Lame Adventure 362: There Goes More of the Neighborhood

Recently, I was in Tribeca, walking down Hudson Street en route to my bank. Ahead of me was a mother around age thirty pushing a tot in a stroller. Walking ahead of them was a woman around sixty wearing a mink coat and chic black leather boots. Mink Coat either stopped or slowed down and Stroller Mom bumped into her. Mink Coat gives Stroller Mom the hairy eyeball.  Stroller Mom says:

Stroller Mom: Sorry.

Mink Coat finds the one-word apology insufficient so she looks at me, a witness that is completely indifferent to this crime, for support. I say:

Me: I blame the economy.

Then, I blow past both of them.

The following evening, I am in my neighborhood, the Upper West Side. Milton and I have tickets to a performance of Ann, a one-woman show about Ann Richards, the former governor of Texas who was a pistol and a liberal with a wicked sense of humor. The show, written and starring Holland Taylor, is currently staged at the Vivian Beaumont theater in Lincoln Center.

Entertaining one woman show.

Entertaining one woman show.

I thought that it was a fun tribute to a great American woman. Milton had qualms. During intermission, he said he was certain that Taylor’s performance would rate a Best Actress Tony award nomination this season:

Milton: But it won’t rate a nomination for anything else. I can even see it closing early.

After the second act, he gave it a standing ovation and declared:

Milton: I liked the second act a lot more than the first.

I liked both acts and found it thoroughly entertaining.  It is also possible that Milton was feeling cranky about the show because as soon as we were in our seats, he confided that was starving. After the applause and standing ovation, Milton transformed into Usain Bolt and rocketed out of the theater so fast, if the doors were not already open, he surely would have plowed through them leaving a Fred Flintstone-style imprint. Once outside we headed straight to our go-to Columbus Avenue watering hole, the Emerald Inn. When we arrived, Milton peeked through the window and groaned.

Milton: It’s packed. Every table’s full. Think of someplace else to go. They’re not going to be able to seat us.

Me: Let’s just go in and find out.

We walk in. Our usual waitress sees us and says:

Our Usual Waitress: Two minutes guys.

Two minutes later, we’re sitting at table, marveling at our luck.

We order beverages, foodstuffs, and further discuss the play. I show Milton the latest prototype of My Manhattan Project. He’s impressed and we talk about whatever else we talk about over the course of a few more drinks.  Even though it’s flurrying outside, we both radiate a comfy glow. It’s been a good evening. Then, Our Usual Waitress approaches.

Our Usual Waitress: You know guys we’re closing at the end of April.

Milton and I look at her, shell-shocked.

Our Usual Waitress: Didn’t you read the article in The Times?

Under the glass on Milton’s side of the table is the heartbreaking article included in All the News That’s Fit to Print. After seventy years in this location, and being my home away from home for almost thirty years, the Emerald’s rent has been doubled from $17,500 to $35,000. They’re shuttering to make way for a trendy Kate Spade clothing store that will take over the space. We feel violated. Our Usual Waitress says to me:

Our Usual Waitress: You’ve been coming here forever.

My Liver: That’s true.

Me: No way is that Kate Spade store going to last seventy years! I doubt it’ll last seven!

Our Usual Waitress agrees with me. I ask:

Me: What’s going to happen to you? Where are you going to go?

She smiles wistfully.

Our Usual Waitress: I don’t know.

And neither do Milton and I. When he and I first met about a dozen years ago, following a screening at the New York Film Festival, we went to the Emerald. I have frequented this watering hole with almost every member of my posse, and select lady friends, including a few times, an Irish direct from Ireland lass. I thought:

Me (calculating): We go here and it’s going to be score for me!

She had alternate plans.

Irish from Ireland Lass: I love your bar! It’s great! Too bad you’re not my type.

The Irish bars on the Upper West Side are all being forced out. As they close one by one, they take with them another piece of the neighborhood’s soul. For that, I really do blame the economy.

Opened the year that Mick Jagger was born. Closing during the era of the neighborhood’s slide down crap mountain*.

*An expression I acquired from my Chicago-based blogger bud, Jules at Mccrabass, who I hope will visit me before that very last round is called.

