Schapiro was/is all about service to Kosher laws. Red Stripe is all about having fun. Schapiro never cared about image, only that it was trusted by its consumer base. Red Stripe's ad is about as self-consciously hip as you can get, perfectly catering toward the demographic who will drink something based on an appreciably ironic tag line.

I doubt the Schapiro people have ever heard of irony.

Some Fallout From Last Week's Travesty of Justice

There has been a active and dramatic aftermath to Bloomberg and Quinn's bum's rush of the third-term law through a deeply divided City Council, and none of the news speaks well of the action. (Can anything speak of the action?) Here are some select articles:

The gallery heckled City Council members as they voted for the the term limits bill. Councilman Tony Avella, as usual, spoke the truth. [The Daily News]

The battle over term limits now goes to court, with at least two suits challenging the motion, required further expenditure of the City's time and energies during a time of crisis. [NY Times]

Turncoat Councilman David Yassky tries to explain himself, unsuccessfully. [City Room]

The Council other last-minute vote-changer, Darlene Mealy, threw up twice before voting "yes" and they got in a car crash. Karma?

Clyde Haberman
offers a stinging appraisal of what Bloomberg's victory means for his legacy. [NY Times]

Nobody wants to read Bloomberg's new book now. [NY Times]

Halloween at the Prospect Park Carousel

Yesterday was the final day of the season for the Prospect Park carousel. The folks who run it had it decked out as a rotating haunted house for the month, in honor the Halloween it will not see. Instead of the usual songlist of 19th-century favorites, the accompanying music ranged from "The Monster Mash" to the themes from "The Addams Family" and "The Munsters" to the soundtracks from "Vertigo," "The Exorcist" and (oddly) "Twin Peaks." The eyes in the mummy's head moved.

26 October 2008

Just Not Right

My brother-in-law was in for the weekend. We were seeing a show in the East Village and I wanted to give him a quintessential New York dining experience. A natural choice came to mind: Katz's. No place is like Katz's. No place look like it, eats like it or has an even remotely similar payment system. So Katz's it was.

We passed by it at 5:30 PM and took a peek. Open and ready for business. But there was plenty of time, so we went strolling through the Lower East Side, sightseeing. We then returned to to Katz's at 6 PM, where the ticket-taker stopped us at the door. "Private party tonight."

What? A private party at Katz's? Sorry, but this is not right. Katz's is all about democracy. A big, sprawling place that could fit the population of a small village and where everyone is welcome and treated the same. It's very ambiance reeks of "the people." It should never be roped off for the benefit of some moneyed toffs. It's just wrong.

No idea what the even was. Maybe a City Council third-term victory party.

A Little Touch of Fall

The colors haven't really started to turn in Central Park yet. But this one tree is a harbinger of what's to come. It should have some company by next week.

25 October 2008

Duck's Eye View of the Delacorte

You've all seen a show in Central Park as a member of the Delacorte audience. This is a duck's point of view of the proceeding.

We probably make for a pretty good show for the ducks.

23 October 2008

Midtown Mystery

One thing that drives my crazy are New York businesses that advertise themselves as having been founded in some distant year, but show no signs of being old and are staffed by people who know nothing of the company's history.

There are two such places—side by side—on an otherwise anonymous block of Broadway between 38th and 39th. Peter's Flowers, founded in 1937. And Harrie's Bakery, there since 1948. Either of these names ring a bell?

They're both part of a sort of urban strip mall on that block. The construction looks like it was built in the '60s. Now, call me a stickler, but I say that if you're going to go around boasting about your age, you better have some evidence of your oldness on the walls inside. Old photos, newspaper clippings, anything. But there's nary a thing hung up to prove Peter's and Harrie's bonafides. I asked clerks and got a bunch of shrugs. I can find nothing on the internet about either business, except that Harrie's serves a bad breakfast sandwich. (I can attest to that.)

It's very possible that each business began elsewhere and subsequently moved to their present location. But I want proof. Because it's equally possible that the owners slapped those dates on the awning to draw in nostalgia-loving saps like me.

And "Harrie's"? What kind of spelling is that?

A Good Sign: New York Beads Inc.

Very bright and bouncy. Very '70s. On Sixth Avenue, in Midtown.

