I try not to write too much here on my love of the 1980s, but sometimes the world forces me to do otherwise.
It started recently when in this piece on John Lurie and his Downtown Confessional book, the reviewer compared him to Pete Davidson. I mean, I’m sorry, but that is an egregious comparison, even in the slightest of ways. John Lurie is cool in a way Davidson could never be. Comparison aside, that’s a good review and I recommend it and anything to do with Lurie, including his book and his work with Jim Jarmusch.
Meanwhile there are people who are in the fight to save New York’s Extravagantly ’80s Subway Entrance. (shown above) Thank god. Someone wants to replace it with some banal all glass neutral atrium or something like thousands of other places. No way. Let’s hope they save this. It’s a small sliver of 80s goodness.
Finally, here’s a piece on Devo who were truly ahead of their time.
(Lnk to the image of Gabby Jones for The New York Times)
Amazon has a new robot coming out, and there’s been a number of reviews. Here’s a list of just a few of them:
If those reviews have convinced you to get one, you can apply to get into the queue for them over here (they aren’t generally available): Amazon.com: Introducing Amazon Astro, Household Robot for Home Monitoring, with Alexa, Includes 6-month Free Trial of Ring Protect Pro : Everything Else
- It’s smart Amazon is rolling them out this way. (No pun intended.) There are going to be many missteps* : a gradual rollout will minimize problems and bad press. (* Also not a pun. :))
- A robot is the next iteration in home devices. People may have a number of Amazon home devices around. Robots are like Alexa on wheels. And if anyone can mass produce them, Amazon can.
- I can see Google and others getting into the game. I have a number of Google Home devices around my house. Having a Google Robot (Gizmo?) would be a benefit to me. For one thing, I might consolidate my Home devices and just have one robot / floor.
- I wonder if Apple will get into the game? I’d love to see an Apple Home robot. Maybe it will look like Eve from Wall-E? 🙂
- Perhaps at some point this thing can do many things. Or maybe there will be just a series of robots: one to vacuum, one to move small things around and watch the house and provide information, maybe even one to tend to plants or keep the cat busy. Robot technology has a way to go before it is humanlike and can do everything.
Anyway, a home robot for under a grand is an exciting development.
P.S. While I was reading that I was reminded of this piece: Finding the servant call buttons in New York City’s Gilded Age mansions | Ephemeral New York. In some ways saying “Hey Siri/Alexa/Google” is the equivalent of pressing servant buttons. One day we will have a household of robot servants working for us at the press of a button.
(Image linked to from the Ephemeral New York article. Those buttons are in the Frick museum in New York: check them out if you go there.)
One thing I like about Americans is their desire to dream big. This is easily demonstrated in this New York Times piece about expanding Manhattan.
It’s a smart idea. Is it doable? I don’t know. I do know that the cost of shoring up Manhattan to deal with global warming is going to be a big one. Why not use real estate and additional taxes to do that? Read the article and see what you think.
1980s me would have laughed at the idea of expanding Manhattan, since so much of the existing island was unlivable. Amazing how much has changed.
There are lots of reasons to push for improvements in your city but one of them is it can have a cascading effect elsewhere. Case in point is New York’s High Line.
As this article Manhattan makeover for London with floating green walkway plan | London | The Guardian), shows:
New York was revitalised by the High Line, a ribbon of parkland floating above Manhattan on a disused elevated railway that has become one of the city’s biggest tourist attractions. Now the High Line’s designer hopes to give London its own green thread, after being chosen to create the Camden Highline.
James Corner was picked last week as the lead landscape architect for the structure, a linear park on three-quarters of a mile of railway viaducts running from Camden to Kings Cross, which he believes will give London a similar boost after the trials of Covid and Brexit.
For more on the Camden highline, go here. More on the New York version here.
Here are a number of pieces on two great downtown Manhattan restaurants: Florent and Odeon. Florent has been closed for a number of years. But Odeon lives on, happily. What I love about both restaurants is how the embodied that era and how they both set a stage. You can see that in the pieces below about them. Florent in particular was a radical place that was like no other, right down to their menus and promotional material (like the one above).
When they both opened the lower part of Manhattan had nothing like them. There was no gentrification down there like there is now. They were an oasis of good food, good design, and good times.
To really get a sense of that, read Restaurant Florent Takes Its Final Bows – The New York Times.
