San Francisco Neon Book Kickstarter
Randall Homan & Al Barna
As I posted on Facebook & Twitter, I’ve backed Randall Homan & Al Barna’s Kickstarter project to publish a book of San Francisco neon photos. The photos look fantastic and I can’t wait to see the book. Get on over there and pre-order your own copy!
RIP Harold’s Pharmacy neon
(on Macdonald Ave @ Avenue U in Gravesend, Brooklyn)
This is one of those days when I seriously consider just finally ending this project. I started the project to celebrate New York’s neon, but I feel like now I’m just mourning the losses.
The New York Neon blog has broken the sad news that Harold’s neon will glow no more in Gravesend. (The blog also had a great post recently about the history of the sign.) I’m extra sad because this is another great sign I don’t have the best pictures of (it’s a tricky corner, a long sign, and some letters were out when last I visited.)
Harold’s is still in business, and the neon tubes are encased behind the new LED sign, but it’s no longer a special corner worth a visit. *sigh* I have nothing against LED lights for some uses and nothing against Helvetica (which despite its overuse is still a well-designed font), but this is a real loss of something special, something unique, and something beautiful that was free and open to anyone passing by to see. I understand that shop owners can’t or don’t want to spend the money for maintaining neon — I wish we could somehow help subsidize this. Heaven knows my pockets aren’t deep, but I’d sure kick in a few bucks to help keep the unique signs of NYC glowing.
One small spot of good neon news, though, from Gothamist, who report that the rumors of Arthur’s Tavern’s death are greatly exaggerated. I hope it does outlive us all!
in Kips Bay on 2nd Avenue at 34th Street
To console myself for the bad New York neon news lately, I revisited Clover Deli, an early favorite (you can read the old post here). I was overjoyed to see the usually ad-splashed over-lit public phone thingy (what do you call those things that aren’t proper phone booths?) completely dark. Finally! An opportunity to get a decent distraction-free photo of one of New York’s brightest.
Of course I also photographed House of Wine & Liquor on the corner (famous to, well, me not only for its great vertical sign (with an excellent arrow), but also its exchange neon in the window), and managed to capture both in the third photo above with a little clever traffic dodging. I should probably take along a spotter for photos like that.
I feel obliged to mention here that one of my biggest pet peeves in urban photography is people who stitch together photos or do extensive cloning to hide things like bus stops or phone booths. You’ll see a lot of photos of Clover with nothing in front of it, and if you look closely, you can usually spot multiple vanishing points. So disappointing!
Clover is a Project Neon favorite for many reasons including the classic pink and green, the Greek Es, and the curl on the C. They also have excellent black & white cookies, but I skipped those this time — the continued glow on the corner of 34th and Second was enough to put a smile on my face.
Farewell Subway Inn
Closing about August 15th, 2014 (hopefully relocating)
in Midtown on 60th Street between 3rd and Lexington Avenues
It looks like the ax is finally falling on the inimitable Subway Inn bar across from Bloomingdales in Midtown. Their Facebook page says that they will be closing around August 15th, though they hope to relocate. Here’s hoping they find a way to take their wonderful neon sign with them.
The subtle curve of “Subway,” the angle of “Inn,” the multiple “Bar”s — this sign is a true classic. I often think about trying to make a font out of specific neon signs — this is the one I’d start with. The bar itself was loud and crowded, but still a wonderful oasis from the sea of chain stores and boring office towers in Midtown. New York City is losing its dives, its grit, and its glow all too rapidly. Subway Inn, I hope you’re able to recreate all of it in a new home.
Farewell Rodeo Bar
Closing Sunday July 27, 2014
on 3rd Avenue at 27th Street in Kips Bay
I was disappointed to hear of the impending closure of honky-tonk venue Rodeo Bar on Third Avenue, and went out a couple of weeks ago to photograph the sign. I was further disappointed to find the sign engulfed in scaffolding, though by standing across the street only somewhat in the line of traffic, I was able to get most of it. Sadly, my only other photo is not quite in the full dark, though it does show the colors a little better:
I assuaged my disappointment by visiting a nearby favorite afterwards, which I’ll post about soon.
It’s been a while since I visited Rodeo Bar, but that’s just because I haven’t been going out and about at night much lately, not because of any lack in the bar. They showcase (for a couple more days) honky-tonk music, proffer free peanuts, and keep their kitchen open late. All in all a festive and fun place to hang out.
Farewell Rodeo Bar — the city will be darker without you.
Blue Ribbon Fried Chicken
1st Street at 2nd Avenue in the East Village
Oy! I did not mean to leave you hanging this long waiting for the answer to the last post. Sorry about that, and here it is: Blue Ribbon Fried Chicken. Fried chicken is one of my most favorite things, but, alas, no longer on the menu for me.
I have at last taken a few new neon photos over the last few days, and will try to post them soon.
The end is here — Kiosk has been evicted and tomorrow, Saturday March 8th, is their last day. There is a farewell party starting at 7p. I don’t know what state things will be in tomorrow (they may have started packing up already), but I’m going to stop by at some point to bid farewell to one of my favorite places in SoHo. They do have an excellent web site, and will undoubtedly find another IRL incarnation (hopefully with the great neon!), but I’ll miss their second floor Spring Street space.