“The blog has connected me to new people, both in person and electronically. It also reacquainted me with New York. For awhile, I’d been turning away from the city, a place where I no longer feel at home. But writing the blog forced me to turn outward again. It sent me out walking and got me to travel around Manhattan and the outer boroughs to seek and find what remains. Along the way, there have been moments of hopefulness, instances when it seems the soul of New York is still alive and well. I’ve tried to record those moments here, together with the vanishings. The compulsion to preserve, even if it’s only with a few words and snapshots, spurs me on.”– Jeremiah’s Vanishing New York
“Here, you’ll find things that you may or may not be interested in about the East Village and other parts of New York City. Appreciating what’s here while it’s still here. Remembering what’s no longer here. Wishing some things weren’t here that are here.” – EV Grieve
A month or so ago, I asked New York City bloggers and pioneers behind Jeremiah’s Vanishing New York and EV Grieve, if they would answer a list of questions. Both, who started chronicling the city’s treasures—lost, forgotten and gone—in 2007, luckily agreed. The bonus? Neither Jeremiah or EV knew how the other responded to these questions. I think you will quickly note their similarities; which is why New Yorkers and old New Yorkers (like myself) visit their sites with such frequency and urgency. Their sites are a place to get lost and remember the good ole’ days, check out (what is left) of the old, New York and see what is disappearing…
Jeremiah: I make my own coffee most days. If not, I get it from Veselka. I read the Times online. I eat a bowl of cereal at home for breakfast, no bagels. I’m frugal. I guess you could say my daily habits don’t really keep the economy of the city going. But as for what’s still good, off the top of my head and in no particular order: egg creams at Ray’s Candy, tuna sandwiches at Eisenbergs, eating a burger and fries in Julius after browsing for books at Three Lives.
“I still like places in which you hand your money through the sliding glass window.”
E.V.: I’ll pop by Ray’s in the morning for some coffee. It’s also a convenient way to hear a little neighborhood gossip. I’ll buy the Post and Times usually at Gem Spa. I still like places in which you hand your money through the sliding glass window. Here are a few things that EV great.
“I encourage as much interaction like this as possible…it makes it a real community effort. I mean, we’re all in this neighborhood together.”
Jeremiah: That’s easy–Woody Allen’s Manhattan. Annie Hall, too. Taxi Driver, of course.
EV: Favorite film. One? Nice try! The original Taking of Pelham 1,2,3, Manhattan, Blast of Silence and Escape from New York. I have about 10 more…
I♥’dNY: What about your favorite book (fiction or non-fiction) about New York?
Jeremiah: Two non-fiction works come instantly to mind: Maeve Brennan’s The Long-Winded Lady and Joseph Mitchell’s Up in the Old Hotel. For fiction there’s Paul Auster and Jonathan Lethem, who focus more on Brooklyn in their New York writings.
I♥’dNY: Take us thru a typical blogging day. Do you have an agenda the night before or do you look for tips from readers? Is the word on the street still the best?
Jeremiah: Most of my stuff is written on weekends and then sits waiting in the Blogger queue. Or else I write something when I feel fired up about it, or if I get a tip from a reader or there’s a news item I feel like commenting about, or it just feels urgent. When I’ve got nothing to say, which is more often than I’d like, I go for a walk and see what happens.
“Today it’s all glitter and glam, plastic and riches, glass towers topped with swimming pools. The change was total, 180-degrees, and devastatingly quick.”
EV: I work 10-12 hour days at my day job, so I pack in most of the blog time early morning and late night. I have a little more time for the site on weekends. While I don’t have an editorial calendar, I keep in mind upcoming events to cover, such as community board meetings. I usually always have a few possibilities in mind each day. I also keep a few evergreen topics around — items that are less time sensitive in case I hit a slow news period. I do receive a good deal of tips and photos from readers, which I’m very grateful for… I encourage as much interaction like this as possible…it makes it a real community effort. I mean, we’re all in this neighborhood together.
I♥’dNY to JM: You started blogging when Howard Johnson’s closed. Lost City started blogging when McHale’s closed. EV, what brought your computer and writing skills to the table? I stared EV Grieve because of a bar too. I was upset when the news came down in December 2007 that Sophie’s and Mona’s were for sale. I didn’t hang out there as much as before, but both bars were special to me — they were both great neighborhood places. I was growing increasingly tired of the onslaught of the condofication, bankbranchification, duanereadification and whatnot of NYC, in particular of the East Village. These things all inspired me to do something.
After a night of drinking, I signed up for a Blogger account to create a tribute site for Sophie’s. It wasn’t supposed to be about me. At first, I just collected different news items on the possible sale. Then I thought it could evolve into this project we could all be part of — making videos about the people, etc., who frequent the bar. Post photos. Chronicle the possible end of days. It would be a document capturing a special time and place. Before I ever really figured what to do with the site or told anyone about it, it looked as if the bars were staying in the family. So I retired the site on that positive note. However, Jeremiah, who — bless ‘em — linked to the site, encouraged me to continue blogging.
I♥’dNY: What city block of New York is most different from say 2001?
Jeremiah: I’d say it’s not a block but the Bowery–especially its upper reaches. A decade ago it was still the old Bowery. Today it’s all glitter and glam, plastic and riches, glass towers topped with swimming pools. The change was total, 180-degrees, and devastatingly quick.
EV: The Bowery from Houston to Cooper Union with the ritzy and glitzy additions like DBGB, Avalon Bowery Place, Peels, the Bowery Hotel, 2 Cooper Square, the Cooper Square Hotel, etc. All of Manhattan is different since 2001, when more people starting coming here in hopes of reliving the suburbs or small towns they were leaving behind. The bland masses with money have arrived, helping push out the remnants of the city’s unique characters.
“These are all indicators of a fad, I think–mostly because it makes no sense and people do it en masse, without much thought, as if caught up in a communal delusion.”
I♥’dNY: A month ago, I talked to the authors and photographers of Store Front: The Disappearing Face of New York. I miss the old meat shops, liquor stores and laundromats. What storefronts do you miss most?
EV: Kurowycky & Son Meat Products on First Avenue between Seventh Street and St. Mark’s Place. I loved the garlands of sausage hanging in the windows! And the hams. I miss the hams.
EV:Hmm, there are so many well-worn neighborhood bars around the city. I’ll stick to the neighborhood I know best, the East Village: The Blarney Cove, the Holiday and Lucy’s. And Mars Bar. And Joe’s. Is that three?
I♥’dNY: I could use a Schaefer from Shark Bar. Okay. Sorry to bring it up…cupcakes. Similar to the frozen yogurt movement and subsequent death; are they just a fad?
Jeremiah: Yes, of course. You can tell a fad by how excited people get about it and how rapidly it proliferates, like bedbugs. Cupcake shops have exploded. You see people waiting in line and clapping their hands, mooing and whinnying outside the shop windows like farm animals. These are all indicators of a fad, I think–mostly because it makes no sense and people do it en masse, without much thought, as if caught up in a communal delusion. How long can the city sustain all those cupcake shops? Not long. I look forward to their timely death.
EV: I’m not much of a dessert person. I think cupcakes are like, oh, I dunno, Izod shirts: They’re always around, but more in fashion or something every now and then.
Thanks Jeremiah and EV!
Follow on Twitter @evgrieve and @jeremoss