"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice
Category: NYC

New York Minute

carverwide1.0

Here’s our pal Ivan Solotaroff on New York street football:

On the FDR Drive overpass by lower Manhattan’s Houston Street, a group of men begins assembling an hour before nightfall one steamy Thursday in late June. Some come from security, construction, or livery jobs, others from long subway rides or carpools from the Bronx or Spanish Harlem. A few have brought wives and children.

Ranging in age from 19 to 51, short and wide to superbly conditioned, they seem a ragtag group, but for the cleats around their necks, the footballs a few carry, and the insults, bro-hugs and daps they exchange as their number swells to a dozen and they head into the Baruch Projects and its 75-year-old playground. More than 90 minutes of grueling calisthenics and sprints in the shadow of the Williamsburg Bridge, it’s clear this is an elite, disciplined group: These practices are every Tuesday and Thursday night it’s not raining or snowing, 40-plus weeks a year. As twilight falls, passersby ogle the regimented testosterone on field, though not for long: The spectacle of men bonding to face the realities of barrio life is fairly common, and it rarely lasts.

These guys do, because they’re Carver Mobb — the name from Spanish Harlem’s George Washington Carver Projects, where the core half-dozen grew up in the 1970s. A team for 21 years, they’ve been the powerhouse of New York’s half-dozen seven-on-seven rough-touch football leagues for a decade. Essentially two-hand-touch taken to bloodsport level, with two 25-minute halves, a mostly running clock, and referees to nominally control the mayhem, it’s the closest these weekend warriors will come to professional sport, though many are high-caliber athletes. Most played high school ball, but only a half-dozen of the 200-plus devotees I’ll meet made it to college; two were walk-ons for the New York Giants or Jets, one played semi-pro in Coney Island, another plays Arena football.

[Photo Credit: SB Nation]

Where & When: Season 2 Game 13

Welcome back for another intermittent game of Where & When.  We hope that the winter hasn’t gotten you too bogged down in slush and cold; if it has, we can try to warm you up with this little challenge:

Where & When S2 Game 13

What I like about this picture is that it’s taken in front of a significant building and a significant landmark, yet we see what surrounds those features, giving a full sense of character to the neighborhood as it was at the time.  I believe you’ll be surprised by the location, especially compared to what exists today (clue).  I’m not going to give too much on this because those with good wit will be able to find this almost immediately, but again you’ll have to put on your work gloves and your thinking cap for this one (which is always my goal, thus he long intermission between games >;)

So have at it; A large mug of cocoa for the winner (location/date) and rum chocolate candy for the rest.  Bonus for identifying the two significant landmarks I mentioned earlier (as they were at the time the picture was taken), double bonus for those whom can identify what buildings are standing in place of the ones pictured here.  Hope it doesn’t take you too long to figure out, but also hope you enjoy the journey.  Talk with you later, have fun and no peeking at the credit!

Photo Credit: Ephemeral New York

New York Minute

subwayimage

What we’re reading…pictures by Reinier Gerritsen. 

Where & When: Season 2 Game 12

Welcome back to another exciting round of Where & When! Let’s pick up where we left off with the interest from our last post as we continue to stir the cocoa on the hot stove. What other kind of ordinary moves will Cashman spring upon the Yankee faithful? Meh, not our issue here...

Where & When S2 Game 12This is another place where I’ve worked in or near in the last few years.  Of course it doesn’t have this kind of style anymore, but what goes on indoors is obviously something else entirely. All we need to decide here is where this place is and when this picture was taken.  As a bonus, perhaps you’ll know what does go on inside at that time and now.  So you know the rules, have at it. Hot chocolate for the winner, rum candy for the rest (and maybe a shot of bourbon for the bonus).  See you later!

Photo Credit: Once Upon A Town

Where & When: Season 2 Game 11

Happy New Year! Welcome back to another round of Where & When; where distinction knows no clock or calendar.  Nevertheless, I know some of you have been waiting patiently for the next game to pop up randomly; to that end you can thank Mr. Alex Belth for his fervent support for the game by referring a new source to me to pick from.  Already I can tell I can find some worthy places to highlight; to wit, here is the latest post for the newest year:

Where & When S2 Game 11 When I was a temp, I worked “up the block” from this address. There is a lot of history not only to this particular region, but the address in general; especially within my current career field.  What can I add to this particular post? How about a hint: no bull.

So you know the deal, figure out where this is and when the picture was taken, and bonus brownies if you can give us any particular information about the building featured as to why it is a standout feature among other buildings in the region.  First person with correct or nearly correct (as the case may be) will get a large and steamy mug of hot chocolate with whipped cream, and the rest of us who play will share a piece of rum-infused chocolate to keep us warm.  Have fun, folks, no peeking at the link (but if you come across it during your research, it’s okay).  See you again at or after the HoF announcement!

