Monthly Archives: August 2003

Surface Hotel: The (Pseudo) Update


It all seemed so simple once. The dream, to build the Lower East Side’s first boutique hotel. But for over two years now, the chorus has been singing: “What’s taking them so long?” Again, we strike up the tune. The ballyhooed fall opening of the common spaces, like the restaurant and lounge, have now been officially postponed until January. (To be fair, they say they will get some hotel rooms open as part of a “soft launch” in November. To be unfair, there’s just no fucking way that’s gonna happen.) When will it really open? We’re guessing March, to be kind. And there’s rumor of an upheaval at Surface Magazine (shocking, shocking at a place where, as Chic Happens so memorably put it, “the masthead scrolls faster than a chat room.”) Why is it taking so long? We’re guessing it has something to do with the high-tech windows, fit differently for every room, which as of this writing still are not all in (they were scheduled to be completed by June). But our sources are on the lam. Is it just an August vacation, or something more nefarious? There’s much more to find here, but we’ve run out of time to dig. There will be more. Oh yes, there will be more. Tune in on September 8, when this website resumes its never-ending quest to find meaning in the most boutique of meaningless endeavors. (And thanks, too, to KG for the Surface pastiche seen above.)
· Scaling the Surface Hotel []

Links for Your Surfing Entertainment

· Blubox. Longtime confidante MBS—dreamer, lover, NYC nightlife gallivant and screenplay competition success story—has returned to the keyboard to breathe life into his nascent, highly promising weblog Blubox. Discussed: John Leguizamo, Rocco Dispirito, Rickey Henderson, Corner Bistro, Ang Lee, Daily Candy, more. Do stop in. []
· Snarkwatch. As long as we’re going all Believer on you, an email from the McSweeneys folks alerts us to Snarkwatch. Stated goal: “A place to record enthusiasms, mystifications, as well as disgruntled reactions to ‘critical activity.’” Paging Ms. Spiers… []
· Get Alife. Update on the sneaker looting story: hip sneaker boutique Alife is suing ConEd for $2.5 million “for failing to enact ‘contingency plans’ to protect customers.” Uh, yeah. Let’s make this baby a class action. [yahoo news]
· Club Blog. No, not the name of a new downtown establishment (though that’s probably an inevitability). Anil alerts us to a new NYC nightlife blog, (Looks like ass on our Mac, but maybe you’ll have better luck.) []
· Extreme Houses. Lost in the chaos last Friday was this rather amusing Times story about unsellable white elephant residences in the Hamptons. Packed liberally with quotes from my boss, including: “It’s been my fate to live in this house.” []
· Blackout Drama. Finally, the obligatory blackout link: some nice snaps at TeenDrama of the Ludlow street party last Thursday night. []
· BLACKOUT UPDATE: Some even better Ludlow party snaps from TeenDrama partner-in-crime Dynatrite. []

Great Blackout of 2003 LES Awards

Twenty eight hours, fifty minutes. That’s how long the Lower East Side was without power—the longest of anyplace, anywhere, within the five boroughs. (Three Days going on four—that’s how long we’ve been without Net access at headquarters.) Now, Monday morning, we’re back at our desk in midtown, ready to present [cue electronica theme music] the Awards for the Great Blackout of 2003

Biggest Godsend
After walking from our office at 44th and 3rd down to the LES on Thursday afternoon, we were pretty hot. Sweaty, too. It was coming up on 6pm, and most places had long since lowered the grates and stopped serving. We had one idea, one desperate dream. We headed down Orchard, below Delancey, and lo—Il Laboratorio del Gelato was open, madly scooping the melting remains of its amazing gelato. The guy in front of us in line had the right idea: “That’s a large? I need more than that! Do you have a bigger container?” Sure do, the counter guy responded. How about a pint? And so while everyone else sweated and cursed, we enjoyed the best gelato of our lives, super-sized:

Young Businessperson of the Blackout Award
To Kevin Gregor of Tiny’s Giant Sandwich Shop, who wheeled his goods out of his Rivington storefront to the sidewalk, where he served them up with aplomb to passing motorists waiting in traffic to cross the Williamsburg Bridge.

