190 Bowery

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[Photo by Nathan Kensinger for Curbed]

It was only a matter of time after the property hit the market in August, but yesterday came the news: photographer Jay Maisel has sold 190 Bowery, the iconic former bank building at the corner of Spring Street which he famously purchased in 1966 for $102,000. The buyer, fittingly, is crazed developer Aby Rosen, who if you don’t know, taste this quotage from the Times on the 190 Bowery deal:

“The building is in terrible shape. There’s no heat, Jay lives in just a small area of the building, another winter is coming, and it was time,” said Mr. Rosen, who spent six months cajoling Mr. Maisel into selling the home. “When you own a property for that long, and you are not a real estate professional, it takes a lot of convincing.”

190 Bowery is known by many as the famous street art building, as seen in the above photo and again in the photo essay that Nathan Kensigner shot for Curbed last month chronicling the death throes of The Bouwerie. For some of us who love the internet and its creators, though, the building’s iconic status was marred by Maisel’s severely misguided 2011 lawsuit against Waxy.org’s Andy Baio for remixing the cover art to Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue, which Maisel shot. (Eternal credit to the unnamed street artist who later plastered Baio’s remixed album art all over 190 Bowery.)

Personally, 190 Bowery never fascinated me as much as its neighbor to the west, 11 Spring Street, another former street art shrine better known back in the day for the eerie white candles that lit up each window at night (to say nothing of its past as an Ice House). 11 Spring fascinated me so in the early days of Curbed that a neighbor to the building, an art gallerist who’d just moved in across the street, struck up an email correspondence with me, offering to be Curbed’s daily eyes and ears on the 11 Spring beat. Which is how I became friends with Ms. Jen Bekman, who now runs 20×200.

The candle mystery long since solved, 11 Spring went under the knife in the latter part of last decade, having passed into and then out of the hands of Lachlan Murdoch before emerging as — but of course — luxury condos. The same fate appears to be in store for 190 Bowery. And with it goes a bit more of the magic of this once-magical corner of Nolita. Quoth the Rosen, Winter is coming.

No surprise, this, but always nice to hear. Check Pierce on the iPhone 6 and Patel on the iPhone 6-Plus (“It is not often that a new iPhone threatens to alter the course of human evolution, is what I’m saying. But here we are. I have really big hands.”) Also best of class: The Verge’s twin iPhone video reviews: iPhone 6 video review, iPhone 6-Plus video review.

Quinciple

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In the scheme of services I love in New York City, Quinciple is the one I love the most.

I owe Eater’s Amanda Kludt for the recommendation, about a year ago. At the time, Linds and I had tried out Blue Apron and initially enjoyed it. All the ingredients you need to cook three meals a week, delivered to your apartment in a box, with recipes! But over a few months, the sheer paint-by-numbers approach of each recipe — to the point Blue Apron includes a small pat of butter when the recipe calls for butter — started to bore us. And we experienced this problem.

Which is when Amanda recommended Quinciple. Glorious Quinciple.

Quinciple is roughly the same concept as Blue Apron, with a few upgrades. It’s a box of food, mostly the kind of things you’d find at a farmers’ market if you really knew how to shop a farmers’ market. There’s lots of seasonal fruit and vegetables (this week: pears, tomatoes, honey nut squash, mustard greens, multicolor string beans, among others). There’s always a fresh loaf of some kind of interesting bread, and a hunk of farmhouse cheese. There’s one protein a week — squid a few weeks back, grass-fed pork chops, and this week, sweet Italian ground pork. And often a pint of farm-fresh milk or eggs. It’s not everything you need to cook a bunch of great meals, but it’s most things you need. That’s a photo of most of the contents from our box this week at the top of this post.

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Even better, perhaps, is the media provided with each box. There’s a clear, well designed guide to each week’s products, and three recipe cards (this week’s set, above). As a fan of high quality media, I honestly have no idea how the Quinciple team pulls off this feat each week, but the recipe cards are all fantastic and worth saving, and the ingredient guides have made me a better consumer of food.

For now, Quinciple’s just a New York City thing, offering delivery in areas of Manhattan on Monday and Thursday, and in parts of Brooklyn and at selected places for pickup. Each week’s box costs $49.

But this month, Quinciple’s running a first box free promotion. Give it a go.

