I was walking around the East Village the other day because I was in search of a new job. I left my interview and cruised down to Houston Street and the whole time I’ve got the music from Midnight Cowboy going through my head. I haven’t seen the movie in years, but it’s such a New York movie, that I’m sure much of it was filmed around that area, it just seemed to have that feel to it. It could also be because I haven’t spent much of my time in Manhattan lately, since I started working in the Park Slope part of Brooklyn.
With Harry Nilsson providing the soundtrack in my head, I was reminded of a time many years ago when I was here for my friend’s wedding, and I believe a few of us were out one night, or maybe it was one day, but I’m pretty sure drinking was involved. So maybe the memory is a little hazy, but the important thing for future generations to remember is that we were crossing the street and a taxi tries to run the crosswalk and one of us, not me, slams his hands on the hood of the car just like Dustin Hoffman and shouts, “Hey, I’m walkin’ here!” Classic.
Being in the East Village, I wanted to stop by some iconic New York eating institutions, Russ and Daughters, and Katz’s Deli. As you probably are aware, New York real estate is very expensive. I saw an Anthony Bourdain show titled Disappearing Manhattan, which was dedicated to the places established in bygone eras that still remain today. The thing is, there aren’t very many of them. Anthony lamented the lost dive bars he used to frequent and talked of anachronistic restaurants and butchers that were still around for one big reason: They owned the property they were on. Otherwise, greedy landlords raise the rent when the lease expires and drive unique businesses away, leaving room for bland chain stores, and corporations with deep pockets. That’s what happened to the famous music venue CBGB. Someone who probably already had more money than most of us will ever see owned the land and wanted more money. And now where CBGB once stood is a mutherfuckin’ Chase Bank. I went by and it broke my heart to see.
I made it to CBGB once back in the ’90s for a night of shitty punk bands, where The Ramones, Blondie, The Talking Heads, and Patti Smith had once played. I made out with an Australian girl in the rain outside some nearby bar later, so I’m going to call the night a success. As for 2012, I realized I better not wait before I missed out on these other classic places, I had to see them for myself. I stopped at Russ and Daughter’s to pick up some very tasty lox, their specialty but passed on the skimpy bagels, because I have found a better source. I then went to Katz’s for a $17 pastrami sandwich that was really good, but cost $17!!!
So I know what you’re thinking, big deal.
But you’ll never guess who I ran into?
Okay I didn’t actually meet him, but his picture was above my table, and Katz’s is big and full of pictures, so this was kind of random.
Call it kismet.
Waaaaah Wah Wah Wah Wah. Wah-Wah Wah, Wah Wah Wah. Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah