East Side, West Side, All Around The Town

I too have been unable to relate to that stretch of Broadway now for over three or four years. I find myself walking faster on those blocks just to get past it in a hurry. It feels very foreign to downtown. It is a kind of malady that people want to come from smaller locales outside NYC and hunt down a Starbucks in Manhattan. It is part of the 'civilizing' function of corporations. I wonder what is going to happen when the New Museum moves from that stretch to a property on the Bowery near Houston. It would be great if Kmart moved in and 'busted' the high ticket cachet of the block.
Well, summer is ending, and school is back in session. Thanks to the encroaching sprawl of NYU all over town, we all have witness to the invasion of these spotted cherubic youths, and yes there is even a dorm for them down here in Tribeca, so I see them on the street, in the deli buying beer, and waiting for the NYU bus to take them up to the "campus."

What saddens me is I think about when I first visited NYC 20 years ago and how glorious (and dirty) the city was, and then the nightclubs that I visited 15 years ago on my jaunts here, and then the city that I moved to a decade ago. That doesn't exist anymore- the creativity, tolerance, diversity, glamorous sleaze, and frenetic energy are either gone or changed (seemingly for the worse). So I feel for these youths, as they don't know what they are missing, or what the city used to be. Sure, NYC is better than Nebraska or Iowa, or even Long Island or NJ, but it saddens me that these kids (who were born when I was making trips to NYC in the mid 1980s) will not know what made New York so magical.

I know the past is just that, past. However, what does the future hold for New York City... more homogenization, more gentrification, more republicans, or what?
In the UK the student accomodations are normally in the worst/cheapest part of town.... Why is this not so here in NYC (i know $$$). But it would really make sense... If they stuck all the students out in the Bronx or even converted a row of brownstones that are now derelect up on Lennox or smth.. it would i think improve that area around cos students spend $ etc. It still breaks my heart when i pass The Palladium- DORMS! Why that building/club before was not a listed building is beyond me..ahhh the memories I had in that place too......
The Meatpacking District has now been granted offical landmark status by the powers that be. But with everything that once made that neighborhood interesting either gone completely or stifled by the tidal wave of bottle service assholes, does the title really matter?

quote:

Blood on the Street, and It's Chic
By MICHAEL BRICK
nytimes.com
September 11, 2003

Michael Diamond walked past the trucks for Woolco, Sysco and the meat purveyors yesterday as he crossed Little West 12th Street. A famed rap performer and Spiritual Guy, he is the obligatory Beastie Boy on hand to assure the followers of fashion eating brunch at outdoor cafes that they had arrived at the scene of a scene.

It was another day in Gansevoort Market, a neighborhood described by its boosters as "gritty." Though the streets are still cobblestone and in some places covered in the blood of cattle, the century-old meat markets have in recent years lost some ground to other sorts of meat markets:, nightclubs and boutiques patrolled by skinny women and men with expensive sunglasses.

Gritty sells, though. Gritty evokes a New York of gangs and huddling masses, and it attracts filmmakers and clubgoers seeking a veneer of danger. So the owners of disparate businesses in this neighborhood have formed an unlikely alliance to preserve certain parts of the market's appearance. This week, they won designation by the city's Landmarks Preservation Commission for a historic district in an area bordered by 14th and 15th Streets on the north, Horatio Street on the south, West Street on the west and Hudson Street on the east.

The district's borders are a puzzle piece in part because this is a neighborhood where the streets of the old Greenwich Village grid collide at a 45-degree angle with those of the Manhattan grid. The designation requires approval by the commission for any significant alterations to the facades of buildings within the boundaries.

Perhaps the most readily apparent examples of the neighborhood's distinctive architecture are the metal awnings jutting out from the brick facades, put here to provide shade and an anchor for the pulleys that workers use to load carcasses from trucks to warehouses.

"It has a completely unique sense of place," said Andrew Berman, executive director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, a group that worked to secure the designation. "It's for that reason that it's become popular in recent years. The trick is not to kill the goose that lays the golden egg."

Mr. Berman has found allies in the meatpacking unions and restaurant owners, who have collectively decided that the goose-killers they have in mind are developers of residential real estate.

