Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Walter's Antique Clock & Watch Repair

VANISHING


all photos by Justin Hicks

The following is a guest post by Justin Hicks:

Pretty much everyone in the West Village agrees: Walter Dikarev is magical.

“I love him,” Rosemary Wettenhall, owner of Madame Matovu, said. “Because he’s like this magic man. He can fix anything.”

For nearly 20 years, Dikarev held court at his small antique clock repair shop on 10th Street between Hudson and Bleecker Streets. Neighbors squeeze into his cluttered shop to chat, all the while surrounded by his cases of glittering watches, clocks, and jewelry.

“[There’s] even [a] special smell in here, the smell of the clock and watch oil,” Dikarev said. “It’s extremely rare; to be in my business and feel exactly like what you could feel maybe a hundred, a hundred and fifty years behind you, and feel like you’re exactly in the past century.”

“What I give when anybody’s coming here, I give unto this person my love,” he said. “My love and nothing else. My smile, my love.”



Unfortunately for him and the city he loves, he’s being forced to close his shop at the end of the year due to a rise in rent.

“I guess my business is not profitable, not profitable anymore,” Dikarev said. “Just to survive I need to raise the prices for my customers and I do not like it.”

For Walter, it’s just a modern take on the David and Goliath story. Big businesses came in and took over the real estate, raising the prices of rent and displacing the patrons who used to visit his shop.

“[It’s the] biggest killing smallest,” he said. “That’s it. [They make] more money and kill the small things. Like bugs. That’s my story of my life.”



Local shop owners describe Dikarev as the “watchdog” of the neighborhood. His decision to fold under the growing pressure of high rent and low sales is unpopular to say the least.

“Nobody likes my decision,” he sighed. “Everybody asks me please don’t close this business because we just feel very, very alone. [There will be] no business to take care of us here.”

When he goes, the West Village will lose yet another charm that made it so magical.



“It’s losing a lot of the smaller charming shops that help make it what it was,” Sherry Delamarter, the owner of Cowgirl restaurant, said. “I don’t want to whine or be a crybaby about it, but there’s something sad in that passing. That’s something sad for the Village as a whole.

“We will certainly miss Walter,” she concluded. “He was a little jewel of a man who fixes jewels.”

For more, visit www.justinmhicks.com or follow @Hicks_JustinM on Twitter.





Monday, November 20, 2017

Second Hand Rose Records

VANISHED

For a few weeks now, there's a been a sign on the door of the Second Hand Rose used record shop on 12th Street, saying they were closed temporarily for renovation.


October

As Alex at Flaming Pablum noted, "maybe they are just renovating, and will re-emerge, Phoenix-style, from the ashes of their former ignominy with a robust new outlook." But "I’m not holding my breath."

Today the sign just says "CLOSED," no more note about renovation, and the shop is empty and dark. A few Bob Dylan posters sit in the window. When I asked, an employee of the building said, "They're closed forever."


October

We do not know the reason for the closure. But we do know that the building, 817 Broadway, was sold to Taconic Partners last year and they planned to "reposition" the property. As the Real Deal reported, "by April 30, 2021, all the building’s current leases will have turned over."

More recently, its anchor tenant, the Social Service Workers Union (SSEU), moved out of 817 to a smaller space in Times Square.

And the building is now wrapped in a new banner declaring it "The address of innovation." The website claims that 817 is "now poised to redefine what a building can do to inspire a city."

We can guess that means "Tech Hub" and not used record shop.





New Ziegfeld

When the old (but not oldest) Ziegfeld theater closed in 2016 after 46 years in business, many New Yorkers grieved. We wondered what would happen to all its odd character when it became an upscale corporate event space.

Well, now we know. Recently, the new Ziegfeld Ballroom opened for events. Here's what it looks like:



"Drawing inspiration from the 1930’s luxury cruise liner the SS Normandie," reads the new company website, "the Ziegfeld Ballroom features a color scheme of silver and greys to reflect its art deco heritage."

Another inspiration appears to be the corporate hotel conference rooms of, well, Midtown.



Gone are the plush, blood-red walls of old, the sky-high ceiling, the antique sconces, and that circular banquette where one could rest beneath a sprawling chandelier while breathing in the aroma of fresh popcorn.

What became of the artifacts from the Ziegfeld Museum that once lined the stairways and halls? I heard that some are on display in the lounge of the New Amsterdam Theater, home of the “Ziegfeld Follies” from 1907 to 1927.

But what about the weird "STORY OF THIS WOOD" plaque screwed to the wall, informing moviegoers: "Carbon 14-isotope dating shows this wood has been buried in a peat bog near Cambridge, England, since 2120 B.C."

Who knows where it's buried now?


Before: via Cinema Treasures


Thursday, November 16, 2017

Hank's Saloon

VANISHING

Brooklyn music bar Hank's Saloon will close by the end of 2018.



On Facebook, the owner writes: "the building was taken over by a new developer who had plans to build big. We knew it was only a matter of time before we got the news that we would have to close Hank’s and move along."

And "it deeply saddens me that one of the last NYC bars of this kind will no longer exist. These places are extremely special to New York and add genuine heart and soul to the community."

They're looking for a new space.


Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Continental

VANISHING

In the East Village for 27 years, the Continental will be closing. The owner writes:

"Continental has less than a year left. Some time after the end of August 2018, this corner will be knocked down and developed. It’s truly heartbreaking that we and so many Old Skool places are falling by the wayside but unless you own your building that’s how it goes."


photo via EV Grieve

Read the rest at the bar's website.

