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Friday, February 28, 2003

Journalism Update | 10:45 AM
As longtime fans of the New York Press, we've been watching its two month evolution under new ownership with an eyebrow cocked. Biggest change so far: new fonts. But the current issue is worth picking up for the letter from new editor Jeff Koyen, which is as over the top, we'd wager, as any editor's letter, ever. Alas, it's not posted on nypress.com. So, a few brief excerpts:
I never did fuck that 17-year-old woman. I'd call her a girl--"that 17-year-old-girl"--but in the Czech Republic, the age of consent is 15...

I think of the Australian who said to me, "just relax," as she worked her index finger into my ass... The pinkie was fine, I told her... Being an ambitious type, she wanted to upgrade to a larger finger...

And so I borrow from her as I address the readers of this, the third issue that bears my name and that of Alexander Zaitchik, my former co-editor at the Prague Pill: Just relax. And trust me. I'm going to tear things down a bit -- mostly because I'm bored -- but I promise to build them back up. I promise you'll get off.
(Additional commentary superfluous.)
· New York Press [nypress.com]
· A Prague Perspective for a New York Newsroom [nytimes via gawker]

Thursday, February 27, 2003

Literature Update | 5:12 PM
A brief excerpt from William Gibson's Pattern Recognition (p. 40):
But Donny was also very beautiful, and sometimes very funny, though not always intentionally, and Cayce had gone through a period of finding herself, though she never really planned to, under Donny, and Donny's big grin, in the none-too-fresh bed in his apartment on Clinton Street, between Rivington and Delancey.
Ah, Gibson. Ahead of the curve enough to know that Clinton between Rivington and Delancey is just ever so slightly cooler than Clinton between Houston and Stanton or Stanton and Rivington. (Side note regarding Gibson's cited block: anyone know what that building going up is slated to become? Alert LS.com correspondent Jennifer L., among others, wants to know.)
· Pattern Recognition [amazon.com]

Architecture Update | 5:00 PM
Okay, so they gave it to Libeskind. Letting the architect speak for himself from the pages of yesterday's Times: "From now on, architecture will be as interesting for people to talk about as the taste of wine." Hmmm. As we see it (channelling Sarah as best we know how), the Libeskind proposal is... a little too grapey.
· Libeskind Design Chosen for Rebuilding at Ground Zero [nytimes.com]
· Finalists for Ground Zero Designs Pull Out All The Stops [nytimes.com] great read

Wednesday, February 26, 2003

Hotel Update | 5:00 PM
The Observer acts like they're breaking the news on the Surface hotel in this week's issue. Lots of stuff we've heard before, plus this gem:
The idea is for the lobby to become a showcase for ultrahip design that will bleed over into the magazine's editorial content, and for different parts of the hotel to be used to help market the magazine. Other potential synergies exist as well. If the magazine industry remains in the toilet, for instance, Surface's editorial staff could always supplement their incomes by cleaning the hotel's latrines.
Our own trip up the tower has been postponed until next week. Fear not: This will be fun.
· Beneath the Surface [observer.com ... scroll down]

Campaign '04 Update | 2:56 PM
We don't usually go for politicking here on LS.com, but we note on The Note that John Kerry has won the "Shrum sweepstakes."
· Win Shrummy [abcnews]

Strange World Update | 10:09 AM
Coffee at Starbucks noticeably hotter than usual today.

Friday, February 21, 2003

Who Could You Take In a Fight? | 3:10 PM
The results are in!
Ken (lawyer): "I could take all 'Friends with Web Presences' listed on LS.com."
Josh (author): "Lil' Frankie."
Leigh (auteur): "Most unskilled people 120 pounds or less."
Alexis (HBS grad): "Ken."
Salma (editor): "Binky Urban, Sarah, Andre Balazs, your Eastern European waitress, the White Stripes chick."
Marshall (activist for unmarriage): "I believe in non-violence."
Michael (Hollywood type): "The rat from the Lotus Club toaster."
Lock (your host): "Leigh."
· Anger Management [ls.com]
· Who Could You Take in a Fight? [theonionavclub.com]

That Hotel &c. | 10:26 AM
Good questions are rolling in for Surface Hotel man Will Candis, including some scoop on developer Paul Stallings. Most frequently asked question thus far: "Why is it taking so goddamn long?" Keep the questions coming. We'll get to the bottom of your every concern.
· Surface (The Hotel) Update [ls.com]