Monday’s List

LEFSETZ
Is the best blogger working today, inside or outside the music industry. He’s the master of a type of ruthlessly judgmental quick-hit post that takes on anything and anyone, which, in the spirit of stealing from the best, I hereby undertake in this space now.

IPHONE 6
Of course I’m upgrading (6, not 6 Plus). Upgrading every year to the new iPhone is one of the few no-brainer decisions available in this modern age. If you’re not upgrading every year because you’re waiting until you’re eligible for an upgrade from your carrier, I submit that you’re choosing one of the strangest ways possible to save a couple hundred bucks. The new phones are always better, always faster, and if you spend more than a few minutes a day on yours, you’re robbing yourself by not upgrading. Two friends over at our apartment last week forced us to dig an iPhone 4 cable out of the drawer for them. How debasing.

ANDROID
Nope. No chance. I got a free Samsung phone for participating in Guest of a Guest’s questionnaire/photoshoot You Should Know Powered by Samsung Galaxy. Nice looking phone. Feels good in the hand. But the software. It’s still terrible. Feels like everything’s on a lag. The finesse just isn’t there. Talked about this with a friend who’s a major CTO this weekend. Asked him if he’d consider swapping his iPhone for Android. Answer: “No way. No chance.” Yup.

AT&T
I’ve had it since the first iPhone, and I’m not thinking of changing carriers. Lefsetz thinks this makes me one of the stupider people in America. Maybe? Or maybe just the fact that we make so few phone calls these days means only data and data speed really matter?

ROGER GODDELL
Of course should go. Will he? I suggest that he will, because with the NFL facing a threat to its very existence over the coming decades, Goddell has shown that he is not up to the task. I suspect the owners know this and that despite their public defenses of the man, they will act accordingly. To make it interesting, harryh and I made a bet a few days ago about whether Goddell will be the person to hand the Lombardi Trophy to the Super Bowl champs in February 2015. I have $100 that says he won’t be.

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
Looked like absolute crap in week one. Looked totally dominant in week two. Lesson: who the hell knows? Though among Pats fans, feels like everyone’s in the mood for fatalism this year.

RUSNY CASTILLO
How to keep interest in your last-place baseball team this late in the season? If you’re the Red Sox, make a surprise $72 million signing of a Cuban outfielder who’s never played a game in the major leagues, then send him quickly up through your farm system over the past few weeks before unveiling him in the majors tomorrow night in Pittsburgh. Somehow Larry Lucchino wins again.

OAKLAND A’S
Are the team I’m rooting for in the postseason. Wouldn’t hate to see Baltimore or K.C. win, either. As always, fuck the National League.

ROOT & BONE
Is the new East Village restaurant that captured some buzz this summer because its chef came from Yardbird, the fantastically awesome fried-chicken-and-southern-cuisine restaurant in South Beach, Miami. Finally made it to brunch here a few weekends back. Maybe because I’ve been to Yardbird, maybe because I’ve spent more time dining in the South as of late, but — pass. Liked the vibe of the room but the food didn’t do it for me. When the cornbread is a miss, where you gonna go from there? And this, by the way, is patently absurd. The fried chicken tastes of dill. Dill!

TRIBECA
Is more Tribeca than ever.

MARK BITTMAN
Is responsible for three-quarters of the meals we put on our tables. (Well, Mark and Quinciple. Quinciple, about which I’ll have more to say on another day.) This time of year, we’ll do like Mark and make this recipe at least half a dozen times in the next two weeks. Enjoy.

Crown Heights Crawl

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It seems like about half of REC — our Vox lingo for the Curbed, Eater, and Racked teams — lives in Crown Heights. “Crown Heights is amazing!” they say. “Crown Heights is the best!” they say. “Everyone should come visit Crown Heights!” they say. So finally we did, embarking on a Vox crawl of Crown Heights on Wednesday night, led by Jackie Goldstein, who can be seen flashing some kind of gang sign in the above photo.

My previous Crown Heights experience involved several trips to the Brooklyn Botanical Garden — Barclays Center doesn’t count, right? — but I’d never explored the neighborhood or its up-and-coming main drag, Franklin Avenue. That strip would be the focus of our crawl, which started with a stroll up Franklin Avenue after disembarking at the Franklin Ave. stop on the 2. Turning left on Bergen, we started the night, appropriately, at Berg’n.

