Monthly Archives: December 2002 LES Awards, 2002 (Part Deux)

New Year’s greetings from the Lower East Side. Today, we present the second installment of the LES Awards for 2002, following yesterday’s awarding of the Food and Drink trophies. Time’s a-wasting for 2002, so let’s get right to it.


Three Big New Things in the Neighborhood, 2002
1. V Train
… This generally useless appendage of the subway system goes all the way to 2nd Ave. and Allen Street, making its empty cars the ideal LES commuter express.
2. W Hotel… Construction continues on the 18-story behemoth across the street from my apartment on Rivington (seen at right as it looked in June). At least I can see where I live from anywhere below 14th now.
3. Sunshine Cinema… The LES’ new movie house instantly made the cramped, small screens of the Angelika obsolete, even if they did run Y Tu Mama Tambien for 38 consecutive weeks.

Strangest Daily Experience, Rivington Street Edition
So here’s the deal with the new Lower East Side W Hotel, told to me by an insider. Apparently, Starwood (the parent company) doesn’t actually own the structure that’s going up in the heart of the LES. The plan is that, once this massive structure is complete, the developer (one “Downtown LLC” by name) will go “bankrupt” and Starwood will “just happen” to purchase the property. As a result, the place is being built with non-union labor. Sub-result: Every morning this year, I’ve stepped outside to find (a) a group of striking laborers; and (b) their 25 foot inflatable rat looming over me.

Three LES Secrets You Probably Already Know
The Alife Sneaker Store on Rivington… Will the era of ooh-we’re-cool-no-sign-out-front come to an end in 2003?
2. The Secret Phone Number to Milk and Honey… Okay, we know it’s posted on Craig’s List at least twice a week, but it still helps us feel in-the-know
3. The signless location of the LES’ hippest new spot, Adult Space… You do know this one, right?

The George Orwell Award for Information Non-Transparency

The MTA closed down the north side of the Delancey Street station last winter and put up a sign: CLOSED UNTIL 5/24/02. It’s a royal pain in the ass to cross the busy traffic of Delancey to use the station, but so be it. May 24 came and went and the barricades stayed. Soon we noticed the sign had been changed to read: CLOSED UNTIL 9/15/02. Come mid-September, and one day the signs say: CLOSED UNTIL 10/28/02. Would you believe they’ve changed the signs twice more since then? We tip our cap to the unknown graffiti artist who took pen to sign a few months back and scrawled “LIARS!!”

Your Friends and Neighbors Award

Three unusual weblogs, each apparently run from the LES [via nycbloggers]
1. Cosmic Rust… “The latest and greatest news from the world of Transformers”
2. Story Poems… “Story Poems from the Lower East Side”
3. France Watch… “Spotlight on French Extremism”

Most Awe-Inspiring Natural Phenomenon
Eldridge Street Hot Springs
… On the first snowy day of the season, we were walking down Rivington when we chanced upon what appeared to be a steam vent. Approaching it, we realized it was a large pool of melted water, warmed by pipes running just under the sidewalk, producing copious amounts of steam. Now, on every wet or snowy day, we pause to admire nature’s wonder on the northeast corner of Eldridge and Rivington. John Muir would be proud.

LES Throwbacks Not To Lose
The Matzo Factory… Walk past and check out the matzo coming off the conveyor belt, and the old Jewish men packaging it up. Better than fresh donuts at Krispy Kreme (Rivington @ Suffolk/Clinton)
2. Economy Candy… A bona fide tourist attraction, this old school candy store sells in bulk. A must-see. (Rivington @ Ludlow/Essex)
3. The Kosher Wine Mural on the wall above Essex and Rivington…. Lord, don’t let them replace it with a Miss Sixty billboard

Five Signs of Creeping LES Gentrification
1. Jennifer Convertibles
opens LES store (Delancey @ Allen)
2. Age-old kosher deli landmark Ratners closes to expand increasingly cheesy cocktail haven Lansky Lounge (Delancey @ Norfolk)
3. Moby opens overpriced teashop Teany (Rivington @ Orchard/Ludlow)
4. Apt. buildings for I-Bankers sprout (“Gotham Court” on Essex, that big-ass place on Bowery @ Spring)
5. This weblog


Alarming Things Seen in NYC, 2002 Edition
1. Growing Tourist Influx
to the LES, drawn by the Tenement Museum and miscellaneous foreign guidebooks, threatens our sanity
2. Imminent Smoking Ban threatens that smokey, smoked-up aroma of an evening out. Another brick in the wall… and we don’t even smoke
3. Sale of the New York Press, our favorite weekly read, and the imminent firing of editor John Strausbaugh threatens to turn NYC’s best open forum for no-holds-barred writing (sorry, Craig’s List) into just another boring weekly paper

Great Things Seen in NYC, 2002 Edition
The Pillars of Light (seen from my roof, right)
2. Pact reached to preserve community gardens
3. Mark Green walking down 43rd Street this fall, still with that shit-eating grin on his face

Bodega Name We Liked So Much We Almost Named This Website After It
The Neon Food Corp. (Ludlow @ Rivington/Delancey)

Best Moment of Pure Poetic Justice
Standing on our roof with a friend looking down on Rivington, we’re talking about the Mexican restaurant across the street. “The only person I know who’s gone there got food poisoning,” he says. Right then, an ambulance pulls up in front of the place and two paramedics rush in.