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63 responses to “Lame Adventure 362: There Goes More of the Neighborhood

  1. Thanks for the shout-out, hon! I’m curious to see this Ann Richards play too! That bar looks likely kinda place to.. Sigh.

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  2. Snoring Dog Studio

    That is so depressing! A Kate Spade store? REALLLY? How utterly useless other than to the mink wearing crabass and her ilk. I give Kate about 6 months – 8 tops. The thing is, that store owner is just gambling on making it. After they fail, your favorite meeting spot will have long gone. Our society is moving further and further away from places where people can gather in person and relax – we’re replacing these with stupid social media sites like Facebook. Ugh.

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    • Kate Spade is pretty popular out here, but considering how quickly businesses tank on Columbus Avenue, I don’t know if her brand has what it takes to last for the long haul in that location. I think that there will be many stores in that space over the course of the next seventy years. What a waste of a once so wonderful space.

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  3. This post made me melancholy. We had a place close here in town; it had opened the year we moved in. It is not 70 years but it still feels as though something as died…

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  4. It’s so sad, V. $35,000 a month in rent is simply mind-blowing. With those kinds of prices how can any small business survive in New York?

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    • Welcome to sky-high Manhattan rent in a trendy neighborhood Cathy. And there’s no way that a small business can afford to pay something that exorbitant. Over the next seventy years, I anticipate there will be a revolving door of tenants occupying that space. Or, maybe some developer will just buy out all the businesses on that block and build another glass and steel high rise.

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  5. …where everybody knows your name…Sorry to hear of the impending demise of your watering hole. I hope you and the rest of your pride (or posse, in your case) can discover a new place to hang out, wet your whistle, and get down to more “gin-soaked confessions of past indiscretions”.*

    I know nothing of this Kate Spade. I am sure 2/3 of my brood could educate me. But in deference to your loss, I shan’t listen to their explanations.

    The play sounds like a hoot. Ann surely was pistol in a state where they have the right to carry a concealed weapon.

    *compliments of D. Bourne, founding member of the GU Trash Theorists–1983.

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    • Thanks for the watering hole sympathy. I am sure that you’ve seen seen plenty of Kate Spade fashion accessories and not realized it. They’re tasteful, but I don’t think they’re seventy years tasteful like a style icon on the level of Chanel.

      Yes, you would have liked the play. In fact, I am sure that your estrogen-heavy household would like it very much too. Click this link to order discount tickets on line:

      http://www.broadwaybox.com/shows/ann_nyc_tickets.aspx

      I’m now pimping for Lincoln Center Theater.

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  6. I love this story and it breaks my heart.

    Thank you.

    Ever,

    R.

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  7. I love this! Danny and I used to go to NYC for Toy Fair. After Guilliani cleaned up Times Square, the rent went up and all of the independent delis disappeared. Eventually the only stores left will be chains. Kate Spade? Really?

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  8. The standing ovation was for the actress, not the play!

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  9. I hate that this is happening to your haunt, but also that it happens at all to any small business. I guess the rent really is too damn high.

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  10. Sorry to hear about your favorite haunt closing down. xo

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  11. LA, I prefer the Emerald Inn rather than Kate Spade, and personally don’t know either of them! The times, they are a changing, but sometimes not for the better…

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  12. this one started out heading to YOUR bank (I guess we should call you Lame Trump) and sliding down crap mountain into a dumpster. Sorry to hear about your watering hole. I’ll take an extra couple shots on your behalf between now and closing time. How many damn upscale stores do they need in NYC?

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    • I was just making a measly 40-clam withdrawal, Russell, so I remain Lame as I ever was (intentional Talking Heads reference there). NYC is dripping with these upscale stores and they come and go, come and go, since they don’t have what’s needed to stick around seventy years. A good tap and a good bartender helps.

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  13. Holland Taylor is the perfect Ann Richards! You are so NY cool. I’m sad for you about your bar. I think my sister used to go to one called the Dead Poet? something like that? I went once and don’t remember much 🙂 Bloomberg is homogenizing the hell out of NYC. But I suppose Giuliani started it. Sigh.

