October 05, 2002

Happy Columbus Day, Clinton Street

In the months before the fall of 1999, a handful or so of people were looking at [Clinton Street] in a unique way, appraising its potential, sometimes without even knowing they were doing so[...]They liked being on the edge of things, being the first on the block and having others follow them[...]''If you'd heard about the Lower East Side, you might think: Oh, no, not there,'' says Juan Carlos Rodriguez, a Spaniard who began construction on his tapas bar, 1492 Food...

And that was how the New World/Clinton Street was "discovered."

The above section is from an outrageous article in the NY Times Magazine about the "hip-ification" of Clinton Street, where the Field Mouse and I reside.

This piece of shit article ruined any high I received earlier this evening as a Red Sox fan watching the Yankees get kicked out of the playoffs.

The article outlines the adventures of "unofficial professor" Conquistador Dewey Dufresne. In 1999, Dufresne climbed to the top of a tenement of Clinton Street between E. Houston and Delancey, surveyed the land and said "I will take this 'blank slate' and make it 'hip.'" This is the crux of the article. This is at least the third article to appear in the New York Times about Clinton Street in the last year. All have celebrated the new "hip" restaurants and the "rebirth" of Clinton Street as a place to visit. This article is the first to really hint at the truly interesting story behind Clinton Street. The transitional period.

However, instead of writing a real deep story, the writer, Jim Nelson writes one big long advertisement for the Dufresne empire...treating the man like he shits "delectable potato/bacon/goat cheese tart[s] and perfectly seasoned hamachi appetizers."

If you don't live on Clinton Street and you read the article...here's some extra informational background that will augment your enjoyment of the article:

1. [Dufresne] persuaded [Clinton Street Baking Co.] to expand his operations from breakfast-only. ''He told me, 'You guys should start doing soups in the wintertime.' They've been really successful. And that segued into lunch crowds.''

Clinton Street Baking Co. is a mystery to me. It's really antiseptic inside. I feel like they bought their furniture at the same place The Huffer and Field Mouse did, Ikea. They have a real fascination with light wood. Sorry..it's just böring. Field Mouse always comments on the nice help in there, though. So, they've got that going for them. It also appears to be quite happening for weekend brunch. On a Sunday afternoon, hipsters, parental types, and a smattering of khaki-pants wait outside for a table. However, Clinton Street Baking Co.'s attempt to start serving dinner seemed like an absolute failure. It was always empty. People didn't seem to want to go and get dinner at a bakery. As for lunchtime soups...well I wouldn't know. I'm at work then along with the rest of the neighborhood. On weekdays where for whatever reason I'm not at work, the neighborhood is quiet. Nobody is hanging around except for the elderly, the unemployed, and lost European tourists. So if Dieter, the elderly and the unemployed folks love the soup...well...god bless 'em.

2. [Dufresne] does believe that the northern two blocks of Clinton are charmed, but that third block? No soul. There are no trees; the sidewalks are more cramped; it's too close to Delancey -- a huge beast of a street with bridge traffic. ''You need a block to get over Delancey.''

The last block Dufresne speaks of is Clinton between Rivington and Delancey. It is easily the most non-white area of the three blocks. Salsa and rap music blasts out of souped up Nissan Maximas. Row after row of latinas sit in nail salons shooting the shit and getting their nails done. Groups of Dominican and Puerto Rican teens hang outside bodegas rockin' flat brimmed Yankees hats chatting up the young ladies. If you're young and speak Spanish, Clinton Street between Delancey and Rivington is the place to be seen and see others. Like Dufresne says, it has "no soul." It lacks "trees," and the sidewalks are "more cramped"...with lots and lots of brown faces waiting for more "hip" restaurants for white folks.

3. [Dufresne] also explains that the guiding principle of the neighborhood was a determined opposition: ''Everyone was driven by the idea that this should not be another Ludlow.''

Ludlow is a once cool street a few blocks over from Clinton which has now become a weekend hangout for twentysomething mooks and tight black pants from New Jersey "slumming it" on the LES. Its loud, lame, and loud. Clinton Street is getting loud, lame, and loud. More and more bars and restaurants are on their way...all with french doors opening out to the street. For they continue to come to Clinton Street. It's quite humorous to see uptown people in suits and evening wear avoiding the flying trash and squeaking rats on a Saturday night. Listen...nobody really hip hangs out on Clinton Street on a weekend, unless they're at Lotus Club.

The rest sound like this:

Mook #1--"You wanna go?? Let's go...Who the fuck do you know at Skidmore?? Huh? Who? I'll kick your ass!"
Mook #2--"Don't you worry about who I know at Skidmore. Come on you pansy...faggot...let's go..."
(Goes on...ad nausem...for 45 minutes...ending in...nothing...except them walking back to their Saabs claiming how if they had "gone go-time" they would have "kicked ass.")

No...not Ludlow at all.

4. [Landlord and Clinton Street business owner Henry] Hallivis says that until recently the neighborhood was ''maybe 80 percent Spanish, 5 or 10 percent black and the rest, white Americans.'' Now, he says, ''it's 80 percent white.'' Huh? The figure seems too high.

You bet it sounds high. I am white. When I walk down the street, I see more brown and black faces than white. The neighborhood is deserted on the day of the National Puerto Rican Day Parade. Most people on the street speak Spanish instead of English. Half the signs are in Spanish. Go ahead...walk around yourself on Clinton Street. Count the white faces. You'll see them. Maybe you'll see me. But you won't see 80%. This quote is a lie.

5. Yet Hallivis charges residents upstairs higher rents than he charges the restaurant [downstairs, Alias.] ''I'll tell you why,'' he says. ''You need the new restaurants, and you need them to survive. You charge too much, they're going to flee, and then where is the neighborhood?''

It's obvious that when Hallivis notes that you "need them to survive," "them" refers to the "hip" restaurants catering to white people "walking on the streets" who aren't neighborhood residents, as Hallivis himself points out. Hallivis worries that if he charges the restaurants too much, "they're going to flee[.]" Is the next question, "then where is the neighborhood?" as Hallivis poses? Or is it really "then where is my income source?" I have no inherent problem with capitalism, but let's be honest here. Who "needs" the new restaurants? Hallivis or "the neighborhood?" Alias is considered "hip" for keeping its "old-school" Dominican sign. Too bad the food isn't anywhere near Dominican, and neither are the patrons. The Dominicans and Puerto Ricans eat at Cibao across the street. Where would they be without Alias? Ummm. Cibao. That is until it loses its lease. Then where is the neighborhood? The Bronx? Queens? As you can see below, Hallivis doesn't even want to be on Clinton Street in the future.

6. A few months ago, [Hallivis] asked the owners of 71 Clinton if they wanted to come in here and revamp the place, make it into another restaurant. ''They said they'd think about it,'' he says. ''That would be nice.''

Awhile back, at a community board meeting held to discuss the granting of future liquor licenses to businesses on Clinton Street, Hallivis vehemently argued on behalf of those who had stuck it out on Clinton Street through the drugs and the crime. Hallivis, along with the owners of Alias and other "hip" restaurants, argued against a moratorium on future liquor licenses, claiming that it would rob longtime Clinton business owners of "spillover" business. After the meeting he hung out and chatted with the owners of the "hip" restaurants. At the time, we couldn't figure it out. Didn't he understand that as the new "hip" restaurants with deep pockets came in, the local businesses would be forced out? It's not as though he hadn't already seen it happen. And in regards to "spillover" business (my term, not his), are uptown patrons of Alias and 71 Clinton going to stop for a post-dinner Pepsi at a bodega? Is that the "spillover" business? Every other kind of "local" business on Clinton Street is closed at night. At the time we didn't know that Hallivis was the landlord for Alias, and was looking to sell his business to 71 Clinton. It all makes a bit more sense now. But what about those people who don't want to sell?

Seen written today on a homemade sign on a gift store on Clinton between Rivington and Stanton:

"(Translated from Spanish) Going Out of Business-Thank You Landlord Steven"

7. There is talk that a W Hotel may be built on Rivington, just blocks from 71 Clinton.

On a tiny one-way street called Rivington, there is the skeleton of a brand new twelve story building towering over our neighborhood tonight. (pictures forthcoming) Just about every other building in the immediate neighborhood is under 6 stories. The bar Smithfield is looking forward to their new neighbors. And other bloggers have the scoop. It's not a secret. It's well known around here. I guess extra research couldn't have been done on this one. Like contacting the W Hotels.

8. Lotus Club has transformed in five years from a boho coffee shop to a loud bar/nightclub, replete with D.J.'s.

Lotus Club is a neighborhood coffee shop/bar. It has a yellow phone outside which greets you with spoken word poetry if you pick it up. It's very low key. It's hardly loud...and it's hardly a nightclub. Is Jim Nelson from New York City or Des Moines? Does he know what a NYC nightclub looks like? Does it look like a storefront with crappy bamboo blinds and a neon Brooklyn Lager sign in the window? Does a nightclub have a backgammon board or a "peaceful vibe"? Maybe you didn't go in and just assumed it was Lotus on the west side. Innocent mistake, Jim.

Gentrification is a very very thorny issue. It involves very difficult moral and philosophical issues. But this article doesn't begin to address them.

Beware, Allen Street below Delancey..."unofficial professor" Dufresne sees you as the next "blank slate."

Get a glimpse of the real Clinton Street.

Lucy And Antonio Smell Real Bad.

I was looking for a movie to see tonight, so I went over to Rotten Tomatoes and started checking out what was good. For those of you not in the know Rotten Tomatoes is a great movie site which creates a composite rating of a film based on a large amount of film reviews across the nation. You should check it out to get a decent feel of how good or bad a movie is going to be. Anyway, as I was looking on the site, I was amazed at the following.

The film Ballistic: Ecks v. Sever starring Antonio Banderas and Lucy Liu scored a zero. That's right...a zero. 83 reviews. All negative.

How bad is this?

This bad. The following movies had higher ratings.

The Master of Disguise-1%
Fear.com-5%
Serving Sara-6%

And in the truly shocking department. And if you've seen this next one, you know how truly shocking this is.

Battlefield Earth-4%

Yikes.

Everything Going Dark

Over the past couple of days, I always feel like there isn't enough light around. When I'm at work, the flourescent lights make me feel as though I have a couple of candles running in my office. At home, I put every light on but it still seems really dark. I wonder if this is from the glare on my computer screen.
Or maybe I'm in the beginning stages of Seasonal Affective Disorder.

All this and it's still hot in the city. Hot in the city...Hot in the city tonight....tonight.

If only I lived in the U.K., my phone would be hot ringing.

October 04, 2002

Mark Green Loves Me

Today was an exciting day for me. During my lunch break I headed over to Wall St. to hear Ralph Nader speak on the steps of Federal Hall. Nader adamantly encouraged all of us to personally wage war on Iraq if Bush is too much of a pussy to get on with it. Ha Ha. In all seriousness, it was a good Anti-War-On-Iraq rally..Nader spoke along with someone I didn't recognize, and then some people sang, and all was good and fine... even though I couldn't hear much of what was being said.

On my way home I was minding my own business on the subway platform (and yes, minding my own business means dancing naked for quarters right as the train speeds by) and a security guard started conversation with me. He told me how there's a woman at his office named Irishka and how he thinks it's the most beautiful name EVER. So beautiful, he plans to name his new computer Irishka. And if he ever has a daughter her name will be Irishka. Anyways, Mark Green walks by us, and he and the security guard say hello. The guard asks me, "Do you know who that was?" I say no, because I'm not good with political faces. He says, "Mark Green!" Exciting.

So security guard, Mark Green, and I all board the same subway car and are standing next to each other. We start talking about the rally and I asked who it was that spoke aside from Nader, since I couldn't really hear anything. He said, "that was me." I felt stupid and then complimented him on a great rally and we exchanged mutual reliefs about how nice it is that it didn't rain. Then security guard left to dream about Irishka and Green and I stood there wanting desperately to sleep with each other but neither of us willing to verbalize or even hint that desire. Mark Green... so hot.

More on Pretzel Bites

So just to add to the prior Ode to Pretzel Bites (or Rold Gold Bite Size Pretzels as they are lamely but officially known), I was in court this morning, and my client and the landlord's agent were threatening to erupt in a fight and to destroy the fragile peace accord we were building. So the other lawyer I was working with stuck out a bag of pretzles to distract everyone.

"MMmmm these are soo good . . . It's already past lunch, and I haven't eaten anything."

"Are these the honey mustard ones?"

"Oh but you have to try the parmesan herb flavor - it's way better."

and so a $29,000.00 dispute was settled.

Death From Above

According to scientists, exploding asteroids could spark a nuclear conflict. Apparently, these cosmic boulders explode upon entering the earth's atmosphere releasing energy similar to that of an atomic bomb. Scientists worry that if an explosion of this magnitude occurred in an sensitive area, say the Middle East, it could be mistaken for an attack, and missiles could be deployed in retaliation. That would suck.

I'm not going to worry about it too much, though. Tonight, I am going out to eat with Sarah and our friend Claudia at Grasshopper. I highly recommend this restaurant to anyone who is vegetarian or vegan. Actually, I recommend this restaurant to anyone who likes to eat. The food is delicious. So, if you are in Boston, go to Grasshopper. You will be stoked.

Speaking of being stoked, I want to check out Stoked: The Rise and Fall of Gator, but I have no idea when it is going to be screened, or if it will be available on video. Stoked: The Rise and Fall of Gator is a documentary that details the life of Mark "Gator" Rogowski, one of the most famous professional skateboarders of all time, who is currently serving 31 years to life for the rape and murder of Jessica Bergsten in 1991. According to www.viceland.com, "Stoked is a cautionary tale of crashing and burning, of letting anger take over your life, and of the consequences of being a pampered celebrity." Sounds pretty grizzly.

October 03, 2002

Big Bad Car For A Big Bad Man

Big Fat Car

It's almost time for the weekend here in the LES. Last weekend, this guy was chillin like Dylan on Clinton Street in this gas-guzzlin' hot ride. He was rad. Way rad.

This weekend...be this hot...and be this rad.

Freedom Of Speech/NYC Bloggers-Update

As some of you may already have noticed...the comment system has been up and down over the past few days. My apologies for that. The comment system exists as an external element of the page. The service is provided by a British bloke and its called Enetation. It's usually been pretty reliable... (and I just updated to the "pro" version of it) alas not this past week. Despite the message on the page, users are being affected. So hopefully by the time you read this, the comments will have returned, and we can get on with our business.

In other news, You Know It's True is now listed on NYC Bloggers, a website that list people blogging in Gotham by their subway stop. It's a cool site...so check it out. We're currently loitering at the Delancey stop, dodging construction, negotiating the gauntlet of JMZ sprinters, chillin' next to my man selling flowers out of the shopping cart. For some reason the NYC Bloggers crew dropped the Essex in the Delancey/Essex stop on the F. I guess they're leaving the Essex to the JMZ. They forgot that Essex puts the "sex" in Delancey/Essex.

Uh-huh.

Duel.

This is way over the top. An Iraqi vice president offered an unusual suggestion Thursday for solving the U.S.-Iraq standoff: Saddam Hussein and George W. Bush should fight a duel to settle their differences and spare their people the ravages of war.

That's hilarious.

However, in Washington, White House press secretary Ari Fleischer was not amused and said the Iraqi offer was irresponsible and did not warrant a "serious response". "I just want to point out that, in the past when Iraq had disputes, it invaded its neighbors. There were no duels, there were invasions," said Fleischer. There was use of weapons of mass destruction and the military; that's how Iraq settles its disputes."

Whatever. They should just duel. That would be friggin' sweet.

Discover My Wrath

Fresh off my recent diatribe against the home delivery of the NY Times commercial, I turn my attention to the debut of the new Discover Card.

What's so great about this piece of crap? I can't wait for all of these people to have to hand over their entire key chain to the store clerk while trying to charge a pair of Nikes.

I think I'm most hurt by it because Carlos Jacott (all the way to the right in the linked photo) plays some sort of punk rock record store employee in it. I have fond memories of Mr. Jacott as Otis in the underappreciated Kicking and Screaming and am pained to see him peddling this stupid crap.

Kicking and Screaming is a nice representative of the early to mid 90s young high-brow talkie comedies like Slacker, Clerks, or Metropolitan. I feel so dated (and really really white) because I just absolutely loved these types of films. I'm also a big fan of Chris Eigman in just about any film. He's really nailed humorous condescension.

Speaking of which I saw Josh Hamilton, or Grover in Kicking and Screaming outside of 45 Bleecker the other morning, where he is currently performing in the play Evolution with Ione Skye.

Hamilton was quite funny when Field Mouse and I saw him in the play Proof with Jennifer Jason Leigh some months past. On this morning, he was just walking with coffee. Not really funny.

October 02, 2002

Soul Train

It's still so hot here.

So yesterday, I was on the A Train in the middle of the day going to the Dept of Buildings, where I would wait for two hours for the clerk to call number J-1604. In the off-peak hours there aren't many people on the express train and it doesn't make that many stops. Unlike the F Train, which is always a disaster, whether it's 8 in the morning or 1 a.m. on Sunday. But on the A train yesterday early afternoon, there was time for THREE different performances in the aisles.

The first was your typical three-man gospel singing group.

Then there was a loud clang at 34th Street and a magician boarded the bus. He started with a tambourine performance and all of his tricks involved audience participation.

And the third was a breakdancing team, that completed an entire routine to music, with three dancers and solo parts, including back no-hands handsprings and a thing where two of the people linked together and did somersaults down the length of the train in the eighteen inches between the poles and people's knees. All of this between 14th and 4th.

The highlight of my day, I guess . . . and all just 75 cents.

Goody Two Shoes

Adam Ant pleads guilty to threatening pub patrons citing mental illness. Read the whole story here.

What a mess.

October 01, 2002

Logic Officially Dropped. Details at 11.

While cruising the Dell around the web I saw the following acts of ridiculousness.

If you're still trying to grasp the blog, check out this photo essay on Boston.com which poses to random Bostonians:

Would you consider keeping a Weblog?

Special attention must be paid to this dude. He begs for a photoshop.

I was also shocked to see The Huffer and Field Mouse outed on the web.

Also...this just in...New York is America's Worst Jewish City...according to Jewsweek (yes...there is a Jewsweek).

Plug Into The Giraffe Brothers

A belated plug for Mr. Burton's Giraffe Brothers site. If you're not from Dedham, Massachusetts you're gonna have a hard time understanding the flow. But if you're at all interested in photography or hot BMX action or are just a plain down and dirty voyeur or blog fiend, give it a hit. Or two.

Me and Rold Gold Got a Thing Goin' On

I come before you today not as a connoisseur, not as a paid spokesman, not as a flavor specialist or food scientist, but a mere shell of a man humbled by the zest and charisma of Rold Gold Parmesan Herb (flavored) Nuggets.

They are $1.99 a pack. Cheap price for such goodness. Sometimes they are hard to find. Bodega after bodega. Duane Reade after Duane Reade.

Where are you Rold Gold Parmesan Herb (flavored) Nuggets?

Once I get my hands on you, I will eat your entire bag. I'll lick your cheese off my fingers. Your salt is enticing.

I can't stop eating you.

Your friend Honey Mustard got nothin' on you.

I find it hard to be alone with you...as every time you open up, other people come around...wanting a piece or two.

You're guaranteed fresh until January 21, 2003. All right. That's almost four months. Let's party.

Duran Duran?

