What’s the story, Jerry?

December 4, 2013

Who’s old enough to remember the “What’s the story, Jerry?” ads? Can’t find the original appliance commercials, but it seems that Jerry opened up a disco in Fresh Meadows, Queens. That’s the story!

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RIP

July 31, 2013

Maxwells-Hoboken

Summer 2013 has not been a good one for long-standing popular establishments. A sad farewell to the following local shuttered businesses.

Maxwell’s. 1978-2013. We’ve all done it at one point in our lives, no? Hopped on the Path to see one of our favorite bands play at this iconic venue? They close their doors tonight.

Odessa. Can’t find the year Odessa opened but it’s been there for as long as this 47 year old can remember. Definition: The 24 hour Ukrainian diner where you go for latkes and pierogi after a night out. These kids today don’t appreciate good diners. Bah!

Max Fish. 1988-2013. Jeez, I’m so old that I remember when this was the trendy new kid on the block that I didn’t like! The East Village bar is actually moving to Williamsburg. Not sure what that says about the East Village or Brooklyn, but methinks the groovy party is over in both locations.

Dressler. 2006-2013. The celebrated Williamsburg restaurant shut it’s doors back in June due to lease dis-agreements. DuMont may also be facing financial trouble. Sadly, this was too much for one of the owners, Colin Devlin, who took his own life last week.

Thanks to The Shutter and Vanishing New York for keeping us informed of closings.

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Mayor Koch WAS New York City

February 1, 2013

koch

Red Hook, Brooklyn

Whether you loved him or hated him, nobody who lived in NYC in the 70′s could ever imagine a New York without Mayor Koch. That’s because Ed Koch WAS New York.

Born in The Bronx to Jewish Eastern European immigrant parents, his story was much the same as my parents, your parents or any other New Yorker you might find riding the subway. But that’s not why he was NYC. Ed Koch was New York personified because he took on the characteristics of the city at that time. The guy had chutzpah that you don’t find these days.

A few words to sum up Koch/NYC.

Bold
Loud
Outspoken
Funny
Eccentric
Rude
Aggressive
Arrogant
Motivated
No-bullshit
Defiant
Headstrong
Sarcastic
Non-conformist

RIP, Mayor Koch. I may not have always agreed with you, but your years running this joint will always be my favorite ones.

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Well, They DID Recycle!

January 7, 2013

rockaway

I didn’t come up with the name “Reclaimed Home” for nothing. I love salvaging old materials and restoring neglected homes that were once full of life. Yesterday I was reminded why I torture myself with endless renovations.

You may look at the photo above and say “Meh, it’s a rotten old sign.” Indeed, you would be correct, but this find had me jumping up and down. I discovered it as I took up the rotten bathroom floor. (We’ll chat more about that later.) The previous owners or someone before them used it as subflooring. The writing was not facing up so I didn’t know it was there until I actually started taking up the floor.

rot

Unfortunately, the sign is in bad shape as the bathtub and toilet were leaking for years causing rot all the way through to the joists. Yes, the hole in the second photo was what the bathroom fixtures were sitting on. At any given time, someone could have ended up in the kitchen below while bathing or taking a dump. BTW, this is NOT the first old house I found such rot. Live in an old home? Pray they did the right thing when “renovating” as they often just cover things up. Enjoy your bath.

Anyway, back to the cool find. It seems to be more than one sign because I see “Library” and I also see “Club”. Actually, I’m guessing that perhaps they were the destination signs on the boardwalk? Anyone have a clue?

Whatever the case, even though they crumble in my hands, they will most definitely stay with the house as part of the reclaiming process. Right now, I’m thinking of embedding the edges in a plaster or concrete wall.

But it was nice to see that folks were reusing salvaged material even back then!

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2012 Images in the News

December 28, 2012

January. Gabby Giffords resigns from congress a year after she was shot in Arizona. Six people died in the attack.

February. California overturns ban on gay marriage as Washington becomes the seventh state to legalize it.

March. US soldier goes on a shooting rampage in Afghanistan and kills 16 civilians.

April. Secret service agents get caught with their pants down in Columbia.

May. For the first time in modern American history, white births are no longer the majority.

June. The Supreme Court upholds Obamacare. Justice Roberts becomes a hero to liberals for the first time in his life.

July. Gunman opens fire in a Batman screening in Aurora, CO. 12 people die, 70 wounded by bullets.

August. Russian punk band Pussy Riot sentenced to 2 years in prison for hooliganism.

September. Four are killed in an attack on the US Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, including Ambassador Chris Stevens.

October. Hurricane Sandy hits just days before Halloween.

November. President Obama is re-elected.

December. 28 dead in CT school shooting. This finally starts the ball rolling on gun control conversation.

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1970′s NYC

September 20, 2012

W. 21st, Meatpacking District

Dirty Old 1970′s New York City is making the rounds on Facebook among friends I grew up with. It always brings a smile to my face to see images of the city of my youth that no longer exists. Their tag line? “For those who loved New York City before the 80′s took its balls away.”

Enjoy the pics.

Union Square. I remember shopping at this Mays up until the mid 80′s.

Times Square, of course.

Canal and Broadway. They knew from egg creams.

Under Brooklyn Bridge ramp, Dover Street

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End of Life

June 28, 2012

Untitled

New York has lost a bunch of history over the past 20 years but the sad news about Life Cafe is a particularly tough one.

Just nine months after losing their East Village location due to greedy landlords, now the owners must close their doors in Bushwick for the same reason. Kathy and her husband David John will not seek to open up again in another area as they plan on semi-retiring.

I frequented Life Cafe on 10th and B in the 80′s and the only reason I ever find myself in Bushwick is if I’m craving Life’s scrambled tofu for brunch. Always preferred the less cramped 10th Street space.

It should be noted that both locations opened in those neighborhoods pre-gentrification. Kathy was a pioneer on the business scene when others wouldn’t take risks in those areas.

The risk paid off both times. Unfortunately, nothing lasts forever. Thank you for bringing us Life, Kathy. You will be missed.

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Remember Korvettes?

June 8, 2012

RIP Eugene Ferkauf, founder of Korvettes Department Stores. Ferkauf was 91 and died in his Manhattan home. Korvettes was huge during the 50′s and 60′s but the chain went out of business by 1980.

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Brooklyn’s Disco Days

May 18, 2012

* First, a fun fact. Donna Summer’s daughter’s name is Brooklyn.

The passing of Donna Summer has stirred up some fond childhood memories. I was in junior high when Donna reigned as the Queen of Disco. Too young to go to “discotheques” like Studio 54 but old enough to appreciate a talent when I heard it.

It wasn’t until my adult life when I first heard that the whole disco backlash was possibly racially motivated. My husband who grew up in Ireland was the one who mentioned it. Since then I’ve also read that it may have also been anti-gay. I don’t know how the “Rock vs. Disco” war played out in other parts of the world but here in Tony Manero land, it was pretty much in your face. Racial maybe, only here in Brooklyn it wasn’t a push against the black artists creating the music. Sorry, but in my 12 year old mind, it was anti-Italian. I won’t use the G word, but let’s just say that Jersey Shore had nothing on Brooklyn back in 1977. Can I use the C word? Cugine?

Cugines and disco went hand in hand. The hair. The gold chains. The pointy white sneakers and leather jackets. Viceroy and Jordache jeans! Oh, I wore them too. They got a bad rap for the way they dressed and talked but most of them were sweet when it came down to it.

Brooklyn and Disco were synonymous back in the 70′s. From “Last Dance” at every barmitzvah to our pride in Donna Summer’s relationship with “that Brooklyn Dreams guy”. Do I even have to mention “Saturday Night Fever”? It took me about five years after the release of that movie to finally watch it because it hit too close to home and I didn’t even hang out with “those types”.

By the early 80′s when disco was dying off, I finally got to dance on that Saturday Night Fever 2001 Space Odyssey dance floor. It was the size of a postage stamp.

But disco will never die, not even with Donna. Don’t believe me? Go put on some disco music and just try not to shake your groove thang.

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Etan Patz Lives

April 20, 2012

I hope they don’t find anything in that basement. I know it would bring closure to the family of Etan Patz but if they are anything like I am, they believe he’s living a wonderful life somewhere and he just doesn’t realize who he is. He’ll be back someday it will be such a heartwarming miracle!

I was 14 when Patz disappeared from his Soho neighborhood. As dangerous as New York was at the time, kids did have more freedom than they do now. That didn’t end with Etan but it was somewhat of a wake up call. His face was plastered all over the city, a reminder to us kids to be careful.

Growing up 1970′s NYC left a few lasting impressions that are hard to let go. There were incidents that made us fearful, like Son of Sam, but there were stories that we wished would have happy endings.

I wanted Etan Patz to break the odds. Unfortunately, this 46 year old woman will probably be let down by the end of the day.

Etan, you’ll always be alive to me. God speed, Little Man!

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Lindsay for Mayor

March 26, 2012

lindsay

How have I spent the past 46 years (minus a few) in Brooklyn and never noticed the sign on this building? It was actually my husband who noticed while driving down Bedford near Flatbush. Upon further investigation on The Internets, it turns out that Fading Ad Blog spotted it about 3 months ago. Actually, there was another sign covering Lindsay all this time, so I’m not so unobservant after all.

John Lindsay served 8 years as Mayor of New York City back when I was too young to take interest. I did find some interesting facts about the his term and the political environment 40 something years ago that are still pertinent to today.

Lindsay inherited serious fiscal problems from outgoing Mayor Robert Wagner (not the actor).¬† With manufacturing jobs disappearing, white flight to the suburbs and new unions taking shape, it was tough to get the city back on it’s feet.

On his first day in office, there was a transit strike. During his term there was also a teacher’s strike, a sanitation strike and sewage and drawbridge worker’s strike.

In 1969, NYC was hit with 15 inches of snow. Fourteen people died and 68 were injured.Within a day, the mayor was criticized for giving special treatment to Manhattan while the other boroughs were left hanging. Sound familiar?

1970 brought the Hard Hat Riot. Two hundred construction workers attacked students protesting the Kent State shootings and Vietnam War. Here’s where it gets interesting. Who tried to protect those students? Wall street bankers and attorneys. The cops stood by and did nothing. When the Mayor criticized the NYPD, he was called “the red mayor, a “traitor,” “Commy rat” and “bum.”

By 1971, Lindsay switched parties from Republican to Democrat. “…This step recognizes the failure of 20 years in progressive Republican politics…” He actually ran for President but as we know, he didn’t get very far.

Later in his life, after Parkinson’s Disease, heart attacks and stroke depleted Lindsay’s finances, he found himself without health insurance. In 1996 Mayor Giuliani appointed Lindsay to two largely ceremonial posts to make him eligible for municipal health insurance coverage.

All facts came from Wikipedia, so don’t blame me if they’re wrong. Thankfully, I’m too young to remember.

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I Loved New York

February 22, 2012

I found this video on my new favorite site that I just discovered called “I Loved New York“. If you’re nostalgic for the city before it became generic, check out that blog. You’ll love it!

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