Already at the spot where the cobblestone of Gansevoort Street meets the asphalt of Hudson Street, there rises a sleek silver exoskeleton with panels befitting a spaceship and balconies too small for chairs, a project of the Hotel Gansevoort Group of Garden City. On the western side of the market, the developer Stephen Touhey has proposed a 32-story luxury building to straddle the old High Line railroad.

The historic designation, Mr. Touhey said, will not affect his plans because his battlefield is at the Department of City Planning, which oversees zoning.

"My plan has always been to build a building that fits in with the historic architecture of the neighborhood," Mr. Touhey said, adding that his plans were changing to build something more like a hotel than a condominium building.

The business owners-cum-preservationists say they do not want people to live here because residents would inevitably complain about the traffic and the noise and the mess that industry produces.

Florent Morellet, owner of the restaurant that bears his first name and a chief campaigner for the historic district designation, conceded that he himself made residential development appealing by opening a French bistro among the warehouses.

"Progress is inevitable," Mr. Morellet said. "What I'm trying to do with this is to try to channel it."

There were no historic districts to channel development and change a century ago, when this district actually was residential. People moved into tenements here in the 1820's to escape epidemics in what was then the main part of New York. The neighborhood shifted to become a market, first for produce and, after the development of reliable refrigeration, for meat. Gansevoort Market became a commercial district, its looks of concern to few.

Walmir Meats is among the meatpackers that still operate here. Its owners and unions joined the campaign for a historic district.

"Nothing ever stays the same," said Raymond DeStefano, shop steward at Walmir for United Food and Commercial Workers Local 342. "But when they're squeezing you out and you could only buy a hot dog in a boutique, that's what it all boils down to."

Mr. DeStefano said that the smell of the block is in his blood and in the cobblestone. He stood under a series of hooks as he said this, and bleeding hindquarters and forequarters swung around his head, producing the smell he spoke of.

Walmir Meats is cold. Décor is limited to a small plastic cow, picture postcards of skiers and a portrait of Miss September pulling at her teddy as if it is full of sand.

"Once this is gone, this whole block is gone," Mr. DeStefano said.

Signs abound of the delicate balance between true grit and those using grit as a backdrop to underscore their beauty. Across from Western Beef, there is a series of stores each selling the wares of a different Western European designer, with a maximum of five outfits on display in the middle of a wide space, smooth surfaces and inventive lighting. Lampposts jut out from the old brick facades. Four of them atop the Rio Mar restaurant illuminate an outsized billboard featuring a woman standing next to a printed name, offering a pouting glare to the diners across the street as if to say "Look but don't touch" or perhaps "I have recently watched the film `Amélie.' " It is unclear what the billboard is selling, but the model's clothes are a solid bet.

"The charm is that it's so diverse," said Birgitte West, a vice president of Bodum, a Danish purveyor of household goods that is converting a meatpacking warehouse into a call center to sell fancy kitchenware on the Internet. "It does smell of meat in the morning."

I did some work for about a month for Woolco foods once around '91. They are purveyors -sell provisions to Manhattan's restaurants from the five star to the falafel joints. Met one of the co-owners because we took care of his one-eyed, thirteen-year-old doberman once a month from Friday night to Sunday morning. He paid us $800 cash for that. That is actually how we paid our rent! He would roll up in a white Rolls to our place at 11th and Ave. B. across the street from what then was a huge burnt out shooting gallery, step out, hold up a roll of cash the size of a coffee can and peel off our renumeration. The two other co-owners of Woolco were also characters, pistol packing, thick-skinned types. The thing that will eventually sink the meatpacking district will be when Woolco and the several other hold-out businesses get squeezed from their property.
From my dog community newsletter:

This Sunday, 10/5, will be the 2003 Cathedral of St. John the Divine Blessing of the Animals and St. Francis Day Fair, attended every year by huge
crowds of New Yorkers and their pets, along with a procession of both exotic and domestic animals from around the world. line up by 9am for tickets to the 11am service (dogs welcome, of course) and indoor procession of the animals. afterward, the fair begins at 1pm in the gardens next to the Cathedral. admission to both events is free. the Cathedral of St. John the Divine is on Amsterdam Avenue at 112th Street. all parts of the event are designed to promote the message of compassion for all living creatures, most rescue organizations have adoption and outreach clinics on the Cathedral grounds that day.
One would hope that these clubs might construct themselves somewhat accordion-style with rooms that could be open or closed depending on the night of the week, which might have a better chance of working.
The one that seems to have the most promise IMHO is Crobar which seems to be modeling itself on the legendary Area and may actually have the guts and gumption to pull it off. They have hired both Michael Tron and Gilbert to oversee and that can only be a blessing, as they are both geniuses.
However, Avalon, with its hiring of absolute nobodies like Eve Salvail at $500 per night to be "taste-makers" (what?) is way off-mark and reeks of crooked money-laundering and wastefulness.
I suppose all of them will be sniffing around Wonder Bar and Magique very shortly for new and fresher ideas!
At the very least, this trend should bang the final nails into the Meat Market's financial coffin. Bye-bye Rabin!
Thanks for posting the link, Randella. For all its hype about the new clubs opening, somehow this article was not very encouraging. The best thing about the article was reading how the local community board was -- for once -- powerless to stop all these clubs from opening. That's refreshing to hear, and more power to the new entrepreneurs who are trying to make a difference, forge ahead and reinvent the nightclubbing experience.

David Rabin once again shows everyone what an asshole he is by lamenting the hard times of the dot-comers, as if he had any true understanding of what makes a club cool to begin with. His corporate approach to nightclubbing, with its emphasis on the Hamptons wannabe-bottle service-Hilton sisters crowd, is the very antithesis of what makes a great club great. Furthermore history has shown that the state of the ecomony is hardly a barometer of a successful club scene. Nightlife can thrive during prosperous times, like most of the 80s, but it can also thrive during economic crisis too, like NYC's fiscal bankruptcy of the late 70s or the recession of the Dinkins era early 90s. So Rabin is completely full of shit and himself as usual. I say death to V.I.P. rooms in general, its such a tired concept that should be swept away like last night's used plastic cups and cocktail napkins. The powers that be behind Avalon sound so behind the times and pathetic. I agree Hattie that Crobar has the best chance since the owners are getting back to basics (as well as the new owners of the old Twilo space -- sounds interesting).

And what's with this bit about downplaying the 20-somethings and ravers? Wake up. Sure, there are plenty of older people and old schoolers (like myself) who still go out to clubs and support them. Such people add history, inspiration, and variety and shake up the mix. But by and large the 20-somethings are the driving force behind most club cultures here and across the world, the people with energy to burn, who don't have kids or mortgages, who can handle partying all night and still bounce off to work at 9 a.m. the next morning, who don't yet have big careers to manage, who are hungry and want to be stars, who have just left Mom & Dad's house and want to experiment and try new things. The punk movement wasn't started by "mature" people, it was the kids. The electroclash movement may have been launched by old schoolers like Larry Tee, but it was largely the kids who bought it and kept it going. Hell, partying your ass off is what you're supposed to do when you're in your 20s -- it's natural. Downplaying their influence and participation and alienating them is a stupid mistake if you ask me.

And again we have the obligatory anti-drug crusade honorable mention. I'm so over that. While I personally don't need to do drugs to have fun and party, the fact is drugs are inexorably linked to the institution of nightclubbing and always will be. People are kidding themselves if they really think the squeaky-clean version of nightlife that is currently being peddled to us is really going to fly. First and foremast, it's a PARTY. And when people want to party, they really want to cut loose, get wild and completely, totally relax. You can't have a cool club in an atmosphere where the police and city government hyper-regulate and micro-manage everybody up the ass and padlock everyone's pussy. I hate to sound like a bitter pessimist after everything I've said on these Boards about contributing to nightlife and trying to make a difference. I honestly do salute everybody out there trying to launch new things and for all our sakes I hope it works. But frankly until the crackdown climate at City Hall changes and a sense of real freedom returns to the bar experience, I really don't see the club scene improving much. I hope I'm wrong.

[This message was edited by Luxury Lex on 11-09-03 at 01:48 PM.]
The new clubs reported to be gearing up in Chelsea are more a reaction of opportunism. Although I am sure some backers and producers are really inspired and want to bring the city back to life partywise. The club going in to the old Twilo space, which is supposedly going to be called Spirit, would be the most different concept being put to the test, is actually a franchise from its Irish flagship, and if you ask me its ammenities ( a raw food restaurant, a resident dance company ) are a kind of well thought out camouflage for what will still just be a club that generates all the things the Rudiany administration wanted to abolish. But maybe this whole development is going to be a kind of minor turning point, whether the city has a majority of nightlife producers and participants who want to rescue the city from its present dismal reputation as a party flat tire, or whether the whole wave of conservatism in local government paired with a few protectionist party collaborators will snuff nightlife in to a Republican version of a country club scene once and for all. I think what we are going to see is this kind of clash, that that is what the pile of new clubs opening is going to bring.