I saw Interpol last night, and there were two people standing behind me talking about music. They must have been about 20, and they were talking about Duran Duran like they were this important underground band that no one knew about.

I guess they assumed that since they were like this electro-pop synth band that they must have been really underground, like on an independent label the way The Faint is or something. I got a perspective on what it is like for someone who grew up in the 60s hearing kids today talking about the music of that decade.

Our perspective on music from the past is always seen through a prism of nostalgia and journalism. Its obviously rarely accurate. I mean, if some 20 year old kid is talking about Duran Duran in hushed tones, you know sh*t is hosed.

Jane Swift Is Killing the Weak and Poor.

Massachusetts' Acting Gov. Jane Swift is planning to slash nearly $200 million from state programs - mostly in human services - within the week, as the stagnant economy threatens to blow a new hole in the red ink-soaked budget. Read the whole story here.

This sucks.

I mean, seriously. Isn't getting old bad enough already? Now Swift has just gone and tossed salt in the wound. Or in this case, the bedsore, cutting funding for senior citizen heath care. And, to make matters worse, she also cut massive amounts of funding from the Department of Health Services as well. Perfect. That is just heinous. Take away the home care, take away the drugs, take away the health services, Jesus. Why not just starve them to death? Cause you're essentially doing so now.

Why don't you cut the education budget in half, too? Wait, no. Never mind. You already did that last year.

me and iran

i spoke with a woman yesterday from iran who told me that a woman should never be a leader, only a queen. when i asked why she replied that women are too hysterical..they don't "think things through" like men do. i asked for an example and she said- "well look what happens to us once a month! how could anyone lead a country like that?" yes, there are women in this world who actually do think this way. on a sidenote, what do ya'll think of iraq? good or bad? evil or nice? mean or kind?

September 30, 2002

26 going on 52

I have this weird pain shooting up my left ankle to my shin. Where is this coming from? Great.

I read that french fries give you cancer. Great.

Torricelli is dropping out of the NJ Senate race...He may have been an SOB, but he was our SOB...Great.

Hippie Guru? Guru... Jesus, that sucks.

This is absolutely heinous. During yesterday's proceedings in the trial of Ira Einhorn, prosecutor Joel Rosen read a poem from Einhorn's personal journals, in which the defendant allegedly described how he had beaten and choked another lover who had broken up with him. The poem's closing lines were, ''In such violence, there may be freedom.''

Lovely. Sounds like Eminem lyrics, or something. My favorite aspect of this trial is that Einhorn's lawyers may call celebrities such as Ellen Burstyn and Peter Gabriel as character witnesses. How raw is that? What is wrong with these people? Peter Gabriel should be ashamed. He goes on and on, peddling self-satisfactory musical jerk off sessions, think drum circle, calling it World Music and shouting for peace on earth. Then, he turns around and serves as a character witness for a hippie who killed his girlfriend when she broke up with him. Disgusting. Plus, in his old age, he really looks a lot like Mike Meyer's Dr. Evil. I can't stand Peter Gabriel.

Oh well. I mean, there is nothing new about any of this crap. Hippies are pretty awful. I've known that for my whole life, I think.

September 29, 2002

Isn't It Ironic, Don't You Think? A Little Too Ironic...

Great story over at The Onion lambasting those lovers of irony. I have never fell victim to such desires. I just really liked having an outdoorsman theme for my living room...decorating it with pictures of fish and deer purchased from Walmart. It was sooooooothing.

And if I bought this 1967 Corvette Stingray golf cart...I would be purchasing it for pure performance...and not irony. I also would purchase this female Egyptian Mummy coffin because I love dead women.

Hey...check out these red boots. They're in the back to the left of these two people.

Also happened to check out the show Boomtown tonight starring my boy Donnie Wahlberg. Donnie was hot. The show was hot. I look forward to an episode next week that is hot.

Overheard NYC Thoughts

It must be hard to have to drive around and spot crime.

Isn't it weird how people in wheelchairs always have nice new looking shoes? I guess its because they never walk in them.

You can wear sandals in New York City almost half the year!