For more on the design ideas around Florent, see: Restaurant Florent | Restaurant Design in New York, NY — Memo Productions
A short history of the space Florent occupied is written about here: What remains of a Gansevoort Street restaurant | Ephemeral New York
Lastly, here is it’s Wikipedia write-up: Florent (restaurant). It’s a good source of other links on the place.
Before I forget, this is a fun piece on The Odeon: A Retro Haven That Defined New York 1980s Nightlife | Vanity Fair.
Also worth reading. Now go and eat at The Odeon.
Posted in cool, culture, newyork
Tagged dining, essays, favourites, food, Manhattan, newyork, nyc, restaurants, restoslovedandlost
Here on my blog I like to write about one of my favourite places (NYC) and my favorite eras (the 80s). So I am happy to highlight this piece on an exhibit on the music of New York at time: New York, New Music: how the city became a hotbed for music in the 80s | Music | The Guardian.
New York then was a hotbed not only for music, but for art. After almost dying in the 60s and 70s, it started it’s Phoenix rebirth in the 80s. I was happy to be a part of it, and I often like to highlight it. That Guardian piece does a good job of capturing the place and the time.
(Photo by Bryan G. on Unsplash. I don’t think it is of the 80s, but it is a photo of the Lower East Side and it is reminiscent of it.)
I am always fascinated by very small apartments. NYC is the king / queen of them. While I have seen some small ones before, this 72 square foot one may be the smallest of all. You have to see it to believe it. It even has a kitchen (sort of) and it’s own bathroom (mainly). What it does have going for it is two amazing things: location and price.
If I was young, I would love living there. For a few years, it would be a great adventure. And like I said, you can’t beat that location at that price.
(Image via the article).
One thing that happened during the pandemic is that big cities like New York vacated to some degree. When they did, there was talk about how in the future more people would continue to work from home, and if they did, they might go to smaller and more affordable cities, like Des Moines, Iowa. Indeed, places like Des Moines has been recruiting people.
The problem these cities have, though, is that they are missing part of the puzzle. People in big cities like NYC and San Francisco live there for a lot of reasons. One of those is the freedom and rights that come with living there. The respect those places have for progressive values are a big draw. Unfortunately, as this really good piece shows, Iowa (and likely other conservative cities and states) can’t and won’t provide that any time soon.
After reading that piece, I thought: yeah, even if the majority of people can still work from home, the mass exodus from Brooklyn to Des Moines is not going to be happening. Some will, for sure. But when the pandemic is over, people are going to head back to the major cities. They have more to offer than affordability.
(Photo by Julian Myles on Unsplash)
I am not a fan of supertall towers. They are bland looking, and they add little to a skyline. Therefore I was glad to see this week that they are being exposed for being problematic. First up was this piece in the New York Times on how one of them has been having lots of problems: The Downside to Life in a Supertall Tower: Leaks, Creaks, Breaks. Then there was a more general critique of them here: Why Pencil Towers are Problematic.
It seems to me that there are some problems with the buildings that not even super-engineering can fix. Perhaps this means that this is the beginning of the end of supertall buildings. I can hope.
(Image link to NYtimes.com)
Assuming these will still be around post pandemic, here’s 12 beautiful hotels to consider staying at in New York, starting with the TWA hotel which has been wonderfully remade. I have seen a number of New Yorkers staying there and posting pictures on social media because….why not. While the other hotels don’t have the benefit of being put in a building designed by Eero Saarinen, they are still great. You can see them all here.
All cities have vestiges, things that once made sense but over time became obsolete, yet still remain. In my former house I had a small door and nook near the main door where milkmen would once leave milk. Across Toronto you can still see coal doors at basement level, where coal delivery people would shovel in the coal for the coal furnaces.
Elsewhere, here is a great story about taxi signs across New York City that were once used to hail a cab if you needed one. In the days of Uber and Lyft apps, these seem quaint. Just like those apps will seem years from now. Great story, though.
I love the blog that story comes from. It’s full of odd bits of New York, written with love. Well worth diving into.
Posted in newyork
Tagged newyork, nyc, taxis
Predictions are hard. Predictions about New York City especially so. This one was written a few years ago, and talks about how gentrification is killing NY: The Death of a Once Great City | Harper’s Magazine.
Now in the midst of the pandemic, that economic costs of that will take a bite out of gentrification, which will be nothing compared to the closures that will occur as this disease hangs over the city and the rest of the world.
