Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Lanza's Murals

The great Lanza's restaurant shuttered in the summer of 2016. It had been in the East Village since 1904 and I miss it.

When we heard that Joe & Pat's pizzeria would be moving in, it seemed okay. I worried about Lanza's antique murals, but a peek inside showed they were being preserved under plastic during renovations.

A more recent peek shows the murals have been revealed--and they look good.

In the very back, the lady with one bared breast lives on.

Joe & Pat's has added two walls of vintage photos, presumably from their 57 years of family business on Staten Island.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

NY Cake


NY Cake, the much-loved cake supply shop on 22nd Street near 6th Avenue is closing its doors.

"We're Moving," reads a sign in the window. They're not sure where they're going yet, but you can put your name on the mailing list to be notified.

A multi-generation family business, NY Cake was started by Joan Mansour in 1991-- it was previously known as the Chocolate Gallery in 1989.

The shop is a wonderland of cake supplies--shelves of sprinkles and sugars, racks of molds for making chocolate lollipops.

And lots of those plastic novelties for decorating cakes for every occasion.

They also have this amazing door, for reasons that remain a mystery:

I haven't been able to get through to NY Cake to find out why they're closing and hoping to relocate nearby. Back in 2011, they inked a 10-year lease extension, according to the Commercial Observer. “They’d been wonderful tenants,” said the landlord at the time. “The neighborhood is conducive to their business.”

The building has also been filling up with tech companies as the neighborhood changes.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Artwashing the Sunshine's Demise

The Sunshine Cinema closed last month--bought by developers who plan to demolish the historic building and put up a glassy office tower that will surely help to further hyper-gentrify the neighborhood.

All photos by Herb Jue

On Thursday of this week, those developers, East End Capital & K Property Group, are hosting a party to celebrate--what exactly? Their triumph over history? The invitation says it's to "CELEBRATE THE LOWER EAST SIDE & PREVIEW OUR NEW OFFICE DEVELOPMENT."

I'm not sure how one can do both simultaneously.

Anyway, it's free and we're all invited.

The party will feature some artwashing--or poetry washing, I suppose you'd call it. Yes, poets are performing at a party thrown by luxury real estate developers to hype a project that is literally demolishing Lower East Side culture.

Some protesters might show up, but probably not.

This is the new Lower East Side.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Hudson Diner Goodbye

As earlier reported, the Hudson Diner has closed.

A reader sends in these shots of one regular's heartfelt goodbye note, taped to the window below the roll-down gate:

We hear that Babu and much of the Hudson staff have moved on to the Moonstruck Eatery on E. 58th Street.

photo: Justin Hicks

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Boots & Saddle

There's a marshal's seizure notice on the door of Boots & Saddle, the popular gay and drag bar that's been in the Village for over 40 years, and fans are panicking.

I've been unable to reach the owner for comment, but people close to Boots on Facebook say the place is temporarily closed--there's a dispute with the landlord--and they hope to reopen soon.

As you may recall, the bar was priced out of its long-time home on Christopher Street back in 2014. They relocated to 7th Avenue South.

Court St. Office Supplies

Reader Mark Satlof writes in:

"Court St. Office Supplies here in Downtown Brooklyn is going. They say they will be closing in about two weeks and have been there 40 years. Old-school, old-fashioned stationery and everything else store. It's really a wonder, not a small store. Really a loss of the fabric."

On the shop's Facebook page, they write:

"Our shelves are emptying as we say goodbye, and the store has been full of well-wishers. We'll be closing in a few weeks, but we're staying in the office supply business. So like us on Facebook, join our email list or stop by just to say hello."

They will continue to run the shop online. Owner Jacob Gutman told Brooklyn Paper, “Our challenge has been the shift in how people purchase things these days. Our decision to close the store has nothing to do with rent.”

So blame this one on Internet shoppers.