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Berg’n, of course, is the new beer-hall-cum-food-court from Jonathan Butler, aka Mr. Brownstoner. I’ve known Jon since he launched Brownstoner way back in 2004 and we met to trade Secrets of Real Estate Blogging, long before he co-created the Brooklyn Flea, Smorgasburg, and myriad other ways to procure beer and fine eats while outdoors in NYC. Jon was in the house this night, hanging with his family and having kindly set aside a few long tables in the middle of the room for our 20-strong crew. While our team got settled in — that’s us in the middle of the above photo — Jon gave me the tour.

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The place is indeed ginormous. There’s food from usual suspects Mighty Quinn’s, Asia Dog, Pizza Moto, and Ramen Burger; a coffee stand appropriately hipster’d up; and a pleasant outdoor space, above. There’s also a private room that Jon says they open up on crowded nights (it’s also got one of the joint’s two drop-down projectors for US Open viewing and the like).

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At least I finally got the name. And I got to try my first Ramen Burger, putting me only about three years behind the trend. The night’s biggest surprise? I really liked it. Expect the unexpected in Crown Heights.

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Leaving Berg’n, our crawl headed back down Franklin Ave. to The Crown Inn, a dark-wooded bar that opened four or five years back, apparently, and where we skipped the generic outdoor space and opted for the back inner recess. My only existing photograph from this establishment is above, and captures the magic that had overtaken Team Crawl by this point in the evening.

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Our final stop on this admittedly kind of wimpy, three-stops-only crawl was at Franklin Park, apparently THE Crown Heights go-to. Spread out in the spacious beer garden, with the right amount of people to make the place feel alive but not too many to overwhelm, I got it. We got it. Sort of?

Or at least a tiny corner thereof, even that which we didn’t get to fully explore. Newcomer Pacifico’s Fine Foods, helmed by former Back Forty shef Shanna Pacifico and current member of Eater’s Brooklyn Heatmap, looked gorgeous when we strolled by. I’ll stop in, just as soon as I check out this Bay Ridge neighborhood all the kids are talking about.

9/11/14

This may not be a year you want to reflect much on 9/11; that’s understandable. That’s been me on a bunch of 9/11s. In which case: check back here tomorrow. But I haven’t had an active blog in years, and I do want to reflect this year. So, this.

In the Early Days of Blogging™, one meme was that to know a blogger, you should start by seeing what they wrote on or immediately following 9/11/01. On this blog, it was my ninth post: “Two eggs.” It didn’t mean anything to anyone except me, which was fine, because no one but me was reading this blog in 2001.

Last Friday I had three old friends over to our apartment for after-dinner drinks. We’d dined in Chinatown and walked home to my apartment on the South Street Seaport underneath the Towers of Light, which are always tested for a few hours on a few nights prior to their 9/11 appearance. And whether that was the reason or not, conversation turned to 9/11. All four of us were in the New York area that day, and three of us had managed to meet up at Lucy’s bar on Avenue A. Three of us remembered that. From there, memory turned hazy. Two of those three of us recalled having left Lucy’s for a dinner at a restaurant that I think was on East 10th Street. Neither of the two of us who remembered that could recall the restaurant’s name, or agree on the specifics of the dinner, or how the night ended after that.

Thirteen years after 9/11, memory fades. I took photos that terrible morning, and for five years every year after, I took the same walk I did on 9/11/01, from my apartment on the Lower East Side down to City Hall. On that fifth year anniversary, I chronicled my repeating those steps. Those memories are cast in stone. But last Friday night, later, it occurred to me to look up 9/11/01 in my journal, which I kept on the pages of a non-digital handwritten journal, to revive my own memories of the day. (I never read my old journals; maybe I will some day, but pulling that era’s journal off the shelf even for a specific purpose felt monumental, and scary.)

What I found were ideas and feelings, not actual events. I was struck by the truth that, in a journal I frequently used to record the facts of my life, I’d recorded none from that week. I wonder if I thought I’d never forget; certainly, that was the clarion call and understanding of us all at the time, and now still.

On 9/11/03, I did blog about that day, and I recollected a sign I’d seen in Union Square a year earlier: “We smelled it. Felt it. Saw it. We need more time.” I know what that means, and why it was right. But looking back now, I’m struck by how memory fades. Never forget, yes. But how?