But what has arisen in the place of a phalanx of mega-clubs has a lot of desireable points. Smaller parties populated by the real party fanatics, perhaps a little more of the underground cachet, a situation that leaves promoters and producers feeling that creatively inspiring buzz that comes from knowing there is nothing left to lose and the crowd will be intent on blasting off.

As for the lip service to being anti-drug, and trying to go upscale with patrons, it is all public relations dishonesty. Drugs, whether at a club or anywhere else, are simply a part of our culture and have been for so long now it is simply naive to think a business, any business, has the ability to create some barrier. And as for the upscale, older set, what bottle bar is going to discourage a group running a four figure tab from doing their coke too?

The main incentive for all this is moola, baby.
If you love Lard and Latino's (thats me!) there's a fab CHEAP new 24 hour caff/and take out just opened on 14th st Near Ave B, "La Isla" (rotisserie Chicken and Latino grub)... Great for that 4am after a night out on the ale food... Funny how this area used to have SO MANY 24hr places but now it seems there are so few... bravo this new 24 place...
Talking 24hrs.... anyone know of a late/24hr hair/spa place in the hood....???
sorry honey, they're already here, crawling all over the place in packs of ten or more, drunk out of their ever living minds, screaming their putrid heads off all hours of any night, in their paltry rendition of american pie 'wild abandon' only to return the following morning to classes at Fordham U. (the Jesuit University). I heard tell that Mr. Christ died drinking for their sins.

rb//nyc//bronx//bohemia
OK so my new office is 6th av around 39th... these lil cheapo jewellery stores round here are killing me... do i really need another pair of earings (that i will never wear btw!).. guess they could live in my closet full of stilly shoes that I also never wear ('cept for boudoir events).... But any-ho, it's 50%OFF in MOST of these stores right now.. loads of showgirl diamante in all sorts of styles.. one of the best lil stores for selection/price I found was "design by Nova" 6th btw 37/38... silly cheap! Also around here, as you all know.. there's odd lil button stores where you can buy 'rinestone' machines! to custom sparkle your cord pants or smth.... it's a dress up fantasy round here... I keep forgetting that I am a muggle now and keep buying all sorts of shit.. so.. Big Chill sale on Diamonte..come on down and sparkle!!
No, the Anvil and the Toilet and trannie hookers were there before Jackie. And the meat packers. And gay guys cruising Wash. Street and adjourning to have sex in the parked & unlocked trucks. "The Trucks" was code for sex outdoors over there. not to mention the abandoned piers that were sex circuses all night every night.
Last but not least, there were the go-go luncheonettes where you could dance at high noon on the luncheonette counter to the meat packers packing in their meat sandwiches before going back to work.

Jackie/Mother was a decadent flourish on an already abounding subculture of meat industry, sex clubs, strolls, and other perverse entertainments. Hogs & Heifers thought we (Jackie-ites) were soooo awful (queer). Well those Hogs still there, somehow, along with the few meat-packers. Hate to say it but we were probably one "civilizing" influence (artists) that drew some attention to the primo real estate spaces down there. Now if they can just get the ground-in scent of blood out of their floors.

[This message was edited by S'tan on 03-12-04 at 08:27 PM.]
I would rather see Bradlees back. So many bargains and not quite as low quality merch as K-mart. Garden of Eden is much friendlier than Whole Foods whose organic produce is overpriced. But I guess its better than having another movie multi-plex or Disney outlet, I guess.
Anyone who has ever been to the original Whole Foods in Austin, TX would join me in spitting on the baby vegetables for sale in these superstore aberrations. There it was all about buying in bulk: flour, rice and granola scooped from large bins yourself, cheap prices, and best of all, the ability to sample furiously before you bought. Here you would be shot on sight if so much as a grape goes in your mouth before it's paid for.
For me, it's the Essex Market and good ole Western Beef!

