NB: The Project Neon giveaway winner will be announced soon!
Holy cow, you guys! Circo’s Pastry Shop’s recently restored neon is BEAUTIFUL. I emailed them ages ago to ask if they had any plans to relight their long-dark neon signs, and received a friendly reply that gave me some home that some day, maybe, it might just happen. But I know how these things go, and the chances of a large-scale neon restoration seem vanishingly small these days. But then, lo and behold, earlier this summer New York Neon blog reported the great news that super neon-bender Robbie Ingui of Artistic Neon had completed the restoration of the main signs. (I recommend reading that post for a wonderful behind-the-scenes report.)
With one thing and another I hadn’t made it out there until last night. The long, dark winter nights mean it’s now prime neon-viewing season, so I jumped on the L train and headed out to the far side of Bushwick — nearly to Ridgewood, Queens — to have a look for myself. (I was too cold to continue on to Queens Tavern née Caskys, but picking up some anisette biscotti and bringing them to the tavern for beer dunking sounds like a great neon double-feature for another time.)
There’s a bold neon-red “BAKERY” on one side of the corner storefront, and a classic pink and green “CIRCO’S pastry shop” on the other. The capital letters have slab-serifs, and “pastry shop” is in one of the most appealing neon scripts I’ve seen yet. I’m seriously in love with this neon and glad I hauled myself out in the cold to visit.
You should go, too. You should really, really go. It’s a fabulous Italian bakery, full of traditional Italian treats like biscotti di San Marino (only available in the fall near his feast day, November 11) and new-fangled confections, like custom-made cakes.
An aside about San Marino: he’s the patron saint of wine-makers (a fall activity), and legend says that San Marino cut his cloak to give half to a beggar for warmth, so an unseasonably late warmth, near his feast day (what we call an Indian summer) is known in Italy (and France) as a St. Marino’s summer (estate di san marino). I’m going to start using that. His feast is celebrated by eating biscotti di San Marino, and dunking them in new wine.
I settled on some anisette biscotti (I’m currently trying to corral the crumbs away from my keyboard), and marveled at the shop’s classic details, like the name in terrazzo on the front step. According to the writeup over on New York Neon, the window neon is currently being repaired — can’t wait to see that. And maybe, just maybe, the fantastic vertical “Dolceria” sign will come later. I hope so! If buying more biscotti will help, I’ll certainly be back soon. (Especially since I’m not 100% pleased with my photos — apologies for the weird color shift!)
Circo’s, you’re the best, and a new Project Neon favorite. Thanks for restoring your sign, and thanks to Artistic Neon for doing such a beautiful job.
Hey, only one day left to enter the Project Neon giveaway! Get over there now before time runs out!
I should probably have posted this yesterday, huh? But today is National Leftovers Day, right? I made a squab instead of a turkey yesterday, but there are still plenty of leftovers. Post-Thanksgiving sandwich here I come!
My internet is very nearly kaput and I don’t have the energy to face the epic battle that is calling Verizon at the moment, so I think I’ll go do some offline writing and drawing instead. I wish instead of National Buy Crap Day, today was Make Something Day. Wouldn’t that be nice?
I do promise to queue up more neon photos soon, though, and I’m hoping to get out to photograph some neon later this weekend.
Now go enter the giveaway then make yourself a Thanksgiving leftover sandwich for luck!
East Side Cafe
(in Grammercy on 23rd Street between 1st & 2nd Avenues)
PROJECT NEON GIFT GUIDE
Before we begin: Don’t forget to enter the Project Neon giveaway! Only one week left!
Oh, would you look at that? The gifting season is nearly upon us. While Project Neon firmly believes any day is a good day for presents, we can’t help appreciating a good gifting frenzy. If any of your giftees are fellow Project Neon fans, have a look at the suggestions below. And if not, perhaps you’ll find a nice present for yourself. After all, you *do* deserve a treat!
Not all of these items are directly neon related, but they all share a certain spirit with Project Neon, and they’re all things I either already own or wish I did.
Of course you should check out Project Neon’s very own Etsy shop first. It’s a limited selection at the moment, but the 2014 calendars make great gifts! I’m also working on an exciting new product — it’s going to take a little testing, though, so it may not be ready in time for the holidays. And I’m also looking at bringing back the ever popular Neon ABCs poster — I’ll keep you updated on that. Plus if you’re looking for a custom gift, like a print of one of my photos, let me know and I’ll put up a listing for you.
Project Neon also heartily recommends buying gifts from shops with great neon signs. Need a fishing rod? A gift certificate for dinner? A fancy bottle of booze? A night out? Include a photo of the sign on the card for bonus gifting points!
New York Neon, by Thomas Rinaldi, is a fantastic book full of beautiful New York neon photos and lots of great neon sign history. Every neon lover should own this!
Polish Cold War Neon by Ilona Karwinska has less context, but is chock full of really beautiful photographs of neon signs throughout Poland. Another A+ gift for any neon fan.
Perhaps your giftee is, like me, also interested in hand-painted signs? If so, Sign Painters by Faythe Levine is the perfect present.
A mix of beautiful signs (including both hand-painted and neon) populate the pages of the wonderful Pittsburgh Sign Project book (can you tell I’m a book worm?), by Mark Stroup, Elizabeth Perry, and my fantastic friends, Jennifer Baron and Greg Langel. Highly recommended!
More gifts from people I like: my talented friends Karen McBurnie and Jon Hammer have put together a great map of notable Manhattan bars for Herb Lester Associates. These bars are classics, and some even have great neon to boot. Never be at a loss for a place to imbibe again!
For a friend with a lot of wall space, what about commissioning a custom neon sign? There are a bunch of great sign shops around, including Let There Be Neon, Lite Brite Neon, and Artistic Neon, to name just three.
Neon art is another great gift for those with the space to display it. Cleveland artist Jeffrey Chiplis creates glowing art out of found neon pieces, one of which I saw recently at the Scope art fair.
OK, did I miss anything? What Project Neon-ish presents are on your wish list this year?
No, no one paid to be on this list. Project Neon is not Big Time like that, at least not yet!
Hey-O! It’s a Neonistic Giveaway!
Because the number of Project Neon followers has rocketed well past 1,000 (just on Tumblr — not even counting email & RSS readers!), I’m saying thank you by giving away one or more items from the Project Neon Etsy shop. You can win your choice of a 2014 Project Neon calendar or an 8”x10 print.
I hope things go smoothly, but I’ve never used Rafflecopter before, so please be patient if there are a few bumps on the road. I can’t put the entry widget in a post, so visit the Giveaway page on the website: http://projectneon.tumblr.com/giveaway and you’ll see there are a few ways to enter. You can comment on this post, tweet about the giveaway, follow Project Neon on Twitter, or like the Facebook page. Any of those things will get you an entry. Doing more of them gets you more entries.
Don’t be shy about spreading the word — if more than 50 people enter, I’ll add TWO more prizes. If waaaay more people enter, I’ll think about adding even more.
I’ve opened this up to residents of the USA, Canada, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and the EU. (I’m afraid anywhere else is just going to be too expensive for me to foot the postal bill — apologies if you live elsewhere.)
You have until the end of November to enter. The winner(s) will be notified by email and must reply within 48 hours or forfeit their prize. If you have any questions let me know. Good luck!
House of Wine and Liquor
In Midtown on 34th Street near 2nd Avenue
Tell me, what’s your favorite month from the calendar or photo from the Project Neon Etsy shop?
in Greenpoint on Nassau Avenue at Guernsey Street
Oh, hey, you guys — I just found out from the New York Neon Blog about a great Kickstarter you should support! Greenpointers is making a documentary about neon signs and how they are made. Very cool! Even cooler, it will feature the very talented Robbie Ingui of Artistic Neon, and will also include an interview with New York neon historian Thomas Rinaldi.
Hurry! It ends on Sunday, so get your pledge in and help them make their goal. They’re very close, but they won’t get anything unless they make it by the deadline. Help them cross the finish line!
Eddie’s Sweet Shop
in Forest Hills, Queens on Metropolitan Avenue between 72nd Avenue & 72nd Road
OK, I have had a bunch of browser tabs with neon-related news open for WEEKS now and a pile-up of neon related emails to myself, meaning to share the links with you. Coming soon: a list of more timely blogs to follow!
Without further ado, some neon news of note:
- Has anyone been past at night to see if the Bruckner Bar & Grill sign is working? I went once, hours after it had blown out (there were still black spots all over the sidewalk), and again when it hadn’t been fixed. I’d love to get a photo, but the South Bronx is a bit of a hike from here: dnainfo.com/new-york/20130917/port-morris/bruckner-bar-grill-reopen-nearly-year-after-hurricane-sandy
- Damn, I missed the deadline to donate towards restoring Grauman’s neon in LA: indiegogo.com/projects/grauman-s-chinese-theater-dragon-neon-sign-restoration
- I’m not often a fan of neon sign illustrations (I’d usually rather just look at photos), but these are great (thanks to Squishythings for the tip): lisakijak.com/portfolio.html
- Ironically, Back Fence Bar was shut down by the health department shortly before it was set to close for good anyway: dnainfo.com/new-york/20130924/greenwich-village/back-fence-bar-shut-down-by-health-department-days-before-closing-for-good
- A fantastic story in the New York Times about privilege signs (I hadn’t heard the term before), which aren’t neon, but are signage, and the article includes a photo of Eddie’s Sweet Shop (which also has a nice little neon sign, a photo of which is above): nytimes.com/2013/10/17/nyregion/tracking-privilege-signs-as-they-vanish.html
- There’s a new sign shop (neon and other kinds) in town, called Noble Signs. Their signs look lovely, especially the neon. You can see some of them on Instagram (#noblesigns)
- From the ineffable Rob Walker, a cool old book about neon that’s available online. It’s called Neon Signs: Manufacture — Installation — Maintenance, and it was published in 1935: archive.org/stream/neonsignsmanufac00millrich#page/n7/mode/2up
- Oy, this is an old one I should have posted ages ago! From the inimitable Paul Lukas, news about how the gigantic Pepsi sign in Long Island City has shaped the new building behind it (from July): nytimes.com/2013/07/11/nyregion/as-a-queens-tower-rises-a-spot-is-saved-for-pepsi-cola.html?hp&_r=0
- Another older post, but still of interest: the dark side of LED (health-wise, not aesthetics-wise): npr.org/blogs/health/2012/08/08/158426970/energy-efficient-lightbulbs-have-a-dark-side-when-it-comes-to-health
- Even older, but happy neon news: Block Drugs in the East Village is doing so well they’re expanding: lostnewyorkcity.blogspot.com/2013/06/after-128-years-block-drugs-expanding.html
Is that enough reading to keep you busy for a while? Don’t forget tomorrow is the end of Daylight Savings Time in most of the US, which means the best nighttime neon season is upon us. Take some time tomorrow evening to admire the glow of neon!
Getcher 2014 handmade Project Neon 2014 calendar now over at the Etsy shop! The calendars are twelve 4” x 6” loose leaf pages, so you can frame them, hang them with a binder clip, or just tack them to the wall. The price is $25 — a bargain for 12 lovely photos carefully printed on heavyweight matte paper.
A couple of people had asked about larger calendars. The paper, ink, and shipping costs would be considerably higher, but I’m going to do some tests and will add a larger size if I can do it for a reasonable price.
These are all photos from Project Neon (and there’s a customization option where you can swap out one photo for the Project Neon photo of your choice. The calendar is a clean, basic design in Helvetica, with the dates of major holidays — including Project Neon’s birthday — in bold & color.
I’ve also listed a few photos. If you’d like to buy a different photo or one of those photos in a different, If you have any questions, please let me know!
2014 Project Neon Calendar
Maybe for sale next week on Etsy
Hey, so I was thinking I needed a little wall calendar for next year, so I made this one. Maybe you would like one, too? It’s 4” x 6”, printed on heavyweight specially coated matte paper with archival inks. You can hang it with a binder or bulldog clip (or a magnetic bulldog clip), put it in a frame (if it’s under glass, you can write on it with an erasable pen!), use double-sided tape to mount all 12 at once, or just tack it to the wall. I had thought of getting out the jig saw and making a fancy stand, but in the interests of keeping things simple, I thought I’d just let you sort out how to hang it, OK? If I hear some rumblings of interest, I’ll aim to get it listed by next weekend on Etsy, probably for about $25 (a bargain for 12 lovely neon photos!), plus a couple bucks for domestic shipping.
Is this something that would interest you?