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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NYC Man

October 28, 2013

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We lost one of our own here in New York. Lou Reed’s untimely death is dispiriting to everyone but it’s especially depressing when we grew up with this guy right in our back yards.

Reed was born in Brooklyn, grew up on Long Island and became the embodiment of the Lower East Side 60′s/70′s music and art scene. Surely there are thousands of Lou Reed tributes floating around right now, but being a photographer myself, I’d just like to share some of Reed’s images.

All photos via Steven Kasher Gallery.

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Old Storefronts

October 11, 2013

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Image via Brownstoner

Steven Soderbergh and his talented crew have transported a Bed Stuy corner back in time for the filming of a show called “The Knick”. They’ve been there for awhile now but this morning as I passed I thought it would be great if they could just leave the signage up forever. Walking through there makes me want to live in the past, man!

New York has been transformed over the years and change is good, blah, blah, blah, but I do miss some of those vintage shop fronts. Here are some that lasted longer than the rest.

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Starting with a fairly obvious one, Vesuvio in Soho. Image from News Gallery.

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Zig Zag Records closed it’s doors about two years ago, but will always be remembered by alt-rock Brooklynites growing up in the 80′s as the place that sold NME and rare UK records. Photo via Forgotten NY.

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The Meat Market in Bed Stuy is now a vintage clothing shop, ironically called The Meat Market. Good for them. Vintage shop. Vintage signage.

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Yonah Shimmel has been around forever. Forever! Did you know that back in the 80′s they had a shop on the Upper East Side? I used to go in there every morning to pick up my breakfast. Not a knish. A poppy seed mohn. Photo via Forward.

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Bless DiFara Pizza. Honestly, I never considered this Midwood pizza shop to be anything special when I was growing up in the neighborhood, but look at them now…one of the highest rated pizzas in NYC. Same signage though.

Walters Hardware Co.

Unfortunately, Walters Hardware closed a few years ago. Not sure what has happened to the storefront as I haven’t been out to Astoria lately.

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Manhattan is the New Brooklyn

October 2, 2013

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Coming of age in Brooklyn in the 70′s and 80′s meant that you were a bridge and tunnel person.  Brooklyn was not the hip utopia it is these days. One had to cross the water into the city for anything resembling culture. Now Brooklyn is the place to be. It’s become more of a brand than a boro. Do you know how many dogs are named “Brooklyn”? A lot.

As you know, housing prices are just about up there with Manhattan now. Is it sustainable?

This past weekend was an eye opener for me that things may have gotten too extreme. Just a couple of personal anecdotes to share…

Ran into an old friend from Park Slope (as in born and raised). The guy has bucks. His family still owns a building right on the park. He was saying how he moved out of the neighborhood because he couldn’t take the sense of entitlement anymore. Now lives in Manhattan. I was thinking “Jeez, Brooklyn has gotten so snotty that you fled to the city?” It kind of makes sense when you think how it feels like to see your home town change so drastically. He doesn’t hold the same sentimental memories of the city because it was never his own community.

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Brooklyn Bagel, in CHELSEA!

My second epiphany came when I realized that I had to go into the city to find a real flea market. No, not some hipster artisan curated market, not that there’s anything wrong with, but somewhere to look for real vintage and antique items minus the Etsy sellers. Not that there’s anything wrong with Etsy sellers. I just wanted dirty old antiques sold by crusty middle aged vendors. Luckily, the Antiques Garage, Hell’s Kitchen Flea and 25th Street Market was just what I needed. In Manhattan, not Brooklyn.

Lastly, while wondering around the city, I couldn’t get over how many old people there were. Like even older than me. Way older! And then I realized that there aren’t really all that many old folks left in Brooklyn’s more popular neighborhoods. That seems appropriate enough to me, since I’m considering moving to the city myself when I get old and decrepit. Doorman building with elevator and terrace in the hub of the universe.

Or at least by the time I retire, it will be the hub of the universe once again. The circle is half complete.

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Moment of Silence

September 11, 2013

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Words like violence
Break the silence
Come crashing in
Into my little world
Painful to me
Pierce right through me
Can’t you understand
Oh my little girl

All I ever wanted
All I ever needed
Is here in my arms
Words are very unnecessary
They can only do harm

Vows are spoken
To be broken
Feelings are intense
Words are trivial
Pleasures remain
So does the pain
Words are meaningless
And forgettable

All I ever wanted
All I ever needed
Is here in my arms
Words are very unnecessary
They can only do harm

Enjoy the silence

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Mayor Who?

September 9, 2013

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Still confused about voting on who will be the next New York City mayor? Well, you won’t find any help here. The Democratic primary is tomorrow and I’m still scrambling to find out what these guys/gal are all about. I missed the debate and I haven’t been keeping up with the local news.

