Photo of the day: A STREETCAR NAMED FRANCET
– A trip Brooklyn go to the supermarket/grocery store is more of an unusual experience than you think! The local Fairway Supermarket chain has turned the Red Hook Brooklyn waterfront into an day-trip shopping experience. Built into an old industrial building and site, it has become a day at the beach.
On the back patio are three wonderful old trolley cars from a bygone era in New York. They were supposed to be part of a planned waterfront trolley from Red Hook to the Brooklyn Bridge that has been debated since the 1980’s. About a decade ago they were restored by trolley buff Bob Diamond, who hoped to run them on a line on Columbia Street and Furman along the waterfront for a proposed Trolley Museum and restoration project that has never happened. (He was also was the guy who found the first tunnel in NYC under Atlantic Ave.) He actually got some tracks built before the city pulled the plug. They have been left to deteriorate in back of Fairway since. Further ravaged by hurricane Sandy, their streamlined beauty remains.
As for Fairway – many were skeptical (and quite vocal) back when Fairway planned to open a store in Harlem. And then for their fourth store to be in industrial Red Hook, Brooklyn, well, people thought they were just plain nuts. But how could they resist the gorgeous waterfront with a view of the Statue of Liberty? The Red Hook location ended up being a diamond in the rough, having the advantage of space and size (the largest store at the time at 52,000 square feet), plus all of the qualities that made them a star in Manhattan – on premises-roasted coffee beans freshly ground to order, the largest artisanal cheese counter around, the best of the best deli and appetizing organic and natural foods at competitive prices, the highest quality USDA Prime Beef from their Butcher shop including our own USDA Prime dry-aged beef, the freshest seafood, the largest selection of daily-delivered produce, traditional groceries, kosher selections, and a made-from-scratch bakery. Oh, and the specialty imports – olive oils, exclusive artisanal oils and vinegars, tapenades and sauces, spreads to perfectly complement your perfect cheese, it’s the stuff you dream of. Red Hook is a one-stop-shop that holds a special place in the Fairway Market family of stores. The word ‘cavernous’ comes to mind – IT’S HUGE! !
With café seating for 50 and a waterfront view, Fairway Red Hook is a joy for people to come to shop and for lunch! Customers can set their carts aside, order a scrumptious meal, and in no time be sitting facing the Statue of Liberty having a nice chat with a friend. Surrounded by up-and-coming housing developments and an artist community, the Red Hook store has a unique opportunity to be involved with the community. They donated $30,000 to help rebuild the hurricane Sandy ravaged community. The store itself was completely wiped out inside – a total loss. But they are back stronger than ever in such a short time. Grab your flip flops, sun tan oil and go – – – to the supermarket!
Mondays on Memory Lane: THE PALLADIUM DISCO “EVERY DAY IS GAY PRIDE DAY” – June is world wide Gay Pride month. One of the last great dance palaces of the disco era was the grand Palladium which every Sunday catered to an almost all gay audience. Owned and operated by the former Studio 54 masterminds Ian Shrager and Steve Rubell. It was one of the last clubs I attended around 1986 before “it just wasn’t fun anymore.”
The Palladium was converted from a movie theater to a music venue and then into a nightclub. The famous duo hired Danceteria DJ Richard Sweret, who saw the possibility of a much larger audience for a downtown New Wave, Euro and house music-oriented club. From its celebrity-studded opening in May 1985, through the end of the 1980’s, it was one of the major features on a vibrant New York club scene. The club was a mainstay on the New York club scene until it was bought out in 1997 by the voracious appetite of New York University (NYU) and demolished for a sterile campus housing project. They have continued to destroy New York ever since.
Junior Vasquez’s Arena party, held Saturday nights and all day Sundays at Palladium between September 1996 and September 1997, was one of the most popular parties in the New York club scene at the time. Although the promoters billed Arena as “The Gay Man’s Pleasure Dome”, the party drew an eclectic mix of gay and straight from Manhattan and far beyond. 14th Street in those days was still seedy and therefore the attraction to gain entrance into the club as you bypassed the bums in the adjoining urine stenched doorways was ‘chic’ and daring.
1986 Palladium party invitation
The Palladium represented architect Arata Isozaki’s transformation of a vacant and rundown theater, originally built in 1927 as the Academy of Music, into an extraordinary interior that can only be described as a sleek new structure, the equivalent of a seven-story building using more than 200 tons of steel, within the restored grandeur of the original shell. After the conversion from a venue to a club, the main dance floor of the Palladium was a huge space which used to hold the theater and seating. One interesting feature of the club was the large banks of TV monitors in grid formations that were used to display music vidoes. Each monitor could operate separately, or one large picture could be shown across the grid – we had never seen such technology before and it was mesmerizing to us at the time.
