Archive for the 'NYC' Category Page 2 of 3

Pastels and Army Boots

Crate diving in the West Village is the perfect way to spend a slacker afternoon. Every once in a while, you find the rare record that makes all the effort worthwhile. And comedy relief on the way to the promised land is kindly provided by musical awfulness on a biblical scale, with cover art to match. Case in point, this fine late 80’s offering from Joe Franz: Bronx Vice.

To be fair, I haven’t actually heard the record. Still, Joe’s recasting of Miami with the Bronx, palm trees and neon with dilapidated buildings, and pastels and loafers with a black trenchcoat and army boots is too classic to turn down. At least he got the sportscar right. Oh, and note the street name. Hurts, don’t it?

Catching a few reruns of Miami Vice on Sleuth, it’s clear the epicenter of 80’s hipness hasn’t aged particularly well, either. So I suppose we can forgive Franz’s foray into blase mainstream pandering so long as he someday treats us to a similarly righteous comeback.

photo via jellisvga


A recent trip to the Jack Spade store turned up moustaches proudly mounted for display. Less clear is exactly what they have to do with the ridiculously overpriced bags the guy sells. But, hey, you gotta give him points for somehow fitting those bags in amongst the weird-ass kitch, freaky taxidermy, and coffee-stained newspaper articles that decorate the store. Is it clever or just pretentious? Some call it art.

Mmmm… all those moustaches make me hungry.

photo via jellisvga, shouts to shai

Drunk and Dressless South of Houston

Side-by-side on Greene you’ll find two cleverly rough-edged quotes, one used for good and the other evil. The first is fantastic street art paying homage to classic Tom Waits. The second features a similarly bar-savvy quote from Jean Cocteau, repurposed to sell fancy knickers. Far away, so close. I imagine Tom pleased and Jean contemplating undead vengeance.

Before Tom gets too happy, though, he might have a closer look at the piano. See the web address scribbled there? It points to some random guy’s photoblog. Are folks seriously tagging prominent street art with URLs, hoping to drive traffic? Of course, some of the best street art layers what went before or culture jams, but when you’re scribbling unrelated shit just to get hits, it starts to feel nasty. If it’s possible to have graffiti spam, this is it.

Hell, if you pick the right place to scribble your URL, photobloggers are going to multiply your effort by loading flickr with tons of images that inadvertently feature that address. The rule, then, is to find hot graf and spam it early and often? This could get gross like Sony. Now I feel dirty.

The last gutter dredging in Soho turned up a bit of Ass Kissing.

photos via jellisvga

Travolta the Terrible

Khomeini, Brezhnev, Yamani, Travolta. The villainous four. John’s crew has come a long way from the unassuming Kotter kids, hasn’t it?

These postcards were unearthed in a Chelsea poster shop, but nobody there seemed to have an explanation for the juxtaposition of images or the words “dette vidste du ikke” at the head of each one. Could Travolta’s inclusion be a nod to his stint as evil overlord Terl in the fantastically awful Battlefield Earth? Who knows. Anyone who speaks Danish want to shed some light?

photo via jellisvga


Everyone knows the NYC subway ain’t in the best shape, but generally you can ignore the fact — the thing runs damn well most days. Every once in a while, though, one too many mishaps happen and you’ve got to stop and laugh…or cry.

Take Tuesday: I’m headed downtown on a 1 train and pull into 72nd street station. When the doors open, smoke wafts in. A conductor comes on the intercom and matter-of-factly says: “This is 72nd street. There is a fire on the tracks. Watch your step exiting the train.” Folks getting off the train stumble into the smoke and disappear. Those who remain on the train momentarily look around at each other and then return to what they were doing. “Stand clear of the closing doors.” We’re off.

Stop. Dive into the smoke or stay on board the flamethrower, whatever. Next station. Peace. I suppose this kind of “smoke condition” has become commonplace on the 123?