What makes NYC wonderful is that we each have our own important issue. Personally, I’d like to see a mayor who’s a proponent of animal rights and sustainability. Raise the minimum wage. Fight for New Yorkers of ALL income levels in ALL boroughs. Education. The arts. Fight crime without discrimination. I want to be able to drink a beer on my stoop and I want to see people get educated on soda without the damn ban! Oh, and even though I never so much as tried pot, not even once in my life….legalize that shit and tax it!!

If there’s one thing I’m sure of it’s that Quinn is not getting my vote. She has two strikes against her: 1. She’s another Bloomberg and 2. She’s not the biggest animal rights advocate.

On the other hand, front runner de Blasio intends on getting rid of the carriages all together and coming up with a more humane and sustainable tourism idea such as electric antique cars. I like him and I’ll probably vote for him. If Liu or Thompson end up getting to the general election, I’d be happy enough to vote for them. Honestly, since I haven’t had a chance to pay much attention, they are all samey-samey to me right now. I know that Liu would like to legalize marijuana. The only reason de Blasio stands out is because his Public Advocate website was so helpful during the aftermath Hurricane Sandy.

Salgado opposes same sex marriage. Buh-bye. Albanese opposes fracking and wants to phase in 100% recycling. Not too shabby.

And what of my beloved Weiner? I was completely undeterred by his original sexting scandal. When he said that more photos might come out, that was fine too. What I didn’t realize was that “more” meant new sexting AFTER the whole fiasco. It’s kind of tough to have someone’s back when their dick is weighing them down so much. Still, I’m so heartbroken over the whole thing, I just might pull the lever (as us dinosaurs say) for him just for old times’ sake. Actually, his schmeckle aside, he would make a great mayor!

If you have any input, I’d welcome it! As someone who always mocks those undecided presidential election voters, this is making me feel so flawed.

Helpful sites: Decide NYC

Project NYC

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RIP

July 31, 2013

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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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Farmer’s Markets for Everyone!

July 25, 2013

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There really is no comparison between grocery produce and freshly picked, organic harvest. The problem with organic is that it’s pricey and not always so convenient to buy. Well, there is hope for ALL of NYC yet, including low income earners.

I heard it on NPR (actually read it) that Grow NYC has created an initiative called Health Bucks for underprivileged New Yorkers to purchase farm fresh foods with vouchers from markets around the city. It’s actually a medical program for overweight patients to obtain prescriptions to buy healthy food.

For the rest of us with middle income and black thumbs, we still have to buy with cold, hard cash. Personally, I’ll have to drop the convenience excuse because I just found this handy schedule on the Grow NYC website. No more guessing where and when these farmer’s markets will take place. It’s probably been there all along for people who actually took the time to look.

BTW, peruse the site. It’s like the bible of green living in NYC.

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Chillin’ in NYC

July 16, 2013

Summer, The Lower East Side, 1937.

The weather this week is in the 90′s. That’s not just hot, that’s downright dangerous. Take care of yourselves and especially think about the little furry ones. NEVER leave a dog in a hot car for too long. Even with the windows cracked, that’s brutal. Check up on senior relatives. They may be so old school that they don’t have air conditioning.

But where to cool off if you’re out and about? Or if you don’t have a/c yourself?

1. Go see a movie.
2. Check out a museum.
3. Library? Bet you haven’t been to one in awhile.
4. Shop til you drop. Especially malls or huge department store.
5. Get sloshed. Or you can sit and have coffee (iced) all day, but an indoor bar/cafe that allows you to hang out for hours is key here.
6. Beach. NYC beaches gross you out? Hop on the LIRR. It’s also air conditioned.
7. Which brings me to…Take a ride upstate on Metro North or Trailways bus line. Back in my day, the parents used to bring us to “the mountains” to cool off for the summer.
8. Water rides! As close as Coney Island.
9. Fire hydrants. Don’t open it yourself.
10. Parks have sprinklers.
11. City pools.
12. Water balloon fight.
13. Got a backyard? Get yourself a kiddy pool. Or just hose yourself down.
14. Got AC? Never leave the house all summer long.

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Mayor Weiner?

May 22, 2013

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My favorite Brooklyn loudmouth Jew (besides myself) has reemerged with a campaign ad. Anthony Weiner is back!

Hate the bullshit ad. It’s a snoozefest. This is NYC. He should just be himself and say “Yeah, I fucked up. Fuhgetaboutit.”

But whattcha think? I’d vote for him! Absoeffinlutely! I’m pumped! Not as pumped as he was in those pictures. Badabing!

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Festivals Other Than Googa Mooga

May 15, 2013

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Who needs to deal with the insanity at Googa Mooga when there are other great festivals going on this weekend?

The Ninth Avenue International Food Festival has been going on for 40 years. By now, they have their act together, unlike some other overly hyped bullcrap artisinal festival that shall not be named here (except above). May 18th and 19th from 47th-57th Streets down ….you guessed it….9th Avenue.

