Skip to main content

And this, which seems to go perfectly with the above...Sigh.



L.E.S. Named An Endangered Historic Place

The Lower East Side was named one of America's 11 most endangered historic places by the National Trust for Historic Preservation Tuesday.

The annual list points to examples of architectural, cultural, and natural heritage at risk for destruction or irreparable damage.

The Trust is urging the city and state to take steps to ensure the neighborhood retains its character and is not buried under a flood of new construction.

"So many people around the country can relate to this place as where their forbearers got their start," said Wendy Nicholas of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. "And yet, if preservation protections are not put in place soon, the heart and soul of this neighborhood will be lost and we'll no longer be able to have that connection to history."

The neighborhood was named to the National and State Register of Historic places in 2000, but preservationists argue that has not curbed widespread demolition and construction amid the area's real-estate boom.
In another win for neighborhood homogenization, the East Village lost one of its legendary fringe characters this week when the landlord of my apartment building succeeded in evicting Lucia ("Lucy"), a 60-year-old post-op tranny who has resided on this block all her life.

In her heyday, Lucy haunted St. Mark's Place and Second Avenue in maxi-length furs, beehive wigs and kabuki makeup. She inherited the $175-a-month one-bedroom railroad apartment she was born and raised in from her deceased parents and decorated the place in all white furniture, swaths of white lace, dozens of collectible antique dolls and many, many cats. (It is said that Lucy's early transgenderism is what caused the breakup of her parents marriage and drove the father away from the family). Lucy acquired her pussy at the dawn of sex change surgery, long before counseling, pre-op hormone "trial" periods and adjunct psychiatric services became systemic to the process, so Lucy never benefited from therapy. Consequently she was more than a little insane.

In recent years her apartment had deteriorated into total Miss Havisham realness, with cobwebs everywhere, colonies of roaches in her kitchen, mice living inside her couch (felines notwithstanding) and cat shit everywhere. Lucy blamed her inability to clean on her arthritis, but refused to act on the advice of countless social workers, elderly neighbors and other trannys acquaintances who shared ways to get free or low-cost city health services. Her steadfast refusal to wear eye glasses (she declared them "un-ladylike") left her with badly-applied makeup, crocked wigs and facial hair, not to mention cat feces in every corner of her apartment that she couldn't see. She long ago abandoned wardrobe concerns and shuffled about the neighborhood in house dresses, track suits and flip-flops, even in the winter.

Neighbors in apartments near hers - mostly new tenants but some old ones - complained about the stench from her apartment and, to be fair, the place did in fact reek to high heaven. Our building super, Alice, who has been extremely attentive to repairs in our apartment, detested going into Lucy's place for any reason and nobody could blame her. (I myself only went inside once, citing a writer's need to know). Lucy, for her part, distrusted the super and the management, always fearful that they'd find a way to drive her out.

And of course, they finally did, using Lucy's mental instability as their trump card. Long story short, the landlord never actually instituted eviction proceedings. He just started by saying that he had to clean and repair the apartment and intended to charge her $4,000 to do it because she'd failed to do anything to keep up the place. Of course she couldn't pay. From there he basically pressured her into giving up the place, saying he'd pay for movers himself to relocate her to some place her relative owns in the Poconos. He was all very crafty about it, issuing veiled threats that Lucy was violating city laws by having too many cats and other disincentives to resistance.

Many of the old time neighbors, both in our building and elsewhere on the block, including my boyfriend Doug, pleaded with Lucy to avail herself of the multitudes of free or low-cost legal and senior citizen services that could've saved her from being driven from her home. Despite its disrepair, the place was still worth thousands to the landlord and Lucy could've easily walked away with 50 grand, perhaps even more.

But she's too unstable to handle a trial. The landlord recognized that and exploited it. By refusing to help herself there was little anyone could do. She was also downright stupid about some things ... the landlord told Lucy that Doug had complained to the office about her cats, an outright lie, and on the basis of this innuendo Lucy stopped speaking to Doug, after knowing him for 15 years. Fortunately Lucy has a place to go. For years she'd relocate in the summer and early fall to the Poconos house; now she can live there full-time.

