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Kenmare Street

Final Entry (12/14/11)

Kenmare Street is located in the overlap between NoLita (North of Little Italy) and Little Italy. This street is sandwiched between Broome Street below, and Spring Street above. It spans four and a half blocks, in which the streets that intersect or border Kenmare are Lafayette, Cleveland Place, Mulberry Street, Mott Street, Elizabeth Street, and Bowery, from left to right. After the Bowery, this street becomes Delancey Street. The three streets: Lafayette, Cleveland Place, and Kenmare border Petrosino Square that is at the absolute West of the street, which acts as a land that unites SoHo, Nolita, and the Lower East Side. The closest subway stops are the Spring Street station on the 4/5/6 train, or the Bowery stop on the J train. Kenmare Street is actually a relatively new street. Founded only in 1911, this street did not exist before, until the overcrowding of the Williamsburg Bridge (which starts approx. 12 blocks east of Kenmare) led city governors to include another street west of the Bowery. It was named Kenmare as a tribute to Tammany Hall’s hard worker Big Tim Sullivan and his mother, who was born in Kenmare, County Kerry, in Ireland. Even landmarks on the street are now forever part of its Italian mobster past. The park at the Western most end used to be called Kenmare Square, but it was renamed Petrosino Square in 1987 to honor Lieutenant Joseph Petrosino, who helped to fight organized crime in New York.

One theme I noticed while studying this street throughout the semester is its history in relation to the Italian mafia, and also how the media portrays this dark past. This street was definitely not a pleasant place to be in the early 20th century. This street was notorious for illegal activities especially during the Prohibition era (1920-1933), such as bootlegging, gambling, and gang fights. During this period, the corner of Kenmare and Mulberry street was recognized as “the curb exchange,” a wholesale market that sold illegal liquor. The headquarters of some Italian mafia were located on establishments such as barber shops and restaurants on this street, including the famous “Lucky Luciano”. In March 1922, more bootleg action occurred on Kenmare, as shown in “Agents Raid Garage Get $100,000 Rum”. Prohibition Agents Peter Reager and John Kerrigan dressed as laborers and roamed the streets of Kenmare and Elizabeth for a week. They suspected barrels of “chemicals” entering and leaving the Kenmare Garage Company located on the southeast corner of Kenmare and Elizabeth streets, and finally decided to pretend as automobile inspectors to further investigate this garage. They had also hired a search warrant, which allowed them to go deeper in the location. When they were brought to the fourth floor by manager Patsy Alfano along with 25 Italian men, they seized sixty three barrels of whiskey, which was valued at $100,000 at that time. Alfano was brought to jail for the violation of the Volstead Act. This is particularly interesting because to this day, this spot is still a parking garage. However, while this garage was occupied by Italian men before, it is now more Chinese than it is Italian.

"Lucky Luciano"

It is no surprise that the media also associates Kenmare Street and its surroundings with the Italian mafia. In contrast to reality, the media portrays this area as dark and dangerous place, that is only occupied by Italian mobsters. Donnie Brasco is a famous 1997 film directed by Mike Newell, which is based on the book Donnie Brasco: My Undercover Life in the Mafia. The movie is a true story about the infamous FBI agent Joe Pistone, alias Donnie Brasco, and his experiences as an undercover agent in the Bonanno family mafia in New York City. This all starts when Brasco, played by Johnny Depp, befriends Lefty Ruggiero, played by Al Pacino, and slowly becomes a member of the family. When Sonny Black becomes the leader, he cannot keep up with his double life. The more he is involved with them, the more he starts to be associated with the mafia crew. He loses his family, as he spends more and more time with them. His ultimate dilemma is that he must report his findings to the FBI and arrest the entire crew, which means that he will be ending Ruggiero’s life, who has formed a close friendship with him. This film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Adaped Screenplay. In one of the opening scenes, Ruggiero meets Brasco at 176 Mulberry Street, which is the Mulberry Street Bar. This is an essential scene in the film, because this is where Ruggiero accepts Brasco to be a part of him and his mafia family. This bar still exists, and looks similar to how it looks in the film. Tourists now flock to this spot because of this film. Kenmare Street is also shown, and looks exactly how it looks today.

