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Hyper-detailed miniature versions of New York’s seedy streets, subways and strip clubs

A miniature version of former Time Square peep show and porn shop, Peep World
A miniature version of the infamous ‘Peep World’  porn shop, shown with a one-dollar-bill—how appropriate—to show scale.
Brooklyn native, artist Alan Wolfson was riding the subway into his beloved city by the time he was only ten-years-old and has strong recollections of what the city that never sleeps looked like back in the 1950s and 1960s. Although Wolfson says he never started out wanting to be an artist, in 1979 he moved to Los Angeles with the hope of cutting his teeth designing miniature effects for films. There, thanks to a bit of luck and good timing, a friend of Wolfson’s introduced him to an art dealer. A year later, Wolfson would showcase ten of his remarkably detailed 1/2-scale replicas that would launch his nearly 40-year career.
A tiny replica of a
Take a peek inside ‘Peep World’ and their “Private Fantasy Booths.”
So painstakingly detailed are Wolfson’s tiny structures that it almost appears that they had once been inhabited by small sleazeballs or strippers. Many of Wolfson’s works are creative fictional mashups that he dreamed up—however some are modeled after real, seedy New York landmarks. Such as “Peep World,” the long-running porn theater and shop (near Madison Square Garden) that finally closed its doors in 2012. Thanks to Wolfson, we can still take a peek inside “Peep World” where the racks are still lined with filthy magazines, or leer inside one of the joint’s “Private Fantasy Booths.” You can practically smell the Pine Sol.
A look at Peep World's dirty magazine and DVD racks
A look at Peep World’s dirty magazine and DVD racks.
Many more of Wolfson’s tiny, sometimes fictional homages to a lost New York, after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
Grace Jones asks ‘It’s 10 PM. Do you know where your children are?’ 1979
09:28 am


New York City
Grace Jones

“It’s 10 p.m. Do you know where your children are?” spots have long been a mainstay of local NYC television news broadcasts. I haven’t lived there since 2007, but I would imagine that they still are.

When model-singer-actress-whatever she wants to be Grace Jones taped this brief PSA for WNEW-TV in New York way back in 1979, the talk in the studio afterwards was no doubt along the lines of “Now, THAT should get their attention.”

Jones, now 67, returns to New York this summer, headlining the annual AfroPunk NYC Festival, set to take place August 22nd and 23rd at Brooklyn’s Commodore Barry Park, along with Lenny Kravitz and Lauryn Hill.

Via Lady Bunny Blog

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
New York City squatters from the 1990s
09:53 am

Class War

New York City

“Beer Olympics 1”
It’s strange to think of the 1990s as a bygone era, but artist and photographer Ash Thayer’s new book Kill City: Lower East Side Squatters 1992-2000 shows a New York that simply no longer exists. Thayer began living in a Lower East Side squat in 1992 after being kicked out of her Brooklyn apartment. As a young art student, she recorded the (mostly young and white) inhabitants of these crumbling buildings with a keen photographer’s eye and an unflinching focus on the decidedly unglamorous wreckage.

There is an optimism to the collection though; so many squatters looked at absolutely unlivable conditions and saw renovation potential—the picture of the pregnant women installing windows is particularly striking. Living in these buildings wasn’t even legal—they rarely had water or electricity, and were often infested with rats or roaches—so Thayer’s record of the LES squatters of the 90s is particularly precious, considering how covert many of these squatters had to be to evade eviction.

“Famous Pregnant and Building Windows”
More after the jump…

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
NYC busker jumps on subway tracks, risking his life for a measly five dollars
11:22 am

Current Events

New York City

This video prompts two immediate suppositions. The first is that five dollars isn’t enough money for most people to risk their lives (although if it’s late at night and the G train clearly won’t be here for another 20 minutes, maybe it is) and second, if you shout “I’ll give you a hundred dollars” to strangers in a YouTube video documenting street life, people on reddit are going to call you an asshole.