The proprietors of New York Beads Inc. actually own another store names Beads on Fifth (!). But the latter hasn't nearly as interesting a sign. I am in love with the text on their website (spelling mistake and grammatical weirdness all intact): "Over 13 years of Experience in Beads industry, we have a one-stop shop for all Beads Accessories like Castings, Findings, and Trimmings etc. Just to name few, our friendly staff will help guide and service customers. We welcome Amature beaders as well professional beaders to come to our store and experience our friendly environment."

Cemusa Gets Another One

As recently as two weeks ago, there was a find old New York newsstand here at the northwest corner of 79th and Broadway. Now: gone. The construction can only mean one thing: Cemusa.

And the clueless Spanish company is still mangling New York street names on their bus shelters.

New York at Night

Joe's Pizza, in the Village.

Join the Club

James J. Walker. William O'Dwyer. William Magear Tweed. Michael Bloomberg.

Though hardly a sentimentalist about New York history, in one way Bloomberg perfectly embodies one great old New York tradition: corruption at the highest levels of government. (And that's the sunniest outlook I can take on this whole thing.)

I have thrown in a picture of Judge Crater, below, just for fun.

I'm Just Saying...

The City Council will vote on whether or now to tack on a third term to the current term-limits law will occur in an hour. I've posted enough about how I feel about this political game. Just wanted to link to an article in today's New York Times that I feel is a particularly apt. Take a look.

22 October 2008

Chumley's: Not Much Doing

I swung by Chumley's the other night to see what was doing. Answer: nothing much. Doesn't look like anything's been done since the Times wrote an update on the old speakeasy back in August. The dispiriting new cinder-block facade looks to be at the same state of construction it was them. I guess the fact that people are still trying to resurrect the place at all after all this time is a sign of something hopeful.

Meanwhile, people are still discovering that the bar is closed and dismantled. A guy walking by me said, "Chumley's is gone? Man, that sucks. Gone? Wow. What a great place. That really sucks. I can't believe Chumley's is gone. That really sucks." Yeah. That about says it.

Green Church Gone

After a long, bitter battle, Bay Ridge's famous "Green Church" is gone. A demolition crew laid it low on Tuesday, Oct. 20, ending its 109-year-old life and robbing Bay Ridge of one it few true architectural treasures.

The green-serpentine stone-encased house of worship was formally called the Bay Ridge United Methodist Church. It was the congregation that wanted the building destroyed, sparking a long, tortured struggle with the surrounding community and preservationists. The church members insisted the decaying building was a burden, and would cost millions to repair—millions they didn't have. Activists suspected the structure was more sound than the congregation let on. The argument went back in forth for months. City Councilman Vincent Gentile led a push to preserve the church, but to no avail. The church and its pastor kept talking about needing to put their spiritual mission first, and leaving the building behind. I can see their point, but the decision still seems short-sighted. A community needs many things, including inspiring things to look at.

A smaller church will be built on the site—the corner of Fourth and Ovington avenues—along with the inevitable co-op building. My guess is no one will look at the high-rise and consider it evidence that God exists.

Below, a look at what was lost.

At the Sign of the Green Cross

This post is somewhat thematically linked to the previous item, in that it shines a light on a detail lending a little touch of Europe in the middle of Manhattan. The Avignone Chemists on Bleecker Street advertises its presence with the help of a neon green cross. Those crosses are common sites in Paris and Rome, where they are the well-recognized symbol of a pharmacy. Avignone must have gone to a lot of bother to get one. Nice gesture.

A Little Tube in Your Subway?

Whoever built the 53rd Street/5th Avenue subway station must have been a fan of the London underground. Those who have been to the home of Big Ben and ridden the Tube will recognize the diagonal stream of frames advertisements—often advertising the same thing over and over again—as a characteristic feature of the London subway system. The 53rd Street stop is the only place where I've seen this sort of ad technique deployed. Every time I take that escalator from the V train platform to the street, I think of the West End.

A Good Sign: New York Hot Dog & Coffee

It's not often I bestow a "Good Sign" designation on something of recent vintage. But there's something about this new one in the Village that just says New York, doesn't it? "New York Hot Dog & Coffee." That's what you want sometimes, isn't it? And so bluntly put, too. Looks particularly good at night, when a dog and a cuppa Joe might the only thing to save your sorry soul.