In the end movers arrived on Thursday and moved her out. It took them nearly eight hours to get all her shit out and they wore masks over their faces the entire time in 95-degree heat. Now Lucy's gone, and renovation will soon commence on her place so that some newcomer can pay $3,000 a month for it.
What will be choice, Lex, about any newcomer's situation is that they will be totally oblivious to the history of the apartment and be living in some depthless never-never land of cosmic trans power. They will be under the influence of circumstances that will continue to pervade the place and will never know what has seeped under their lives.
August 5, 2008
East Village, Before the Gentry
Over the last 15 years Q. Sakamaki, a Japanese photographer living in New York, has forged a reputation as a documentarian of conflict and suffering. From the civil war in Liberia to the misery of sex workers in Bangladesh, he creates pictorial narratives of the devastation that unfolds when military or economic forces collide with ordinary human lives.

But his new book, "Tompkins Square Park" (powerHouse Books), returns to his early days in New York, when he was still adjusting to a new home and a new avocation "” photography "” after giving up a job at an advertising agency in Osaka.

Upon arriving in the city in 1986 he settled in the East Village, where he was alternately charmed and horrified by what he found. Dilapidated and abandoned buildings lined the streets. Entire blocks were filled with little more than rubble and bricks. Heroin was sold in candy stores, and gunshots sounded in the night. In the morning he sometimes spotted the bodies of people who had been killed or had died of overdoses.

Even more surprising was the abundance of people living on the sidewalks. "The homeless were spread out all over the neighborhood," Mr. Sakamaki recalled on a recent afternoon while sitting on a bench in Tompkins Square Park. "It was like a third world city."

Before long he gravitated toward Tompkins Square, the neighborhood's central gathering spot, where he found a lively mix of people. There were law students, punks, poets and older, lifelong residents who could remember the days of the New Deal.

Twenty years ago this week the neighborhood was also much like a war zone as protesters clashed with police officers seeking to enforce a curfew in the park. Mr. Sakamaki's book is timed to that anniversary and documents the street skirmishes, yet it is also a kind of manifesto.

"This book focuses on Tompkins Square Park as the symbol and stronghold of the anti-gentrification movement, the scene of one of the most important political and avant-garde movements in New York history," Mr. Sakamaki writes in an introduction.

Strolling through the neighborhood, he elaborated, saying that he favors safe streets and finds no romance in poverty. But, he said, change that is primarily driven by monetary profit "destroys the lives of poor or weak people."

As his black-and-white photographs make clear, Mr. Sakamaki found much that was life-affirming amid the conflict and penury. The energy and camaraderie of people who banded together in adversity appealed to him; so did the desire of East Villagers to create their own social order even as they received little help from mainstream society.

Most of the pictures in "Tompkins Square Park" were created before Mr. Sakamaki began traveling abroad to war zones. But it is fair to make the connection between his later work, for which he has received several awards, and a consciousness formed while documenting the depredations of the East Village in the 1980s, including addiction, AIDS and police violence.

The struggles he documented took place against a backdrop of rapid and sometimes rapacious gentrification that took hold in the 1980s and is the unifying theme for the 60 images in the volume. There are also essays on the park and its history by Bill Weinberg, a neighborhood journalist, and by Mr. Sakamaki, who described what the park and the neighborhood meant to him.

Political protests and musical events were also integral to the anti-gentrification movement. Photographs show performances in the Tompkins Square band shell by groups like the band False Prophets and Allen Ginsberg's reading of a poem demanding affordable housing.

Photographs of demonstrations and police responses range from arrests inside the park in 1989 to a clash in May 1991 when bottles flew through the air and police officers in visored helmets formed a line across Avenue B. He documents a major demonstration a week later in which a crowd marched on Avenue A at night to condemn the city's decision to shut the park and bulldoze part of it.

But the bulk of the book focuses on the lives of the homeless people who lived in the park or on the nearby streets.