In this video uploaded to YouTube yesterday shot at the Metropolitan Avenue station (which serves the G line, the only line in all of NYC that never enters Manhattan), this one guy concocted an ill-advised plan to get his friend on the other platform a five-dollar bill, which plan consisted of balling up the bill and hurling it across two sets of tracks (one in each direction). Predictably, this didn’t work—the bill didn’t even make it across one set of tracks completely. Immediately a busker on the other platform sprang into action, lowering himself down onto the tracks and walking gingerly over presumed mounds of rodenticide and as well as two “third rails.” As viewers of The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (no, not the John Travolta version) are aware, all New York City subways are powered by a “third rail,” which carries 660 volts of electricity, more than enough for a lethal dose.

In any case, the first guy immediately bellows at the busker not to do that—indeed, he’ll give him a hundred bucks not to do that—but the busker ignores him. The busker quickly finds the money and then scampers back over to his musical instrument, to the cheers of everyone present. Surely feeling a little guilty about having inadvertently created the conditions for a grisly accidental death, the first guy continues to offer a hundred dollars to the busker.

It looks like the video was shot late at night (around midnight, perhaps), when the subway trains are appallingly infrequent (as all New Yorkers know), and the busker wouldn’t be at risk so much because of the potential for a collision. The real issue is the third rail, but if you’re careful and know where they are (they are the raised rails closer to the center, away from the platforms, they are covered by a protective canopy and are thus less shiny than regular rails), then it’s a matter of your own dexterity and care—clearly this busker was willing to give it a shot. It’s five dollars, after all.


Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
‘Welcome to Fear City’: The NYPD’s scary mid-1970s campaign to keep tourists OUT of NYC
12:56 pm


New York City

Anyone raised on MAD Magazine in the 1970s and 1980s has taken in enough “New York City is a dingy, dangerous hellhole” gags to last a lifetime. The NYC Scouting blog described it very well a few years back:

“I really came to be enchanted by [New York City] through the pages of MAD, in which it was depicted as a place of extremes. The subway was a place to get killed. Times Square was a primal circus, while Fifth Ave was full of elitist ultra-rich snobs. Greenwich Village was home to wackos, hippies, and wannabe bohemians, while a jog in Central Park was less a workout and more a way of escaping the mugger chasing you.”

It’s interesting that “Scout” (a.k.a. Nick Carr) was so enchanted by this depiction; I suspect for most people the incessant talk of muggers and gridlock and rats and cockroaches was a horrible turnoff. A classic of the “I Hate NY” genre was the 1970 Neil Simon movie The Out-of-Towners, an annoying one-note cinematic experience in which Jack Lemmon and Sandy Dennis play visitors from “Twin Oaks, Ohio” who can’t travel the space of a block without 18 terrible things happening to them. Quite a few years later, around the time of Bernhard Goetz, there was the astonishing “Runaway” episode of The Facts of Life in which Tootie couldn’t spend a half-hour in midtown without having her coat and wallet stolen and becoming the target of a pimp’s malign scheme. Either way, the problems and dangers were overstated in 1970, 1975, 1983—it’s always overstated.

Some classic humor about the New York experience from MAD Magazine
If New York was suffering from a negative image, it’s possible they had nobody to blame for it but themselves, at least judging from this astounding PR campaign from 1975 that Gothamist spotted on Reddit. ““WELCOME TO FEAR CITY” trumpeted the cover, “A Survival Guide for Visitors to the City of New York.” Just in case you had missed the point, the designers put a big, scary skull on the cover.

At the time, New York was suffering a budget crisis so serious that the city actually was facing bankruptcy, which obviously affected the funds the city had available to pay, for instance, law enforcement personnel. I’m legally required to quote here the legendary headline the New York Daily News ran on October 30, 1975, after President Gerald Ford stated that he would veto any bailout funds for New York: “FORD TO CITY: DROP DEAD.” 

Already in the second paragraph of the pamphlet you can see some serious scaremongering going on, and it’s not difficult to see the actual purpose behind the pamphlet:

“Mayor Beame is going to discharge substantial numbers of firefighters and law enforcement officers of all kinds. By the time you read this, the number of public safety personnel available to protect residents and visitors may already have been still further reduced. Under those circumstances, the best advice we can give you is this: Until things change, stay away from New York City if you possibly can.”

Nice city you got here. Would be a shame if anything were to happen to it…..

This pamphlet was cooked up by the, ahem, “Council for Public Safety,” which was practically synonymous with the police, firefighters and other unions.
One can see in it a chilling reminder of the controversies in which the NY Police Department is currently embroiled, defiantly dissing the new liberal mayor, Bill de Blasio. After the shocking death of Staten Island resident Eric Garner at the hands of the police and the all-too-predictable non-indictment of its perpetrators, the excesses of the police have become a topic of discussion all over the nation, and the NYPD is right at the center of that debate. The police must always justify its existence (or the perks it receives for dangerous work), and will always, entirely paradoxically, point to the high crime that it is ostensibly supposed to prevent as a scary image of a world without the police. Just a few days ago the NYPD was engaging in a stealth “strike while getting paid” in which they refused to issue tickets and the number of arrests plummeted.

But the really scary thing is—New York City (or at least Manhattan) in 2015 is tremendously affluent—Millionaire Island—and the crime rate, however you want to measure it, is sharply down from the 1970s peak. But in the intransigence of the NYPD, who have dissed de Blasio (elected by 73% of NYC’s citizenry) in two consecutive NYPD funerals, you can see the implicit claim, over and over and over again, that without us, without the NYPD, the residents of New York face an urban jungle of chaos and crime. The 1970s may have seen an unfortunate high point in New York’s crime and squalor, but ultimately, there’s no such thing as a city too safe for the police not to make that claim.




Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Forget rats, pigeons & bedbugs: Bunnies are New York’s hottest new vermin!
08:55 am


New York City

The wildlife of NYC is much maligned, and yet every honest-to-God New Yorker knows these scrappy, hard-bitten creatures are an integral part of experiencing the city. Maybe you saw a rat as big as Corgi attack a Corgi the size of a slightly smaller Corgi!? Perhaps you encountered a roach trying to sell you a Rolex? I was mugged at knifepoint by a Central Park squirrel–-we all have our stories! But is this delicate ecosystem ready for a new player?

Meet the Gowanus Bunnies—the roughest rabbits you’ll ever meet and the latest addition to the brutal fauna of the five boroughs. In a Brooklyn neighborhood best known for the opaquely polluted waters of the Gowanus Canal, these flinty Leporidae found a home in a dirt alley next to a tire shop, and while their fuzzy-wuzzy cuteness hasn’t gone completely unappreciated by the neighborhood, the urban bunnies may be becoming a problem.

For one, they reproduce in accordance with stereotype, and their famed fecundity has bolstered the colony’s ranks into a verging swarm. That may not sound very threatening, but rabbits burrow, and a lot of important and delicate stuff goes on underground in New York, including electrical work and the foundations of some very old rotting buildings. Others fear a more Night of the Lepus situation, noting the rabbits seem to have developed a taste for chicken wings (could human flesh be much further down the road?!?).

Local Joel Bukiewicz, who owns a knife shop across the street from the rabbits, has seen the bunnies fighting viciously:

“I think of rabbits as friendly, innocent and sweet,” Bukiewicz said. “These are angry, hardened city rabbits and possibly carnivorous. These are Gowanus rabbits. I wouldn’t want to bring one home.”

Of course attached to all of this is a “New York person”—30-something piano teacher Dorota Trec, who calls her pets “erotic,” and maintains that there’s nothing unsavory, dangerous or unethical about her rapidly multiplying herd. Animal welfare advocates disagree, and Trec is currently facing potential action from the health department who are probably rightly concerned about an animal hoarder who appears to be ground zero for a new pest epidemic. I hope they get them all spayed, but I don’t hold out too much hope for adoption—I’m not sure these rabbits can be rehabilitated back into society.

Via DNAinfo

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
The Streets of New York: Vintage photos of the Big Apple 1940s to 1970s
11:35 am


New York City

Theater marquees, 1944.
When we think of a city we tend to think of it from its representation in films and TV—unless of course we’ve been there. Paris is the Eiffel Tower. London is Big Ben. Russia and it’s the onion domes of Saint Basil’s Cathedral or the red brick spires of the Kremlin. Rome the Colosseum. Los Angeles—Hollywood Blvd., freeways and Rodeo Drive. New York, well it’s Times Squares, the tenements and neon lit restaurants and of its bars as seen from countless detective shows and gritty urban movies. These beautiful color photos of the New York from the forties to the seventies are like backdrops to those feature films, or even better images that capture pages from a Kerouac novel that inspire dreams:

What’s Times Square doing there anyway? Might as well enjoy it. — Greatest city the world has ever seen. — Have they got a Times Square on Mars? What would the Blob do on Times Square? Or St. Francis?