21 October 2008

Bloomberg and Quinn to Bend City to Their Will Thursday

Thursday will be the day that the lights go out in Gotham. Boss Bloomberg and Captain Quinn (Be patient with me; I'm trying out derogatory names) are listening to NO ONE on this one. Should God, the Pope and Warren Buffett tell them they're doing evil, they'd plow forward. Mephistopheles, after all, is waiting in the back room with a pen dipped in blood. And he does NOT like to be kept waiting. From City Room:

Council Sets Term Limits Vote for Thursday

By Sewell Chan AND Fernanda Santos

The City Council has scheduled a Thursday vote on a bill that would extend term limits to allow Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and other city officials to seek a third term in office, nullifying the outcome of two public referendums, in 1993 and 1996, that imposed term limits.

The scheduling of the vote came amid a flurry of recent developments that suggested that public opinion might be turning against the mayor. A Quinnipiac University poll released Tuesday morning found that 89 percent of city voters believe that any changes to term limits should be decided by referendum; that 51 percent of voters oppose extending term limits altogether, even if it meant that they could elect Mayor Bloomberg to a third term; and that nonetheless, voters approve of the job that the mayor has been doing by 75 percent to 20 percent.

The developments raised questions about whether the Council’s speaker, Christine C. Quinn, would go forward with a vote on Thursday, as she had originally planned. In scheduling the vote, Ms. Quinn may be signaling that she believes she has enough votes in the 51-member to approve the measure. Then again, both sides continued on Tuesday to frantically lobby undecided lawmakers like Councilman James Sanders Jr.

The Governmental Operations Committee, whose chairman, Councilman Simcha Felder of Brooklyn, is a close ally of Ms. Quinn and Mr. Bloomberg, is now scheduled to meet at 10 a.m. on Thursday. If the committee approves the bill, it will be taken up by the full Council at its 1:30 p.m. meeting that day.

Over 19 and a half hours of hearings on Thursday and Friday, the committee heard testimony on two bills: the mayor’s and an alternative, sponsored by Councilman Bill de Blasio and Councilwoman Letitia James, that would require a public referendum on term limits.

But an amended notice posted on the Council’s bulletin board at City Hall showed that only the mayor’s bill will be voted on when the committee meets.

The council members have five sponsors: Mr. Felder, the committee’s chairman; Councilmen Domenic M. Recchia Jr. and Kendall Stewart, also of Brooklyn; Leroy G. Comrie Jr. of Queens; and G. Oliver Koppell of the Bronx. All are Democrats. (It is customary for the committee chairman to be a sponsor of a bill initiated by the mayor; Mr. Felder has not stated his position on the bill.)

Eric J. Kuo, a spokesman for Mr. Felder, who heads the committee, said that the de Blasio-James bill “will not be considered for a vote at this time.”

Also on Tuesday afternoon, Councilman James S. Oddo of Staten Island, who leads the three-member Republican minority on the Council, came out against the bill to extend term limits, known formally as Introduction 845-A. Mr. Oddo said in a statement:

After almost 20 hours of testimony, many conversations with colleagues, discussions with my constituents, and much personal reflection, I have decided to vote “no” on Intro. 845-A. “Process” does matter. Sometimes process matters a lot. In this case, process is not simply a philosophical exercise or some ethereal meandering; it is the essence of democracy. I recognize that honorable people can differ on this question and that I have come down on a different side than many friends and colleagues who I believe would be very effective continuing to serve their communities for a third term. I have not come to this decision lightly, but for me it is the right way to vote. As a Staten Islander, I vividly recall that in 1993, 65 percent of my home borough voted in favor of secession, only to have city and state political leaders ignore our will as expressed through our vote. I cannot vote in favor of a plan that would do the same.

The term limits debate has divided the Council — and, arguably, the public — like few other issues in recent memory. With the first round of voting on term limits only two days away, both sides continued to press their case.

Opponents of the plan — including nearly all of the city’s good-government groups — have argued that no matter what voters think of term limits or of Mayor Bloomberg, the issue must be placed before the voters, who twice approved limiting officials’ time in office to two four-year terms. The opponents note that the mayor and the Council could summon a charter revision commission, which could place the matter for a public vote in a special election early next year.

