Monday Bulletin: ‘Shleppiness’; Bus Pulling; Intergenerational Friendship


The Riverside raccoons on 108th Street are feeling frisky. Photo by Pauline Miller.

September 27, 2021 Weather: Sunny, with a high of 80 degrees.

Notices:
Our calendar has lots of local events!

Here’s an opportunity we heard about from Borough President Gale Brewer: “Jobs are available to accompany vaccinated older adults on the Upper East Side and Upper West Side to vital appointments through social service agency Search and Care. Escorts must be vaccinated, available on weekdays, and able to assist clients into/out of a vehicle. To learn more, email strashun@searchandcare.org.”

News:
The Upper West Side got shellacked (in a cultural sense) by Town and Country in a piece about the “ghoulish” side of the neighborhood. (Although they did mention WSR!) “The Upper West Side has an enduring and deserved modern reputation for shleppiness,” they wrote. “Despite its once-thriving music and art scene, its diversity, its robust gay community, for the past few decades the neighborhood has seemed almost magically immune to the forces of chic….” Even worse, they deemed the Upper West Side, “the closest Manhattan comes to suburbia….”

“People who want to live till they’re 100 need to have their heads examined,” said Brigitta Ortner, 93, the resident of a fourth-floor, walk-up apartment on the UWS since 1953. “’Old age alone is terrible, because who do I have?’” she asked City & State. “‘What would cheer me up? Seeing Mitch McConnell step down before I go, or living long enough to attend Trump’s funeral,’” she said laughing. “’Then again, if they put an elevator in this four-story building, that might make it better,” she added. “That’s not too much to ask.”

A new Guinness World Record was set in the neighborhood last week. “Kevin Fast, a 58-year-old Canadian strongman pulled a 40-foot, 33,400-pound MTA all-electric bus a remarkable 16 feet using just his upper body,” SILive reported. “The successful attempt took place on West 67th Street, between Columbus Avenue and Central Park West, and was nationally televised on the morning talk show “Live with Kelly and Ryan.”

After a two-year, pandemic-induced absence, author Stephen Miller came to the UWS “wondering what the city would be like given all the gloom and doom about its future,” he wrote in the Wall Street Journal. “I mainly saw people who didn’t seem lonely or depressed. I saw teenage girls in Central Park jumping over a tree branch and teenage boys skateboarding. While eating a snack from a food cart in Riverside Park, I listened to six middle-aged men playing guitars and singing country music. In the distance across the West Side Highway, joggers and cyclists traveled beside the Hudson River.”

For a fraction of the cost of some of the luxury tower penthouses being sold, Lightstone, a New York-based development firm, “picked up” a 64-unit rental building on West End Avenue (94-95), for $28.5 million. “[The building was] purchased in an off-market deal from Salamon Realty, run by members of the Einy family, which owned the building for, at least, four decades, Crain’s reported. “We’re going to give it some TLC…and renovate some of the vacant apartments,” said Mitchell Hochberg, Lightstone’s president.”

Check out a thriving UWS May-December friendship; it seems to be a trend, according to the New York Post. Even Larry David’s doing it! So is the pair we wrote about here. “‘Our society talks a lot about diversity these days — and that can include age,’ said Manhattan psychologist Dr. Chloe Carmichael. ‘Different backgrounds and experiences can enrich each other…. There’s so much to learn and appreciate intergenerationally.’”

Also check out the Glaser Gazette, a tribute to the legendary graphic designer Milton Glaser, creator of I❤️NY, who died last year. The School of Visual Arts put it out to commemorate its former faculty member.

Finally, don’t forget to describe and photograph your favorite dish from an UWS eatery for our Wednesday Here’s the Dish column. Send to westsiderag at gmail.com. You can read some past columns here.

COLUMNS, NEWS | 26 comments | permalink
    1. Mark Moore says:

      The lonely and depressed people aren’t out in the park playing music.

      And “immune to the forces of chic” is probably the neighborhood’s greatest attribute.

    2. Sarah says:

      Does anyone know what the hour long traumatically loud demolition sound was caused by at 3AM last night on West End to Broadway in the 99th to 96th Street area?
      Surely illegal and woke up an entire neighborhood.

    3. Steevie says:

      Brigitta: Don’t be in a hurry. We need people who have seen so much, know so much and still have a fine sense of humor.

    4. Lizzie says:

      Sometimes I look around at all my schlubby neighbors on the UWS (me included) and think, sheesh, we are NOT New York chic, that’s for sure. Then I think about the exhaustion of living on the East Side, worrying about dressing up in Lululemon and donning mascara just to run out to Walgreen’s, and I realize what a relief it is to live here!

    5. George CPW says:

      If being immune to the forces of chic means not wearing what was worn at the Met Gala, count me in as immune.

    6. Sarah says:

      Shleppiness? Do they mean schlubbyness?

      • Leon says:

        I agree. You dress like a shlub while you are shlepping. They are a bunch of shlemiels. Perhaps they should visit us on the UWS and have a bagel with a shmear to better understand us. Maybe Schumer can organize this.