Giant advert for Jane Russell in Howard Hughes’s production of ‘Underwater’.
Broadway 1955.
The RKO Palace and a Planter’s Peanuts advert 7th and Broadway.
Street scene outside McGinnis restaurant, Tango Palace and Cobbs, 1962.
Broadway looking north from 50th, 1962.
Camel advert near Times Square, 1962.
More vintage shots of NYC, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
The Screaming Phantoms, The Dirty Ones & The Satan Souls: Check out this 1974 map of Brooklyn gangs
07:26 pm


New York City

The Dirty Ones, because Williamsburg has always been chic.
1979’s The Warriors became a cult classic by creating a fantastically dystopian world of lawlessness roamed by stylized gangs of the Romantic variety, but the reality of 1970’s NYC gangs was… well, actually… not that much different from their epic, fictionalized versions onscreen. In fact, the fear of gang violence at the time was so fevered, the film was actually blamed for crimes committed against people who were coincidentally coming from or going to the movie. This map from The New York Times is dated August 1, 1974, and the names of the gangs are so dramatic, it’s easy to see how fact and fiction could blur in the eyes of a terrified populace. 

The folks over at The Bowery Boys blog even dug up a few details on the “activities” of some of the gangs listed, including The Young Barons (an altercation that ended in one death and the slicing off of someone’s nose, 1972), a battle between the Devils Rebels and the Screaming Phantoms (two rebels were killed, 1973), and the 1974 extortion dealings of the Outlaws, the Tomahawks, the Jolly Stompers and B’Nai Zaken. If that last one threw you for a loop, B’Nai Zaken is a phrase largely associated with Ethiopian Jews, and not (as I had hoped), a bunch of Hassidim with nunchucks.

There was a even a 1973 report that a few local gangs had been cast in an autobiographical gang film,The Education of Sonny Carson, perhaps paving the way for Walter Hill to later do the same thing with The Warriors

Via The Bowery Boys

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
Real estate cosplay: NYC developers trying to make ‘Steampunk Luxury Condos’ happen
05:49 pm

Class War

New York City

They say that “money don’t buy taste,” but if you can afford to live at N°15 RENWICK, one would assume you’ve at least got the cash for a “style consultant” to tell you how fucking corny you are. The luxury development (whose logo is an obvious homage to CHANEL N°5) is trying what may be the lamest of all marketing angles to attract a wealthy and “creative” clientele—they’re making it steampunk. Their advertising is an utterly confusing photo-spread of classically influenced modern architecture inhabited by Victorian-ish “characters”—it can only be described as real estate cosplay…

From the website:

The Characters of 15 Renwick pay homage to the Victorian era in which the street’s namesake, James Renwick and his son, lived (1790-1895). Renwick was a pioneering author, engineer and professor at Columbia University while his son, James Jr., was one of the most celebrated architects of his generation. The Characters also embody the creative persona of today’s Hudson Square resident and the insider nature of the single-block Renwick Street.

Look, pining for “Olde New York” is a rite of passage no matter what year you moved here, but these people are paying an insane amount of money for a New York that never even existed! One of the developers, Eldad Blaustein joked that the ideal tenant might be a “Wall Street trader, but he’s writing songs, he’s writing poems at night.”

Sounds about right. Who else would be so dead inside that they’d want to come home to LARP?




More real estate steampunk cosplay after the jump…

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
1948 NYC pot bust caught on film. Arrestee has a mean case of the giggles
10:39 am


New York City

As public support for the decriminalization of marijuana grows, states are loosening restrictions left and right and the US is making its slooooooow crawl towards sane drug policies. Yes, we still have a long way to go before we’re able to proudly and patriotically blow bong rips in a cop’s face, but I believe it’s healthy to acknowledge our progress and reflect on the enormous precedent of drug panics we’re gradually counteracting—so let’s check out some vintage newsreel from a drug bust in 1948!

In this dramatic Telenews short, five men and one woman are arrested for their stash of 60 “reefers” (joints) and $2,000 worth of bulk weed! That’s $2,000 in 1948, and the weed was probably terrible back then! This was before mandatory sentencing guidelines for pot, meaning these folks had no idea what kind of jail time or fines they might receive, and yet, they don’t seem particularly worried! One dude in particular can’t stop laughing; what a curiously inexhaustible humor he has!