Proponents of the plan — including several labor leaders who support Mr. Bloomberg, as well as charitable and educational groups that have benefited from his personal largess — point to the mayor’s approval ratings, which are near their record high (about 75 percent), and argue that his financial expertise is more vital now than ever as the city faces the economic downturn and a sharp drop in revenue. A special election would be costly and impractical, they say.

Lip Service From the Boss

A regular reader of Lost City took the write City Hall about the term limits brouhaha. In response, she was e-mailed a form letter from Boss Bloomberg himself (not that he actually wrote it or anything) which is interesting in its mealy-mouthed disingenuousness. Here it is. See if you can find any section where it seems like Bloomberg actually believes what he is saying. (Boldfaces are particularly egregious examples of bullshit. My comments are in CAPS and brackets.)

Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts about term limits.

In recent weeks and months, I've listened to many different New Yorkers with lots of different opinions on the issue of term limits. But as Wall Street has entered its worst crisis since the Great Depression, and our economic situation has become increasingly unstable and worrisome, the question for me has become far less about the theoretical and much more about the practical. And that means asking a very basic question: Is it in the best interests of the City to give voters more choices in next year's election? [BLOOMBERG WELL KNOWS THAT HIS INSERTION INTO THE ELECTION WILL RESULT IN NO CHOICE WHATEVER FOR THE ELECTORATE. HIS VAST WAR CHEST WILL SEE TO THAT.]

I understand that people voted for a two-term limit, and altering their verdict is not something that should be done lightly. [ONLY WHEN HE RAN OUT OF OTHER WAYS TO STAY IN POWER, HE MEANS.] The City Council - a democratically elected representative body - has the legal authority to change the law, and if it does so [THE COUNCIL WOULD NOT BE CONSIDERING THE QUESTION IS BLOOMBERG HADN'T FORCED THE ISSUE. AND WHAT'S MORE DEMOCRATIC: THE ELECTED COUNCIL, WHICH REPRESENTS CITIZENS, OR A REFERENDUM WHICH TALLIES THE VOTES OF EVERY SINGLE CITIZEN], the final verdict would remain with the City's voters. On Election Day, it will be up to the people to decide which candidates have earned [READ: "BOUGHT"] their vote, and which have not.

I've always supported term limits, and I continue to do so. [WTF? I MEAN, SERIOUSLY: WTF!!!!!] But I also don't want to walk away from a city I feel I can help lead through these tough times. [SO DON'T WALK AWAY, JERK! SERVE IT IN OTHER WAYS! DO YOU HAVE TO BE MAYOR TO SERVE YOUR CITY?] If the Council passes an extension of the term limits law from two to three terms, I plan to ask New Yorkers [WHOM YOU JUST DEFIED BY OVERTURNING THE TERM LIMITS LAW] to look at my [LOUSY] record of independent [OR DEMOCRAT. OR REPUBLICAN. WHICH IS HE NOW?] leadership - and then to decide if I have earned a final term. [YOU MEAN "ADDITIONAL TERM." THIS IS YOUR FINAL TERM, GENIUS.] Whatever the Council decides, I'll remain focused on doing my job [I.E.-PULLING STRINGS AND TWISTING ARMS TO OVERTURN TERM LIMITS] and finishing this term as I began it: by working day and night for New Yorkers [THE ONES WHO TOLD YOU TO GET OUT AFTER TWO TERMS, YOU MEAN?] and the City I love [TO RULE].

Thanks again for taking the time to write.

Michael R. Bloomberg

Some Stuff About Boss Bloomberg and Quinn the Eskimo

Lost City will be keeping you abreast of the daily onslaught of Bloomberg Power Grab news every day until the plutocrat STEPS OFF!

Ron Lauder just won't keep out of it.

Public polls are turning against the mayor's wish to stay on. Oh, but wait! I forgot—what the public wants doesn't matter.

Not every labor group supports Boss Bloomberg.

Christine Quinn
, Bloomberg's partner in crime, sensing they are losing the battle, may delay the term limit vote. Hey, better to delay it than lose, right Christie? That's the way to serve democracy!