Ruggiero and Brasco in Mulberry Street Bar

Exterior of Mulberry Street Bar today

In The Sopranos, a TV show about the Italian mob, also uses Mulberry Street Bar in one of their scenes. Mulberry Street is notorious for bootleggers and the hang out spot for the Italian mafia, so the directors perhaps chose this particular bar to indicate this. It opened in 1908 and was originally named Mara Chiaro. Perhaps he chose this area to authenticate the setting, because of an unchanging Little Italy atmosphere that can be felt in this place. There is an over familiarity present in this film, as the director continues to support the street’s Italian mafia reputation; the audience is informed that this area is infamous for this reason. In the article by William Sadler and Ekaterina Haskins, they state that  “We argue that television’s representations of cities create a “postcard effect” that affords the viewer the pleasure of a tourist gaze, a disposition that both reflects and legitimizes a fragmented experience of visiting a location without immersing oneself in the intricacies of its politics and geography” (196). Although the location is removed from its context on screen, people are still attracted to these places because famous happenings occurred, and perhaps they feel connected to these films and TV shows by going to these places where the actors were once there, filming the fictional stories. Despite the events being false, people still want to visit these places because they are somewhat glorified and put to light on screen.

Averna Social Club in The Sopranos

Kenmare Street and the entire Little Italy are also featured in the film based video game, The Godfather series. In this game, players must carry out orders to rise in ranks, ultimately to become part of the Corleone family and to control New York City. During this process, you must perform theft, murder and many other illegal activities to win over the bosses. Not surprisingly, lots of violence and crime occur within the game. The streets in Little Italy are depicted as dark, ominous, and ull of danger. Since the graphics are realistic, players may normalize the violence and believe that this actually happened in reality. This normalization is perhaps also intensified due to the same depiction in films and TV shows. Although Kenmare Street has broke away from its dangerous past, the media continues to focus on this part of its history.

Screenshot of The Godfather: The Game

In recent years, this street has undergone gentrification, with many Chinese and other modern influences infiltrating this street. The street boasts galleries and unique little restaurants, and a hip boutique hotel called The Nolitan which opened in May 2011. However, there are many empty spaces “For Rent” on this street, and lots of bodegas as well as parking lots/auto-clinics. Many establishments have been shutting down recently, including a swanky restaurant, Travertine which closed in July of this year. The other popular restaurant/bar Kenmare also shut down its restaurant section, and will only be continuing the lounge. As I have walked down this street numerous times, I have also noticed the abundance of car sounds, while there were minimal other sounds. It is definitely a more industrial street, and not a destination street. Although it has broke free from its dark past, the media often returns to it, which is perhaps hindering them from moving forward. In conclusion, I think Kenmare has definitely done a good job cleaning up its rusty reputation, but it still needs some time before becoming one of New York’s more popular destinations.

Nolitan hotel (opened May 2011)

Parking Auto-Clinic

Works Cited

“Agents Raid Garage Get $100,000 Rum.” New York Times (1857-1922): 18. ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The New York Times (1851-2007) with Index (1851-1993). Mar 31 1922. Web. 4 Oct. 2011 <https://ezproxy.library.nyu.edu/login?url=http://search.proquest.com/docview/99422427?accountid=12768>.”

“Donnie Brasco.” On the Set of New York. On the Set of New York, 24 Oct. 2011. Web. 26 Oct. 2011.

<http://onthesetofnewyork.com/donniebrasco.html&gt;.

“Mulberry Street Bar.” New York On Tap. New York On Tap, n.d. Web. 25 Oct. 2011.

<http://www.newyorkontap.com/reviews2show.asp?show=1109&gt;.

Sadler, William J., and Ekaterina V. Haskins. “Metonymy and the Metropolis: Television Show Settings and the Image of New York City.” Journal of Communication Inquiry 29.3 (2005): 195-216.

Entry #1 (9/14/11)

Kenmare Street is located in the overlap between NoLita (North of Little Italy) and Little Italy. Surrounding neighborhoods are Chinatown, Lower East Side, and Soho, making this street one with a rich history. All buildings on this street have a zip code of 10012. This street is sandwiched between Broome Street below, and Spring Street above. It spans four and a half blocks, in which the streets that intersect or border Kenmare are Lafayette, Cleveland Place, Mulberry Street, Mott Street, Elizabeth Street, and Bowery, from left to right. After the Bowery, this street becomes Delancey Street. The three streets: Lafayette, Cleveland Place, and Kenmare border Petrosino Square that is at the absolute West of the street, which acts as a land that unites SoHo, Nolita, and the Lower East Side. The closest subway stops are the Spring Street station on the 4/5/6 train, or the Bowery stop on the J train.

Kenmare Street is actually a relatively new street. Founded only in 1911, this street did not exist before, until the overcrowding of the Williamsburg Bridge (which starts approx. 12 blocks east of Kenmare) led city governors to include another street west of the Bowery. It was named Kenmare as a tribute to Tammany Hall’s hard worker Big Tim Sullivan and his mother, who was born in Kenmare, County Kerry, in Ireland. Up until 1987, Kenmare Square was the only region in the Lower East Side to honor the Irish people in the surrounding areas. It was renamed Petrosino Square in 1987 to honor Lieutenant Joseph Petrosino, who helped to fight organized crime in New York, and was assassinated in Sicily when investigating the Mafia. It is not a surprise that Kenmare Street was home to mafia organizations and crime. A mafia gang formed in the early 1900s known as The Good Killers forced a barber (who worked in a barbershop on Kenmare Street) named Bartola Fontano to murder Camillo Caiozzo, which was the start of a series of other murders. During the prohibition era, the corner of Kenmare and Mulberry street was recognized as “the curb exchange,” a wholesale market that sold illegal liquor.