In 1987 Mr. Sakamaki photographed homeless men and women eating a Christmas Day meal at a soup kitchen in a garden on East Ninth Street. In a 1989 image from Tompkins Square Park two men warm themselves next to a fire inside a trash can. A photograph from the same year shows homeless people and their supporters camping in the park with American flags. In a picture from October 1991, after the park's closing, a man sleeps in a bed on Avenue A in the pouring rain.

The streets and park paths depicted in the book still exist, of course, but many of the people who populated that landscape have died or left town. Mr. Sakamaki's photography has always been about people, from the street children of Rio de Janeiro to denizens of an empty lot on Avenue C.

So the absence of that population in today's East Village lends the book a haunted, ghostly air.

In the end Mr. Sakamaki's book is a valediction of sorts to lost people and a lost place that has been supplanted by a neighborhood that he finds rather sterile and uninspiring.

"We lost our culture," he said, "and we lost control of our dreams."

Leaving the park, Mr. Sakamaki, who still lives in the neighborhood, headed out to the surrounding streets, spots he had photographed decades before. Much has changed. Along East Eighth Street, where he once visited men and women in shacks, a six-story building houses a home for the aged. The onetime site of similar shanties on Avenue C is now occupied by a police building and parking lot.

But on Avenue C at East Ninth Street, La Plaza Cultural, a garden where Mr. Sakamaki had photographed the homeless on that Christmas Day 21 years ago, has survived.

"I'm happy that this garden is still here," he said, gazing through the fence at the pastoral spot, where city dwellers sat beneath a willow tree. "But I'm also sad, because the people I knew are not inside anymore."
...And hello, Charming Olde New York?

Todays NY Times:


Failed Deals Replace Boom In New York Real Estate

After seven years of nonstop construction, skyrocketing rents and sales prices, and a seemingly endless appetite for luxury housing that transformed gritty and glamorous neighborhoods alike, the credit crisis and the turmoil on Wall Street are bringing New York's real estate boom to an end...

After imposing double-digit rent increases in recent years, landlords say rents are falling somewhat, which could hurt highly leveraged projects, but also slow gentrification in what real estate brokers like to call "emerging neighborhoods" like Harlem, the Lower East Side and Fort Greene
And it passed!


This afternoon, the City Council approved a measure that will place height limits on new buildings in the East Village and the Lower East Side. The plan will rezone over 111 blocks from Delancey Street to East 13th Street, and east of the Bowery to Avenue D. Developers, who were previously only limited by how high they could build the front wall of new buildings (taking advantages of setbacks that let them build higher in the backs of lots), will now see a cap of 120 feet, no matter how far their lots go back (There's also a restriction of 80-foot heights on smaller streets.)

The plan may significantly curb the rampant development in the trendy downtown neighborhoods. Had it been in effect just a few years ago, it would have made a significant dent into the plans of new buildings, like the Blue Condos on Norfolk Street, which tower over the area at 181 feet. Buildings under construction with completed foundations can skirt the new regulations, while those that have permits and have just put down a substantial foundation merely have the right to apply for extension from Board of Standards and Appeals.

The mayor's office says that the plan will pave the way for more housing on wider blocks like Houston and Delancey with as many as "1,670 additional housing units over the next ten years, including 560 units permanently affordable to low- and middle-income families." The City Planning Commission will now turn its attention to Chinatown, where some had protested the proposal for fear that it would simply shift the burden of development onto them.
Last edited by Chi Chi
For those who have wondered why certain East Village club spaces have remained empty for so long (even BEFORE the recession/crash/whatever we're calling it these days)

This article sheds quite a bit of light..



