Friday, April 30, 2010

JC Reunion With Cookie & Pookie

Amy "Cookie" Black and I have been pals for, oh good lord almighty, some 25 years; and Steve "Pook" Bowman for nearly two decades. Goddamn, I'm old. Wednesday we gathered at Pook and Rich's highrise in Jersey City for good times, fine eats and more conversation than you can smack at a mule. I kind of regret the two bottles of wine that ensued during said reunion... or at least I did come morning.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Fucked Again By MTA

I'm tired of hearing myself bitch about how New York's subway service has fallen into shambles... waiting 20+ minutes for a train... walking into a station, only to find that service is shut down for the night, the day, the weekend... It happened again tonight—fourth time in two weeks—but I refused to give in to defeat. I sat, waiting, and combined with the New Jersey Path Train and MTA's fuck-you demeanor, it took two hours to travel from Jersey City to Manhattan and back to Brooklyn. I just cannot let this go. It's another boring tale... but inexcusable in the biggest city in the U.S.At least there was a hot guy to observe amid my sulking. Note the reflection of the dork in the window on left.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Clark Kent's Shit Out Of Luck

Forgotten New York, a coolio web site about the constantly evolving (devolving?) face of the city, has a section about the vanishing presence of phone booths (like this one at West End Avenue & West 65th Street)—and pay phones, in general... Thought about that yesterday as I passed the entrance to the Brooklyn Heights Promenade at Montague and Pierrepont streets, where this 1960s' relic bubble "booth" still stands... and even works! Coincidentally, the bike also seems period-appropriate.

Scary Parade

The only thing more frightening than a flash mob of kids is... a mob of children wearing clown suits. Argh!! The annual St. Ann's School Puppet Parade made its way down Montague Street in Brooklyn Heights yesterday. As I'm trying to make a hasty getaway, I saw another clown: Bjork (ha, ha, mercy, that's funny), who lives in the nabe. She looked fab-u, with jet black hair and fashionista blue pumps, though she declined to let me take a pic with her. Sigh.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Spirit Airlines: Enough, Already

After I vaulted high on my soapbox and raised hell here about Spirit Airlines abominable new policy of charging passengers $45 for carry-on luggage, my biggest concern was that major media outlets would ignore the issue. After all, JLo has a new movie coming out, and most of the 23-year-olds that now command reporter posts at corporate media aren't old enough to remember when the words "airline service" worked in tandem.

Thankfully, the issue has caused such a stink that some heavy-handed politicos are getting involved. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has taken issue with Spirit's announcement that some flights will only cost a penny—that is, of course, until you add their fees. He says the DOT is "going to hold the airline's feet to the fire" on the matter of disclosing accurate airfare.

In addition, U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, concerned that this will become standard practice in the industry, got five major carriers—American, United, US Airways, Delta and JetBlue—to vow they will not follow suit. At a press conference yesterday, he also said he plans legislation to designate carry-on baggage as a necessity. That technical change would make fees that airlines collect taxable. "Peanuts may not be a necessity for air travel. But carry-on bags most certainly are," Schumer said.

Meanwhile, Spirit is doggedly pursuing yet another way to make air travel more miserable: quietly rolling out planes with "pre-reclined" seats, so that it can fit more passengers on already packed planes—packed, that is, until Spirit is either forced to rescind its absurd policy when passengers flee for other carriers, or it declares bankruptcy for the same reason.

NYC: West Side Wonderland

Just two years ago, the Meatpacking District was still pretty much a specialty Manhattan nabe, enlivened by posh eateries, bottle-service clubs and haughty condos—certainly a shadow of its former industrial demeanor—but hardly a destination for the mainstream or out-of-towners.

And then the magnificent High Line park opened, built along a section of a former elevated freight railroad that was built in the early 1930s to eliminate the fatal accidents that occurred along the street-level. It was abandoned in 1980, before being transformed last year into an oasis of landscaping, leisure seating and walkways, as much of the original railroad ties are built into the design. It now extends from Gansevoort Street to 20th Street, with plans to expand its full length to 30th Street.

Leonard and I took a nice walk Saturday through the park, and I was stunned; it was like navigating through Times Square—packed double-file with folks enjoying the view. Meatpacking itself, meanwhile, was booming... beautifully landscaped with new pedestrian-friendly seating and walkways, packed outdoor cafes and enough slow-walking drones to prove it a new tourist hot-spot.Above: High Line; below: Meatpacking.Next, we made our way to Chelsea, polished and pretty, en route to visit Leonard's childhood home: the historic Hotel Chelsea... (see next post, cool cats!).Above: My former residence at 468 West 23rd Street, 1997-1998. (PHOTOS: THE SMOKING NUN)

EXCLUSIVE: Inside The Historic Hotel Chelsea

The Hotel Chelsea, located on 23rd Street between Seventh and Eighth Avenues, is not only among New York's historic centerpieces of art, music, writing, photography and overall culture, but it remains as vital today as it did in the 1950 and 1960s, when it housed such luminaries as Dylan, Joplin, Patti Smith, Leonard Cohen, Arthur Miller... oh, yeah, and Sid Vicious.

The 10-story building was built in 1881 as a coop—then the city's tallest building—but after teetering toward bankruptcy, it became a "hotel" in 1905, albeit with a host of long-term residents. My pal Leonard Barton is among those who thrived in its heyday, as a resident from age 8 to 18. His mammer was a tenant from 1956-2006 and his stepdiddy, artist Chuck (Nahum) Tschacbasov, from 1940-1984. Over the years, Tschacbasov occupied as many as five residences & studios in the building, while Leonard called Apt. 1029 home.

On Saturday, we returned to his stomping ground for a visit, where manager Victor welcomed him with open arms. Tourists are not allowed to take photos inside the hotel—but The Smoking Nun was not only allowed access, but we were able to take the elevator to Leonard's original childhood home. Following is a rare look inside the Hotel Chelsea, from the lobby to the top floor.Hanging in the lobby, behind the front desk, Tschacbasov's work "Playground," painted in 1983, which has been on display since 1986.Upward to the 10th floor!Above, staircase, looking downward. Below, Leo on 10th-floor stairwell.You can go home again.View from the end of the hallway, 10th floor.One of the nightly "rooms" for rent on Floor 10.And finally, out front, where Leonard reconnected with David Bard, the grandson of David Bard senior, an original owner. The hotel was then managed by Stanley Bard, whom Leonard knew well.What an amazing experience, truly gaining the inside view. Unforgettable. (PHOTOS: THE SMOKING NUN)