Sunday, June 29, 2008

Chez Jacqueline BBQ?

Chez Jacqueline is a long time MacDougal Street business, offering the best in provincial French cuisine. Only I wonder one thing. Why is there a sawed off pick-up truck cab on top the restaurant? Are they serving some illegal foie gras up there? Does the clientele get half-off on taters, barbeque and Bud on weekends? What gives Chez Jacqueline?

Portugese Tiles

At Bleecker and 11th....

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Out with the Old, In with Alexis Bittar

Note the beautiful, veritably inlaid detail work on the majestic cast iron column to the left of the frame, and the graceful storefront window, both constructed no doubt later than the 1930s. Then consider the anorexic Alexis Bittar model, her tautly stretched skin aiding her rather Nazi like, comfortingly blank stare. Welcome to the new Bleecker Street. Bolshy Yarblockos it ain't pretty....sorry!

Friday, June 27, 2008


Located at 137 East Houston Street in the newly gentrified East Village, Yonah Schimmel is a saving grace amid the onslaught of development occuring in an area that only a few (3?) years ago still savored its industrial past. A walk down neighboring Ludlow Street is to experience Yunnies in all their glory. Anyway, Yonah Schimmel still makes old fashioned kugel and knishes as he has since the turn of the century -- the last one! While celebrating a friend's Father's Day we stepped into Yonah's and gorged ourselves on blueberry kugel. YUM! Schimmel's knish is even better, available in mushroom, sweet potato, cabbage, kasha, onion, broccoli, vegetable and spinach flavors. This place is an oasis of charm, and good eats! Let's pray that he can hold off the money men, developers, bankers, and bedheads. See

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Raceway Diner

I have this thing about old neon and chrome Diners. I've driven all over New Jersey to photograph and gawk at them, eat their home cooked meals and marvel at their history. Like New York's vanishing urban architecture, diner "googie" is becoming just as rare. A drive down NJ state highway 22 will bring you face to face with numerous hulks of the 50s diners age, but this Diner beauty resides in Yonkers, across from the raceway. This week's "gotta get out of town" pic.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Washington Square Park -- A Look Back

From Jeremiah's Vanishing New York: "New York has been changing since its inception. That's obvious. Blocks and buildings rise and fall. Seventy years ago, half of Houston Street vanished from the city--and the city survived. But today the rate of change has become excessive. Block after block after block, New York is devoured. We don't get one Avalon building, we get three. We don't get one Marc Jacobs store, we get half a dozen. Such is the inevitable march of progress today.
The things worth looking at in this city are dwindling. What we take in visually becomes our thoughts. When we look in the window of a pawnshop, we see stories--wedding rings tell of love lost and betrayed, guitars speak of dreams deferred, typewriters tell more tales than we can imagine here. What will our thoughts become when all that's left to see are the blank faces of condstrosities?"

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Slicing, Dicing, Veg-o-matic Man

"Attention ladies and gentlemen for a demonstration of one of the greatest wonders of the nuclear age! This handy dandy machine will perform all your kitchen duties, no muss, no fuss, and it even allows extra time for dessert!" Yet another sale for Union Square's most inventive salesman.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Hogs N Heifers

Everyone's favorite meatpacking bar. Even the cops get treated well here.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Washington Square Tapdance

Washington Suare Park attracts jazz musicians, giant singing troupes, Turrets Syndrome soloists, and one guy who sings to his upright bass like he's about to have a heart attack. Here, three revelers strut and croon in the old, pre-renovation park.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Jazz Lives!

Though I tend to cover the disappearing face of real New Yawk, one thing is not disappearing, something that is a major part of our city's legacy to the world: JAZZ! Here's trumpeter Steven Bernstein and band at a lower east side haunt.

Friday, June 20, 2008

The Wise Men of Figaro -- No More

Less then one month after the shuttering of the landmark Minetta Tavern, Cafe Figaro closed this week. Located on the eight block long stretch of MacDougal Street, these two restaurants were practically the last of a dying breed (Cafe Reggio and Montes are all that remain of the old 40/50s/60s guard on MacDougal). And what's replacing Figaro? A BANK. Not a bad thing, actually! Here's more info on this formerly great corner of Bleecker and MacDougal, from the NY Songlines website:
Figaro -- Closed: 98: Resurrected as a cafe after spending a time in purgatory as a Blimpie's. At some point it was The Hep Bagel. Al Pacino hangs with Penelope Ann Miller here in Carlito's Way. (Was also an important folk music site in the 60s).
93 (corner): Most notable as the former site of the San Remo, famous bohemian hangout of William Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg, Miles Davis, Jackson Pollock, W.H. Auden, Dylan Thomas, James Baldwin, William Styron, James Agee, Frank O'Hara, photographer Weegee, etc. Appears as The Masque in Kerouac's The Subterraneans. Dawn Powell in The Golden Spur cited it as one of the four bars that defined the boundaries of New York.
Ciao! Vineria con Cucina: 100 (corner): Replaced Cafe Borgia when its owners retired after 60 years. In a beaux arts tenement that went up in 1904.
Caffe Del Marre Corner (89 Macdougal): Formerly Mac Dougal's Cafe, before that a funeral parlor.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

World Trade Center -- Night

Thousands of tourists snap pics of the former World Trade Center site. Not many wait around to shoot the site (remains) at night. Too many eerie vibes, weird moods, empty streets. Is that fog rolling in from the east or the ghosts of 9/11?