Brokerage giant Massey Knakal has announced, in an e-mailed press release and on its blog, that the firm has been retained to arrange the sale of 17 walk-up apartment buildings in the East Village. But not just any 17! The mix of buildings—sprinkled throughout the 'hood in many shapes and sizes and with widely varying numbers of rent-stabilized apartments per building—make up the "East Village Portfolio," purchased by megadeveloper Extell for $72 million in 2006 before the company spun if off to former cohort Westbrook Partners for $97.5 million in the summer of '07. Since that time, many of the retail/commercial tenants in those buildings—including raucous gay bars The Cock and Boysroom—have been cleared out, and the properties' managers have been accused of bullying tenants and warehousing vacant units. Now, in a crappy market, Westbrook Partners is trying to cash out. Nobody likes bad press!

The buildings are actually listed individually, but when combined they total just shy of $120 million. But don't expect the portfolio to be snapped up in one fell swoop. According to god-among-men Robert Knakal, the properties are listed individually because that's how they expect them to be sold, one-by-one or in small chunks. Knak Daddy says it's because A) financing a $10 million deal is much easier than financing a $100 million deal right now, B) they feel they can get more by breaking the portfolio up, and C) The mix of buildings is so disparate that it in most cases it doesn't make sense for one buyer to own all of them. Still, he wouldn't count out the chance that someone could take on the entire thing.
Coney Island needs your support now more than ever - if you have time to write a letter or sign a petition, volunteer or help get the word out visit here

From Angie Pontani


Hey Everyone,
Excuse the mass email, but Coney Island is in dire straights. I know we all love it and I know many of us consider it a performance home. Now we need to put out down time where our mouth is and volunteer to help save it from a potential devastating future.
The City Planning Commission passed their crappy plan today. It still has to go through a few more levels, but they voted 12 - 0! for a crappy 9 acres of open air amusement and high rises on surf ave. We need to turn up the heat!
You don't know what you've got till it's gone!
information on volunteering here

total 411 here!

we can be a major part of this movement! Don't stand by idly as the city and developers destroy a national treasure!
Locals, please give some of your time, if not on saturday you can volunteer any time! Out of towners, please sign the petition!

Little Egypt shook her sh*T on the corner of W. 12th and Stillwell, build a statue, not a strip mall!

Last edited by Chi Chi
This is a great NYC item.
It seems the Cooper Square Hotel, a fairly new high end boutique which is actually on the Bowery, has a back patio for its bar. And of course behind the hotel are the rear sides of tenament apartment buildings. So of course in the nice weather the tenants in the apartments have started to complain about the noise from the bar patrons on the hotel patio at night. What have the tenants started to do? Hang extremely soiled underwear on their laundry lines over the patio. And this week what appeared on one line was a douchebag! Somehow, I find fighting gentrification with a douchebag kind of glorious. Here's a link to photos of the conflict:
Enjoy the view you drunken slobs!
Last edited by seven
This exhibit sounds fantastic, and Ill definately be attending.

October 17th 18th, and 21st-

The Body Archive New York City is Proud to Present:

WEST STREET: Photos of the night life on West Street, In the old Meat Packing District.
Photos by Efrain John Gonzalez

#9 Ninth Ave, between 13th street and little west 12th, on the west side of Ninth Ave, second floor

On October 17th, 18th, and the 21st, I will be giving an exhibit of my photos, rare and raw images, showing the night life under the old West Side Highway, from 1975, up to the 1990’s. B&W photos that record the transgender life along the West Village/meat packing district of New York City, at a time when the night life was wild and the clubs were “anything goes”. This was Hand held night photography with TRI_X film of the real people of the street and their culture; working and surviving on the dark streets of an industrial wasteland, using their transgender beauty to earn the cash to survive in New York City. An incredible photographic documentary of the people and street life in a time long gone.

The BODY ARCHIVE is located in the old Meatpacking district, surviving the gentrification that has changed a dark, run down industrial block, into a hip urbanized club-land, filled with restaurants, luxury Hotels and fashionable boutiques. The photos you will see are a time capsule to the past life that once thrived in the deserted night time streets

Please come and see my work, exhibited on the very street where it was created.

Sat:4-10pm Sun:2-7pm Wed:5-9


Thank you,
Efrain John Gonzalez


Images (1)
  • meatpack09

Add Reply

Link copied to your clipboard.