Hamptons Update | 9:48 AM
The Times confirms the buzz: the Hamptons rental market is D-E-A-D.
· A Cold Start for Hamptons Rentals [nytimes.com]

Thursday, February 20, 2003

Under the Radar | 12:43 PM
Props to Gawker for uncovering this item from a recent Observer story on the White Stripes:
Even Mr. Eggers is interested. Mr. White was also scheduled to be interviewed by the McSweeney’s founder for a magazine that Mr. Eggers is launching called The Balloonist—a sort of younger, hipper Harper’s for the winsome set.
Mr. White, however, didn’t seem to know who Mr. Eggers was.
"Dave Eggers … ?"
"The guy who wrote A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius," his publicist told him.
"Oh, O.K.," he said. He still didn’t know.
What's wrong with this picture? Near as I can tell (and please, do tell if I've missed the Romenesko item), this throw-away blurb -- buried as a cheap punchline in a music story, no less -- is the first public announcement of a new Eggers media project. Googling eggers balloonist turns up only three results, none about a magazine. The McSweeney's website is quiet on the matter. So we ponder in a vacuum the concept of a "younger, hipper Harpers"... and our mind turns to Maer Roshan's Radar magazine. One project, massively overhyped. The other, flying under the radar, so to speak. Okay, the concepts aren't quite the same. But undeniably they feel the same. Place your bets on Eggers' approach, in sync (per usual) with how not just buzz but good buzz spreads in this day and age. Hell, he's probably interviewing Mike Skinner as I type these very words. (Standard disclaimer: unless, of course, the whole Balloonist thing is a put-on.)
· Elephant in the Room: White Stripes Hit New York [newyorkobserver.com]
· Dave Eggers Who? [gawker.com]
· Eggers v. the Establishment [guardian.co.uk via kottke] no balloons here
· Maer Roshan Looks to Shake the Whole Tina Thing [medialife]
· The Thorny Art of Naming Magazines [medialife] Whither 'The Balloonist'?

Surface (The Hotel) Update | 12:20 PM
In advance of Page Six, we've got the scoop on how Surface beat out André Balazs et al for the rights to the Rivington Street hotel. Herewith, an exclusive LS.com mini-interview with idea man Will Candis, conducted via phone and email.
LS: So, how did you land this gig?
WC: The hotel developer, Paul Stallings, was going to sell the building to André [Balazs]. They were literally days away from signing the deal. All these people literally begged for that building. Then I met Mr. Stallings. I knew then, on December 9th, the day I signed a nondisclosure agreement with him, that he was the man to make my dream a reality. He instantly grasped the concept and embraced it. This is after I had revealed my concept to two other hotel groups who believed that the concept would overshadow the "personality" of the hotel.
LS: So you'd been toying with the idea for a while?
WC: Yeah, I came up with idea in conjunction with the first W Hotel opening in NYC, back in 1998. I assumed that W Magazine was launching a hotel and thought, 'Wow, what a great idea.' It was disappointing to learn that the two aren't related. Since then, I have been searching high and low for a hotel to open with Surface.
LS: Any plans for connecting the hotel to the neighborhood?
WC: Paul has been building on the Lower East Side for 20 years. He understands that the neighborhood doesn't lend itself to becoming another Soho strip mall. We are going to be extremely pro-neighborhood. We’re going to lend out services and sponsorships to businesses in the area. We’re going to recruit employees from the area. We'll give priority reservations in the restaurant if you call from the neighborhood. And our price points will be extremely friendly with food and the bar, although there will be more expensive options available, too. But you can come in and have a $6 Absolut and cranberry.
More next week, as your trusty LS.com correspondent ascends the edifice. Got any questions or demands for Will? Drop us a line.

Wednesday, February 19, 2003

Snow Pattern Recognition | 4:47 PM
On the eve of the blizzard, William Gibson was channeling Pattern Recognition in downtown New York:
One odd moment, sitting in the lower lobby of the SoHo Grand, Cayce's entrance suddenly unspooled and I looked up, almost expecting her to walk in. And simultaneously reminded I don't know what she looks like; she's written "from inside".
In a seemingly unrelated development, I started reading Pattern Recognition last night, alone at a small, marble-topped table by the bar in the empty expanses of Belmondo on Avenue B. An Eastern European waitress with strange teeth kept grinning at me in a way that didn't clue me in as to whether we were in on the same joke, or whether I was the joke. Outside, beyond the windows, a car lay buried up to its roof, and people skidded past. And yet: the book. Made me lose track of all semblance of place. Gibson has serious flow. I envy the rhythm of his writing.
· Force Majeur [williamgibsonbooks.com]
· One Big Ass Blizzard [williamgibsonbooks.com]
· Pattern Recognition [amazon.com] One reviewer helpfully notes, "Varick Street is spelled, wrongly, 'Varrick' on page 186."