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  14. I so want to see this. I like both Holland Taylor and Ann Richards. So terrible about your place, V. If this doesn’t stop happening Nnew York isn’t going to be New York. I did get to go to Elaine’s before it closed. I thought times were bad but it doesn’t seem so if someone can double rent and get a taker.

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    • Kate Spade’s the taker for now, Brig, but do you really think that store will last seventy years in that location? Their rent will skyrocket, too, and I’m sure that they’ll shutter. Then, the storefront will be vacant for a while, someone else will move in essentially temporarily. If I had a better read on my crystal ball, I’d fill you in on when Kate will hold a sale, but on that score, my view is still fog-filed.

      I think the play’s good. It opens Thursday, so the reviews will come out on Friday (before midnight on Thursday on the web). Here’s the link to a discount code if you want to order tickets:

      http://www.broadwaybox.com/shows/ann_nyc_tickets.aspx

      We always do whatever we can to avoid paying full price.

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  15. And sadly, after the soul stealing only one percent of us will radiate a comfy glow inside that mink coat.

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  16. So sorry to hear of the demise. Spade’s a flash in the pan.

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  17. 😦 that is sad. I have my favourite places too and it would make me very unhappy were they to close!

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  18. And you are right … that Kate Spade store will be in and out of there, heads will spin! Totally unfair to wonderful watering holes like The Emerald. My sympathies.

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    • Thanks Patricia. One of my favorite philosophies of life next to “Caution: filling is hot”, is “If it’s not broke don’t fix it.” For seventy years the Emerald has been a reliable source of old school conviviality on an avenue where trendy businesses open and shut practically by the hour. Replacing it with a Kate Spade store will not enhance the block. In fact, destroying the little charm that remains in my neighborhood is not progress. It’s soul sucking greed at it’s most transparent.

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  19. Hey, you said the same thing about the economy to me!

    I can only hope that the lady in furs was having a bad day. I’m a pretty easy-going dude, but there are times when, for whatever reason, I react completely inappropriately to rather innocuous provocations. Unfortunately, I don’t always realize what an ass I’ve been until the moment has passed. The offended person probably never realizes how sorry I am. I live in a small town, so there are some occasions where I do get to see the person again and express my regret.

    On the subject of regret, I’m sorry about the Emerald. With our culture’s goldfish-like attention span, 70 years is the dim past.

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  20. $35K for rent. Damn!

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  21. Duuuuuuuude. This totally sucks. Kate Spade? Who the hell is that? Apparently some fru-fru designer (I had to look her up because I’m lame I get most of my attire from Sports Authority, Costco, Old Navy or New York Lerner if I’m feeling fancy) and this fru-fru will definitely suck the soul out of the neighborhood. Sorry to hear about that looks like a really cool Regal Beagle 🙂

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    • Props to The Guatemala for a Jack, Chrissy and Janet reference.

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    • Guat, the Emerald is indeed a really cool Regal Beagle! You’d be much more at home there savoring some nachos and a frosty pint than shelling out $300 for a purse the size of dime store novel that looks like a transistor radio circa 1964. That kind of cute wallet busting crap instantly activates my gag reflex.

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  22. That sucks about the Emerald. I would feel violated too. The show sounds great though!

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    • I enjoyed the show very much, Kate, but I won’t ever enjoy walking past that new storefront, and all the future new storefronts that I anticipate will follow this pricy boutique in the years ahead where the Emerald has reliably stood for seventy years.

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  23. Oh boy …. Because I don’t know Kate Spade, thanks to Google, they have an outlet store not that far away … but I seldom stop there, so I still won’t know.

    Bummer losing a fav spot. Doubling the rent is one way to vacate a location. I figure the rate increase was a negotiation ploy to empty the building.

    BTW – I hope to be back in full swing next week … that means onions and cartoons. 🙂

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    • What a lousy way to learn about Kate spade, eh, Frank? That sky-high increase was definitely a ploy to force the Emerald out. It’s a huge bummer for Milton and me. The first time I met Milton we hung out there.

      Looking forward to the return of onions and cartoons! That cheers me up, pal!

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