Despite what was then the prevailing public perception of pot as a volatile gateway to psychosis and/or heroin addiction, our jovial drug dealers’ neighbors appear unruffled by the bust, and like true New Yorkers, they immediately start discussing the newly vacant apartment.

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
New Yorkers & Angelenos absolutely losing their sh*t over a bicoastal video hook-up in 1980

It’s obscene how we take technology for granted. The Internet is the greatest communication tool since the written word, and what do I do with it? I (expertly) evaluate dick jokes for wage labor, and look at videos of cats soothing babies to alleviate my Seasonal Affective Disorder. We’ve not always been so cynical though.

Artists Kit Galloway and Sherrie Rabinowitz created an installation called “Hole in Space” in 1980. Utilizing cutting edge satellite technology, life-sized audio-visual transmissions were displayed in real-time between New York’s Lincoln Center and an open air shopping mall in Century City, Los Angeles. Not only was the installation setup utilizing technology few had ever seen (much less used), no explanation was given for what was transpiring and no sponsors or artists were credited—it was sort of a huge, impromptu guerrilla video-chat.

Unlike say, a Google Hangout or Skype chat, participants in the piece (who were completely random passers-by), had no “video reflection” of themselves—they couldn’t see their own transmission as the other line did, because there was no extra window mirroring them. This made for a completely organic, unselfconscious moment of communication. The piece ran in two hour increments, for three days (November 11, 13 and 14) and as news of the public-space, bicoastal party line spread, the crowds grew.

The video below is taken from those impromptu interactions between New York and LA, and it’s absolutely amazing. Viewers/communicators are so shocked and delighted by such a seamless connectivity across the country—it’s an incredibly moving thing to witness. I can’t actually think of a time in my entire adult life where I’ve been as surprised or affected by technology as these people were—much less in public.

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
1980s nightclub invitations from ‘Downtown’ New York

Keith Haring, invitation for “Larry Levan’s Birthday Bash,” 1986

It’s… interesting—and a reminder of how fucking old I’m getting—that I’m starting to see promotional ephemera from nightclub events I attended (or worked at) in my… younger days turning up in museums and art galleries. Good thing for me that I have boxes of these types of invitations that I’ve kept sitting out in the garage. Twenty years from now, I’ll spend my dotage as an eBay seller specializing in… shit I’ve kept.

What’s slightly worrisome, though, is how little of some of these events I call recall in any detail. I’ve heard older friends of mine say things like “Well, it was the sixties!” (or the seventies) but even so, the 80s were a seriously decadent (and dangerous) time to be young and living in New York City. I have always lucked out and been at the right place at the right time, I like to think.

Without putting too fine a point on it, drugs were better then—especially cocaine, which, sorry is just a joke now, kids—and super easy to get your hands on. People were more extreme then. As someone who (luckily) lived through it all, it’s very easy for me to see why so many of today’s young people romanticize the East Village or “Downtown” scene—which will never, ever, happen again (at least not there)—It’s because it was better then. It just was. All the elements, including cheap rent, came together then. A perfect storm, culturally speaking.

It didn’t last that long—Manhattan nightlife is all rich kids and bankers these days—but if you were there you know what I mean. And if you were there, perhaps like me, you’re starting to find that a lot of it’s pretty damned foggy by now, so it’s good to have exhibits like this one, online at Marc Miller’s Gallery 98, which specializes in this sort of artifact, to jar our memories.

