Saturday, September 6, 2014

going to the dogs

Nathan Handwerker, the hot dog guy, was born in Poland four years after our ClockTower, in June, 1890.

After coming to America when he was 22 years old, he and his wife Ida opened the first “Nathan’s Famous” four years later, in 1916. That’s him on the far left.


Back then the hotdogs were a nickel and made from 
Ida’s secret recipe.

By the 1940’s when this black and white was taken, Nathan’s Famous was an institution.


President Franklin Delano Roosevelt served Nathan's Famous hotdogs to the King and Queen of England in 1939 and had them shipped to Yalta when he met with Winston Churchill and Josef Stalin.

Nathan’s son Murray took over in the late 1950’s and then sold all locations and the trademark in 1987.

Murray Handwerker, 1982/dailynews

By 1990 Bill Handwerker the founders grandson also left, and Nathan’s Famous has been a corporate entity ever since.

The original Coney Island Nathan's still exists on the same site as it did in 1916, open for business every day, 365 days a year. 

Except October 29, 2012. 

Hurricane Sandy put the grills and beer taps under 7 feet of salt water and shut Nathan’s down for almost 7 months, until May 23, 2013.

I still think I like the Papaya King dog better.

Friday, September 5, 2014

from the New Yorker

still doing it his way

Until the Sex Pistols, the UK was a nicely sorted society. 

But in a short 30 month career producing just one studio album, Sid Vicious and the Sex Pistols changed a lot.


Born in England a troubled kid who “sang” (if you can call it that) and played bass, Sid joined the Sex Pistols in 1977. 


Two years later he was gone.

In October 1978 Sid and his Philadelphia girlfriend Nancy Spungen holed up in the Chelsea Hotel doing drugs.


After getting high together, he stabbed her to death under the hotel bathroom vanity. 


Sid slit his own wrist with a broken lightbulb, went to Bellevue and then dried out in forced rehab on Rikers Island.


On the same day he was released on bail-- clean after 52 days of cold turkey--he shot up heroin supplied by his own Mother and died.


Just before her death in 1996, Sid’s Mother confessed that she had deliberately injected her son with a lethal dose because she wanted to spare him from going to prison.

Now Acura has licensed one of Sid’s recordings for a television ad, “My Way” the Frank Sinatra standard.

John Simon Ritchie--his birth name--was just 21 years old when he died, but he sure did it his way. 

gruen 1978

Brings back memories.

Drive safe this weekend!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

and a heavy fine, to boot

If you owe $350 or more in camera and parking tickets,
yer gonna get the boot.


Six simple steps, they say.



Easy and convenient, they say. 

Looks like an expensive pain in the ass, if you ask me.

In the Bronx we die with our boots on. 

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

the people can sometimes be wrong

By the late 1800‘s--about the same time as our Clocktower--a new Bronx Municipal Building was sorely needed.

The population was growing quickly, mostly immigrants with little education but they embraced their newfound homeland with a passion.

Government proposed a new Borough Hall for the stone overlook at East Tremont Avenue and Third Avenue.

And they hired a master, too, no less an architect than George B. Post, designer of the NY Stock Exchange and City College.

Soon the Bronx would have its own spectacular Borough Hall!

Post used a rich mix of marble, yellow brick and terra cotta.

According to the New York Landmarks Commission: 
"The Borough Hall was designed in monumental terms." 

"It stands as a good example of public building through the nobility and scale of the architectural elements employed.”

The Borough Hall was widely regarded as “especially important for the Bronx because it is intimately identified with the history of the Borough at the end of the 19th century.”

In fact, “No other building in the entire Borough has more historical associations for the period concerned." 

"Life in the Bronx centered around this building.”

But in the 1950’s and 60’s it became a symbol of all that was going wrong in our rapidly growing borough. The people organized with the intent to knock it down. 

In October 1965 the Landmarks Preservation Commission designated the Old Bronx Borough Hall as a Landmark, protecting it in perpetuity. 

Money was raised for a community center renovation.

But the neighborhood was not giving up.

Just three years later there was a “mysterious” major fire within the empty building, causing significant structural damage.

Despite efforts by the Bronx Historical Society the building was quickly deemed structurally unsafe, the landmark was withdrawn and it was demolished on January 12, 1969.

The people had won. 
Our Borough lost its finest crown jewel.

Climb the magnificent stair up to the top and you’ll see.

There’s nothing there.