      • UWS_lifer says:

        Thanks you for saying this, Sarah. I was thinking the exact same thing.

        I love seeing more and more Yiddish being used in the mainstream but it always bothers me when it isn’t used correctly.

        It’s almost as if people throw some stereotypical Jewish sounding term out there and say “close enough” sometimes.

        Reminds me of that old joke about the difference between a Schlemiel and a Schlimazal.:)

        • Sarah says:

          “Shleppiness” = a measure of how far the store is from your building!

          “I want to go to Zabar’s, but it’s too shleppy from here.”

        • rteplow says:

          I love that explanation!

          Now can someone give me a good definition of Schmendrick?

    7. ben says:

      tbh I take pride in not dressing like a typical T&C reader…

    8. Realist UWS says:

      If you dress too nicely it will be hard for you to cry poverty and justify that rent controlled apartment! Its woke to be poor these days! As long as you also compost!

    9. Trudi says:

      Good explanation of schlub and schlep. One is a noun, the other a verb.

    10. Dorrie says:

      Regarding the T&C UWS article – first, UWS is actually less expensive than a lot of Brooklyn neighborhoods because there are more tall apartment buildings and a higher supply of apartments. In fact, a lot of gentrified Brownstone Brooklyn neighborhoods are more homogeneous and conservative than the UWS. Second, UWS is nothing like the suburbs because groceries are carried by hand/cart or delivered, there are a lot more people walking around/taking public transit, elevators and washing machines in apartments are considered luxuries, and most people walk to the park to sit on a patch of grass instead of sitting in their back yards, not to mention easy access to stores and restaurants. If the suburb comparison was meant as a put down to the younger professional/yuppie families, it’s still worth noting they are choosing to be in the city even though they can afford the boring suburbs.

    11. Ian Alterman says:

      I have lived on the UWs for 55 years, and I mourn the loss of the vibrant, culturally- and socially-alive neighborhood we once were.

      Ironically, a lot of the blame goes to the influx of Yuppies in the 80s and 90s, who complained about bar, club and restaurant noise, causing many of those places to (eventually) go out of business.

      Another culprit is the commercial real estate industry, which began jacking up rents so quickly and so high that many other “local hangouts” closed as well (which, btw, began the “empty storefront syndrome” that started YEARS prior to the pandemic).

      Now, most of the bars and restaurants are centered on Amsterdam and Columbus (Broadway used to be just as “alive”), and a large part of the crowd is “bridge and tunnel,” not local.

      Yes, noise levels should show some courtesy and respect for the community. But the UWS went WAY too far, and much of it seems dead and boring now.

      • Marky says:

        Dead because people wanted their condo values to keep increasing.

        As I mentioned previously, suburban mentality.

        And so, here we are.

    12. Ted says:

      WSR shouldn’t continue this hate. (Brigitta Ortner,93yo hoping to see Trump’s funeral) It’s unbecoming her and WSR for printing that, and the fiction by the media and by the Biden/Obama/Clinton/Pelosi crowd such as Russian collussion, have already been shown to be hoaxes. Return to reality,stop the hate.

      • NotImpressed says:

        Ted,
        You first.

      • Gerry Valentine says:

        Ted, I totally agree with you.

      • Josh says:

        Ted, love your argument that people need to see the truth. Why does that apply to others and not you? Our former President had one of the worst relationships with truth to ever exist in an American public official, but so many of his supporters take his words as gospel. How does that work?

    13. RK says:

      Re the article – he’s not wrong…

      First, the thesis of the article is that the UWS has more ghosts than normal, which is fair since the UES is mostly boring postwar buildings and the UWS has some of the richest architecture in the city. The ‘criticism’ of the UWS is really just commentary.

      And the UWS *is* a shadow of its former self in terms of art, counter culture, etc. But so are virtually all neighborhoods in Manhattan. Have you been on Bleecker St recently?? How many cafes are left on McDougal where you can while away the time arguing life’s meaning? Could Rent still take place in the East Village?

      If you want to use a Yiddish adjective to describe the UWS, I would use haimish. Which IMO drives the schlubbiness.

      For me the old UWS died the day La Fortuna closed.

      • Marky says:

        Haimish?!?!???

        troyerik!

        We were at La Fortuna almost nightly (having graduated from the West End a decade earlier).

        My memory is filled with the young waiters that we befriended and how much they suffered during the AIDS Crisis.

    14. Marky says:

      The Town and Country article was spot on:

      “What little remains of the liberal-crank element is dying off; the once-hip Saturdays Generation yuppies have aged; the Lincoln Center musicians have been priced out; the newcomers seem more interested in pumpkin spice fitness classes than the area’s often-colorful history… Superficially, it’s the closest Manhattan comes to suburbia

    15. Cynthiat Leven says:

      Milton Glaser was the Center for Creative Study Art School’s favorit Graphic Artist ,to study his Designs in school in the 1970 Detrit Michigan.