Photo Credit: Once Upon A Town

New York Minute

strand

Over at New York Magazine, Christopher Bonanos has a nice feature on the Strand:

Why is there still a Strand Book Store?

In large part because of Fred Bass. He’s pretty much the human analogue for the store’s gray column. His father, Ben, founded the Strand around the corner in 1927, and he was born in 1928. Ask him about his childhood, and he recalls going on buying trips on the subway with his father, hauling back bundles of books tied with rope that cut into his hands. (“Along the line, we got some handles.”) Ask him about the 1970s, and he’ll tell you about hiding cash in the store because it was too dangerous to go to the bank after dark. He’s 86, and he still makes buying trips, though mostly not by subway. “Part of my job is going out to look at estates — it’s a treasure hunt.” New York, to him, “is an incredible source — a highly educated group of people in a concentrated area, with universities and Wall Street wealth. The libraries are here.” Printed and bound ore, ready to be mined.

Four days a week, he’s on the main floor, working the book-buying desk in back. Stand there, and you’ll see the full gamut of New York readers. Critics and junior editors, selling recent releases. Academics. Weirdos. “Book scouts,” who pan for first-edition gold at yard sales and on Goodwill shelves. They walk in with heavy shopping bags and leave with a few $20s. Usually fewer than they’d hoped: The Strand rejects a lot, because unsalable books are deadweight. Whatever arrives has to go out quickly. “Our stock isn’t stale,” Bass says. “You come in, and there’ll be new stuff continually.” Slow sellers are culled, then marked down, then moved to the bargain racks outside, then finally sold in bulk for stage sets and the like.

[Photo Credit: Sebastian Bergmann]

New York Minute

rockettes

The train wasn’t crowded this morning, the day after Christmas. But that didn’t stop two women from yelling at each other in Spanish. They sat to my right and one of them must not have said “excuse me” or something when she sat down and boom, they was arguing.

Felt oddly comforting. Merry Christmas indeed.

rockyes

Picture by Bags and Dennis Stock.

Where & When: S2 Game 10

Happy Holiday Season and welcome once again t0 Where & When! Our random scheduling has swung around to catch us up in its web (random vacation time), so I have time to post a new one for you to look over and talk about.  So here goes!

Where & When S2 Game 10a

I was trying to decide between two pictures for this location because both were interesting and historic, but this one won because I didn’t have to manipulate it to make it presentable and it’s a little more of a challenge. I ask you all to figure out where this picture was taken and when; the challenge is more in the when because the clues in the picture indicate a somewhat historic event. Plane aficionados will likely get the reference and of course the bonus questions of what kind of plane that is and who it belonged to, which would certainly indicate when this picture was taken (wowzers, a hint! It was for the second occurrence of the use of this plane connected with this location.)

So there you go; a big warm mug of hot chocolate with whipped cream for the winner and a half-pint carton of chilled chocolate milk to share with the rest for the stragglers.  And how about a warm plate of brownies for the bonus questions? That might help us welcome in the official start of winter (yesterday), and keep the hot stove season hot (I’m intrigued so far), so you know how the game goes and have fun.  Happy Holidays!

Photo Credit: Geocitiessites (pend.)

New York Minute

oct1411katz

Gothamist gives their picks for the 13 best sandwiches in town. 

[Photo Credit: RonG]

New York Minute

kid

Build ya skillz: Danny Lyon.

New York Minute

casa

No so long ago…

New York Minute

breathe New York Now. 

New York Minute

chinatown

Check out this great photo gallery of Chinatown in the early 80′s at the ever-amazing blog, In Focus.

Where & When: S2 Game 9

Hello again, welcome back to Where & When! As we return to our regularly scheduled mayhem after the holiday, we adjust our pictures to take a peek into the past and ponder this photo as it unfolds:

Where & When S2 Game 9

A relatively easy one to figure out; obvious clues and all. Perhaps we can find out the name and address of the edifice above, as well as the date this photo was taken, then the first person to correctly deduce both will get a nice barrel of root beer to enjoy throughout the week.  The bonus of course would be to tell us both the history of this building and what, if anything, stands in its place now; that will garner you a sundae of your choice.  All the rest of us will receive a complimentary glass of cold cream soda.

So, you probably know the rules at this point so don’t let us down; enjoy and we’ll see you back in the afternoon.  Cheers!

Photo Credit: Shorpy

Where & When: S2 Game 7

Here we go again with another round of Where & When! I’m just going to jump right in with this one, because it’s fairly easy and I spent hours trying to find something like it, so I want to go to bed now…

Where & When S2 Game 7Some might look at this right away and know exactly what it is, some might just blink twice and wait for the experts to chime in.  But it’s a nice photo regardless, and that’s always a big part of why the game exists, no? So you know the drill by now; tell us where and when this photo was taken (show your math of course), and feel free to kick in any ancillary information about this photo or location; i.e. history, current conditions, future events and/or any interesting trivia associated.  Cold root beer for the first person to get the correct answers, and cream sodas for all participants.

