The Daily

Posts Tagged ‘New York City’

Down to the Wireless

April 23, 2014 | by

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Mike Licht, Women of Wi-Fi, after Caillebotte. Image via Flickr

Someone in my building—or maybe two different people, I don’t know—rejoices in cruel, taunting names for his wireless networks: “MineNotYours” and “NoFreeLunch.” “I’m just going to go out on a limb here,” my old boyfriend once said, “and speculate that this person is an asshole.”

But is he? Riding in the elevator or passing neighbors in the hall, I often wonder who it might be—the retired nurse upstairs? The mild-mannered gentleman with the rescue dogs? The 103-year-old who sits with her nurse in the lobby? Does someone have a small, secret life as a righteous, anonymous enforcer? Read More »

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United Nations

April 22, 2014 | by

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Giovanna Garzoni, Still Life with Bowl of Citrons, late 1640s.

We are currently in the midst of what will almost certainly not be referred to as the Great Lime Shortage of 2014. Following the decimation of the domestic lime crop in the 1990s, the United States is now largely dependent on foreign imports. And this year has provided a perfect storm of difficulties for growers. Quoth the New York Post,

A huge shortage is the result of a nasty cocktail of conditions in Mexico, where 97 percent of US limes are grown. Heavy rains knocked the blossoms off many trees, reducing yield. A bacteria that’s long been ravaging citrus trees in Mexico didn’t help either, but the real trouble came when criminals and drug cartels started looting the groves and hijacking delivery trucks.

A case of limes used to cost as little as $30; prices have shot up to as high as $200. And the limes are smaller—golf-ball-size fruit that doesn’t produce much juice.

The reaction, needless to say, is panic. People are looting and pillaging and smuggling. There is a black market; there is inflation. Slices of lime are being doled out or husbanded or hoarded like precious medicines in an epidemic. The resourceful are substituting cut versions of the juice, or creating new recipes. In the grand tradition of such things, the veneer of civilization has quickly eroded, and the lime-deprived populace is left clamoring, bestial, ruthless. Read More »

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The Zebra

April 16, 2014 | by

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Nathan Pyle has recently written an illustrated handbook for living in—or, perhaps even more crucially, visiting—New York. NYC (Basic Tips and Etiquette) contains such valuable tips as

  • Beware of the empty train car, it’s empty for a reason.
  • Bring cash to group dining events.
  • 12% chance you have spotted a celebrity. 88% chance you have spotted someone who vaguely resembles a celebrity. 100% chance you are awkwardly staring at someone while you argue about it.

These will, I think we agree, apply to any good-sized city.

Yesterday, two of Pyle’s tips were very much on my mind. The weather had, abruptly, turned brutal: cold, with high winds and lashing rain. This weather! This weather! This weather! everyone chanted. Pyle is absolutely right in his assertion that “one $20 umbrella will outlast four $5 umbrellas.” I went for my hardiest number, which is, incidentally, patterned with cheerful zebras on a red ground. Read More »

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On Being a Regular, or Strange Chefs, Part 2

April 8, 2014 | by

A counterpart to yesterday’s piece.

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Regulars in the village pub in Tomintoul, Banfshire, 1943. Photo: British Ministry of Information

Speaking of characters. There was a time when, for a small adventure, one had only to go to a particular bakery in the West Village. You know the one I mean. The owner was unfailingly unpleasant, the coffee unfailingly terrible, the place lacking air-conditioning and, in summer, unbearably stuffy. But the croissants were good in their heavy way, and it was always entertaining to see people attempt to ingratiate themselves with the management.

When said owner retired, he sold his business to a hard-working and kindly employee and today things go on much as before, save that now the customer service is more or less normal. It’s not the adventure it used to be. I happened to stop in for a pain aux raisins and one of those awful coffees the first day they reopened, just by chance. One fellow bellied up to the counter and said in a confidential fashion, “Man, am I glad to see you. Jean was a piece of work. Came here every day for ten years and couldn’t get a friendly word out of him.”

He was clearly looking for commiseration, but got only a noncommittal smile from the new owner, and went away with his desired status as “beloved regular” still very much in question. No sooner had he left than another man, who’d overheard, approached the counter with an equally confidential air. Read More »

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The Disappearing Face of New York

April 8, 2014 | by

optimo-cigars

What was once Optimo Cigars is now a boutique cupcake shoppe. Photo: James and Karla Murray, via Facebook

Smithsonian Magazine, Beautiful Decay, and others have recently featured photographs from Store Front: The Disappearing Face of New York, published in 2008 by James and Karla Murray. In 2004, the couple “began a project to capture New York City’s iconic storefronts—the city’s unique, mom-and-pop restaurants, shops, and bars—before they disappeared.” Now, ten years later, they’ve revisited the storefronts to find that most of shops have, in fact, disappeared:

lenox-lounge

Many traditional “mom and pop” neighborhood storefronts that had prevailed in some cases for over a century were disappearing in the face of modernization and conformity, and the once unique appearance and character of New York's colorful streets were suffering in the process … We noticed very early on while photographing the original stores that if the owner did not own the entire building, their business was already in jeopardy of closing. The owners themselves frequently acknowledged that they were at the mercy of their landlords and the ever-increasing rents they charged … When the original 2nd Avenue Deli location in the East Village closed in 2006 after the rent was increased from $24,000 a month to $33,000 a month, and a Chase Bank took over the space, we knew the contrast of before and after was severe.

More of the photos can be seen on James and Karla’s Facebook page. They’re especially sobering given the sad fate of Rizzoli Bookstore, which will shutter its beautiful, historic Fifty-Seventh Street location on April 11.

 

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Good Taste

April 7, 2014 | by

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Chef Frédéric Piepenburg, of Murray Hill’s Chez le Chef. Photo via MeSoHungry/MightySweet.com

Over the weekend, Kitchen Arts and Letters, the wonderful culinary bookshop on New York’s Upper East Side, held a sale. I scampered over and, among other treasures, came away with something called The Eccentric Cookbook, by one Richard, Earl of Bradford. The 1985 cover showcases the author sporting one of those aprons made to look like a lady’s body—or, in this case, her brassiere and garter belt.

As promised, the cookbook is idiosyncratic. It is a strange combination of anecdotes and recipes, and the eccentrics profiled within run the gamut from historic figures, to folkloric oddities, to vaguely wacky people in the author’s social circle. The recipes that follow these either do, or don’t, have anything to do with said eccentrics. Read More »

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