This mix of ambitious high art with popular entertainment and performance emerged first when two clubs, CBGB and Max’s Kansas City, helped launch Punk in all its many and varied creative directions in the late 1970s. By the 1980s dozens of new nightclubs and bars including Area, Club 57, Danceteria, Limelight, Mudd Club, Palladium, Paradise Garage, Pyramid and the Tunnel consciously strove to be part of the art world by presenting new music, art, film, video, fashion, and performance.  It was a period in art not unlike that of Paris in the 1890s when the cafés of Montmartre helped mold the fin-de-siècle aesthetic. Gallery 98 presents here a selection of nightclub invitations and posters from this exhilarating moment in the 1970s and 80s. For artists and performers it was a golden age with clubs needing to book events seven-days-a-week.  To attract the trendy crowd, artists were recruited to paint murals and design publicity; curators were hired to organize exhibitions; photographers were booked to present slide shows and document events; filmmakers and video artists were paid for screenings; and performers were engaged to make music, stage cabaret shows and host interactive events involving audience participation.  Out of this milieu, stars were born: performers Ann Magnuson, John Sex, Joey Arias, Phoebe Legere; artists Colette, Nan Goldin, Keith Haring, Mark Kostabi; curators Baird Jones, Neke Carson, Carlo McCormick, Michael Alig.  And in the wake of all this activity came the thousands of cheaply produced but creatively designed cards and posters that the artists and clubs created to publicize events in this pre-Internet era. Presented here is a small sampling of nightclub ephemera available through Gallery 98.  All items are for sale.


Take for instance this invitation for a 1989 party for British filmmaker Derek Jarman at Mars, a four story club on 12th Ave. I worked as the doorman at the fourth floor VIP room (Vin Diesel worked the front door) and I recall working at this party, and indeed still have the invite below in my possession. The thing is, I have no memory whatsoever of seeing or meeting Derek Jarman there, which is weird, because you’d think I would. Perhaps it was because I was outside of the party and not in it, but I don’t know because the invite aside, I’m drawing a complete blank! [I should probably take this opportunity to mention that I was perhaps the very worst—or best, depending on how you look at it—VIP room doorman in all of NYC nightlife history. How do I know this? Because I let every single person who walked up to the rope inside. Every one of them. The sole exception was when some idiot timidly asked me “You don’t want me in there, do you?” and I just silently shook my head “no” and he turned around and fucked off. Had he just kept his mouth shut, the rope would have parted for him.]

“Family! The New Tribal Love Rock Musical” with Joey Arias and Ann Magnuson at Danceteria, 30 West 21st Street, New York

A Seconds magazine party for the NY Debut of “Serial Killers” by Richard Kern at Madam Rosa’s, 24 John’s Lane, New York, 1987

Kembra Pfahler at Pompeii, 104 East 10th St., NYC, 1985

Joey Arias and Ann Magnuson “Request the Pleasure of Your Company at a Mad Tea Party,” which they hosted in character as Dali and Gala, Danceteria, 1985

The opening night invite for AREA’s “American Highway” theme, 157 Hudson Street, New York, 1986. The club changed its highly elaborate decor every six weeks or so, so scoring these opening night invites was a matter of some importance. Plus, if you were on their mailing list, you tended to “mysteriously” get onto the mailing lists for other clubs.

Girl Bar, a popular lesbian night out, one of very few at the time, happened at Boy Bar on St. Mark’s Place once a week.

There’s a picture of me, age 23 perhaps, with really long hair in one of the issues of Project X

James White’s Sardonic Sincopators, at Save the Robots, 1986. Save the Robots was a super sleazy afterhours club. If you were there, chances are you were fucked up, not likely to be sleeping anytime soon and probably up to no damned good.

Finally, both sides of a business card for former Yippie leader Jerry Rubin’s afterwork networking parties. He threw these parties at different clubs, including the Limelight, where I was working in 1985, and they were the fucking worst parties ever, with the worst crowd and the worst tippers and these parties simply sucked. Rubin’s networking parties, I do have vivid memories of, none of them good.

Via Stupefaction

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
‘101 things to love about New York City’ list from 1976 is mostly incomprehensible
11:45 am


New York City

New York City
Garbage piles up between buildings during the 1976 strike of Local 32B-32J members in New York City.
1976 was a real interesting moment for the New York Times to commission a disposable little one-pager on “101 Things to Love About New York City,” but commission it they did. In the mid-1970s New York famously almost declared bankrupt, leading to the immortal Daily News headline of October 30, 1975: “FORD TO CITY: DROP DEAD,” and aside from that, New York’s image (not without reason) was of a violent, cramped, dirty hellhole. It was also something of a creative mecca for artists, musicians, comedians, and what have you—artists could afford cheap lofts in Soho, and the tensions of the city were or would soon be reflected in a remarkably wide-ranging and multicultural brew of rap, punk, avant-garde art, salsa, disco, graffiti, and who knows what else.