Monday, February 5, 2018

69 West 14th

Neil Greenberg, Professor of Choreography at the New School, recently wrote on his Facebook page: "Another dance studio bites the dust--a location with a lot of history." The dance studio was PMT, located on the third floor of 69 West 14th Street at 6th Avenue, above Sol Moscot's.

Pavan Thimmaiah, director of the studio, tells me the building was bought by Extell -- and it will likely be demolished.

Tax photo (1940s?)

On the history there, Neil writes:

"From 1959 - 1963 The Living Theatre, directed by Judith Malina and Julian Beck, occupied floors two and three. Merce Cunningham had his dance studio on the top floor, which is where Robert Dunn taught the composition classes that launched the Judson Dance Theater. In 1977 Peter Saul, who once danced in Merce’s company, taught ballet classes in this studio. I’ve taught here, for The New School, since 2010, and have rehearsed my work here as well. Goodbye PMT Dance Studio. Goodbye this potent history. Soon to be gone, but not forgotten."

photo: Neil Greenberg

One of the studios in this building was the site of the first post-Stonewall gay and lesbian dance. That was 1970 and the dance was held by the Gay Liberation Front (GLF) at a place called Alternate U.

From Come Out!, the Gay Liberation Front’s official newspaper, via Box Turtle

In a review of the dance in the Come Out! newspaper, Kathy Braun wrote, "The purposes which we set out for the dances were, to provide an alternative to the exploitive gay bars in the city, to raise money for a GLF Community Center, and to politicize the homosexuals hanging around this town."

She noted, "The records played were exciting, danceable, and at the right volume. My current favorite song is 'And the World will be a Better Place'... The dancing was of the usual superlative quality. Them queers can sure shake a leg... 600 people, music, lights, costumes, kissing, seductions, promises made, truths explored, conflicts, politics. Hit it, sisters & brothers."

GLF members preparing for a GLF dance at Alternate U, 1970. Photo by Diana Davies, via NYCLGBTSites.

The Gay Liberation Front formed in July 1969 and used Alternate U. as the location for many of its meetings and social events. Soon after Stonewall, a flyer for Alternate U. read: "Do you think homosexuals are revolting? You bet your sweet ass we are. We're going to make a place for ourselves in the revolutionary movement. We challenge the myths that are screwing up this society."

reports that "Alternate U. was a free counterculture school and leftist political organizing center in Greenwich Village, founded around 1966 by Tom Wodetski. It had several classrooms in a former dance studio on the second floor of 69 West 14th Street."

Gay night at Alternate U. included classes on: "medical, legal, demonstration, gay squatters, racism, gay history and literature, sexism, exploration of roles and identity, and Marxism and political workshop."

In addition, "Protests were organized here against politicians and The Village Voice (which refused to print the word 'gay' in ads), and meetings were held here in the aftermath of the Snake Pit raid in March 1970."

GLF meeting at Alternate U, 1970. Photo by Diana Davies, via NYCLGBTSites.

PMT Dance Studio will be moving to a new space. On their Facebook page, they wrote, "It's the end of an era. January 31st will be the last day 69 West 14th Street will be open. Afterwards, preparations to demo the building and create new developments, reportedly luxury high rises, will be underway."

Richard, the reader who tipped me off to the closure of PMT, writes, "Curious how far whatever's going to get built is going to go, since several of the storefronts north of this building on Sixth Avenue are vacant -- perhaps extending to Lester Bangs' former abode" at 542 Sixth Avenue.

Indeed it looks like Sol Moscot is the only business left open in the building--and in the three buildings to the north. Nine storefronts have been shuttered here. That's nine businesses, plus those upstairs, put out. And who knows what happened to the residential tenants in the smaller buildings.

What if we had commercial rent control once again? Would buildings like these be protected by protecting their small businesses?

Meanwhile, across the street, another building is coming down for another luxury tower. 101 West 14th was built in 1953 as the Greenwich Savings Bank. It was soon decorated with a large mural by the artist Julien Binford. After an effort to save the mural, it has been removed and put into storage--making way for the wrecking ball and the luxury condos.