Fall Dining: Dirty French

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The hottest restaurant of the early Fall season is Dirty French. I know this not just because I read Eater — although its coverage certainly offers plenty of hints — but because of my inbox, which at this second contains emails from three separate friend groups all plotting ways to convene at Dirty French as quickly and frequently as possible. In this, I wholeheartedly support them.

The restaurant is the latest from the Torrisi/Carbone team of Rich Torrisi and Mario Carbone; the duo are taking a divide-and-conquer approach to their expansion, so Rich is in the kitchen at Dirty French while Mario plans to take the helm at their long-awaited restaurant adjacent to the new Whitney at the High Line. Dirty French is situated inside Sean MacPherson’s new Ludlow Hotel, which finally animated the deserted high-risk husk of a building at the top of Ludlow Street that’s sat vacant and unfinished since the real estate downturn. The vibe is classic MacPherson, more similar to the Bowery Hotel than one might expect given his triumph at The Marlton; wood beams wouldn’t have been my move on the Lower East Side, but hey, this is the new new Lower East Side and if wood beams are the thing then wood beams are the thing.

I’ve dined at Dirty French twice, once walking in and sitting at the bar, and last night at a full-fledged, fuck-yeah-it’s-Tuesday-Night dinner. I loved both meals. The trick, of course, is getting in.

Though I am hesitant to contradict something Eater wrote just yesterday, it should be noted that the walk-in dine-at-bar move can be pulled off right now at Dirty French, if you know what you’re doing. (I dined in this manner on Saturday night, and had two friends successfully echo the move on Monday night.) The trick is to play nice with the front of house staff manning the podium by the door, then make your way past them with minimal fuss and settle in at the surprisingly uncrowded bar. Then ask for a menu — the barstaff seems particularly nice for a restaurant this hot, which is a huge bonus — and get going. Your bar order: the ham (served Momofuku-style), a plate of oysters, and then take it from there.

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If you’re amused that I explained the how-to-eat-at-Dirty-French move as essentially “dine at the bar” — well, you’ll see it’s not quite that simple or assured if you give it a whirl. And in a few weeks, when the restaurant is totally overwhelmed, it won’t even be a remote possibility. So now is the window. Go.

Synergy

When you’ve got yourself a company that publishes a group of websites under different brand names, the question arises: how much cross-promotion between what are often quite disparate editorial properties is appropriate? Or, to put another way, how much is too much SYNERGY?

Back in the day at Curbed, we probably erred on the side of too little synergy. Our thinking was that folks who love food may not love fashion or real estate, and vice-versa, and it’s annoying to have content you don’t want shoved down your throat. (Our one exception to this: neighborhood content, though we never did nail a good user experience for seeing all Curbed/Eater/Racked stories about the West Village, say. That’s a problem I’d still like to crack.) This decision meant that every time we sat down with potential investors, they had at least one Big Idea to offer us: that surely we could boost traffic by more indiscriminately surfacing content from one brand on another brand! It’s astounding in retrospect that we never raised a big round.

At Vox Media, we’ve now got seven independent verticals, with six more on the way (joke). And in terms of topic area, they’re even more diverse than the three Curbed verticals were. And yet! Synergy beckons. So we spun up a #synergy Slack room, and problem solved (joke). No but we really did spin up a #synergy Slack room, with the idea that editors at one vertical that think they have a story that might work on another vertical can share it there in a take-it-or-leave-it fashion. Chorus makes it really easy to publish from one vertical to another, so it’s why you may now occasionally see an SB Nation-branded story on the homepage of The Verge, or vice-versa. This sounds super-simple, but at a company where each brand operates truly independently, it counts at least as a minor breakthrough.

So that’s a start. Then today showed that editorial synergy can be had in more meaningful ways. Team Racked came up with the genius concept to send four Vox Media bros from SB Nation, Polygon, The Verge, and Eater, to New York City Fashion Week shows. The results were hilarious. And The Verge’s best-in-the-business Apple liveblog — which hit previously uncharted territory in terms of concurrent traffic to the site — spawned items at Racked (that scarf) and Polygon (why bigger iPhone screens will make games harder to play). Vox, meanwhile, covered the Apple news in the style its audience has come to expect. Watching all this play out effectively in realtime made today a very exciting one at Vox Media.

#Synergy, people. It’s what’s for breakfast. And lunch, depending on the restaurant. I’ll get back to you on dinner.