Take Saturday: After visit to the can’t-recommend-it-enough Barcade in Brooklyn, we hop on the L line. We pull into Union Square, the doors open and the train sits there for a while. This is enough to make me nervous, but I take faith in the fact that the computer voice keeps saying “this is a Brooklyn-bound L train; the next stop is 6th Avenue.” Being in Union Square, the statement doesn’t make complete sense (coming into Manhattan, the L stops at 1st Ave, 3rd, Union Square, 6th, and then 8th) but, hey, the displays all say 6th is next, too.

Faith entirely misplaced. 6th wasn’t next. In fact, the conductor decided to run a mini-express route that skipped 3rd and deposited me and a good number of similarly irate passengers back at 1st. Freaking fantastic! An announcement would have been nice, eh? Needless to say, the cabs in the vicinity of 1st and 14th did brisk business that night.

Ah, well. It’s hard to stay mad at the subway long. No other system in the US gets you to as many far-flung (or close by) places, has as many dedicated express lines, or stays open all night every night. But it wouldn’t be any fun if it was all roses, now would it?

For more on the subway’s proud history, see For more on its impending doom, read Derailed. And don’t miss Travis’ fantastic subway photos at Express Train.

image grabbed from


After an evening of great food at the upscale yet reasonable Cafe Gray, it only makes sense to check out the other dining options at Time Warner. And that’s when you stumble into Masa. Just one glance at the reservation policy is enough to bring up lunch. In short:

  • Credit card required to make a reservation
  • $100 charge per person if you cancel less than 2 days out
  • $100 charge per person who can’t make it
  • 50% deposit if you have more than 3 friends

They can’t seriously think a reservation policy that evokes the legal meat grinder you go through trying to buy a home will win them fans, can they? There’s hip and then there’s dumb.

Oh, and the dress code reminds us to be “casual and comfortable,” which begs the question: just how comfortable are you likely to be after a trip to the proctologist?

Resident Rock

One of the benefits of being stuck in the invent-a-detour chaos that was rush hour post-landslide is that you get to see parts of the city you never would otherwise. Winding through the tree-lined streets of Latin and Hasidic Jewish neighborhoods in upper Manhattan (avoiding Broadway at all costs) is actually quite nice, even at 15 feet per hour.

What stuck out most (aside from the driver’s steady descent into madness, of course) was a giant rock that appears to have taken up residence mid-block on Bennet just north of 181st. There are many rockfaces up there but this one clearly had the biggest chip on its shoulder. Apartment, apartment, row house, row house, bigass boulder, apartment. Someone call Curbed! Real estate in upper Manhattan rocks! ow…

with thanks to Aparna; photo via jellisvga

Pollen on the Tracks

Flowers everywhere at 103rd & Broadway

After that ridiculous winter, we’re pretty much due some nice weather by now. Seeing flowers starting to bloom on cherry blossom and pear trees is one thing. Watching those flowers floating into the subway is quite another. This rain can’t last forever. The good stuff is coming.

photo via jellisvga

Borfed New York

Sun brightens Borf in Chinatown

Borf is creeping into our collective consciousness on signposts, phonebooths, and alley walls that catch the corner of your eye. The name has been appearing next to enigmatic stencils for some time in DC and recently there have been a number of sightings in NYC as well. Now Visual Resistance has an interview. Borf on his technique:

As Bruce Lee once said: “Empty your mind, be formless. Shapeless, like water. If you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup… Now, water can flow or it can crash. Be water my friend.” I just try to go with the flow. I usually feel like I can pull off anything. As long as you?re driven by impulse, the country, city, or neighborhood you do it in doesn?t matter. The environments and risk levels change, but the act itself remains constant.

Any artist who quotes Bruce Lee is good by me. One has to wonder, though, how long it will be before Borf’s identity is polluted by haters Shakespeare styles. It’s already beginning.

For more on Borf, see the rest of the interview on and a gallery at

chinatown borf photo via jellisvga

King Hippo: Down fo Whateva

Stickers seen around the city recently show a certain King Hippo being true to the game. Bout it, bout it, yo! Coverboy Mike Tyson has an impressive rap sheet but nobody acts a fool like the king.

Something’s gotta give when the most popular page mentioning King Hippo on the web turns out to be promoting an awful band. Stickers are only the first step. ¡Que se revele el verdadero hipop?tamo! Punch Out lives on.

photo via jellisvga

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