June 9, 2011

What Panchito's did to The Fat Black Pussycat.

It's a terrible shame!
Panchito's owner Bob Engelhardt was a regular at the Pussycat which he described as a 'cesspool'. It was situated in a quiet street behind the tourist mecca MacDougal Street.

He said the nostalgia was misplaced, and that the preservation group did not understand the spirit of Greenwich Village.

Engelhardt added:'There are buildings that are worth preserving. Ninety per cent of what's in the Village isn't.

'The Village was freedom. The Village was not rules and regulations set in concrete. It destroys everything the Village was always famous for.'
Consider freedom and historical preservation. What if the history to be preserved was a time of great sleaziness? What if that sleaziness is connected to artists we love?

Pick the choice closest to your beliefs.
Property owners deserve great freedom in the putting up of signs that represent their business.
Historical preservation outweighs the interests of the current owner.
The old sign is cool and the new sign is dull and transitory, so I'm for preservation in this case.
The old sign is sleazy and I like the new business, so I'm against preservation in this case.
  
pollcode.com free polls

37 comments:

windbag said...

Preservationists want someone else to finance their nostalgia. If it means so much to them, fine, buy the property and preserve it themselves.

It gets messier when you add in historic districts (Williamsburg, Va comes to mind), but if a buyer purchases property in an historic zone, he knows what he's getting into.

rhhardin said...

Pay the owner the value of the loss of rights to develop and then it's okay to preserve it.

Shouting Thomas said...

The Village is mostly populated these days by investment bankers and lawyers, along with very rich NYU students.

Hipsterism and bohemia are long gone, except among the Trustafarians.

So, what's to preserve?

Fred4Pres said...

Since the closing of CBGBs, I could care less about some boomer hang out. Sorry.

But for preservation, say legitimate landmarks like Grand Central, you pay for the value, or you negotiate something of value, and you preserve it.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Pay the owner the value of the loss of rights to develop and then it's okay to preserve it.

Kelo. All your property rights belong to the government now.

vw: hysti. Having a hysti fit over something trivial.

David said...

Cohen's Law: History is bad. The more you have, the worse off you are.

Franklin said...

"The old sign is cool and the new sign is dull and transitory, so I'm for preservation in this case."

That seems egregiously arbitrary.

Patrick said...

"What if that sleaziness is connected to artists we love?"

then buy the damn building, and do what you want with it. Just don't let it be a hazard to its neighbors.

Calypso Facto said...

The pictures of the original facade don't present the real choice, since all of that was apparently already gone and the place has looked like a dump for a long time. In fact, I don't see where Panchito's covered the sign any more than it already was. Somebody in the Village just doesn't like Mr. Englehardt, probably.

MadisonMan said...

If you own the property, then you can do to it what you want.

This does not include properties in Madison designed by my ancestors however. Those must be preserved :)

Triangle Man said...

Kelo. All your property rights belong to the government now.


I believe the proper formulation of that legal phrase is:
"All your property rights are belong to the government".

Paddy O said...

In a lot of California suburbs these days, I've noticed what I think is a very worthwhile compromise. Rebuilding is find, knock down the old--and mostly modern--buildings which sprang up in the 50s-70s, and replace them, all well and good. But each community has a set of aesthetic guidelines which helps not only preserve but indeed enhance a sense of community history and unity.

Some communities have a Western theme of sort, which means even strip malls have to fit into a range of color choices, architectural additions, and other options.

It's new, and creative, giving new owners the chance to advertise their own way, but in a way that doesn't make the whole place look like crap, which is what far, far too much of the construction prior to the last ten years looked like.

Phil 3:14 said...

Should have been a fifth option for the poll:

Professor Althouse needs to get over her Dylan obsession

Geoff Matthews said...

I'd like to preserve history that is uplifting, or a warning. This qualifies as neither.
Unless they want displays on drug abuse, homelessness and STDs included.

James said...

Because you have some fond memories from your childhood does not mean that something (this sign) has historical significance. Get a grip. This is a bar sign from the '60's!

edutcher said...

I'm with Panchito, Ciscito. The sign had to go.

Besides, Panchito has a right to its own look.

PS In San Antonio, there's a Fuddrucker's where Jim Bowie died. Better the sign should have gone years ago and the Low Barracks could have been preserved.

So much for the American people's veneration of their history.

PPS Phil, I hope you were wearing a helmet when you wrote that.

David said...

"The Village was freedom. The Village was not rules and regulations set in concrete."

The modern liberal will always decide for you what is best for you.

PatCA said...

It's the owner's right. If others wanted to preserve the bar, they should have bought it.

It's a sign of the times as well: old boomer culture being replaced by today's surging demographic.

Chip Ahoy said...

I used to live in a really neato-mosquito place, a gated enclave in Tokyo. Doubly gated, actually. It was on land that was previously an old Japanese air base. Their old hangers were still there. We used to play inside them even though they were fenced off too within the enclave. The houses were all gigantic, especially by Asian standards, and spaced ridiculously far apart. There was a field and an equipped playground in the center of each block so that each block had its own little park. The place was called Momote Village, it's housing serviced both Grant Heights-Narimasu and Tachikawa air bases. The compression of Tokyo proper began immediately outside the guarded gates and the contrast of land usages was stark even to a child. The whole time we lived there I kept thinking, "Damn, when the Japanese people take this over again eventually, they're going to freak out." I used Google Earth to have a look and it's gone! Gone, I tell you. Gone. Gone forever. Is there no humanity?

Ans: Yes, there is, a lot.