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Illegal Operations

As safe as modern New York is, danger lurks at the edges. I took this pic of a crackhead on the adjacent roof from my seventh floor window. I called the police and then watched them haul him away about 15 minutes later. New York's finest at work!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Girl on the Bus?

This girl seemed to fly through mid-air as she cycled next to a passing bus. Or is she on the bus?

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Bigelow Lights

Located at the corner of 6th Avenue and 8th Street, Bigelow Pharmacy is the place to go for French toothpaste and soap, exotic ($$$) cosmetics, and specialty hair brushes. Drugs too. Just don't take a photo inside the store or they will bite your head off! Dig their crazy neon sign!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Broadway's Beautiful Boys

Are we in Rome? Ancient Greece? No, it's Lower Broadway and the Beautiful Boys of the insurance company. I forget the exact address, but across from NYU and just down from Astor Place, these strapping Greco-Roman looking youths keep a close watch on Broadway from their 10th floor perch. The street level address is an insurance company, but something tells me this grand architecture was created by an early railroad or banking tycoon intent on leaving his firm stamp on the Village. Well done!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

42nd Street -- 1987

Back when 42nd Street was still full of peep shows, electronics stores and hot dog stands. This sign dates from the 50s.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


Bob Dylan lived here at 92-94 MacDougal in the mid 70s. Having recovered from a recent motorcyle accident, yet feeling out of sorts, or maybe just out of place holed up in Woodstock, he hit the block that made him famous some 10 years earlier in search of a new band. Not long after moving in, a local Dylan-ologist, AJ Weberman, began going through the singer's trash, "reading" it in attempt to unlock the mysteries of Dylan's genius. He found old letters and notes, made the contents public, and even got Bob to agree to an intervew, which he taped, unbeknownst to his subject.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Meat: Style and Succulence

Near West 14th streeet, just around the corner from Stella McCartney and the Bodum store, meat hangs on hooks like literal lambs from the slaughter. This is the meatpacking district, former home to hardheaded pimps, street workers, and men of the meat (butchers). And they (the butchers) are still there in the mornings, working in the shadows of all the new construction, holding on to their turf and refrigerated trucks. But their domain is shrinking as rents soar. That's progress. Meantime, just look at that glorious slab of marbled nirvana!

Monday, June 9, 2008

Don't Even Think About It!

Welcome to world famous (Where Harry Met Sally) Katz's Delicatessen! ("I'll have what she's having.") Sure, this is down the road (Houston) a piece from Greenwich Village proper, but seeing how it fits in with this blog's general theme of sadly disappearing Manhattan, it fits my bill.

This was taken inside Katz's one spring day. This waiter seems to be saying, "You want salami? You gotta go through me first." Easier to move down the line and get a nice egg cream, or one of Katz's famous pickles.

Word has it that Katz's has sold their building, fitting in nicely with the gentrification of the lower east side. Head back to the Village. We'll be there tomorrow, bright and early!

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Arch in the Park

Our beloved Washington Sq Park is undergoing major renovations. Locals complained that the overhaul was unnecessary, but one day the entire park was fenced off and that was that. The main goal is to align the Arch with the fountain. Why? No one knows. Back in the day, buses actually went through the arch, rounded the fountain, and rotated back up Fifth Avenue. Now when the locals really need the park, there is no way in. But signs of life are encouraging, new sidewalks have been laid, the trees are protected, and scheduled reopen is set for 2010. 2010! Check out the park as it was...

Friday, June 6, 2008

East Village Crazy Quilt

Spotted this crazy door somewhere, some night, walking from the East Village to my place in the West Village. Looks like the owners spent some serious cash on that swirling, monkey wrench pattern. If you look closely thru the overlay, you can see a child's firetruck in the window case, and some gnarly graffitti up top. Could this be a map of some sort? Secret code for a secret society? :)

If you were to walk along with me, we would pass the old hull of CBGBs, through tidy glass buildings that show the modern mindmeld of today's Manhattan.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Meatpacking Disco District

The West Village is constantly in flux. Near the river, where all the action takes place, a few old buildings sit empty (awaiting their fate) while others are demolished to make way for the future.

Here we have a beautiful old Hudson river pier with modern hotel construction looming in the background: a perfect example of the harbor's transition from dusty 1940s era port to modern conceptions built of glass and steel.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Ghosts of Greenwich Village, Pt. 3

There are some terrific new buildings going up New York, though they are, in my opinion, not as adventurous as those in Europe. Here, two landmark buildings near the Hudson are bookended by one of Philip Johnson's final glass and steel creations. One of the smaller buildings houses The Ear Inn, a favorite among locals, and one of the oldest bars in Manhattan.