Most Overplayed LES Media Trends by the NYTimes, 2002
Restauranting of Clinton St.
2. Gallerying of Rivington St.
3. Boutiquing of Orchard St.

### THE FUTURE ###

Three Things We’d Like to See on the LES in 2003
1. Whole Foods
buys the lease on Essex Market, opens giant LES Food Emporium
2. ‘Elita’ Neighborhood (the area around Happy Ending) stays off mainstream media radar so we can find a nice apartment there
3. After endless scouring of Siglo XX and Las Venus, I finally find the perfect coffee table for my apartment

Three Things We’ll Probably See Instead
First LES Starbucks (and/or First LES Pret)
2. New York Times writes breathless article on Elita
3. Me still using the same damn gray plastic coffee table

Resolutions for This Website, 2003
More photos
2. No trolling for Gawker hits Responsible trolling for Gawker hits
3. Movable Type (FictionalCompany will get it done, right, JCN?)

Thanks to everyone who read, emailed or asked “what’s the deal with your website?” in 2002. We hope to bemuse and confound in equal measure in the new year. Until then, Aloha. LES Awards, 2002

Welcome, one and all, to the year-end gala at the Web Presence. For your digestive pleasure, we’ve compiled our Best of the Lower East Side Awards for 2002 in two batches, served hot today and tomorrow. For the purposes of this little production, the LES is casually defined as “the area near my apartment” (on Rivington @ Ludlow/Essex) essentially comprising the traditional LES plus the bottom of the East Village and the fringes of NoLiTa and Chinatown.

Today: Food and Drink.
Tomorrow: Neighborhood, Miscellaneous & The Future.
Bon appetit!

### FOOD ###

Three Great Things about Li’l Frankies Pizza, The Best Thing To Happen to the LES Cuisine Scene in 2002
The back room. Demand to sit there
2. Autographed photograph in bathroom: “To Li’l Frankies, the best pizza! Yours, Hollywood Hulk Hogan”
3. They deliver to Rivington Street

Restaurants Where We Consistently Love Our Food
1. Alias
(Clinton @ Rivington)… Spare and a bit pricey; when it works, yum
2. Supper (2nd St @ Ave. A)… Another Frank gift to the region
3. Lucien (1st Ave @ 1st St)… Love those nicotined walls

Edward Gibbon Award
Empty tables spotted at prime dining hour at 71 Clinton Fresh Food (right) two weeks ago.

Good LES Brunch Place Now So Overrun That It Makes Queuing at Habana Actually Seem Like A Viable Option
Clinton Street Baking Co.… Repent, repent… and do brunch on a weekday, when nobody’s there. (Clinton @ Houston/Stanton)

Good LES Brunch Places Where You Can Actually Get a Table
1. Rivington 99…. God’s gift to hangovers. N.B. Currently closed for renovations (Rivington @ Ludlow)
2. Good World… As mellow at noon as it is untenable at midnight (Orchard @ Canal)
3. Rialto… Grilled corn nearly as good as Habana with none of the crowds (Elizabeth @ Houston/Prince)

Three Low-Key Places on Clinton Street We Like
1. Punch and Judy… Order the Lobster Club (Clinton @ Houston/Stanton)
2. 1492… For the back garden in summer (Clinton @ Stanton/Rivington)
3. WD-50… Well, low-key until it opens (Clinton@ Stanton/Rivington)

Kiss the Architect, Kill the Chef Award
Suba… Psychedelic “moat room” (right) with barrel vaulted ceilings is as otherworldly as anything we saw this year. The food? Equally bizarre. (Ludlow @ Rivington/Delancey)

Botched Opening of Year, Runner Up
Smith… Brian McNally opens a new joint on a block replete with culinary success stories (Prune and The Tasting Room) to fanfare, feuds with partner, tries to close it down after only a few months, partner refuses, McNally leaves, partner closes back dining room for awhile, changes name and menu to overpriced comfort food, continues apace. We stopped in last week… The mood? “Death-like” isn’t the right word, but it’s the first that comes to mind. (First St. @ 1st/2nd Aves.)

Botched Opening of Year
Tenement… Planned all the press notices for mid-November, finally opened the doors in early December, fucked with us on the reservation line, then decided to close down until after New Year’s. Ingenious way of building buzz by reducing supply? (Ludlow @ Stanton/Rivington)

Banned Establishments List 2002
1. Cafe Charbon
… For crimes against French architectural design (Stanton @ Orchard)
2. Mooza… For crimes against exterior signage (and cuisine) (Orchard @ Houston/Stanton)
3. Le Pere Pinard… Something about it creeps us out (Ludlow @ Houston/Stanton) Zeitgeist Report
Restaurant names showing up most often in this site’s referrer logs since September (e.g., people at Google searched for…)

35 Apizz
24 Clinton Street Bakery
17 WD 50
12 Teany
7 Tenement

Best LES Moment Like You’d See On A Reality TV Show
Just yesterday, we’re cruising down Rivington Street with MOP. We pass Teany, the trendy teashop. Who should MOP spot sitting on the stoop… chatting it up… keeping it real? The proprietor himself: Moby. We genuflect.