The entire gigantic cavernous club was big enough to hold different areas, the equivalent of three or four clubs! Besides the pounding main dance floor area there was a multicolored basement, and the famous upstairs “VIP room”, The Michael Todd Room. Murals were created for this space by the well known New York artists of the 1980s Jean-Michel Basquit, Francesco Clemente, Kenny Scharf and Keith Haring – these treasures are gone.
The video links below will show you the 1980’s grandeur it once was.
A rare visual tour into the past of The Palladium: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t5_NI2MSmp8
MTV music video A. Snap – The Power B. Technotronic – This beat is Technotronic: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vUdbX4B-74s
Mondays on Memory Lane – STARBUCKS USED TO BE A NEW YORK DISCO! – At the height of the disco craze, when there was a disco every few blocks in New York City, themes became the thing to separate a club from the crowd. There were circuses, mermaids, big band swing orchestras, human pin ball fists, ice skating, drag, dancing water fountains, roller skating featured in places such as planetariums, warehouses, garages, factories and even a deserted subway station.
The life span of a club was as follows:
1. Invite the gays and hope it turns into another Studio 54.
2. The straight chic crowd discovers it from their gay friends.
3. The gays leave because it isn’t “in” anymore.
4. The ‘bridge and tunnel crowd’ arrives aka Brooklyn, Bronx, Queens, Staten Island and (god forbid) ‘Jersey’.
5. The death knell “Tito Puente Night”
On Thursday evening, March 26th, 1981, in a (then) deserted section of the city, at 151 East 45th Street between Lexington and Third Avenues – STARBUCKS Disco opened with great fanfare. In order to attract a gay crowd while not wanting to put off and also attract the straight crowd from the beginning, a theme was needed, so rather than leather, glitz or drag – a cowboy theme was chosen, hopefully equally appealing to both gay and straight. Opening night was a mad house.
The old Danny’s Hideaway (above)
The location itself used to be Danny’s Hideaway bar and restaurant containing four floors where newspapermen, cartoonists and magazine editors used to hang out. The new renovation turned the space into a multi-leveled disco with an identity crisis. There was a working fireplace which remained from the old bar still on the first floor. Since they were desperate to attract all crowds, there was a different atmosphere and music on four floors. A slide connected the floors so that you could fly down the chutes from floor to floor. There was a dance floor on every floor—two of which were disco (one of the dance floors was lighted from underneath ala ‘Saturday Night Fever’), one rock and the top floor was country western complete with a mechanical bull! There was DJ Jim Maxwell on the first floor and DJ Dan (pooch) Pucciarelli on the third floor. With no Studio 54 elitist door policy in place, they pretty much let anybody in since they needed to fill such a big space. $15 got you in the door with free drinks all night…yes, free drinks served in tiny plastic cups which completely littered the floor. It was also one of the very few discos that advertised on local TV stations.
What doesn’t work is to mix cowboy boot wearing, plaid shirted country music lovers with platform shoed, bell-bottomed glittery disco dancers and leather clad rockers. It was a disaster. Each floor’s music blasted the music so loud that it thumped through your chest. Imagine hearing Donna Summer, Duran Duran and Alabama blasting in one building at the same time – insane! The gays/chic Manhattan crowd wrote off the club opening night and the disco life cycle was rapidly overnight sped up to step #4 – ‘bridge & tunnel’. Eventually it turned into an after work hangout for the working class and weekends it was dead. The disco/dance crowd wanted to get dressed up and shine on the weekends, not mix with the working stiffs they were trying not to be, inevitably by 1984 Starbucks Disco closed. Today the name Starbucks is synonymous with the world wide caffeine giant it has become with over 20,891+ locations world wide, 13,280+ in the USA and 172 locations in Manhattan…so necessary for their public bathrooms we have come to seek out.
The invitation reads as follows: “STARBUCKS is a multilevel new western restaurant, disco and cabaret. Designed by Renny Reynolds and lighting by Brian Thompson. Complete with Bucky Bronco, haylofts, hay slides, barbecue pit, waterfall, glass elevator, screening room, wood burning fireplaces, skylighted dance floors and an array of futuristic surprises.”
Invitation design by Greg Porto. Artwork by Dain Marcus