Linkage Update | 4:35 PM
Seeking serendipity? World New York's amazing link list to the rescue.
· World New York Sources [worldnewyork.com]

Tuesday, February 18, 2003

Scenes from a Snow Day | 10:37 AM
1) Late Sunday night that, we realize that with a foot of snow on the way by mid-morning, we'll have a chance to enjoy an uncrowded, leisurely brunch at Cafe Habana. We arrive at 11:30am, and the hostess tells us something that has likely never been uttered inside Habana's walls: "Sit anywhere you like." We retreat to an empty table in the back. The mood is calm, relaxed; the food, good. Then the clock strikes 12:27pm. A mob of people push through the door. By the time we leave around 1pm, they're backed up through the vestibule into the snow on Spring Street. The world -- or at least one little patch of it in Nolita -- has returned to normal.
2) Leveraging the same theory that normally impossibly crowded places may prove tenable in the midst of a blizzard, we head over to the Barneys Warehouse Sale in Chelsea. Sure enough, it's crowded, but not insanely crowded. We procure three (3) pairs of shoes and escape with our sanity intact.
3) In the evening, we head to AAP's digs for the Joe Millionaire finale. Despite the snow, a dozen of our cohorts make the trek as well. MB takes the pool ($68), while we feel stupid for predicting that Evan would pick Sarah. But we've enjoyed our snow day, so we take it in stride and slide home.

Friday, February 14, 2003

Spring Training | 10:20 AM
The great thing about being a Red Sox fan is that you don't just get excited when pitchers and catchers report to spring training. You get excited when the equipment does.
· Sox Equipment Bound for Florida [redsox.com]

Hotel Ad Nauseum | 10:18 AM
Fellow LESider Felix Salmon weighs in on Surface (The Hotel) with this deflating thought: "The vision for the hotel has been scaled down significantly." Alas, he appears to be right.
· A cruise around the New York blogosphere [felixsalmon.com]

Thursday, February 13, 2003

Anger Management | 4:12 PM
Ken writes in with a great idea: "You should do 'Who can you take in a fight' for all of the people who have written in, been written about, or otherwise graced your website." Okay, kids, get to it. Who could you take in a fight? Don't be shy... Polling closes a week from today.

Anger Update | 1:05 PM
The Onion A/V Club asks, "Who could you take in a fight?"
· Who Could You Take in a Fight? [theonionavclub.com]

That Hotel Across The Street From Me Update | 10:11 AM
Ah, this media life. The WSJ's Motoko Rich has the latest scoop on the LES' looming superstructure, filling in numerous blanks and finally giving the definitive word on the place... at least until the developer changes his mind:
Developers of a new hotel going up on the gritty Lower East Side [ed note: gritty? us?] of Manhattan here are partnering with Surface magazine, an upscale urban-lifestyle title [ed note: smell the synergies!], to create rooms that reflect the design ethos of the publication. The new property will even be called Surface (The Hotel) [ed note: not good times]...

The 117-room, all-glass 20 story Surface hotel, going up on a site surrounded by tenement buildings [ed note: tenements? us?], is slated to open in September [ed note: not a chance]. It will feature top-floor suites where furniture designers and interior decorators can showcase the latest styles, rotating every year or two. "You'd have the option to stay in different rooms that potentially over time would have been redecorated the next time you came back," says Paul Stallings, a 51-year-old developer of Surface (The Hotel)...

The lobby, also designed with input from Surface, will function as a revolving showroom for new furniture and room fixtures. Rates will start at $250 a night [ed note: except on orbitz, where they'll be $79] for studio-style rooms and top out at as much as $1,300 for a penthouse suite, according to Klaus Ortlieb, a former executive vice president for Ian Schrager Hotels, who will run the new hotel.
Awesome! Highly recommended: Picking up today's Journal (p. D5) or clicking the link (if you're a subscriber) to see the rendering for the hotel bathroom, which I am simply unable to do justice to in words. This is all so exciting that we scoff at "industry observers" like "Chase Burritt, a national partner in the hospitality division of E&Y" who told Motoko, "I'm not sure how often a guest will come back just because they might get a new guest room, but who knows?" Yes, Mr. Burritt. Who knows. And so there we have it, with a tip of the bagel and lox to Motoko for finally getting the goods on the corner of Rivington and Ludlow, at least more effectively than Mr. Curtis did.
· Magazine Helps Design Hotel to Showcase New Furnishings [wsj.com]
· Glass Hotel Tower Reflects the New Lower East Side [villager via lohorealty.com via anonymous pal] recently unearthed article from last fall
· Hotel (The LES) [ls.com] hmmm... guess not
· Surface Magazine [surfacemag.com]