But you know what otallytay illskay me about this item? Little Pancho's Mexican food from a guy named Bob Engelhardt. I can smell the authenticity.

Trooper York said...

New York is always changing. People who move into a neighborhood want to pull the ladder up and keep it the way it was when they moved there ten years ago while the people who lived there all thier lives welcome a new supermarket or drycleaner.

The Village is a tourist trap much like Little Italy and Times Square. The real art scene is not even in Williamsburg or other so called "Bohemian" neighborhoods like Red Hook but rather in enclaves like Bushwick and Bed Stuy where the real poor struggling artists live. It's all a big bag of bullshit.

Ann Althouse said...

"The Village is a tourist trap much like Little Italy and Times Square."

Which means it's in the interest of many of the businesses there to have The Fat Black Pussycat facade preserved to lure tourists into the trap. It's a shame Englehardt didn't find a way to make a restaurant with that name and some pseudo-beatnik ambiance.

Jack Wayne said...

How about a straight out vote to disallow preservation unless it's by private means. Keep the government out of preservation completely.

traditionalguy said...

Private Property is fine. But owners must use it as you are told or else. Thus Spake Preservationusthustra, " Fat Black Pussycat he was called, but he hath altered".

E.M. Davis said...

Some communities have a Western theme of sort, which means even strip malls have to fit into a range of color choices, architectural additions, and other options.

Most of these are rendered in a sincerely awful architectural style I refer to as 'Suburban Hacienda.'

Paddy O said...

"Most of these are rendered in a sincerely awful architectural style I refer to as 'Suburban Hacienda.'"

'Tis true. But it's still an improvement over "slabs of concrete and asphalt" that characterized what they were replacing. It's a suburban aesthetic, but at least there's an aesthetic now.

ricpic said...

The spirit of Greenwich Village. That's a good one. The spirit of Greenwich Village which is the spirit of hipsters has always been the spirit of criminality, but let's not rain on a fairy tale.

Clyde said...

"They put a parking lot on the piece of land
"Where the supermarket used to stand;
"Before that they put up a bowling alley,
"On the site that used to be the local palais..."

The Kinks, "Come Dancing"

Everything changes. Nothing stays the same. If a municipality wants to preserve a site, they should buy it and make it a museum. If they aren't willing to justify the expense of doing that, they should just shaddup.

Calypso Facto said...

The building was something else before the FBP. Who's bemoaning that loss?

Ann Althouse said...

"Some communities have a Western theme of sort, which means even strip malls have to fit into a range of color choices, architectural additions, and other options."

You should visit New Glarus, Wisconsin. Everything has a Swiss theme. Banks, strip malls, gas stations. I don't know if it was required, but it's there. So cheeseball. But kind of touching.

virgil xenophon said...

It's one thing to have a preservation district with rigid rules in places like the French Quarter in New Orleans, but is often counterproductive in areas of more varied and lesser historical value like The "Lower Garden Dist." just off the CBD where strict guide-lines prevent some really creative preservation/renovation of homes many of which are of dubious architectural value, (and as a result "renovation" simply results in replicating mediocrity)while areas further uptown in the "University Area" NOT in Historical Districts see dynamite renovations of homes of the same quality while preserving/paying true hommage to their historical origins/look as well..

Apple Fanboy Dude said...

To the extent that people are judging from the photos at the Daily Mail, this whole thing is based on a false premise.

The supposed photo of the old Fat Black Pussycat is actually a photo of a new Fat Black Pussycat -- located nearby on West 3rd St. You can see it with Google Maps "Streetview" here:

http://j.mp/iEU8Cg

It was only some faded lettering that was painted over, which you can see at the NYT here:

http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/06/07/in-greenwich-village-the-signs-they-are-a-changin/

Trooper York said...

"It's a shame Englehardt didn't find a way to make a restaurant with that name and some pseudo-beatnik ambiance."

When I was growing up the Village is where the Puerto Ricans from the Lower East Side would go to beat up and mug the hippies and the beatnicks. And the cops laughed because nobody likes beatnicks. Just sayn'

Fritz said...

It's New York; I don't care.

Big Mike said...

How about an entry in the poll for "'Fat Black Pussycat' is obviously racist while 'Panchito's' is a legitimate expression of repressed Latino culture, therefore the sign should be allowed to stay"?

ken in sc said...

I don't know where Englehardt is from but there a lot of German named Mex-Texacans from south Texas. Linda Ronstadt is one of them. If he is one of them, his Mexican food is authentic. A lot of people don't really know what they think they know. Like those who think they know about Paul Revere.

MPH said...

But the owner of Panchito’s, Bob Engelhardt, 84, said his only regret was not painting over the sign decades ago.

“Why don’t we just take the whole world and set it in concrete?” he asked. “That would save everything.”

http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/06/07/in-greenwich-village-the-signs-they-are-a-changin/

Mitch H. said...

Ever vote in one of these things, and then feel small and conformist when your choice falls into the 96% overvote section? And yet I keep telling people I'm not actually a libertarian.

Were the answers frontloaded to favor the first answer?

The Village they want preserved is, I suppose, Village 3.0, the one full of young homosexuals, hippies, and a few aging beatniks for flavor, I suppose? I once met an author, William Tenn and his wife, who talked longingly of the Village 2.0, which had been annihilated by this crowd. They fled the ruination of their Village for exile at a humble land-grant university, teaching English Lit.

The Life and Death of Great American Cities was mostly written with the Village 2.0 in mind, I think. Jane Jacobs lived there, after all.