### DRINK ###

Bars that Were “Cool” 5 Years Ago And Now Must Be “Avoided At All Costs” on Friday and Saturday Nights if You Value Your “Sanity”
1. Kush
(Orchard @ Houston/Stanton)
2. Rivertown Lounge (Orchard @ Houston/Stanton)
3. Lansky Lounge (Norfolk @ Rivington/Delancey)

Best Indication that Citysearch Users Are Drunk
“Best of” Rating for Rivertown Lounge, 7.6 “Best Of” rating for Kush.

Old School Bars We’ll Hit Without Embarrassment
1. Local 138
(right) (Ludlow @ Stanton/Rivington)
2. Barramundi (Ludlow @ Stanton/Rivington)
3. Butcher Bar (Stanton @ Orchard/Ludlow)

Newcomers We Frequent, Frequently
1. Lolita
… Just because (Broome @ Allen)
2. The Magician… Because it’s next door (Rivington @ Essex)
3. Tile Bar … Because MB and CS like it (First Ave @ 8th St)

Saddest Death Knell for a Bar We Used To Love
Lotus Club
… Ken spots a rat sitting comfortably on the shelf, then watches it scurry behind a toaster oven. With it went our patronage. (Stanton @ Clinton)

Would You Upper East Siders Kindly Stay There, Please? Award
… The horrific Spring Street drinking establishment that consistently garners half a dozen hits a month for this website since we trashed it back in June.

Obligatory Bar Praise, a.k.a. “Thanks for All the Free Drinks!”
… It’s in Tribeca, but we love the barkeep, and JVG’s hosting the 10th annual NBNYE there tonight. See you there!

· Don’t miss Part Deux of the LES Awards
· Catch up on the 2002 Eating and Drinking news with Below 14th

### 30 ###

Christmas Love

Finishing up our Christmas shopping yesterday, we stopped by Avenue B’s TKNY, the coolest retail experience available today in Manhattan. A micro-boutique that’s more museum of advanced technology than actual store (many products, including a portable device we wanted to buy that turns any surface into a speaker, are out of stock), TKNY stocks gadgets and doodads (many from Japan) that are just slightly ahead of the curve. One that caught our eye: the High Speed Condom, which promises to reduce the “30 to 40 seconds the average condom takes to unroll” to a more pleasurable three seconds. The secret, it seems, is in the packaging. Stop by the store for a demo on the anatomically accurate display case.
· The High Speed Condom []
· Compact-Impact Christmas Gifts 2002 []
· TKNY []

Dance Update

Congratulations to DC herself and all the chums at Darrah Carr Dance, who reports: “Darrah Carr Dance just pulled the biggest coup in recent modern dance history — beating out a mortgage company and a fine shoe store to sign a lease on an adorable (and affordable) storefront rehearsal space in Williamsburg!!! We are thrilled and giddy.” So are we. Always.

High Line

Catching up on our NYC news after a week away, some very welcome news: the Bloomberg administration is embracing the plan to turn the elevated railroad track in Chelsea (the “High Line”) into greenspace. This is the second major neighborhood environment coup by the mayor, following the September agreement to protect community gardens. Hurrah!
· On West Side, Rail Plan Is Up and Walking [NYTimes via Gawker]
· Ending a Long Battle, New York Lets Housing and Gardens Grow [NYTimes via, er, NYCP]

Palm Beach Update

Back from Palm Beach. An entirely odd place captured well by Simon Doonan in the Observer a few weeks back:

Though formerly very Gay 90’s (all the men were gay and all the women were 90), the median age is now creeping downwards, and New Yorkers of all persuasions who can no longer cope with the raucous sleaze of Miami Beach are calling Sotheby’s realtor du jour Alan Stenberg and snapping up jolie-laide 70’s condos in the SoSlo area (South of Sloane’s curve), then filling them with bargain furniture from the incredible antique stores in West Palm Beach.

Yes. We are happy to be back in New York.
· Wacky Plexi, Tea With Scaasi! My Palm Beach Story []


I’m heading south on business until the end of the week to a scary place with no Internet access. But we’ll pretend it’s tomorrow and direct you to check out Gawker with all due speed. It’s the latest fruition of Nick‘s Thin Media concept. I’ve watched Gawker in beta this week and already become addicted. It’s Romenesko for everyone who cares more about New York City doings & gossip than media doings & gossip (though Gawker’s got its share of that, too). Full launch is set for Wednesday. Hell, Jeff Jarvis has already given it his thumbs up. This will be big.
· Gawker []
· What is Gawker? []
· On Gawker []