I think it's time to point out that Quinn is easily Bloomie's match in duplicity, self-interest and back-room dealing. There's no call for justice or decent governance that will penetrate her eardrum. She's hand-in-hand with Mike on the term limits scheme. She's Buckingham to his Richard III. But she better watch out. Remember what Richard did to Buckingham when he ceased being useful.

And with that, please join me in a slightly revised verse of Dylan's "Quinn the Eskimo":

I like to do what the people ask,
If it keeps my slush fund sweet,
But clearing out after two terms,
It ain't my cup of meat.
Everybody best be 'neath my thumb,
Or I'll push them 'neath a bus,
'Cause when Mike and I say "Third term or die!",
All the pigeons gonna run to us.

You stay without, I'll stay within,
You'll not see nothing like the mighty Quinn.

A councilman's meow and a billionaire's moo,
I recognize 'em all,
Just tell me where your wallet hurts,
And Mike'll make the proper call.
Nobody will get no sleep,
While I'm standing on their toes,
But when Quinn the Politico gets here,
Everyone's will just done froze.

You stay without, I'll stay within,
You'll not see nothing like the mighty Quinn.

George Gershwin: 28th Street Vet or Not?

In the recent barrage of press concerning the fate of the former Tin Pan Alley buildings at 47-55 W. 28th Street, there has been some debate as to whether George Gershwin began his career as a song plugger at Jerome H. Remick & Co when the music publisher was on that street, or later when Remick moved uptown.

David Freeland, a music writer who's writing a book that partly concerns Tin Pan Alley, told the Times' City Room that he "believes Gershwin did not work at the company until after it had moved uptown."

A regular reader wrote into Lost City calling this assertion balderdash, and pointed to the Warner Chappell Music website. Warner absorbed Remick long ago, and publishes a history of the publishing house on the site. Part of it runs thusly:

In 1914 Jerome H. Remick and Company, now in a brownstone walk-up on West 28th Street, began hiring song pluggers to sell their tunes to performers.

However, there was always a musical salesman left on the premises to demonstrate songs in the shop and George Gershwin, becoming that type demonstrator, entered the song plugging field when he joined Remick in 1914. While at Remick, Gershwin composed many songs, hoping they would be published. He left Remick shortly after they finally published one entitled "Rialto Ripples" in 1917, with a lyric by Will Donaldson.

Of course, this is text from a promotional website and could be willfully inaccurate. However, it would be no skin off Warner's nose to say Gershwin worked with Remick uptown, as opposed to on 28th Street; Warner could claim Gershwin as part of its legacy either way. Then again, maybe Freeland has uncovered some new bit of history.

Anyway, it's all somewhat immaterial to the argument at hand, because Remick was at 45 W. 28th Street, which is not one of the threatened buildings.

20 October 2008

Some Stuff About Boss Bloomberg

Politicians criticize Bloomberg for coercing nonprofits he's given money to into supporting his power grab. As they should.

Bloomberg defends his leaning on nonprofits to boost his bid for a third term. Of course he does.

Bloomberg vs. Bloomberg, via YouTube.

Every billionaire in New York State is involved in the term limit fight. Enter Tom Golisano, solidly on the anti-Bloomberg side.

Bloomberg to play Iago in upcoming Heights Players production of "Othello" in Brooklyn.

Just kidding on that last one

Nederlander Theatre Not Built as Theatre, It Turns Out

For as long an anyone can remember, City histories have pointed to the Nederlander Theatre on 41st Street as having begun life as a theatre in 1921 and remaining one ever since, though under various names (the National, the Trafalgar, the Billy Rose).

But now that long-running hit "Rent" has cleared out and the theatre is gearing up for a big renovation to clear out all the faux-distressed design elements that were brought in 1996 to give the place an East Village feel, experts are finally discovering that the Nederlander used to be something else.

James A. Boese, a vice president for the Nederlander chain of nine Broadway theaters,
and the president of the League of Historic American Theatres, told the Star-Ledger that the he had uncovered documents that proved the building underwent a big alteration in 1920, and before that was a "3 sty nonfp (non-fireproof) brick Carpenter's shop and storage, club rooms, shower, apts and tennis court." "An estimated $175,000 conversion added the stagehouse, proscenium, mezzanine and other theatrical necessities, including the fire escape," wrote the Star-Ledger.

Carpenter's shop and club rooms? Talk about mixed use.