Recently while walking down Broadway I almost met my doom. If you live in this town long enough, the occasional near death experience is par for the course and seldom noteworthy. You might think to yourself, “Whoa! Close one,” and then wonder about lunch. But this happened to be a good one. It was morning and I was walking south on Broadway headed toward Spring Street. Doing the commutation shuffle: looking down, coffee in hand, up in my head and navigating on autopilot. I was vaguely aware of being in parallel lock-step with a woman walking next to me. We must have paced this way absently for about a block, tunneling under the ubiquitous scaffolds, when suddenly and without warning something massive passed centimeters in front of our noses at warp speed. It landed on the pavement with enough raw force that the resulting shockwave blew a Learning Annex kiosk over. Looking down, a 150 pound bag of dry concrete lay at our feet. Quikrete, actually. I turned to the random woman standing next to me and her face was probably a reflection of my own. Yikes. We didn’t swear or gasp or yell; perhaps the realization that if we were one half-step faster we’d have been flattened to the sidewalk was enough. After who knows how long standing there, we engaged in peculiar small talk. “That could have killed us,” she said. “I know,” I said.I became aware of another pedestrian screaming, and I realized a random guy who saw us almost get squashed was now loudly raging against the workers high up on the scaffolding above. “You ought to be sued! You almost killed those two people! I ought to call the police!” and so on. It was nice he cared, but it added a layer of intensity that was hard on the nerves. “I’m going to go,” said the woman. I agreed, and we both started walking again. We developed a block-long friendship, the kind I think unique to big cities. We talked about how weird it would have been to go out in that fashion. And it’s true, most of us probably don’t imagine meeting our Maker at the hands of a sloppily tossed bag of cement from the sky while ambling down Broadway. Anyway, our gallows camaraderie was short lived. At the corner of Broome, I turned to cross the street to work and bid her farewell. In return she said, “Be careful.” Which is certainly good advice.
Without question, the Ear Inn on Spring Street pours the best pint of Guinness this side of the Atlantic. Thick, dark, creamy, absolutely perfect. And for almost two decades, the writers of this website have loved imbibing at this dark little tavern that the New York Times once christened, “a dump with dignity.” And whether you’re new in town or have been here since birth, pretty much everyone has a story or two to tell from an outing at this old pub in West Soho. But like many old places in our city, this Federal style building has its own story to tell.Built sometime before 1812, the house at 326 Spring Street was originally the home of James Brown, an African-American United States Revolutionary War veteran. Brown originally ran a tobacco store on the ground floor of the house, but in 1817 he opened a tavern in the space. Hard to imagine, but at that time in the city’s development the house was only five feet from the existing shoreline of the Hudson. Naturally, the proximity of booze made the establishment instantly popular with the legions of sailors, stevedores and longshoremen that worked along the river.In 1890, the house was sold to an Irish immigrant named Thomas Cloke, who ran the tavern and sold beer and spirits to ships passing through New York’s harbor. Cloke ran the business there for almost 30 years, but seeing the handwriting on the wall with the Eighteenth Amendment, sold it in 1919 and got the hell out. However, business remained brisk: during Prohibition the pub/restaurant became a speakeasy, while the upstairs floors were variously a boarding house, a headquarters for smugglers, and a brothel. The bar re-opened for business (legally) once Prohibition was repealed, but it now existed without a name. It was simply called “The Green Door,” and catered to a fragrant clientele of dock laborers and wharfies, almost all of whom were hard-drinking regulars. Women weren’t allowed (and probably didn’t want to go there anyway.) And so life continued in this swashbuckling fashion until the mid 20th century, when urban blight and decay turned the once-bustling area into a nearly abandoned district.In the mid 1970s, a group of struggling artists purchased the building, and they reopened the bar in 1977. Due to Landmarks restrictions on changing signage, the new proprietors simply painted out part of the letter B in the “Bar” sign, thus turning it into the word “Ear”, which was the name of a music magazine published upstairs. And thus it has been the Ear Inn ever since: a cozy home for the perfect pint and a real conversation.
Last week I donned my favorite jacket which loving wife gave to me for my birthday, the Barbour Sapper, and I left the house for work. The morning routine. I strolled to the Carroll Street stop, as I always do, and proceeded to the exact spot on the underground platform that will deposit me nearest the exit at my destination. Repetition breeds efficiency. I turned my Kindle on, and proceed to dig into the Lincoln autobiography I’ve been slogging through for the past 2 months, and in so doing, I leaned against the platform girder pole. The same girder pole I always lean against. I’m a leaner. Always leaning. When I got to the city and took my jacket off, my hands touched something wet and sticky. This is unequivocally a bad tactile sensation to have after a subway ride. It can never bode well.And sure enough, horror of horrors, I had a massive stripe of girder-colored oil-based paint along my shoulder. Seems that my leaning pole had been freshly painted, though no one labeled it as such. Or perhaps someone thought it amusing to remove the sign? Ha ha. Staring at my ruined jacket, I had the kind of unique fury that is utterly impotent, for there is no proper recipient and nowhere to direct it. I walked it over to the Barbour store on Wooster, and the dude was like, “Well, we can send it off to the factory and maybe they’ll be able to improve it.” That’s not the verb I was hoping to hear. Anyway, now it’s in Barbour’s hands. A ruthless and vengeful New York City decided that it was going to take my jacket and kill it. You cannot fight this town when it spontaneously decides a sacrifice is necessary; that there will be blood. I guess that sense of surprise and fear helps keep our relationship fresh.
It has been one helluva ride and it is finally winding down. Blinds being installed, touch-ups in full swing, the kitchen…almost done and furniture being delivered. With any luck, Kevan will be moving in during the next couple of weeks. Woot, woot! So, let’s check in for a progress report. The kitchen. The old one was perfectly nice and Boffi, so quality was great too, but it was a boring Boffi. Instead of replacing the cabinets, Mr. Bean chose to reconfigure and re-face the existing ones with a lightly finished reclaimed oak.Handsome as hell, I’d say, and pulling the fridge around to the other side of the room opened up the whole apartment…huge bonus. Each area seems to relate to the other in a much more cohesive way. Back in the bedroom, the kind and very talented women at Own Entity chose a cork wall paper for behind the bed and some super cool lighting fixtures.Can’t wait to see how this all comes together with those moose antlers and Kevan’s art perfectly arranged and displayed. Finally, remember those closets on the way to the master bathroom?Well now, it’s a full on custom and manly dressing area with plenty of room for a Mrs. Bean should one of those happen to emerge one day. Pretty bad ass, I must say. The finish line is right around the corner. More Own Entity and design choices Kevan made with them in the next and last Bean Pad post. Stay tuned!
I like looking down this stretch of Broome Street in Soho, mostly because of the towering baroque skyscraper (487 Broadway) that you see in the back there. Built in 1895, it was a cutting-edge building known as the Silk Exchange due to the high number of powerful silk merchants that worked there.Not long after in 1899, it was purchased by “The Western Millionaire” James B. Haggin, a duderancher who made himself big money developing Western mines and breeding horses. Haggin paid $850,000 for the whole building, and henceforth it became known as the Haggin Building. Here’s an old school photo taken from not long after its construction…Amazingly, not much has changed!
And the winner of the best gift for the girl-who-has-everything (especially a wicked sense of humor)…IS…A…Sweet Nothing pendant from In God We Trust. These little rascals will turn the frown upside down on even the most jaded Grinchette. At first glance, the beveled gold heart ornament on a dainty gold chain seems innocent enough. But on closer inspection of the delicate heart’s engraving, you’re assaulted by a fine, “HOW DO YA DO?!”