No Guts, No Glory Award
To Wylie Dufresne, WD-50 überchef, who missed a chance to polish his bad-boy reputation by cooking up his high-end cuisine over a sterno flame on Thursday night. (For the record, 71 Clinton Fresh Food was closed, too.)

We’ll Give You The World Award
To 1010 WINS, for informing us several hours after the blackout hit, “This is a good reminder that electricity is something we created, and it can be taken away from us.”

A Positively Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again Award
Driving up First Avenue on Friday afternoon, with no stoplights to impede momentum. Zero to midtown in 2.2 seconds.

Best LES Blackout View
Looking up Bowery towards the dark New York Skyline, ca. 8:30pm:

When Life Gives You Lemons Award
Your trusty photographer cannot hold a candle to Eliot Shepard of fame. Our man Eliot showed up at The Magician for drinks preceding the “ Night At Buddy” (cancelled, natch) and found it closed up. So, instead of catching a buzz or the musical, he took the most beautiful blackout photos we’ve seen anywhere, most at the corner of Ludlow and Rivington. (N.B. We’ll hit the rescheduled Buddy show tomorrow night, for those interested. Tickets first-come, first-served at the door.)

Hippest Looters
The punks that hit the Alife Rivington Club high-end sneaker store on Thursday night. correspondent Margit, of AOL Digital City glory, sends along this exclusive first-hand report: “11pm: We want to see the stars for the first time ever in New York City. So we take the dog out for a walk into the pitch black. Our brief walk and star-gazing is interrupted by a faceless pack of voices running past us and a loud crash. A frantic woman bumps into me and grabs my arm, ‘Help. Can you help me? My boyfriend’s store is being looted!’ Alife Rivington Club had just been hit by a gang of kids, who phycically assaulted her boyfriend. We bring her inside to call 911. We walk back outside, Hugh with baseball bat in tow and the cops are already there. Two kids in dress-length white t-shirts tease Hugh: ‘Ooo a bat, I’m gonna go home and get my gun!’ The atmosphere on that Lower East Side street wasn’t as cordial as Bloomberg would have us believe. Another girl stands holding a towel to her bleeding head.” (Apparently, sneaker store lootings were all the rage. The Times weighs in with more about Alife and related crimes. UPDATE 8/19: Owners of looted store to sue city [NYDailyNews via gothamist])

Food and Drink Awards, Blackout Edition
Huge props to the LES/Nolita establishments that braved the blackout to serve warm beer and spirits to our spirited crew. Our random venue survey: Good World had a mellow scene going when we happened past at about 6:30 on Thursday night. Closer to home, Welcome to the Johnsons was raging early—and, when we arrived home on the other side of midnight, late. Further west over on Bowery, Mission had a cool candle-lit entry hall. On Spring, Cafe Lebowitz was dropping its grates as the blanket of night fell; Bread served, well, bread, late into the night, and Vig Bar—our unexpected drinking spot—was candlelit glory.

Best Street Party
We hear things were raging on Ludlow late night, but when Vig Bar felt a little too toasty, we headed up Elizabeth Street to Lovely Day (a place we’ve always loved), where an amazing street party was rocking. Two ersatz DJs spun tunes from a boombox on the street; someone opened a hydrant (and someone else, a tad less intelligent, drove his motorcycle through it and spun out); cops grooved and chatted us up; and everyone had the time of their lives. Downtown New York City, under the stars, like we’ve never seen it before.

Life is About To Change

[Getting giddier by the minute about this news. Have decided, thanks to new information {below}, that this deserves its own post.] Today’s MUG brings the glorious news that the new Tivo-like DVR service from Time Warner Cable is live—and only $6.95 a month if you’ve got digital service. (Naturally, the TWC site is running behind on the news.) UPDATE: Apparently the DVR service has been active since at least last month. The NYC-based Atmaspheric Endeavors blog reviewed the Time Warner PVR back on July 27. Thumbs-up all around: “Overall, I think Time Warner has a winner in this box.” Nice: “You can record 2 programs at the same time and watch a third that has already been recorded.” And: “There are actually 2, 1394 (FIREWIRE!) ports on this box. I was told they don’t work yet, but it seems worth a shot. I doubt TWC would allow for hard drive archiving, but just imagine…” More good details in the post; go read.
· Time Warner DVR Review [] thanks, hiro
· Digital Video Recorder []
· Sign Me Up: Digital Video Recorder []


