New Year’s greetings from the Lower East Side. Today, we present the second installment of the LS.com 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.
### THE NEIGHBORHOOD ###
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 heres the deal with the new Lower East Side W Hotel, told to me by an insider. Apparently, Starwood (the parent company) doesnt actually own the structure thats 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
1. 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 its posted on Craigs 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 theyve 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
1. 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, dont 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
### MISCELLANY ###
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 NYCs best open forum for no-holds-barred writing (sorry, Craigs List) into just another boring weekly paper
Great Things Seen in NYC, 2002 Edition
1. 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.
### 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
1. 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
Thanks to everyone who read, emailed or asked whats the deal with your website? in 2002. We hope to bemuse and confound in equal measure in the new year. Until then, Aloha.