Whatever happens to New York, be it 9/11 or gentrification or the pandemic, I think the best and safest prediction is to never count it out. Perhaps some far off day New York will no longer be one of the world’s great cities. Perhaps some day it will die off, like many other great cities have. I think we can predict that day is far away still.
So whenever you read about New York dying of one thing or another, take it with a grain of salt.
(Photo via malteesimo)
What’s the eruv of Manhattan? Well according to the article below:
The eruv encircles much of Manhattan, acting as a symbolic boundary that turns the very public streets of the city into a private space, much like one’s own home. This allows people to freely communicate and socialize on the Sabbath—and carry whatever they please—without having to worry about breaking Jewish law.
Here’s a map of it:
You might think that it is hard to believe such a thing could last for long, but as this piece shows, it is diligently maintained.
I found this fascinating. There’s many interesting aspects of New York, but this is one of the better ones. For more on this, read: There’s a Wire Above Manhattan That You’ve Probably Never Noticed
Some good links on the art of the 1980s, of which Basquiat and Haring played a big part, here and here.
Most of the time the links I post are mostly because I want other people to know about them. Links that talk about my youth are mainly for me. 🙂 But fans of either painter or art of that time should click through.
Painting above by Haring in tribute to Basquiat. May they both RIP.
I love and miss New York. So I enjoyed this photo essay: New York in the Snow Photography Series – Fubiz Media.
It’s not a series of photos of great architecture or famous people. It’s simply a sequence of photos of NYC at night covered in snow. It’s wonderful and wistful.
Many many people were blown away by this piece written by Gabrielle Hamilton of Prune fame: My Restaurant Was My Life for 20 Years. Does the World Need It Anymore? in The New York Times.
She’s a great writer, and a great restaurateur, writing about a time of peril for all restaurants.
During the pandemic I’ve thought about it often, as well as the future of restaurants. I don’t know a fraction about the business Hamilton excels in, other than to recognize that even for someone good at it, it’s a hard business. It was a hard business before when places were jammed with hungry eaters. It may well be impossible now.
My hope is that knowing that restaurateurs are smart, hard working and passionate people. They have managed in difficult situations before. They will find a way to make the foods that they love and feed them to us. And we will find a way to get out and support them.
I have had a number of meals at Prune, and they have been some of the finest of times for me. Here’s to it and many more places coming back soon and giving us meals and memories that make life worthwhile.
(Image is a link to the Village Voice.)
One, the new hip Condé Nast: How Bon Appétit Accidentally Made YouTube’s Most Beloved Stars
Two, the Condé Nast of the pre-digital age: Chaos at Condé Nast
It’s fascinating to read them together. Clearly a lot has changed since the turn of the century. While Bon Appétit is clearly on to something, it’s like a fluke that doesn’t translate across the rest of the organization. And regardless of how well they do — and I hope they do well — the golden pre-digital age is gone and not coming back.
Good weekend reading. That you likely are reading on a phone or tablet.
Yesterday I showed you how to cry in New York. Today I want to show you how to enjoy New York when the weather is less than ideal. The best way to do that is to be indoors. And the best way to enjoy the indoors in New York is to visit the most beautiful interiors in New York City
P.S. If you are a fan of New York like I am, then ny.curbed.com might be for you too.
Yes, it is an odd list. And yes, you might not find it useful. But read it. Make notes. You will find some wonderful places in NYC as a result. Even if you never plan to cry in public: New York City’s best places to cry in public, mapped
(And if you do plan to cry in public in New York, you are now all set!)
The folks at the Thrillist have a great list, here, including images such as the one above.
It would be great to go to NYC again just to visit some or all of these.
Meanwhile a bold maximalism is achieved here, not so much by the amount of items as by the amount of bold colours and prints used throughout the place. It’s still not a big place, but it feels right. I guess that is all relative, but I love this.
For more, see This Manhattan Home Feels Like a Jewel Box | A Cup of Jo
(Image a link from the above article in A Cup of Jo)
August 31, 2019 in homes, new!
Tagged colour, cupofjo, decor, design, homes, Manhattan, newyork, smallspace, smallspaces, tinyhomes
This is great: A Field Guide to New York Workers – People in NYC | Topic.
All the people you typically see in NYC. Well worth a look.