· Grand Tour. An article in the Forward (workplace of Friend of This Space and notable new blogger Ami Eden) tips us off to The idea: call an 800 number from your cellphone, key in a code, and hear historical commentary about particular places in your neighborhood. The service launches later this month with a Tour of the Lower East Side narrated by Jerry Stiller: “This cell phone walking tour will take you into a world of tenements and sweatshops, radicals and capitalists, artists and gangsters — and make the history around you come alive.” (We smell brand extension here…) []
· Big Ups. Food & Wine names WD-50 one of the year’s 10 best openings—in the world. And somewhere, Wylie Dufresne is flattening another oyster… [ via nyceats]
· Just Here to Help! Speaking of our boy Wylie, he’s now on Friendster. (Favorite Music: “The riveting moans of young women as my creations touch their lips, the gentle hum of my blender, the sweet ring of the cash register, and also Manu Chao “) []
· He’s got an in at Razor. “I’m looking for ‘scouts’ who can provide HIGHLY COMPELLING story ideas I can pitch to leading magazines,” reads this bizarro world Craigslist post. [craigslist via romenesko]

Real Estate, NYC Style

Reading this week’s cover story in New York about the evolution of the high-end residential real estate market in NYC, I’m struck by the analysis that the Internet is remaking the brokerage business:

It is no longer enough to be bred on Park Avenue—or work for someone who was—to sell $10 million–plus apartments. These days, a high-end buyer cares more about the quality of the digital photos on a firm’s Website than about whether the broker is toting a Kelly bag.

Okay. But if you’ve ever shopped (or window shopped) for an apartment in this city on the web, you know it’s a uniquely hair-pulling experience—akin to what shopping for plane tickets would be like if every airline took the Southwest route and blocked Orbitz et al from aggregating flight listings. Now, why don’t brokerages cooperate? Because they don’t have to.

Manhattan is the only city in the country that doesn’t have a Multiple Listing Service (MLS) that forces brokers to share their listings, a situation most brokers blame on the city’s exclusive and secretive co-ops. As of January, the Real Estate Board made it mandatory to share listings within 72 hours of getting them, and as of April 1, brokers had to share them electronically. “Yeah, go and enforce it,” says an executive.

As a result, the web market for properties is a zoo. Some lower-end places get the glamorous Corcoran web treatment, while some high-priced properties show up on Craig’s List in a form only a hyperactive teenager could love.

What I find most frustrating, though, is the apparent lack of public data on properties that have sold. Corcoran, for instance, lets you view sold properties—but omits the price. Stribling shows sale prices on its broker pages, but doesn’t let you see what the place looked like. So, beyond the balmy Manhattan Transfers in the Observer and the bland Residential Sales roundup in the Sunday Times, are there other places that report sale prices? Comments enabled for this post if you know of any…
· Real Estate’s New Power Brokers []
· New Business, Old Rules [] 2001 Silicon Alley Reporter article on attempts to block Internet real estate upstart MLX
· 143 Avenue B [] for no reason: a cool condo in a cool Ave B building
· UPDATE: MOP on the residential scene in LA []

The Shockey Files

Gonna be a fun football season here in NYC. JA points out a less-noted excerpt from the finally released Jeremy Shockey article in New York that has sparked a feud for the ages:

Shockey’s entourage was characteristically eclectic. He brought Robert Bailey, his marketing agent, and Drew Rosenhaus, his football agent; a couple of Oklahoma high-school pals; his Humvee dealer; and Page McConnell, the keyboard player in Phish, Shockey’s favorite band.

“I ask him every so often if he’s got anything going on with a particular
girl,” McConnell said, laughing. “Shockey says, ‘You know me—always on the

Hey Parcells, your move.
· Jeremy Shockey Is Living Large []


Caught the opening night of Buddy on Saturday. (Advice for Thursday night goers: leave the sweater at home.) Good times! In that spirit, we strongly advise that you catch something—anything—at the Fringe Festival this week or next. (Don’t know what to see? The Fringe Slice-o-Matic serves up suggestions.) Wouldn’t be August in New York without it.
· Fringe Slice-o-Matic []
· Fringe NYC []