The Big Bay Fest claims to be Brooklyn’s largest waterfront celebration. The Sheepshead Bay fair not only offers food and performances but will have Sandy recovery info on hand. Sheepshead was hit hard during the hurricane so you should go and support them! Sunday, May 19th: noon-6pm.

Party like a Gypsy at the Bohemian Festival in Ridgewood, Queens. May 17th-19th and you can even camp out! Apart from the performances, there will be body painting, a belly dancing competition and workshops.

Dance Fest and Parade is Saturday, May 18th. The parade starts at 1pm at 21st and Broadway and ends up in Tompkins Square Park where the festival begins at 3pm. Three stages with performances plus dance lessons.

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Subway Rat Birth Control

March 6, 2013

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For as long as I can remember, rats have been part of the NYC subway experience. Maybe not the most pleasant part, but I swear, those little guys are pretty entertaining while waiting for a train. Not everyone wants to see them though and it’s been pretty difficult to eradicate them completely.

So, what about birth control? Sounds crazy? Well, as a crazy person, I can tell you that for years I’ve been saying that we should have birth control for not only rats and mice but deer, geese and any other species we think of as “pests”.  A-ha, I’m not alone! Seems that the MTA is launching a trial run of rat birth control.

The problem is…and I kid you not…New York City rats have a finer palate than most. They’ll need to be baited with the best pizza, Egg Foo Young, KFC and bagels money could find.

Now before you start complaining about your MTA fare or tax dollars going towards this, keep in mind that the $1 million to fund this experiment is coming from the National Institutes of Health and not the MTA.

Crazy? Or brilliant?

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Finding Nemo Plows

February 8, 2013

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*Update: Was just outside. As of 8:10am there is nothing to plow. It’s not sticking. Go to work.

Remember the year of that bad snow storm and people in the boroughs were complaining how Bloomberg took care of Manhattan but forget about us? Maybe it was the 2010 snow storm.

Anyhoo, now you can track the plow situation on NYC’s government site. Sit home in your jammies today and play with this interactive map. Or clean your house like I just might do. Maybe.

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Mayor Koch WAS New York City

February 1, 2013

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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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New York 2013

December 20, 2012

Let’s say we survive this Mayan inspired apocalypse tomorrow. What do you think is in store for us come 2013?

Well, I’m a hit-or-miss psychic but here are my predictions (more like observations) on the near future in local areas.

First, a slight backtrack to 2012 and said apocalypse. I remember reading a Nostradamus predictions on the subject a few years ago. It’s in one of my books that are still packed in a tote box in the basement years after moving. Anyway, I was relieved to find that according to Nostradamus, the 2012 destruction of earth isn’t one single event that immediately ends it all but rather a series of cataclylsmic occurrences around the globe. If I remember correctly, many would be wiped out, but not all would perish.

So, ok. Nostradamus may have been on to something there.

Moving forward, I think New York will survive and flourish as she always does. Armageddon or not, you just can’t hold New York down.

Don’t know if you realize this, but there are STILL people living without heat and electric. Many homes that were not torn down are not safe to live in, so I just want to take this opportunity to say that help is still very much needed for Sandy victims. Just because this blog and the media has moved on doesn’t mean they are not still struggling. If you were thinking that you missed out on volunteering or donating, think again.

Ok, the future!

Crazy real estate prices. That’s the present, I don’t have to be psychic to see that. Areas such as Bed Stuy, Crown Heights and Flatbush that were on the verge of affordable have hit the million mark. Rental prices have increased as well. I told you to buy a brownstone in Bed Stuy back when they were $650k. What were you waiting for??

I’m not going to put my money were my mouth is (because it’s tied up in Rockaway) but I’m thinking East Flatbush and Broadway Junction (pretty much East New York) will be the next affordable areas to take off. Don’t go out and buy because I said so. My track record is 50/50.

Right now, if you’re an out of work contractor, there’s something wrong with you. Think about this. How many homes in how many areas either need a total rebuild, renovation or just renovation of one floor? That’s not just houses. There are businesses and infrastructure that have been totaled as well. It’s going to be The Year of the Contractor. And they’ll let us down like they always do. F*ckin’ contractors.

Retail will see a spike as folks start getting money back from insurance, charity and FEMA and moving back into their homes. What was lost? EVERYTHING. Clothing, furniture, appliances, artwork, kitchenware, electronics. Think about every item you own times what it would take to replace it all times how many families have to do that. The shops in hard hit areas are struggling to survive right now, but if they can hang on, 2013 can be their busiest year yet. Even food vendors, what with all the workers coming into these neighborhoods.

Farming. I heard this on NPR, so I’m stealing this “prediction”. Because of climate change, we’re going to have a harder time growing food. Land will become more valuable as food production declines. Now is the time to buy those 50 acres upstate you’ve been dreaming about. So perhaps Gerald O’Hara was right when he said “Land is the only thing that lasts”.

Unless, of course, you’re near the water. Then fuhgettaboutit.

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