And as for Williamsburg, isn't it full of hired actors dressed in old-fashioned clothes pretending to do quaint outdated things? Oh... that's the one in Virginia?
Three and a half years ago, when the Wholefoods store was opening on 7th Ave. and 25th St. I sent them a resume. On my cover letter I informed them that I was transgendered. They called me in for an interview, which I had to rush to from Healthy Pleasures, where I was then working. They wouldn't give me any extra time to get there. When I got there everyone I encountered was quite rude to me. There was a really rotten attitude among those folks. At that time, I was working for Healthy Pleasures, as a cashier. Healthy Pleasures was run by very sadistic people who were extremely mean to their workers. Yet I gladly returned there to work rather than at Wholefoods. I have since cringed every time some one gushes about Wholefoods, and have never once shopped there.

Strawberry Fields on Bleecker St. and Lifethyme on 6st Ave. (between 8th and 9th) supply me with decent prices on good produce. They are also very friendly and treat me like a person.
I've never understood the thing about 'organic'
produce, or anything else, costing twice as much as non-organic produce. What's the point of eating healthy if you don't have enough cash left to pay your phone bill? I mean if the growers aren't using all sorts of pesticides and fertilizer shouldn't that mean their costs are less, and subsequently the price tag at retail should be less? Total scam.
The thing about organic is that it costs more because the growers aren't able to produce it in the same volume as the big companies that do use pesitcides. But of course they use fertilizers, just not ones that have all kinds of chems in 'em to stimulate growth and so forth.

True organic farming is no scam, but apparently there are a lof of producers out there billing their foodstuffs as organic while still using pesticides and chems and whatnot. There's apparently a grey legal line between what we think of as "organic" and what the FDA considers "organic". Shop wisely.

As for the high costs of eating right...well, it is *your* body, and what you put in it you're going to be. Just eat less if it pinches your purse; everyone can stand to lose a little weight, it's almost Summer.
It's not a scam, just capitalism's supply and demand in motion. Unprocessed food like brown rice always cost more even though it should be cheaper to produce. If people would just eat better healthy food would be cheaper.

People are easily fooled by marketing. They think Snapple is healthy because of marketing campaigns. It's not much different from Kool Aid. When I was a kid the "healthy" drink was Hi C because it was sugar water with a teaspoon of "REAL JUICE!". Now we have sugar water with "NO ARTIFICIAL COLORS OR FLAVORS!"

I admit Ioccasionally down a diet Snapple when I'm out, but when I'm home I just make a pitcher of real iced tea. It takes 5 minutes and it's so much better (and cheaper)
I must admit that DD's coffee is surprisingly good for a fast food joint. Who knew?

And Missy, things like "instant" iced tea are concepts I just don't get. And bottled salad dressing. Salad dressing takes 15 seconds to make from scratch. 2 seconds more than it takes to unscrew the Wishbone's cap off. That's convenient?
'ear yer are... something to make you even more gobsmacked about the East Village!

MORE YUPPIE SCUM NYU dorms - a new TOWER block to be built Tomkins Sq
http://www.lockhartsteele.com/blog/archives/2004_04.shtml#000835

Have always thought that they should stick these students in the kind of areas that I lived in when I was a student (basically any no-go area for most folk as it was the only place we could afford)... eg there are some amazing empty lots in East New York... or Bronx or pockets of Harlem... make the NYU scum put their money into those areas... not areas where working people are struggling to afford to live in... doesn't make sense... bah!!
Think I have to give my pay check to Class war now.
Erasing Charas/El Bohio is one of the most overt racist acts by the city in recent years, regarding real estate. No one in the current administration probably is old enough to even remember that E. 9th Street was totally burnt out, a no man's land in the 1970's. It was the people behind El Bohio along with other homesteaders who actually took over the block and began to redevelop it. And it was Charas' commitment to keeping the building as a community center without big money backing that preserved its many community-based programs for so many years. There was theater, a film series, all sorts of classes in art, writing and marshal arts, all taught by and for people- and mostly young people- in the neighborhood. They pulled off endless projects with practically no budget. "I think some of the best things were when we decided a project would cost $75,000, but we did it with nothing." -Chino Garcia, Charas. This was all founded on a kind of community ethos imported from the island, an ethos of leadership and protection based on a drive to have the neighborhood be self-determining about the socio-cultural health of the people who live there. If NYU moves in it is nothing but a kind of ethnic cleansing capitalist-style. Horror.

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