In an ever-evolving city like New York, it is often dangerous to get too attached to the history around you. The struggling century old pub that still serves $3 bottles will inevitably become your neighborhood’s third Dunkin Donuts. The pre-war walkup that just priced its residents out will be razed and replaced by some sky scraping architectural marvel. Even the brand new salad spot down the street will be swapped for a brand newer salad spot in a matter of months. That’s just New York.
Occasionally, however, something else happens. Defying all odds, small bits of our city’s history get preserved. Rarer still, they get preserved in such a way that the public can still experience them. Ever since we first caught wind of The Knitting Factory’s plans to restore and convert a 20th century carriage house on Metropolitan into a restaurant extension of the venue, we’ve been waiting anxiously for the reveal. Last week, we finally got the chance to stop by and drink in the space. Brooklyn, meet The Federal Bar.
As Untapped Cities columnist, Luke Kingma, who boldly took us to the depths of Chinatown and to the wildest of NYC parties, moves on to the West Coast, he reminisces on his life in New York City in the best way he knows how–through its food.
It is no simple task to summarize 3.5 years spent in a city that has at once asked so much of me and given so much to me. I arrived in December 2010 with a paltry pile of personal items stacked in the corner of an old friend’s Upper East Side apartment. I’ll depart tonight with a similar haul, bound for Los Angeles and the inevitability of a car payment. (Do they still run on gas? Did we figure that out yet?)
As my mind criss-crosses the boroughs in search of a compelling narrative, I can’t help but distill my experience down to the food I’ve eaten during my stay here. From the $.20 pork & chive dumplings on Eldridge Street to the finest cuts of Pat LeFrieda beef in Tribeca, there has been meaning and memory in every morsel. So I began revisiting the restaurants where my own story was written, hoping to find remnants of myself if not one last warm meal.
It was no coincidence that St. Patrick’s Gymnasium in Nolita, the setting for BBQFilms‘ weekend screenings of Back to the Future, was erected in 1954. After all, when you send 300 New Yorkers back to 1955 for a high school prom, there had better still be a building when they get there. With the flux capacitor in good working order, wave after wave of prom hopefuls twisted their way through a makeshift time portal, and into the past.
Since 2001, performance artists Improv Everywhere have surprised and delighted the unsuspecting public with large scale, flash events across the country. The most celebrated of these is the ‘No Pants Subway Ride,’ a rare chance for young people to show off the complexion of their upper thighs, often to the horror and disgust of onlookers.
For 11 years, it was immensely popular. We simply couldn’t get enough of it. But as time went on, and as the event’s profile continued to rise, the No Pants Subway Ride sacrificed its most critical advantage—the element of surprise. After all, ‘improv’ and ‘regularly scheduled national event’ don’t quite go hand in hand. Luckily for us, they found a solution. (more…)
If you’re reading this, it may already be too late. When news broke that California’s Department of Public Health had halted production of Huy Fong’s legendary Sriracha sauce for the remainder of the year, our world changed. We changed, New York.
The ‘tomorrow’ we face will not be pleasant. Uncontrollable fires in the streets and subways will replace their equivalent in our mouths. Uncooked pork & chive dumplings will remain frozen through the winter. Shaky alliances will form, and enemies will be made. Worse yet, there is little any of us can do to stop it.
Incredibly detailed and lifelike costumes at the BBQ Films’ Screening of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
“When we were forced to come to New York, I found myself for the first time without a home, wandering the sewers, scavenging for whatever I could find. And then, one day, I came upon a shattered glass jar and four baby turtles.”
It isn’t just the origin story of Splinter and the Ninja Turtles. It’s the story of all transplants who call New York City their home (yes, even that last part). It is perhaps no surprise, then, that the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film resonated so strongly with so many of us in the 1990s.
Unfortunately, the turtles were lost to time (quite literally in a subsequent sequel), and we’d forgotten all about them until a few weeks ago. Whispers of a resurrected Foot Clan were traded silently across the internet and in hushed subway conversations. Days later, we were staring at an open invitation in our hands, calculating the weight of a treasonous act of this sort. Join the infamous Foot Clan, or stick to our “nunchucks” and get behind Splinter and the turtles? It wouldn’t be an easy choice.