New York City has had skyscrapers for a long time. A new twist on the skyscraper is the super skinny ones popping up all over Manhattan. There’s plenty of reasons for that, and the Guardian well documents that, here: Super-tall, super-skinny, super-expensive: the ‘pencil towers’ of New York’s super-rich | Cities | The Guardian.
I don’t particularly like them, but like all buildings, I am sure they will grow on me over time. They seem too featureless. Their main feature seems to be the thinness. That hardly puts them in the same class as the Chrysler Building or the Empire State Building.
Regardless of your thoughts on them, the article in the Guardian is good.
Bad news for Barneys, the premiere merchant in NYC. On one hand they are getting hit with a huge rent increase, and on the other, people’s shopping habits are changing. Could this be the end? It seems so.
See this for more: Bankruptcy for Barneys? Symbol of New York luxe faces uncertain future | US news | The Guardian
For fans of NY back when, or people just curious about a very different New York then the current one, here’s a bunch of links worth reading:
This is a fascinating story: The famous tea water pumps of 1700s New York | Ephemeral New York.
Hard to imagine now, if you’ve seen NYC, to think of water being drawn this way. Good weekend morning reading!
This is a great read: The Widows of the Plaza Hotel – The New York Times.
If you love New York, hotels, stories of odd balls, and people sticking it to Donald Trump, you will want to read that story. I ate it up! 🙂
I’ve read a number of articles talking about the demise of New York due to rising rents and gentrification. After reading them, tt’s easy to feel hopeless about New York and cities in general. Which is why I was glad to read this: New York City Reveals the Future of American Retail – The Atlantic. It’s true, there are big changes in New York, just like there are big changes in other cities. And it’s true that many beloved retail stores are disappearing in cities everywhere. But it’s untrue that vacancy rates are shooting up and it’s untrue that it’s only big chains taking over. While retail stores threatened by Amazon are closing, places like restaurants and fitness locations are filling the gap.
You can argue that a city needs more than this new world of cafes and restaurants and gyms. The article points out to ways cities can encourage that. Specifically:
According to Jeremiah Moss, specific policies caused the disappearance of old New York—like tax breaks for big businesses, which have been a hallmark of city governance since the Ed Koch days (and up through HQ2). Moss says that several new policies could fix the problem. First, he is an advocate of the Small Business Jobs Survival Act, which would make it easier for small retailers to extend their lease in neighborhoods with rising rents. Second, he favors zoning laws that would limit the density of chain stores. He and others have also called for “vacancy taxes” that punish landlords who sit on empty storefronts for months at a time. All of these policies could help small businesses push back against the blandification of New York and the broader country.
Cities thrive when there is a mix of establishments servicing the wants and needs of its occupants. After reading this article, I think cities, New York and elswhere, are doing well and have a viable path to get better.
Well worth a visit to see them here: nyti.ms/2JgMZwR. The photos are great and how he goes about taking them is also a good read.
The Met Gala recently completed as it does every year, and it seems to draw more and more attention. Part charity event, part costume spectacle, it is a parade of fame and fortune and costume.
Yet even if you could afford the $30,000 for one ticket, you can’t necessarily get one. As this piece illustrates, there’s alot more to it than that.
Sure if you are Rhianna, you pretty much get to go the front of the line. For anyone else, reading the article in the New York Times will tell you all you need to know about this event.
If you ever though of visiting New York City in winter, then I recommend this:
A Winter Guide to NYC | A Cup of Jo. After you read it, you’ll want to head there before Spring.
I have been to NYC many different times of the year, and I found being there in December to be one of the best times to visit. In addition, going in January and February would be among the least expensive times to go. If you had planned to go mainly to see museums and shows and do indoor activities, then it could be the perfect time to visit. Of course you don’t just have to do indoor activities, as that lovely photo of people walking in Central Park in winter shows.
New York is great any time of year, but it can be especially so in winter. You should go.
The site Hyperallegic has a great piece on the abandoned City Hall subway station in NYC that is worth visiting. Beautiful stuff.
While no longer in use, there seems to be a chance you can tour the station from time to time. Read the piece, then make your plans to see the actual station.
(Images linked to from the piece. Many more great images in the piece you’ll want to see).
Two stories worth reading about New York City, one set in 1981, one set in 2017. Read Jonathan Franzen’s recollection of being Hard Up in New York (The New Yorker) first, then read about the current state of the city in Why the Upper East Side Is Now Cooler Than Brooklyn. What struck me was not that New York has become wealthier and gentrified, but that it has gone from being a place that was unlivable in one sense to being unlivable in a very different sense. Once you avoided parts of New York because of the danger: now you avoid parts because they are too expensive.
Of course New York is a massive city, and there are people that live in parts of it that can be still considered dangerous while there are other parts that could still be considered affordable. But NYC has changed dramatically since the 80s, and these articles — especially the one by Franzen — highlight this well. It’s hard to imagine Manhattan ever declining to the state it was in the 1970s and 80s, but in the 80s it would be hard to imagine it being as gentrified as it is now.
P.S. If 70s and 80s New York is your thing, I also recommend this.
Then you need to read this: The Thrill of Losing Money by Investing in a Manhattan Restaurant | The New Yorker
It is a wonderful read of a terrible experience.
Besides that, though, it is an entertaining but damning analysis of the restaurant business in cities like New York. (I imagine it is the same for most cities.) I think at some point there will be fewer and fewer fine dining experiences in cities, and the best food will come from places that are small and have very low overhead. And all those large spaces that were once filled with large restaurants will close.
If you still want to own a restaurant after all that, don’t say you weren’t warned! 🙂
(Image is of Prune, one of my favourite NYC restaurants. If fine dining is to have a model in the future, it is likely to come more from places like this, imho.)
The story of Bleecker Street’s Swerve From Luxe Shops to Vacant Stores in the NYTimes is one playing out in many cities throughout the world, though perhaps not as extreme as this. It’s a big problem when money comes flooding into neighborhoods and cities, disrupting the people that live there, and making those areas unlivable in some cases. Most people need somewhat stable places to live, but unstable social systems (capitalist or otherwise) can make that difficult unless other social systems (like local governments) come in and press back against such instability. As more of the world moves from rural to urban areas, the tools to make streets and cities livable need to be developed and put to use.
Anyone living in a growing city needs to read this piece. Recommended.
(PHOTOGRAPHS BY CHRIS MOTTALINI FOR THE NEW YORK TIMES)
It seems commonplace now, but the idea of hotels having the same cachet as a nightclub seem to me to come about in the 1980s with the rise of Ian Schrager as a hotelier. While he collaborated with others, the partnership he formed with Philippe Starck resulted in some really fantastic hotels, as can be seen in this post: The 21st Century Interior – Case studies – Philippe Starck/Ian Schrager: Designer Hotels – Blog – APID.
Nowadays many of these hotels have changed, but in the latter part of the 20th century they were opening with all the excitement of a new nightclub, which in some ways they resembled. I remember hanging out in the lobby of The Royalton as it was just getting ready to open, talking to the staff in their Hugo Boss suits, marvelling over the designs of Starck, thinking of how the blue carpet made one feel as glamorous as anyone in the city. Later on I stayed at the Paramount and Morgan’s, each visit made Manhattan that much better.
Recently the hotels have been changing as they have been upgraded. Only The Hudson seems to have retained that earlier quality, it seems. Soon even that will transform into whatever brings in the guests. I haven’t been to The Hudson yet: I must get their before it is too late.
I am not sure if there is a history of great hotels, but if there ever is, I expect some of these places will find their place in it. Meanwhile, read the post on these hotels, and check out The Hudson in NYC while you can.
(Top photo of the Royalton, bedroom photo from the Paramount. Both linked to from the post, which has more great photos.)
Home prices in some of the city’s neighborhoods have not just climbed over the last decade, they’ve blasted off, landed on Mars and found water.
Why? Well, look at where the growth is, and then look at this map of the NYC Subway:
More than other factors, the price of real estate seems is tied to how easy it is to get back and forth from Manhattan.
That said, I’d be interested to know the story behind the areas of Manhattan that are stagnating.
NYC is never boring.
Source: New York Home Prices | New York Real Estate Price History
Is Eleven Madison Park the best restaurant in NYC? If you read this, Restaurant Review: Eleven Madison Park in Midtown South – NYTimes.com, you’d be inclined to think so. Regardless, it is excellent and worthy of considering a visit.
But what if you want to experience the place without having to go through the tasting menu? Worse, what if you don’t have a reservation. Well then, you need this: How to Eat at Eleven Madison Park With No Reservation and No Tasting Menu — Grub Street.
I can’t promise that will work, but it is worth considering if you want to casually experience some of the best Manhattan has to offer.