Gentrification means...Poodles!

The Ear Inn. In a National Historic Landmark building, built on what used to be harbor's edge. The Ear Inn's sense of humor in certainly unique!

Ghosts of Greenwich Village

My little corner of Manhattan is a war zone. Donald Trump battles the Landmark Preservation Committee, renters battle landlords, parking lots/gas stations turn into high rises, so on, so forth.

I took the bulk of my GW pics during the past five years, accordingly, some buildings, like the one that housed "Codys," are no longer there. Some may find this old architecture one step above eye sore status. But I hope you enjoy the view.

Delicatessen blues

Remember the old days when pastrami and rye meant a trip to the delicatessen? This one still stands in the west village, about two blocks from the Hudson. Beautiful signage is like a beautiful girl....lights, camera, curves, action.

Finding Something Special

Lenny Cecere runs a small Greenwich Village institution called Something Special. Here, amid the bric-a-brac, percolating coffee, and candy for sale, the 82-year old Matt Lauer look-alike rents mailboxes, performs notary services and distributes sage wisdom and sly humor to the many folks who use Something Special as both local watering (or caffeine) hole and all-around hangout. The store sits on the street level floor of Lenny's landmark-designated building, and is particularly popular among SoHo's rich and famous who regard Lenny's mailboxes as their personal address away from home. The Beastie Boys, Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick, Patti Smith, Famke Janssen and other showbiz notables can regularly be seen picking up their mail at Lenny's. Sarah Jessica Parker even served coffee in years past when her schedule in the city was less than sexy.

A typical day at Something Special finds Lenny holding court and serving coffee as fellow seniors -- like 'Philly' DeCicco and his brother Jimmy, who in the '70s were on a first name basis with Sullivan Street mobster Vinnie 'The Chin' Gigante and Frank Sinatra -- shoot the breeze, argue about the Mets and Yankees or pass a summer day watching the endless people parade that courses down Houston Street. Get Lenny talking and eventually he'll tell you about the huge cache of NOS tubes down in his basement. I have heard about this tube stash for years with no physical proof to back up the story. You see, after completing his army tour of duty in '45 and marrying Lucy Iannattone, Lenny trained at RCA's school for radio electronics at West 4th and 8th Avenue. He worked for Kodak as an electronics and machine maintenance technician for some 25 years during which time he began collecting radios. You own old radios, you gotta stock NOS tubes. I figured that the rumored tubes were all smashed and swept away but one day Lenny surprised me with a beautiful old Zenith tube radio from the '50s. Returning from the basement he unearthed more goodies: a crusty 1970s era Audiovox AM/FM tabletop, a nondescript '80s shortwave, a nifty looking RCA solid state and a truly space-age low profile WestClox model. Radio nut that I am, I grabbed the Windex and polished up these beauties, all of which worked wonderful, to the point where I almost expected to hear broadcasts from decades past emitting from the radios' ancient facades. Lenny still holds court, when you visit the Village, walk down to 51 MacDougal.

Dog Day Village Afternoon

Dogs. They are everywhere in Greenwich Village. But generally speaking, the dogs have more going on than the people. The dogs aren't fazed by poop on the street. The bad odors only make them happy. The Village is their oyster, so to speak. This dog looked at me like I owed him something. I owe you nothing, pal/pooch, except a pic on my blog!

Twist and Shout

The streets of Greenwich Village are full of strange people doing even stranger things. This young woman is practicing. What I do not know? Tango, perhaps? She's practicing a few steps down from Babbo, a very expensive restaurant owned by Mario Battalia. He operates a few restaurants in our lil hood. Anyway, this gal can shake that thing.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

real Greenwich Village

So that first pic wasn't exactly the Village. I get carried away. Sue me. Here we go...

Today in Greenwich Village History

Welcome to the first installment of a photo blog I am very excited to bring to you, Greenwich Village Daily Photo. I hope to show you the history and unique beauty of this well travelled corner of New York City, and make you aware of its changing nature. Basically, the joint is dissapearing! Trump monstrosities, new yogurt joints, high priced condo palaces, bars, bars and more bars, yep, like Lenny Bruce once said, "Just sold America!"
But if you look closely and not at all too hard, you can still find remnants of the old Village as well as excellent represenatations of the wonderful curiosities that abound on practically every curb.

First up, one of a dying NYC breed, a real 50s styled Mahoney diner. The Cheyenne Diner, currently closed but awaiting transport down the river to nearby Red Hook. All say thank God! Located across from the back end of the Post Office on west 34th, the Cheyenne was a wonderful place to grab pancakes, turkey clubs, and burgers. But its owner plans to replace the joint with a high rise. But lucky NYers can still hike down to up and coming Red Hook to enjoy its new found hipster status. What a glorious chrome affair!
All the best, Ken Mac