BEST DECEPTIVE STORE PRACTICE
GAMESTOP’S “NEW” GAMES
A used game by any other name. We wondered why it was taking so long
for the salesman to retrieve our copy of The Sims from the back room. When he finally brought
it to the register—and rang us up for a new copy—we also wondered why the game wasn’t
in its original Xbox-stickered packaging. We paid the full price, but the transaction stuck in
Once home, we called the store and asked why the game looked as if it had
been shrink-wrapped in the back room. The salesboy’s response?
“Well, have you had a problem with our used games in the past?”
Well, that doesn’t answer our question, now does it, kid?
It’s a strange concept, but one that we hold dear: pay full price for a
new product, get a new product. If we wanted to buy a used game, we’d pay the used-game price.
After some phone work, we finally got a call from Gamestop’s regional
manager, Jim Kirk, who told us that not only does Gamestop sell opened (“display”) games at new prices,
but it’s also Gamestop’s policy to allow its employees to take new games home, play them, then reshrinkwrap
them and sell them as new.
This way, he says, their zit-ridden, underpaid, pizza-grease-stained
employees (our adjectives) can sample the new games and thereby counsel customers more effectively.
Kirk promised us that the company was looking into its policies, but
we haven’t heard back from him yet.
BEST INADVERTENTLY CRIME-PROOF WALLET
Not so fast. Friday evening, 6:15. Broadway/Lafayette. Four or
five B and D trains had come and gone, depositing a succession of human payloads with no connecting
train in sight. So the platform is packed when the F train at last lumbers in and takes a full half-minute
As fate would have it, our platform position is precisely between two
doors, so as people begin to pile in, like all good liberals, we cast our lot to the left. So—shove
shove—in we pile. Naturally—shove shove—others follow suit
and pile in behind. And just as naturally, we tap our front right pocket, as any improv comic trying
to imitate us would do, as we do incessantly, in and out of crowds, probably three times a minute,
any time we are ambulatory. Naturally, because that’s where we keep our green leather wallet handmade
by Shelley Parker.
Only somehow, and not quite so naturally, the wallet is gone. One of those
italicized shoves had corresponded to its deft extraction. So we have suddenly lost not merely
our cash and laminated emblems of self, but a cherished product of the labors of leather-working
artisan Shelley Parker. Our reaction is immediate and guided by laserlike squirts of adrenaline:
We wheel around, and there over our right shoulder is a man we will only ever know as “the sketchy-looking-guy-just-over-our-right-shoulder.”
He is positioned in the approximate spot where a pickpocket would have
to have been, so we go over and begin patting. The sketchy guy’s reaction to our touching him was the
tip-off: Rather than roll up on us, scream curses and shunt our arms away (as any innocent New York
male would’ve done), he offers mere quiet protests: “Yo, whatchu doin, mayne?”
We continue to pat him down while also positioning ourselves between
him and the sliding door, inserting our shoulder into one of the car doors, pinning it open, hoping
to summon help.
By now, we’re also shouting. “Wallet?!? Have you seen our wallet?!?
Do you know anything about a wallet?!?”
We do not look at his face because something tells us to not take our eagle
eyes off the man’s midsection, where prestidigitatory hand motions might help our wallet along
to a permanent, rather than a temporary, state of disappearance. But time is short, and our fellow
passengers are beginning to overheat. (And not, we might add, doing anything to help. Some were
even angry with us for the delay.)
Then, we notice the sweater draped over the perp’s left hand, which hangs
down at his side. We lunge for it, but not before the unseen hand flicks our wallet to the ground.
“Ah ha!” we gasp, and dive to our knees to retrieve the prize.
Our thief promptly hightails it out the re-opened doors. We raise our
eyes just enough for a glimpse of our still-baffled fellow passengers, who gawk at us with the disinterested
bovine effrontery familiar to most victims of New York street crime. But we do not blame them (the
whole thing had happened fast, in tight quarters), and more to the point, we do not care. We have our
prize, convinced that our assailant was this close to extracting the cash.
What thwarted his efforts was the unorthodox design of Shelley Parker’s
wallet, wherein an inner pouch holds folded-over bills and credit cards nestle snugly in slots
on the opposite side. The only thing that’s easy to extract is the MetroCard—but surely our
thief already had plenty of those in hand.
We’re not saying the Shelley Parker wallet is pickpocket-proof, but
it did afford us a few more minutes in which to successfully shake down the guy who shook us down.
FOR SALE AT TSHIRTHELL.COM.
BEST WAY TO
PURCHASE USED PHOTO EQUIPMENT
ADORAMA BY WAY OF EBAY
42 W. 18th St. (betw. 5th & 6th Aves.)
Shutterbug love. Daddy was a gambler. Not once in a while, for kicks;
he was more of the “lose the house and the car” variety, which is maybe why we don’t completely trust
ourselves on eBay. We sense in our blood that tendency to get so excited while bidding that we forget
that real money will really leave our pockets at the end of the transaction.
Then there was the time several years ago when we bought our first camera
through the site, as did most of our intro-to-photo friends. Our Canon AE-1—bless its mechanical
heart—arrived one week later, in great condition. Our friend is still waiting for hers.
It’s a pretty good system those eBay folks have, but there’s always someone who doesn’t get her camera.
Which is a shame, since eBay is the best place to find used photo equipment, especially with so many
photogs dumping their durable film cameras for digital rigs.
We’ve spent plenty of time at the mighty B&H, where without fail
we buy our film and other consumables. That wondrous shrine to all things photographic has its merits;
unfortunately, the used department is not among them. We don’t find the disinterested second-floor
countermen quaint. Rather, they’re disinterested, unfriendly and we always leave feeling stupid.
And we’re not all that stupid, especially when it comes to cameras.
Whenever we feel like capitalizing on the digital craze, we favor Adorama.
Though they have fewer used goods in stock than their 34th St. competitor, the prices are usually
cheaper—particularly with medium-format cameras and accessories. The real trick, though,
is combining eBay’s immediacy with Adorama’s helpfulness by searching for items they’re selling
and then heading over to the store to speak with a human being. Call ahead with the item number, and
it will be ready for inspection when you get there.
Even better, there are often items not listed at auction. On one recent
trip, we inquired about a Mamiya RZ67 featured on eBay that wasn’t quite right for us. When we dropped
by the store, Matthew patiently answered our questions while also noting our various needs. After
a trip to the mysterious used-parts laboratory, he emerged with a system that met our needs—at
a price $300 lower than B&H’s comparable package. And when we found that one of the film backs
had a minor flaw, we returned to the store and were given a replacement within 15 minutes. Yet another
reason we were glad we’d had face-to-face time instead of an email address.
While offers vary with what’s in stock, the ability to customize our
equipment at great prices, without bidding wars, has won our repeat business. At ebay.com, search
within “Cameras and Photo” for Adorama, user id “adorwin.”
BEST VIDEO STORE
332 E. 11th St. (betw. 1st & 2nd Aves.), 212-677-6309
In the vault. If you walk past the bar, then through the small screening
room where they show 16mm classics and host comedy shows, you’ll find that Cinema Classics is hiding
an absolutely amazing video store. It’s dim and shadowy and cramped and has a squeaky wooden floor,
but its maze-like shelves are packed with everything—foreign films, sci-fi and horror
movies, tv shows, film noir—both VHS and DVD, with a focus on rare and out-of-print titles.
This isn’t a rental place. Everything here is for sale, with prices ranging
from $5 to upwards of $20 or $30 if it’s obscure enough. First time we ventured in there not having
a clue what we might find, we walked out a half hour later lugging a heavy bag, having just dropped
way too much money. But we couldn’t help it—they had movies there we didn’t even know had ever
been available on home video. They also had a bunch of things that haven’t been available for a very
long time. Lots of Japanese sci-fi, and lots of long-forgotten British and American weirdies.
Most of their business seems to be via internet and mail order, so they
may look at you funny when you walk in (all the times we were there, we were alone except for the guy
at the desk)—but it’s only through browsing the shelves that you’ll find some of those gems
you’ve been searching for all these years.
BEST MALE SPA
77 8th Ave. (14th St.), 212-242-3203
Rub, no tug. It was our first experience with another man. We got naked
and lay down on a sheeted table. He walked in, closed the door, dimmed the lights and turned on soothing
music. And rubbed us down for an hour. His strong yet soft and delicate hands released all stress
and tension. We’ve never been touched like that before, and pretty soon it didn’t feel awkward.
In fact, we loved it. His name was Joe. He was our massage therapist.
We’ve had massages before, so we knew what to expect. We weren’t, however,
expecting everything else this male-only spa (the city’s first) could offer.
Nickel (pronounced nee-kel; French slang for “spotless”)
gives off a bullish feel, partly due to being located in the old Bank of America building but also
from the decidedly masculine vibe on the inside. The walls are chrome, the lighting is cobalt and
there’s a lot of thick glass. On the bottom floor is a retail space where a complete line of skin products
is offered (including a Nickel brand, used in the treatments); down to the packaging, everything
is heavy, square-shaped and metallic.
There are four different facials, three body treatments, four massages
and full body waxing on the menu. We could have had everything done from having our face looking younger
and feeling more vibrant, to getting our back acne treated. There’s even some sort of manipulation
to make our love handles look less like a spare tire.
The treatment that’s gaining the most popularity is waxing. And the
waxing that’s in vogue, according to general manager Hector Pena, is the Brazilian wax, a longtime
favorite among women in which all hair is removed from one’s nether regions. Pena claims
that more women are inquiring for their boyfriends. (Nickel also offers trimming if the hot wax
and ripping method isn’t your style.)
Though drinks aren’t served at the spa, Nickel does offer a happy-hour
special: From 2 to 4 p.m., Monday through Thursday, all services are 15 percent off. And in case you
were wondering, Nickel does have a female massage therapist if you’re not man enough to be touched
by another guy.
BEST PLACE TO
HAVE HOLES DRILLED
IN SHEET METAL
ABETTA BOILER & WELDING
66 E. 1st St. (betw. 1st & 2nd Aves.)
Shivs sharpened free of charge. Prefab is not always the answer.
Not when it comes to special projects like the wall-mounted shelving we recently put up in our living
room or the steel footpeg we had welded to the centerstand of our vintage motorcycle. For jobs like
this we go to Abetta, where the toughs who work the drill presses, blowtorches, saws and lathes seem
to really appreciate the DIY approach.
Need a hole punched into a 1/3-inch-thick steel beam? No problem. Want
that raw metal edge smoothed to a marble-soft finish? Sure, just hold my cigarette.
And they do good work, too. Cab owners and bikers swear by Abetta for odd
jobs, as does a sculptor friend of ours. It bears mentioning that the house rules are a bit blurry
when it comes to taking walk-in business. We advise a subtle approach: Bring cash and don’t ask for
BEST AIRPORT TRANSPORTATION
MTA BUS M-60 FROM MORNINGSIDE HEIGHTS TO LA GUARDIA
F JFK. There’s no better reason to fly out of plucky LaGuardia than
the M-60, which takes you from Broadway and 106th to the airport for nothing more than a $2 swipe of
Forget the SuperShuttle, Airporter coaches, taxis and limos—the
M-60 is easy, reliable and cheap. It’s the kind of service that should be available to all
of New York’s airports. The M-60 is so good, in fact, that one hesitates to call too much attention
to it—for fear that the MTA will do away with it and substitute something like the overpriced
fiasco that is the AirTrain.
Currently, and hopefully long into the future, the M-60 leaves the northeast
corner of Broadway and W. 106th St. every nine to 20 minutes, depending on the time of day. It heads
north on Broadway, east on 120th St., north on Amsterdam, east on 125th then finally crosses the
Triborough into Queens. There, it follows Astoria Blvd. to 23rd Ave. and turns on 94th St., looping
into and around LaGuardia’s Airport Roadway. It stops at Delta/Northwest, US Airways, the Main
Terminal and the Marine Air Terminal/Delta Shuttle, before heading back to Manhattan.a
Outbound, the trip takes approximately 50 to 75 minutes, depending
upon traffic. The return is slightly shorter, again depending upon traffic. Weekend schedules
are slightly different.
NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY
Plus a bathroom. Sure, the Strand has lots of books, and Coliseum
has good deals, and so on and so forth. But, on a pages-per-dollar basis, nothing compares to the
deal offered by our friends at the New York Public Library. Like a slightly nerdy friend with great
toys, eager to butter you up with long-term loans as a means of avoiding that post-school wedgie,
the NYPL will gladly lend you any of their myriad thousands of books, CDs and DVDs—at no charge.
All they ask of you, much like the geek, is to avoid mutilating their property, and to return it in
a timely fashion. (The NYPL does a solid business in late fees, especially the $1-a-day fines for
Being big readers restricted by a small budget, the NYPL never lets us
down. If you must read the latest big book immediately, the public library may not be for you (we’re
currently 233rd in line for My Life), but most everything else is readily available. Recent
intense fascinations with the Soviet Union and California history have been easily sated by the
NYPL’s vast holdings, as has an interest in the kick-ass Brian Eno albums from the mid-70s.
For some reason, though, library employees can be a bunch of patron-hating
dickweeds, more interested in perfecting their kid-scaring snarl than in actually, you know,
being helpful. Maybe all the generosity and benevolence exhibited by their employer to the general
public leaves them bitter and mistrustful. Too bad for them—in the interest of cheap reads,
we’ve developed awfully thick skin. And we know our way around, thanks very much.
SERVICE AT THE
RESERVES AND DELIVERY
Like Netflix—for books. As we mentioned above, we don’t rely
on the public library for new releases and bestsellers. It’s the other titles that interest us—those
gaps in the card catalog in our head. But why waste a trip, not knowing if it’s available? Fortunately,
all three library systems—Queens, Brooklyn and New York (which covers the other three boroughs)—have
excellent websites, with online catalogs that tell you what books/videos/etc. they have, whether
they’re checked out or not and where they’re located. We hardly set foot in the library nowadays
without first reserving books and having them sent to the branch closest to our office.
Whether the book’s popular or obscure, if it’s located halfway across
the city, we don’t want to shlep out there, nor do we want to go to our local branch to fill out a form.
(We actually did that, years ago.) Now it’s all online; we fill out the form, then wait for the email
telling us to pick up the book. For years, we’d cut out book reviews for books we thought we wanted
to read someday. We missed a lot of those books, because once we actually got ourselves to the library,
the book was checked out, or lost. Now we put the book on reserve, and we plow through that list in our
own sweet time.
BEST LATIN MASS
CHURCH OF ST. ANN
110 E. 12th St. (betw. 3rd & 4th Aves.)
Vatican II who? If you ever grooved along to “Kumbaya,” we forgive
you. If you ever bopped around during Guitar Mass (two words that should have never been joined in
any sort of holy setting), we also forgive you. We didn’t know any better.
Having come of age after Vatican II, we didn’t know what we were missing
until we got older: the gorgeous lace mantillas, novenas, St. Christopher medals. All, things
they took away. After Vatican II, see, wise Church leaders decided that congregations
should hear mass in their own language, and suddenly, ladies no longer wore veils in church, everybody
stopped going to Confession and, most importantly, they got rid of the Latin Mass. That’s when all
hell broke loose.
Well, not exactly, but that decision did destroy a lot of the beauty and
mystery of the ritual. Luckily, in recent years, there has been a reversal that allows for traditional
Latin Masses to be revived, if enough parishioners want it, and we’ve finally been able to experience
Catholicism the way it was meant to be. Every Saturday at 2 p.m., you too can join in this stately,
dignified liturgy at Church of St. Ann.
Keep a lookout for us. We’re the ones wearing an old, tattered and much-too-small
First Communion veil, trying to remember how to say a rosary.
Not-so-roughing it. We’ve been known to fetishize certain things.
Traveler gadgets, for instance. Mini Maglite? Nice. A one-liter water-purification
bottle? Cool. Fortunately, we also insist on packing light, so we can never go too far overboard.
While preparing for a wee three-week trip during the summer, we knew
our full-size pack wouldn’t be coming along. Instead, the backpack we carry every day—just
large enough for a pair of pants, some socks, skivvies, basic toiletries—would be paired
with a small messenger bag for our camera and other day needs. When we asked around about our destination,
however, we learned that the nights would be cold and that the mosquitoes would eat us alive.
So, over to Campmor, the New Jersey-based company that has long been
our website of choice for camping supplies. We bought an individual mosquito tent, a bottle of industrial-strength
insect repellent, a box of coils and a Marmot 15-degree, 600-fill sleeping bag. Even with shipping,
the prices were competitive with Paragon and Eastern Mountain Sports, and our package arrived
within a couple days and without error.
The mosquitoes, of course, did eat us alive, preventions notwithstanding—but
at least we were warm while they did it. The mini Maglite, incidentally, did make the cut at $9.99,
while the fancy Katadyn Exstream XR Water Purifier, though supercool, was deemed an object of gadget
fetish that would’ve set us back $40 for no good reason.
BEST REASON TO
WALK A FRIEND’S PUPPY
PUPPY PLAY GROUP
Heart of Chelsea Animal Hospital
257 W. 18th St. (betw. 7th & 8th Aves.)
Puppy luv. Guilty of crossing the street in pursuit of a cute dog or
stopping mid-phone call to baby-talk a puppy, we were ridiculously overjoyed when our dad brought
home a six-week-old collie, proportionately small and perfectly uncoordinated. We’ve spent
the past two weeks running to visit the puppy after work just to get a few hours of playtime in, and
gush at the puppy’s inquisitiveness. But when we learned that the Heart of Chelsea reserves one
hour on Monday nights for puppies and their owners to socialize, we promptly volunteered to take
the widdle snuggums.
Sure, Chelsea’s overrun with dog-socializing spots, including spas,
runs and groomers, but there you’re more likely to run into miniaturized breeds, seemingly small
but lacking that puppy helplessness that adds to their adorability. The vet’s office provides
all-puppy playtime every week. First the puppies start out slow, scared of everything in the office,
but then eager for attention they emerge from behind their owners, investigating the new people
around them—and eventually the puppies. Soon it’s puppy mayhem, with ears being pulled
and yips being uttered, as a mess of oversized paws struggles to maintain solid contact with the
Although it’s free, admittance is contingent upon possession of a dog
15 weeks or younger, and visitors should expect to be pitched by a trainer, there to monitor playtime
and drum up a little business.
BEST CHEAP TUXEDO
BURLINGTON COAT FACTORY
707 6th Ave. (23rd St.), 212-229-1300
There comes a time in a man’s life… When you open the invitation
to your friend’s wedding and it says, “black tie optional,” you know it’s a goddamn lie. You’re really
going to be the only person at the wedding wandering around in your black sports jacket and khakis?
Just so you know: You will be invited to a black-tie wedding before you’re
30. One of your friends has entertained grandiose wedding fantasies her entire life, where the
women all have lavender gowns and the men are all dressed in tuxes. But, you reply, isn’t it a little
unfair to make you plunk down hundreds of extra dollars to buy or rent a tux?
Fuck you. You will not destroy this fantasy.
There is a whole line of tuxedo-rental joints in Bay Ridge that will give
you everything you need—from coat, to shirt, to cummerbund, to bow-tie, to black shoes—all
for about $150. You will return it when the weekend is over.
No, this is not a bargain.
But there is a tuxedo deal to be found. Renting really makes no sense when
you can buy a tux at Burlington Coat Factory for $150. Yes, Burlington Coat Factory, which ran some
of New York’s cheesiest commercials in the 1980s, has one large outlet on 23rd St. (and recently
opened up another outlet in Brooklyn off Atlantic Ave.). One can find a perfectly decent two-button
tux for as low as $100.
You’ll have to buy it off the rack (no, they won’t order one to fit your
size if they don’t have it), and you might have to make some alterations. But right across the aisle
you can pick up a tuxedo shirt for under $13. Bow-tie and cummerbund combo goes for $10. You might
have to run through a lot of tuxes before you find the perfect one, but the salespeople are extremely
helpful and patient, and you won’t spend a dime the next time you open a wedding invitation that says,
“black tie optional.”
LAURA NORMAN & ASSOCIATES REFLEXOLOGY CENTER
41 Park Ave., Suite 8A (38th St.)
Best foot forward. Laura Norman wrote the book on foot massage: Feet
First: A Guide to Foot Reflexology. After letting your fingers walk through its pages, treat
your soles and tootsies for a personal connection with Norman’s healing hands. New York’s resident
reflexology guru practices at her own Reflexology Center, a two-room studio on Park Ave. It’s a
small, intimate, one-on-one sort of place, with a vanilla-scented waiting room/office area and
one treatment room. Before the hands-on, you complete pre-treatment forms, specifying particularly
pressing physical issues (or physical conditions that need Norman’s gentle pressure and kneading?)
and stating your immediate personal (weight loss, pain relief, etc.) and/or work-related (write
that novel, enhance creativity, etc.) goals.
“It helps us to know whether clients seek relief for particular health
conditions or if they expect a more generalized sense of balance and well-being through the distressing
and energizing effects of reflexology, and articulating their goals helps them focus, visualize
and meditate during treatments,” says Norman.
The treatment room, furnished with comfortable sofa and easy chair,
is much more spacious than most massage stalls. During the treatment, you recline face up on a well-padded
massage table, gazing upon a ceiling awesomely adorned with realistically painted angels and
clouds and, centrally situated, a pair of foot bottoms. A teardrop-shaped pink crystal dangles
beneath the soles. Soothing music or not, your option. The rub begins with a soaking—each
foot is bundled briefly in a moist, warm, scented towel. Then every one of the 15,000 nerves in your
feet—and their points of correspondence throughout the rest of your body from your head
down—are stimulated, as Norman systematically presses, pinches and pulls every inch of
toe, sole and ankle on one foot after the other.
By the conclusion of an hour-long session, your stress has melted and
you feel a sense of well-being and energy circulating through your entire body. You walk out of the
center on air. If you can’t get an appointment with Norman ($125 per hour), experience her treatment
style with one of her Reflexology Center associates ($100 per hour), whom she’s trained personally.
If you can’t visit the Center, Laura Norman & Associates offer home, office, hotel or hospital
sessions for double the fee. Or, learn to work Norman’s magic on the feet of friends and family—or
your own—by enrolling in her periodic Reflexology Training Programs. The introductory
workshop costs $100. The certification course costs $900.
2328 12th Ave. (132nd St.), 212-234-3883
Fresh and direct. With the highest-quality selection of foodstuffs
from around the world and at the best prices in town, Fairway has no real competition. The closest
would be Whole Foods, but the price differential leaves that yuppie-sucking chain in the dust.
The incredible variety and sheer beauty of the meat, fish, vegetables and fruit makes it nigh unto
impossible for us to drop less than $200 in a visit—and that $200 buys a carload of groceries.
The cheese counter alone is worth a visit.
Fairway is immaculately clean, and the staff is knowledgeable and cheerful.
Parking is easy and free. Loaner jackets are available (and quite handy) for browsing the cooler
room containing the meat and the fish. The selection of beloved imported foods is outstanding.
We’ve spent time in California. We adore Allen Ginsberg’s famous tribute
poem, “A Supermarket in California.” In most Manhattan supermarkets, “Grade A” produce is roughly
comparable to the cast-offs the Manson Family used to pull out of California dumpsters.
Fairway isn’t just superior to Whole Foods in every way—it transcends
even the standards of the great Golden State.
BEST 24-HOUR SPA
TO GET NAKED WITH YOUR LOVER
25 W. 32nd St., 5th fl. (betw. 5th Ave. & B’way), 646-733-1330
Happy tenth, dear. Eleventh? I meant eleventh. Nothing says “Happy
Anniversary” like a midnight appointment at “the Jewel of New York spas.” And there’s no better
happy ending than what will follow your three-hour session with your honey as what you’ll earn as
reward back home. All services start with the signature Jade Igloo steamroom made of 20 tons of semiprecious
stones. Sitting naked in the Igloo for 20 minutes will begin to calm your mind and pulse—or
set it racing, depending on what other couples you may share it with. Focus on your breathing; let
the dry steam enter your lungs.
Be sure to book the VIP room with personal jacuzzi for that extra vacation-like
relaxation. It comes with a complimentary bottle of champagne and two trays of fruit. Feed your
lover strawberries while she lies back enjoying the hot bubbling jets, her hair floating about
her. Nibble on her breast while her hand goes searching beneath the surface. If you need to fuck right
then and there, just make sure you don’t overdo it. Sex in a jacuzzi can be dangerous to the faint of
Shower off, pat dry and make your way to the massage tables. You will be
instructed to disrobe and lie side by side, close enough that you can hold hands if you care to. Peek
over when the woman oils up her back and thighs, and fall in love again. Listen for her whimpers while
you melt beneath the touch of your own masseuse. When your hour is up, try and wake from the trance.
Walk over to the Baked-Clay Sauna, and lie down on a mat with your eyes
closed. Your host will bring you tall glasses of cool water with lemons and oranges. Don’t doze off,
no matter how comfortable you get. Enjoy one of the three Japanese-style soaking pools filled with
sake, ginseng or kombu algae to cool you off. The sad part is, eventually you will have to leave, but
you will be back.
91 Grand St. (betw. Greene & Mercer Sts.) 212-965-0302
Feel the colors. Israeli artist/designer Liora Manné has
been making her designs for years. Todd Oldham used her fabric in his first fashion collection,
and her custom carpets have showcased clients including Absolut Kurant. First manipulating the
synthetic fabric into predetermined shades and designs in a patented technique called Lamontage—rather
than being woven, designs are laid out in 3D, before a bed of needles pressed down hard, entwines
the fabric—Manné’s new technique, Montique, seals the fabric between two layers
Prototypes are worked out by a designer, then copied by a staff of laborers,
working in assembly-line format in their Chelsea office/factory. Currently, the material, see-through
and lightweight, has been used in shoulder bags, molded into shoes, cut into placemats and coasters
and just recently bent into lampshades, highlighting the fabric trapped inside.
Working from an ever-expanding source of signature patterns, Manné
can swath a room from ceiling to floor—which can be a little overwhelming due to the intensity
of the fabric’s design. Her downtown store is stuffed with items from both lines, with prices running
anywhere from $18 for a pack of coasters to more than $2000 for an area rug. The creations, limited
only by Manné’s imagination—and the requests of her customers—show no sign
VINTAGE NEW YORK
482 Broome St. (Wooster St.), 212-226-9463
2492 B’way (93rd St.), 212-721-9999
And on the seventh day, He…drank. Until we discovered Vintage
New York, we hated going to dinner parties on Sunday. Why? Because we always forgot to buy a bottle
of wine the day before. Two hours before party time, we’d suddenly remember that wine and liquor
stores were closed on Sundays, and we felt like losers showing up with the three cans of beer left
over from the night before.
We thought conditions would have improved since May of last year, when
the old Blue Law finally got a little kick: New York’s package stores are now allowed to open on Sundays—provided
they close one other day of the week. For all the celebration the new law garnered, not much has changed.
Few of the city’s mom ‘n’ pops have bothered to take advantage, and those who do open on Sundays frustrate
their clientele by closing on a Tuesday or Wednesday.
Vintage New York, however, is not only open on Sundays, it’s open every
other day of the week as well. Thanks to a 1984 winery deregulation law, New York wine stores that
are associated with a local winery are allowed to stay open all week. Vintage New York is linked to
the Rivendell Winery in New Paltz, and the stores in Soho and on the Upper East Side carry 150 different
wines from the New York wine region. They also sell local cheese and other nibbley things—which,
after you spend some time at the tasting bar, go from seeming a little fussy and overpriced to must-haves.
The wines themselves are better than you’d expect. New York wines have
always had a reputation for being “sweet, cheap and kosher,” but the nation’s third-largest wine
region is more sophisticated than that. Vintage New York carries wines made from native American
grapes, late harvest and ice wines (both of which are sweet), and the lesser-known Seyval-Blanc
and Vignoles. Now we go to Sunday dinner armed with a proper bottle and a little bit more knowledge
about wine, which makes us look like the classy people we always wished we could be.
BEST USED CHIHUAHUAS
Drop the gordita-sized dog. There’s no denying that certain breeds
become popular because of ads and movies. When the fad has faded, though, these mutts may find themselves
tossed out in favor of the next pooch du jour. We can only imagine, for instance, the packs of feral
pugs running through the nighttime streets, victims of Men in Black.
Waggy Tail Rescue rescues dogs, rehabilitates them as necessary, then
puts them up for adoption. Because they don’t have a shelter facility, they only accept dogs weighing
less than 20 pounds—which means they have more small breeds on hand than your average rescue
group. Lots of, say, chihuahaus.
Each mutt has a profile on the website. Sweet Samson tells us he’s a handsome,
quiet, SSCM (senior single canine male) looking for someone to share his life with. As to how he became
homeless: “I gave them the best years of my life and how did they repay me, they abandoned me—perhaps
it’s because I’m blind in one eye. Heck, we dogs don’t use our eyes nearly as much as we do our ears and
noses, and those work perfectly!”
So here you have an organization going out of its way to find a home for
an older, half-blind chihuahua. We don’t normally like the little dogs, but come on—half-blind?
BEST AUTO MECHANICS
4237 Crescent St. (42nd Rd.), LIC, 718-786-5656
Click and clack. The only way to keep your sanity in this town is to
get out as often as possible, and the only truly sane method of transport is the personal automobile.
Rentals are great if you have the budget for it, but nothing beats having the option to head out to
Vegas on a whim at your own pace. Our 12-year-old American sedan does not yet qualify as a beater,
but it does clearly signify that we have less to lose than the fella driving a Hummer. This is vital
if you wish to use the car to get around town, as we do.
You then need an honest and competent mechanic. In our current kleptocracy,
in which cheating is not only encouraged but mandatory, it is rare indeed to find competence and
honesty combined in an enterprise. Mike and Dave Bagwin have been running a straight shop since
Christ was a cowboy and God was an Irishman. Their estimates are consistently accurate, their prices
are extremely reasonable and if they can’t fix it, it’s beyond repair.
We’ve put 75,000 miles on the car since acquiring it in 2000. Out of necessity,
we have had occasion to resort to the large chains for service and maintenance. Pep Boys consistently
charges half again what the Bagwins would, and invariably fail to complete the job. Sears can’t
be trusted for anything but tires.
Your mechanic has your life in his hands. You want somebody whose name
you know, somebody with that old-fashioned pride in a job well done. We’re extremely picky, and
we pick the Bagwin Brothers.
MEXICAN WRESTLING OUTFITTER
249 Grand St. (betw. Roebling St. & Driggs Ave.), Williamsburg, 718-302-2913; 543 E. 6th
St. (betw. Aves. A & B), 212-387-0935
ÁLucha libre! Keep yer Stone Cold Steve Austins, stuff yer Undertaker.
We’ll take the acrobatic freaks of Mexican Masked Wrestling over them any day. Whereas Vince McMahon’s
minions play at being bad, legendary luchadore El Cavernario Galindo, when faced with
a snake thrown into the ring by a fan, walked over to the slithery beast, picked it up, took a big bite
out and threw it back into the crowd.
Modern-day Lucha Libre can trace its roots back some 75 years,
when Salvador Lutteroth Gonzalez ditched his dull day job at the Mexican tax department and founded
Empresa Mexicana de Lucha Libre. Though the “sport” has been popular south of the border
for decades, it’s only gained widespread U.S. appeal over the last 10 years or so, with bands like
Los Straitjackets, a spate of B movies and the popular kid’s cartoon Mucha Lucha spreading
the Gospel According to Santo (the undisputed king of lucha libre).
Colorful names like Gringo Loco, Misterioso, Hayabusa, Super Astro,
Cibernético aren’t the most distinguishing feature of Mexico’s madmen. Mostly, it’s
all about the masks. Brightly colored fabrics, sewn together into fearsome full-head masks, lace
up the back to conceal the identity of every fighter, making each warrior that much more mysterious.
Love Shine, a small store in the East Village that recently opened a much
larger sister venue in Williamsburg, has devoted a corner of the store as a tribute to this great
sport. You can buy lucha libre papier mache dolls. There are small boxes adorned with fearsome
paintings and photos of luchadores. There are even decorative lucha libre car
gear knobs (which you can refit as drawer pulls) and coffee-mug replicants of your fave wrestler’s
Then there are, of course, the masks themselves. Handmade in the motherland
and priced around $22, even the most mild-mannered among us can morph into a fearsome warrior god
once laced in.
BEST GAY PORN BOOTHS
217 W. 80th St. (betw. B’way &
Amsterdam Ave.), 212-580-2445
That Mike White is hot. We run into a friend on 80th St., and get to talking
about his neighborhood. He mentions that most people comment on how closely he lives to Les Hommes