LES Zeitgeist Update | 9:55 AM
From last week's LS.com search logs, the three most common searches:
3 for "apizz"
2 for "axis of evil"
2 for "downtown llc"
We didn't really like Apizz either, but this is ridiculous.

Wednesday, February 12, 2003

Binky Urban Update | 6:59 PM
There are few finer pasttimes than gauging the trends in literary non-fiction. From today's Lunch Weekly:
Harvard MBA Rachel Greenwald's THE PROGRAM: How to Find a Husband After 35: Fifteen Action Steps Using Marketing Tactics Learned at Harvard Business School, presenting an "innovative marketing program designed to help older women find a husband," based in part on serminers she conducts, to Nancy Miller at Ballantine, with Zachary Schisgal editing, in a major deal for high six-figures, for publication in January 2004, by Amanda Urban at ICM (world).
· Lunch Weekly [calderbooks.com]

Tuesday, February 11, 2003

100th Sandwich | 2:23 PM
Tips for enjoying yet another sandwich at a midtown lunch spot.
Pret: Scrape off all the mayo.
Cosi: Ask for extra mayo.

On Reflection | 1:07 PM
Two thoughts on the Dell Dude's LES pot bust:
1) For those not familiar with the Lower East Side, the corner of Ludlow and Rivington tends to be a rather busy place. Not exactly the most subtle spot for a deal to go down. (Recommended alternatives: two blocks down near the parking lot at the corner of Ludlow and Broome; or inside the nearby municipal parking garage on Essex.)
2) This is Manhattan. Uh, ever heard of a delivery service?
· Ben Curtis Perp Walk [yahoo! news]
· Total Bummer for Dell Dude [nydailynews.com]
· Dell Dude Nabbed in Lower East Weed Bust [nypost.com]

Monday, February 10, 2003

Thought of the Day | 5:00 PM
Ken emails: "Amazing that no two snowflakes or handguns are alike."

Real Simple Update | 1:30 PM
A reader who wishes to remain anonymous has supplied us with the email address for Real Simple's editor in chief. The game is on!
· Keep It Simple [ls.com]

Dude! | 10:48 AM
Folks, this is it. My block of the Lower East Side is officially having its moment. From the Smoking Gun:
Benjamin Curtis, the 22-year old actor who portrays the Dell Guy in those bothersome computer commercials, was arrested late last night (2/9) on a marijuana possession charge, The Smoking Gun has learned. According to cops, Curtis was holding a "small bag of marijuana" when he was popped on Manhattan's Lower East Side (at Ludlow and Rivington for you Gothamites).
Please note that the large photo (above, on this site's homepage) depicts this exact corner.
· Dell Dude in Pot Bust [thesmokinggun.com]

Friday, February 07, 2003

'Little Jewel Boxes' | 11:31 AM
We'd expect the nutjobs at Misrahi Realty to claim that tiny, 400 square foot Lower East Side apartments are "all the rage." But for the Times to buy the hype?
Unlike some small apartments that have been carved out of grand buildings uptown, these coffin-size spaces were purposely built small at the turn of the 20th century and jammed with immigrants. Unlike Single Room Occupancy dwellings, they have a bathroom and, at least marginally, a kitchen. Primarily found on the Lower East Side, some are rent-controlled, though many, like Mr. Aguilar's, which costs $1,250 a month, are market rate.

