We type these words with heavy heart and heavier hangover, reminiscing of the glory that was 2003. Oh, sweet siren of ages past, bring us peace, and ever-increasing real estate prices! And so, as the last rays of this epochal epoch fade to black, we present Part II of the Second Annual LS.com Lower East Side Awards, following the awarding of Part I yesterday. Here we go…
## NEIGHBORHOOD ##
The George Orwell Award for Information Transparency
To the Surface Hotel, whose embrace by mainstream media as the hippest downtown spot going was undermined just the weeist lil bit by the fact that the place still isnt anywhere close to freaking finished. Originally scheduled for a September 2003 debut, the management fell back on promising a soft opening in November. Once they realized something that was clear to anyone with eyesnamely, that getting this place open by the end of 2004 is going to be a miracle of Biblical proportionsthey released a new projected opening date… tucked quietly at the bottom of a press release titled Surface Magazine Presents the Sixth Annual Avant Guardian(TM) Photography Exhibit & Gala Reception. If the place is run with this kind of skill, it’s gonna be bigger than Jesus.
The UnSurface Award
To Blue Moon, a new eight-story, 22-suite hotel (Orchard @ Delancey/ Broome) which trumpeted its near-completion with a splashy article in The Villager.
Its Not Paranoia if Theyre Really Out to Get You Award
1. LES last neighborhood in city to have power restored after Great Blackout of 2003
2. FreshDirect refuses delivery to wide swath of LES residents
3. Community activists tempt God and Keith McNally; attempt to revoke Schillers liquor license
4. Community board denies our petition to change name of our stretch of Rivington Street to Dunehampton.
The Yaakov Spiegel Award for Neighborhood Improvement
Given annually to that citizen residing on the three-block stretch of Rivington between Allen and Essex Streets who has contributed in the most meaningful way to the improvement of our neighborhood, bless his/her soul… To Gizmodos Pete Rojas, who installed WiFi in his apartment and in so doing unleased the magical powers of wireless internet to the patrons of Teany.
Remind Me Why I’m Renting Again? Award
Top LES real estate stories of 2003
1. 11 Spring Street sells for $5.5 million
2. Vacant LES Lot sells for $2.2 million
3. Craptacular sprawl-a-thon Avalon Chrystie Place disfigures Houston
Who Do You Trust? Award
Selected critical response to the New Museum to be built on Bowery:
1. Herbert Muschamp, The New York Times: “Sanaa’s design encodes that history in urban space. Little lofts. Little SoHo lofts that died and went to heaven. That is one entrancing image that the museum’s exterior brings to mind. The contemporary city is a search for the philosopher’s stone capable of transforming rust into the life of the mind.”
2. Felix Salmon, FelixSalmon.com: “This building would be equally ugly anywhere.”
The Inaugural Surface Magazine Award for Innovation in Interior Design on the Lower East Side
To those frisky, fun-loving kids at 39 Eldridge Street, who constructed trendy sliding bookcases to conceal an enormous marijuana farm.
Dark Side of LES Gentrification
1. Dwindling local theater scene in the wake of Surf Reality closing, and the Present Company decamping from its longtime home on Stanton Street (and taking most of the Fringe Festival with it). Of course, the hood did score every performance of Buddy Cianci: The Musical. (Take that, Providence!)
2. Misrahi Realtys plan to deep-six Ludlow Street stalwarts Barramundi and Collective Unconscious. Bastards.
3. The dawning realization that there are few residents left around here who don’t blog.
Hints of a Gentrification Backlash
Graffiti on a Citibank Live Wisely ad on Bowery: Nice Try. Go Die.
## MISCELLANEOUS ##
Favorite LES Trend/Event in 2003
In which local area bloggers again opine on topics of paramount import, namely: what trend or event on the Lower East Side most moved you this past year?
Catherine: Gotta be the blackout.
Joey: Blackout 2k3 on Ludlow St. Who knew that there were so many bongo-playing hippies on the LES? Who WANTED to know?
Felix: Gourmet coffee shops. One on Norfolk (Del/Riv), one on Delancey (Lud/Ess), one on Grand (Cli), and still not a Starbucks or even a Pain Quotidien in sight. Unfortunately, none of the above has really managed to get it right yetthe last two aren’t nearly cozy enough, while the first has way too much attitude. Bizarre parallel trend: coffee shops with really, really bad coffee. Eg Loisaida, Clinton St Bakery. And of course Teany, which has really bad tea.
Ian: Buildings that will never be completed: The Surface_Hotel, the Jewish Forward Building (wrapped in its little burka, it was supposed to be luxury condos years ago), 7 Essex (is that done yet?)
Your Humble Proprietor: Emergence of the BelDel (Below Delancey) scene. Put a fork in the Upper Lower East Side, kiddlesit’s done.
LES Photo-Op of the Year
Howard Dean hangs at a Meetup at Essex (Rivington @ Essex)
Rick Ocasic drops by 71 Clinton Fresh Food (Clinton @ Stanton/Rivington)
Catch-Phrase of the Year
The guy on the roof of my building, banging on the door: “Let me in or I’ll jump off this roof and commit suicide!”
With the Lights Out, Its Less Dangerous Award
To the police officer who allegedly told the owner of Rivington Streets Alife Rivington Club during its blackout looting, You should be a man and watch your own place.
## THE FUTURE ##
Fond LES Wish for 2004
Catherine: That someone drops a really, really smart bomb on the future surface* hotelone that will destroy it but not my apartment building directly next door.
Joey: For Congee Village to close down, so their garbage will stop making my apartment smell like shit.
Felix: Seward Park and East River Park to get makeovers. I want the library reopened in the former, and the riverfront bike/walking path reopened in the latter. A good supermarketie something better than Key Food and Fine Fare. Failing that, Fresh Direct finally delivering. Oh, and one more thing: That I win my bet with L. Steele about the hotel!
Ian: a) Sushi, damnit. I need sushi!
b) The reopening of the Grand Street subway station for B + D trains in February.
c) A travel/fashion magazine without an article describing Schiller’s as New York’s Hot New Restaurant and a newspaper article about the
economic effects of smoking that doesn’t quote somebody from The Whiskey Ward.
d) A real go-to bar, a la Olde Towne, Half King, WXOU Radio Bar, Galapagos before they had too many “events” and installed the “Welcome, Tourist” ATM.
Three Things We’d Like to See on the LES in 2004
1) Actual rejuvenation of the long-neglected LES waterfront
2) Fresh Direct delivery trucks heading south to Seward Park swallowed up by giant, smoking crevasse on Delancey Street
3) One (1) great new bar.
Three Things We’ll Probably See Instead
1) Avalon-Chrystie Place granted permission to cantalever apartments over Houston Street, increasing square footage by 30,000 square feet.
2) Our no-apology hopping on the Fresh Direct bandwagon whenever they finally deign to serve us.
3) 13 Little Devils II: Electric Boogaloo.
Thanks to all who stopped by the Web Presence in this calendar year. We’ll catch you on the flip side. Happy New Year!