And, yes, this entire corner will be gone, from the shuttered McDonald's to Papaya King. Something new and horrible will rise in its place.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Meet Me at the End of the World

Jesse Malin just released a video for the title track of his EP Meet Me at the End of the World, an album that Rolling Stone calls "a mix of Lower East Side grit and Simon & Garfunkel Americana pop."



The video features the great Ray's Candy and B&H Dairy, two luminaries of the East Village small business scene -- plus a cameo from Ray himself.

Check it out:

Monday, October 30, 2017

Frankel's

VANISHING

Frankel's clothing shop has been in Brooklyn for a very long time. Tucked into the shadows of the Gowanus Expressway in Sunset Park, the shop's painted bricks announce: "An American Treasure Since 1890," "The One," "The Only," and "We're Still Here."

But Frankel's won't be here much longer. Third-generation owner Marty Frankel has decided it's time to pack up and move the shop to Jersey.



With its selection of steel-toed boots and Carhartt work clothes, Frankel's caters mostly to laborers. They've covered his doorway with union stickers.

"You know how the Jewish people have the mezuzah on the door and they kiss it? The union guys do it with a sticker," Marty says. "They walk out and kiss it." He demonstrates, kissing his fingers and then touching them to the door frame.



Before work clothes, Frankel's specialized in western wear. Cowboy boots and cowboy hats. Marty would put horse manure in the dressing rooms to give the place that country aroma. Before that it was Timberland boots and "ethnic clothes," snakeskin pants and Italian knit sweaters, bandannas in gang colors. He shows a photo of customers Method Man and Raekwon from the Wu-Tang Clan. Before that, going back to when Frankel's began, they outfitted the seamen coming in off the big ships at port. But they sold more than just clothing.

"In the 1950s," Marty says, "condoms were illegal in a lot of places. So we'd get cases of Trojans and take 'em down to the ships," to sell them in bulk to foreign sailors who'd smuggle them back to their home countries. "I'm responsible for a lot of people not being born. I like to say I sold condoms to seamen." He smiles at the joke.



A warm and welcoming guy, Marty likes to joke around. He's got a roll of packing tape on the counter with the word SEX written on it. "That's my sex tape," he says. "Don't mind me. I got Tourette's."

Somehow he gets to talking about the designer Ralph Lauren, who changed his name from Lifshitz, or was it Lipshitz? "They used to say: If your Lipshitz, what does your asshole do? Don't mind me. I got Tourette's."



When Brooklyn's piers shut down and the seamen sailed away, the neighborhood changed. In the 1970s it got rough. Marty would go to work strapped with two guns and a bullet-proof vest. It was a daily thrill. "I miss it," he says, looking out the window to the street. "It was exciting to come in and see who got shot over the weekend. I saw a guy get shot on that corner, a body dumped over there, and another guy get his ear shot off right there. It was a tough place back then. If you weren't black and blue, it meant your father was in jail."

But Marty survived. He was part of the scene. He grew up in the neighborhood and came to work in the shop with his father. The place is full of antiques, including a bowler hat that belonged to Marty's grandfather, a shoe-fitting fluoroscope (for x-raying feet while emitting radiation), and a long wooden bench that goes back a century.

"My whole life was spent on that bench," Marty says. "I slept on it as a child. That was my crib. I don't know anything else. All I know is this store."



Marty owns the building and doesn't plan on selling it. But it's time to close.

"I'm 76 years old," he explains. "I'm tired. I fell asleep going home on the Pulaski Skyway. I'm lucky to be alive, but I get tired driving home to Jersey every night." And the parking around the store is terrible. "It's not easy down here. There's nowhere to park. They call this Sunset Park? They should just call it Sunset."

Besides, the majority of his customers have moved away from Brooklyn.

More and more, old-time locals come in and tell him their landlord has sold their building and they're getting evicted, moving to Pennsylvania or some other state. The neighborhood is changing again. A nearby Costco has taken a bite out of Frankel's -- "It hurts. Costco gets all the deals" -- and the newcomers to the neighborhood haven't helped.

"Hipsters. They're all white guys with Chinese girlfriends and rescue dogs," says Marty. "They try on twenty pairs of shoes, but they won't buy here because the store doesn't look nice. They like to take pictures of my barcodes, though, and then buy the shoes online."



Still, Frankel's is well loved by its regulars and the neighborhood people. A guy walks in and calls out, "Hey Marty, I gotta take a piss," and heads to the restroom. A woman comes in and chats about life, the school they both went to years ago. Customers come and go, buying boots and hats.

They all know Marty and enjoy his easy talk--and his sense of humor. Like his trick of leaving an old boot on the sidewalk as bait. Passersby pick it up and bring it in, saying, "You left a boot outside." He thanks them and then, after they go (hopefully after buying something), he tosses the boot back on the sidewalk.

"It's going to be hard to leave," Marty says, sitting down on that antique bench. "Mentally, it's hard. I'm like the watering hole here. People come by and ask What happened to this guy? and Have you heard from that guy? I've got three generations of people shopping at this store. Now that they know I'm closing, they write me emails. They say, How can you do this to us? Do it to them? I have trouble sleeping at night, thinking about the move. But it's time. A hundred and twenty-seven years? I figure that's long enough."

By the end of November, Frankel's will be gone.