Sion Misrahi, a broker on the Lower East Side who specializes in what he calls "these little jewel boxes," says they are hot commodities among young upwardly mobile New Yorkers. On Mr. Misrahi's Web site, there are 35 apartments listed with less than 300 square feet. He rents about seven a week, he said, for $1,100 to $1,400. (He insisted that all are "beautifully renovated," although that term has apparently been redefined to mean that the floors have been sanded and there are tiled bathrooms.)
· In Tiny Spaces, Expansive Living [nytimes.com]

Thursday, February 06, 2003

Tiny Ninja Update | 5:51 PM
Great news. Tiny Ninja Theater ("No small parts. Only small actors") is returning to NYC next month, first at a location dangerously above 14th, then at the Bowery Poetry Club. What is it? Shakespeare performed by tiny, two-inch high tiny plastic ninjas. It debuted at the Fringe Festival a few years back to rave reviews. If you've never seen it, take it from me: it's no joke. It's totally brilliant. An absolute must-catch. Get tickets early, because the theater usually seats no more than 15 or 20 folks per show.
· Tiny Ninja Theater [tinyninjatheater.com]
· Score Cheap Seats [jvg.com]

Consumer Alert! | 10:17 AM
Don't try to buy US Weekly at Whole Foods Market.
· A Little Light Reading? [washingtoncitypaper.com via romenesko]

Wednesday, February 05, 2003

Real Simple Update | 1:59 PM
Shit, the bastards already ran my first story pitch: Slippers (p. 76). Although, as a Salon letter writer indicates, apparently they've used the motif before too. It's just so pleasingly simple.
· Artfully arranged, silk-looking slippers [salon.com letters]

Flaunt the LES Lifestyle | 12:20 PM

Via Francesco V., "geographic elitism done way more cryptic and far more specific." I'm swooning.
· Location Shop [cafeshops.com]
· LES Sticker [cafeshops.com]
· LES Mug [cafeshops.com]

Keep It Simple | 11:57 AM
Last night at my girlfriend's apartment, I realized women have a special advantage when it comes to "leaning left." It's a magazine called Real Simple. No doubt you've seen it. But if you're a boy, perhaps you haven't ever read it. BIG mistake. HUGE mistake. It's genius. I quote verbatim from an article called Toast: It's Not Just For Breakfast Anymore (p. 102) with this "Tip": "Never poke a metal object into a plugged in toaster." It's gems like these that have catapulted the magazine onto AdWeek's Hot List, where it's number three with a bullet. I'm buying my own copy at lunch today to begin work on my new life's goal: having a story published in this publication. Anyone with editor connections at Real Simple, please email me.
· Real Simple [realsimple.com]
· AdWeek Hot List 2002 [mediaweek.com]

Tuesday, February 04, 2003

Leaning Left | 7:13 PM
Cool Science Times article today on how happy brains lean left.
The functional M.R.I. images reveal that when people are emotionally distressed -- anxious, angry, depressed -- the most active sites in the brain are circuitry converging on the amygdala, part of the brain's emotional centers, and the right prefrontal cortex, a brain region important for the hypervigilance typical of people under stress. By contrast, when people are in positive moods -- upbeat, enthusiastic and energized -- those sites are quiet, with the heightened activity in the left prefrontal cortex.

By chance, Dr. Davidson had the opportunity to test the left-right ratio on a senior Tibetan lama, who turned out to have the most extreme value to the left of the 175 people measured to that point.
· Finding Happiness: Cajole Your Brain to Lean to the Left [nytimes.com]

Chris Otto Coda | 12:11 PM
Less than three weeks after it started, MOP's Google experiment in search of a long-lost friend comes to a close, albeit not quite in the way he expected.
· Experiment, done [palmermix.com]

Publishing Update | 12:10 PM
How great is Michael Wolff?
Book publishing rests on a business edifice as fragile as any that exists today. Almost all the power in the business resides with (or, you might say, has been turned over to) a single distributor: Barnes & Noble. The most important number in the book industry, which few people in publishing ever take note of, is the Barnes & Noble share price, which is most often in precarious condition. The entire industry is dependent on the health of an overextended retail chain (something like if the fashion industry did most of its business through Kmart). Were anything to happen to Barnes & Noble, book publishing itself would fall into chaos...

This isn’t where a kid with heart and imagination is going to end up. Rather, the book business is logically getting a dimmer bulb. Now, this is probably true about all the egghead professions. Public intellectuals are now merely political hacks—William Bennett, for instance. Academics are real losers, or, at best, people with specialized sexual and cultural grievances. Writers are, interestingly, often subliterate. And book publishers are . . . cold fish or overly promoted secretaries.
· Book Review [newyorkmetro.com]

Monday, February 03, 2003

Bon Mots | 12:13 PM
The first great expression of 2003 was coined yesterday by the guy on the roof of my apartment building, banging on the door: "Let me in or I'll jump off this roof and commit suicide!"

Home Again | 11:36 AM
A tip of the beer stein to JVG for filling in so capably during my absence.
· Lower! East! Side! [jvg.com]

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