The Times piece, by Glenn Collins, appeared in the June 16, 1976, edition. Today such items are commonplace, but one imagines they weren’t so common before the advent of consumer-friendly “alternative” newspapers and the like. The article is amusing for several reasons: the highly mordant tone of the article, the difficulty of thinking up 101 actual reasons to like living in NYC (although such padding is almost a requirement of the genre), the lack of overlap with the reasons some of us would have liked to live in New York, and the utter incomprehensibility of a good portion of the list. The world’s gone from analog to digital, moneyed interests have taken over Manhattan and much of Brooklyn, and well, some things just change.
New York City
Here they are in a more readable format:
New York City
Now, first things first. I was a resident of Staten Island for several years until quite recently, and I’m having difficulty imagining a New York City where the Staten Island Advance, SI’s hardy daily newspaper, is the #6 thing that occurs to a person writing about why to love New York. Thanks to the good works of the ScoutingNY blog, which discovered the list in the first place, and its readers, we know that 873-0404 was the “Dial-A-Satellite hotline, providing you with daily information about passing satellites.”

Anyone know what #45, “Degree days,” signifies? I must confess, I enjoy #46, “More movies, plays and ballet than anywhere else, and not going,” there is nothing more New York than that. Do people remember #12, which referenced strange PSAs the local news would run, or something. I don’t know if they were a local thing or a ‘70s thing in general. I do remember them quite well. The entry at #22, “New York’s proximity to Montauk,” is kind of interesting because the whole Long Island experience has been utterly transformed in the last decade or two; I don’t think anyone actually finds it charming anymore.
New York City
Over on this half of the list, I really enjoy the concept of #85, “the rabbit hanging out near the World of Birds at the Bronx Zoo.” The diaspora reflected in #69, “East Siders on the West Side,” will puzzle anyone who isn’t aware that the Upper West Side was something of a wasteland as far as posh people were concerned, before the creation of the Lincoln Center arts complex in the mid-1960s. “A winning OTB ticket,” at #60, is a little hilarious, considering I’ve never set foot in an Off-Track Betting outlet and would never desire to.

Overall, this is a cranky, creaky, weary list. At least twenty or thirty of the items signify what an awful place New York is, and a handful directly reference the fiscal problems New York was going through.

But most of all, there’s pretty much no mention of the things the average reader of DM would be likely to think of, which probably isn’t very surprising: great music, great art, great food, accessible drugs, an AIDS-free social-sexual environment (can’t fault the NYT for missing that one), cheap downtown rents, the assertion of Latino and African-American and queer identity, public eccentricity everywhere, and on and on.

Not quite contemporaneous but close enough, here’s the annoying 1982 “I Love New York” promotional ad campaign:

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
What no pastrami?!: Egg cream scented candles from Katz’s deli
08:02 am


New York City

For the many years that I patronized Katz’s deli on Manhattan’s Lower East Side I don’t recall the smell of egg cream being the first thing I was hit with when I walked through the venerable joint’s doors. It was the pungent scent of vinegar, rye, mustard and smoke that permeated the air like a Romanian storm front.

I guess a pastrami-scented candle won’t appeal to the masses so Katz’s is offering something tame for the Goyim out there. You can buy the candle here. Personally, I’ll wait for one that smells of brine and garlic.
Via Ev Grieve

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
The 2014 NYC taxi drivers beefcake calendar is so unsexy that it’s actually kind of sexy!
02:17 pm


New York City

cab driver
The 2014 NYC Taxi Drivers Beefcake Calendar is one of the better tongue-in-cheek takes on pin-up I’ve seen. First of all, the dudes all look like they’re having a great time, and who doesn’t find a sense of humor hot? Second, 100% of the proceeds go to University Settlement, a non-profit that serves immigrants and low-income families. About 90% of New York cab drivers are immigrants, so this is activism for the community, from the community. And who doesn’t love a man who takes care of his own?

The calendar actually just sold out, so anybody hoping to ogle it in their very own home is out of luck for now.  Ditto, I’d wager, for the men themselves, all of whom I’m sure are off the market. I mean, this is New York, and a boyfriend with a car has the same social capital it did in high school.
cab driver
cab driver
cab driver
cab driver
cab driver

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
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