January 31, 2006, 9:17.35 pm ET
When I heard Lento's had closed, at first I was shocked. Afterall, it survived more than 70 years. It was an institution in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn where I grew up. A gritty bar up front reflecting its speakeasy past and a loud restaurant in the back where clanging dishes greeted working class families looking for a good Italian meal at a decent price. Lento's always seemed to deliver. I remember there used to be little doorbells attached to the wooden booths that as kids we used to ring even when we didn't need service. I'm sure it bothered the waiters, who were mostly, if not all, men. But they took it in stride. Then, in the late 80s or early 90's something happened to Lento's. There was a female touch. It seemed as if overnight the grit was gone and Lento's had lost some of its spirit. The menu also started to change, but luckily its thin crust pizza remained dependable, at least until my last visit a few years ago.
But now Lento's is gone. And it got me thinking of other restaurants of my childhood that have also disappeared. Places like Lamps of China, The Green Tea Room and Hamilton House. In their heyday they could do no wrong. Then it seemed they could do no right.
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The Day The Music Died
January 23, 2006, 12:45.52 am ET
I happened to be walking past NYU the other day. It amazes me how out of touch young people are these days, or maybe too in touch. I looked around and couldn't find one person on the street who wasn't yapping on a cell phone. Being lost, as I usually am, I had trouble finding anyone to ask for directions. Everyone was either on the phone or had their iPod "earbuds" jammed in their ears, oblivious of everything around them (see my earlier iPod rant below). Anyway, I thought I was the only iPod hater, but then I went into Subterranean Records in the Village, a place that believe it or not still sells vinyl and lots of it.
I was rummaging through old Pretenders albums, Cool and the Gang, even an unopened Prince: Purple Rain album and I was amazed that the prices were just as I had left them in the 1970s, from about six or seven bucks to around $20 in pristine condition. Then I got talking with the shopkeeper, who when I asked if there was still a lot of vinyl around, said with a sort of you're-an-idiot grin, "Do you know how many albums the Rolling Stones sold?" It was sort of a V-8 moment. And yes, I can be an idiot at times. Then I asked about the impact the iPod is having on the music biz and he went on a bit of a tirade. "It's pathetic. It's killing it!" he said, "People don't know what good music sounds like listening to it through tiny headphones." As I left there was some old country music crackling on the record player. I felt like I was home again!
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January 19, 2006, 10:42.19 pm ET
A giant rat appears in Times Square. Only this rat is the work of the Carpenter's Union protesting a non-union job on 49th and 7th Ave.
In The Name Of Progress
January 15, 2006, 10:45.03 pm ET
It amazes me that New York is able to let go of its history so easily. The Howard Johnson's sign in Times Square had been there as long as I could remember. Now, the only thing left is an outline of the words and that will surely disappear soon.
And Shelly's, with its beaming neon sign, will soon vacate its space at 104 West 57th Street. The site is the last remaining automat building. In its heyday, the art deco structure used to house "Horn & Harnet", where New Yorkers dined on sandwiches and mac and cheese that was sold through little windows.
The New York Post reports that the automat site will be razed to make way for a new building. Shelly's will move to the old Wolf's Deli site at 41 W. 57th.
Rants And More Rants
January 9, 2006, 10:31.36 pm ET
Ringing In The New Year
January 9, 2006, 9:42.36 pm ET
Cititour wonders why Verizon has yet to fix the phone at the 25th Street train station in Brooklyn (4th Ave). It's been broken for months.
Postal Over Del Posto
January 9, 2006, 9:42.30 pm ET
I understand we are not the size of the New York Times, but it makes me crazy when I spot a double standard. When we posted Andrea Strong's "Where To Eat In 2006" (and by the way Andrea has written for numerous publications, including the Times) we approached Del Posto, run by Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich, about taking a photo inside the restaurant. In most cases restaurants are receptive, but because our reviews are unbiased, sometimes they are not.
When I arrived at Del Posto, a quite beautiful place in the middle of nowhere, I was told to speak to someone who at first I thought was the manager, and then I realized the man walking towards me was actually Joe Bastianich. His mother Lidia was nearby. By the way I love her TV show. But I digress. In a very friendly manner we were told by Mr. Bastianich that the restaurant did not allow photos to be shot inside the restaurant because it might offend the clientele which I understand clearly. So, we wound up shooting a picture of the door which is a far cry from the elegant setting inside. In fact, there's not even a sign. But we did our best to make it look impressive. Or as impressive as a door can look.
Then low and behold, I happen to click on a similar story marking the opening of Del Posto on New York Metro's website and there it is. A picture, not only of the inside of the restaurant, but of actual people being served food. And they look happy.
Anyway. We also spotted interior shots in the New York Times.
So what gives Joe?
Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org We'd love to hear from you Joe.
Ghosts of Christmas Past
January 3, 2006, 11:57.20 pm ET
The holidays are over. All of the confetti has been cleaned up in Times Square, or at least most of it has. There are still a few stragglers around. New Yorkers getting back into the swing of things. But we thought we'd show you a couple of ghosts of Christmas past...
...including this headless santa haunting West 48th Street in front of Sam Ash...
And these Christmas trees that never made it home for Christmas...
left abandoned in front of a market on West 14th Street.