I’m going to bed (Sunday night as I write), see you all later!

Photo Credit: Shorpy

Where & When: S2 Game 6

Hey there, got time for another game of Where & When? Well so do I; I was so busy with early and long calls last week that I couldn’t get a post in edge-wise. But the holidays are approaching and the weather is starting to get a bit frightful (or annoyingly inconsistent if you’re in the east like me), so why don’t we take advantage of this little smattering of downtime and press our luck on this:

Where & When S2 Game 6Another easy one, so I won’t offer any clues.  What I would like you to do is figure out the location of this photo and when it was likely taken, plus give us at least five modern landmarks that obviously don’t appear in this picture when it was taken (they could also be in the general vicinity if not exactly within the range of the photo).  As a bonus question, name one landmark that was fairly recently replaced by another, in or within range of the picture (tough one for you non-Noo Yawkuz out there!) Here’s a hint for that: “whatever it is I think I see…”

So have at it, people.  In respect to the weather, I think I’ll substitute a bowl of chicken noodle soup for the first person to get all the answers I seek, and a bottle of cold root beer for the bonus.  Everyone else gets a fortune cookie… don’t ask me why, I’m just playing it by ear today because of the weather.

Have fun, show your math and complete answers for credit.  Don’t peek at the photo credit and I’ll chat with you later!

Photo credit: NYC Past

New York Minute

c18res

From Douglas Martin in the Times:

On Saturday mornings, Tom’s restaurant in Brooklyn is so popular that people line up outside just to be served old-fashioned diner cuisine like chocolate egg creams and all manner of pancakes. It’s been that way for years, and until the owner, Gus Vlahavas, died this month at 76, the patrons’ patience was rewarded with the free coffee, cookies, sausage bits and orange slices he handed out while they waited.

Mr. Vlahavas started working at Tom’s, which opened as an ice-cream parlor under a different name in 1936, when he was 9 years old. He stayed for more than 60 years, lovingly molding it into a homey Brooklyn family institution before retiring in 2009.

He died of respiratory complications on Nov. 4 at Columbia University Medical Center in Manhattan, his daughter, Beth Vlahavas, said.

Changelessness was the stock in trade at Tom’s, right down to the décor, including a half-dozen American flags and bright plastic flowers on the tables. It has had only one address since it was opened by Mr. Vlahavas’s paternal grandfather: 782 Washington Avenue.

[Photo Via: City.se]

New York Minute

sal's

Sal and Carmine’s on the upper west side. A representative New York slice. Thin crust and on the salty side but that suits me just fine.

New York Minute

commodore-2 (1)

My man Max passed along this cool Jazz Profiles interview with Milt Gabler:

Q: Let’s start with the shop. It was your father’s shop, but it wasn’t a record store until you got involved in it, right?

MG: … My father’s store was on Third Avenue between 41st and 42nd streets at that time. He had a radio and electrical store, a supply shop. Originally he was a hardware man, and when electrical stuff came in, he took that in. Then at the end of World War I, my Uncle Sid, my mother’s younger brother, talked him into putting in radio parts and stuff like that, and they opened their radio department.

Later, a store became available between Lex and Third Avenue on the downtown side of the street, at 144 East 42nd Street, a little nine-foot store. Sid talked my dad into opening a radio shop exclusively on 42nd Street, to be nearer to Grand Central and get the flow of traffic when people walked to the Third and Second Avenue El. They had elevated trains in those years, although the Lexington Avenue was below ground.

Radio was coming in by ’26 and ’27, especially ham radios. Everybody built their own sets in those years. You bought kits, or you bought parts. You got these radio magazines and learned how to put together a crystal set or a one-tube set. And we sold batteries and aerial wire and all that kind of stuff.

I, of course, went with Sid to the 42nd Street store, and would wait on customers. Acetone speakers came out . . . Cone speakers were invented in those years, where you would get, like a wooden frame and you would stretch airplane cloth that they used on the wings of the airplanes in 1918, like the Wright Brothers and all. You stretched it over this square frame. They had magnetic coil and stuff with a stylus coming out of it, and a gimmick for putting the hole in the cloth, and then tightening on with a thumb screw, and pulling it back. Then you bought this stuff that kids used to sniff later, the glue, and you poured it on the cloth and it would shrink and become taut, and you would have a cone. Now they’re made out of paper, but then you did it with this airplane cloth. And we sold all those kits and everything. It had a better sound the little magnetic thing, like a more sensitive earphone in your telephone. Those were the first loudspeakers with a cone on them, a cone diaphragm.

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"This ain't football. We do this every day."
--Earl Weaver