In God We Trust, our friends. In God We Trust! And, in addition to the above-pictured expletive, they have a shitload of other hysterical pre-engraved phrases on one of these seemingly innocent charms. Willing & Able, Hot Mess, Blah blah blah, Bless This Mess, Lucky Bitch, Really (Effing) Cute, TAKEN, Crazy Sexy Cool, Wonderbuns, Big Butt and A Smile, One Sick Bitch and NOPE are just a few examples of the PG messages tattooed on these diminutive temperaments of brass. If you want to get more authentic, an extra ten bucks will get you any slogan that’ll fit on the charm. And whether it’s your choice of words or theirs, one thing is for sure…you’ll get a chuckle next time you’re close enough to get a glimpse of these fine and delectable dictums.
I’m a terrible sock buyer. I’m the guy who would prefer to just hit Kmart every few months for eight packs of classic white tubes. First problem is when you have to take off your shoes because this evening’s holiday party host is a germaphobe, you kind look like a schlub in those things. Second problem is when you get home, your wife thinks the same thing.Here’s your Smelly Ugly Sock Rectification Solution. The Sock Hop on Elizabeth Street. The Nasserbakht brothers curate this amazing collection focusing on real craftmanship from heel to toe. The socks are carefully organized by gender, color and pattern. You can go completely conservative or wildly not. The Sock Hop also has a custom shirt maker on site. Measurements are taken and your pattern is cut and stored right there in the shop. You can go in at any time, choose whichever fabric is working for you in that particular season and have your completely custom shirt draped over your shoulders in about a week. We love how these brothers are keeping it old school in one of the country’s most historic neighborhoods. Whether your profession requires you to dress for work each day or you simply fancy good, old-fashioned bespoke dandy-ness, at The Sock Hop you’ll be sure to find a way to communicate your inner extrovert. By way of sock, or by way of shirt.
If the words cologne, eau de toilette, parfum, extrait and perfume fill you with a sort of olfactory dread, conjuring up choking vapors of Estee Lauder’s Beautiful or Ralph Lauren’s Chaps, then know this my friend, you are not alone. In the world of mass-produced fragrance where every other pseudo celebutard has a signature scent, the road to smelling good often dead ends into a headache. The sense of smell is among our most powerful and can conjure up powerful visceral emotions, both good and bad. I can still recall the fragrance choices of everyone from my fifth grade science teacher to my high school girlfriend, which might explain why I have been decidedly anti-perfume for most of my adult life.That is, until one day not so far back, Lesa came home wearing something altogether different. Earthy. Musky. Natural. Primal. But, not like the cloud hanging over a Dead show. She had stumbled upon Le Labo. Fantastic Le Labo. The store is spare, austere, and slightly mysterious like, well, a laboratory. The shop’s founding master perfumers drafted a “Treatise of Olfactory Resistance” and, believe me, this is a revolution you’ll want get behind. Le Labo staffers formulate each of the shop’s ten fragrances by hand, while you wait. In their arsenal of seductive scents you’ll find heady blends of sandal, delicate rose, fleur d’oranger, bergamote, vetiver, jasmine, and much more. Each fragrance stands alone or can be layered to create your own signature scent. What’s more, the mix masters at Le Labo will personalize an apothecary style label for your perfume.And just in time for the holidays, they’ve introduced a utilitarian, vintage metal casing that a travel size vial of fragrance tucks into with military precision. And in just five minutes they’ll engrave the canister with your loved one’s monogram. If you do one thing this holiday season, heed this battle call. Drop one of these scent grenades on your significant other and you’ll be making love, not war, indeed.
This year I want the Canvas Shop Brief from Jack Spade. Seriously, check this thing out. It’s built out of heavy-duty canvas and Italian leather with custom die-cast hardware. This is the kind of bag that I’ll be able to kick the shit out of for years and it’s just going to get better and better.I’ll also have one of these sweaters, a new wallet, an iPad case and new down vest. There are stores on Bleecker and Greene for your gift procurement sessions. Of course, online shopping is always an option if it’s too cold to hit the Jack Spade bricks and mortar. Looking forward to opening these. Thanks, Babe. You’re a peach.