Kenmare Street in 2007

Once a rundown little street with garages, auto stores, psychics, and neglected delis, Kenmare Street is now teeming with energy. Since five years ago, this street has experienced a lot of gentrification, allowing these four blocks to explode with vitality. It is currently home to a variety of restaurants, bar/lounges, retail boutiques and even a hotel. If you were a tourist here, anything and everything could happen on this street: stay at the hip Nolitan hotel, grub on delicious New York pizza at L’asso NYC, and end the night with a few drinks at the classy Kenmare. As James Falmuro, the managing director of retail at NY Commercial Realty Services, says, “This is one of the hottest retail strips in Manhattan right now”.

Kenmare Street in 2011

Works Cited:

Lieber, Ed. “Kenmare comes to life.” The Real Deal. The Real Deal, Inc, 1 Feb. 2011. Web. 14 Sept. 2011. <http://therealdeal.com/newyork/articles/kenmare-comes-to-life&gt;.

Naureckas, Jim. “New York Songlines: Delancey Street with Kenmare Street.” NYSongLines. NYSongLines, n.d. Web. 13 Sep 2011..

Nevius, Michelle, and James Nevius. “Petrosino Square and Kenmare Street, the Lower East Side .” Tenement Museum Blog. Lower East Side Tenement Museum, 5 Oct. 2009. Web. 13 Sept. 2011. <http://tenement-museum.blogspot.com/2009/10/petrosino-square-and-kenmare-street.html&gt;.

http://realdealmafia.com/goodkillers.html

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/destinations/northamerica/usa/newyork/724524/New-York-Mixing-with-the-Mob.html

Entry #2 (9/21/11)

When walking down Kenmare Street, I could immediately feel the modernization of the street through the architecture, signs, and storefronts. However, I felt like I was jumping through different parts of the history while walking down this path. Some signs and buildings are completely new and modern, while others are just dirty letters pressed onto dilapidated canopies.

The sign I chose is a sign for an auto-clinic founded in 2002 located on the corner of Kenmare and Mulberry Street, that writes “Park In Auto Service,” which is written on the left in Chinese as well. The number 75 is also written, to indicate the exact address of this location. Around this sign, there are also numerous “PARK” signs to further display their parking and repairing services (it is 24 hours). I think this sign is interesting because to me, this sign seems the most anachronistic and out of place. While the majority of the other signs is of new restaurants and retail stores, this one advertises an auto-clinic. This contrast in history is evident due to the aesthetic nature of these signs. This sign is not only in English, its Chinese counterpart is just as large and distinct; it reads: Chinese Auto Repair Company. Like many other signs on this street, Chinese text is present along with the English one.

The telephone number below the name of their company also hints at this anachronism. They leave out the old NYC area code of 212, as they automatically assumed that all of NY was always going to have the same area code even many years later. Compared to the other signs, this is one of the biggest signs of the street. The rent continues to rise steeply in this location, and this large area as shown by the sign seems to be quite an unattainable possession considering the low cost service they offer. Thus, this establishment, as depicted by its sign, seems outdated and seems as if they have not developed with some of the other establishments on the same street.

Although Kenmare Street exists in an overlap between multiple neighborhoods (Little Italy, Chinatown, Lower East Side, SoHo), many of the signs on this street certainly do not portray this. Some scream Chinatown, but others are just new, trendy signs; there is no mix of the culture of the neighborhoods. While many of the signs are shabby, some are the completely opposite, displaying a new, attractive design to lure customers into their restaurants or shops. This stark contrast between the signs is another reason why this sign seems so out of place to me. Kenmare Street seems to be in a long struggle with time, as there is no chronology; signs are either old and rundown, or new and hip.

In general, this sign stood out to me because it is comparably large, and because I think it tells a story about Kenmare Street. As it was a place of parking garages, auto-clinics, and other regular services, this sign is different from many of the other signs on this street because it holds on to Kenmare’s past.

Sources:

http://start.cortera.com/company/research/k5p2kso3p/park-on-auto-service-inc/

Entry #3 (9/28/11)

I started in Petrosino Square, where people were quietly sitting on benches either reading, talking, or people watching. Extremely cozy but bare, I walked to the other end in about ten steps, and continued walking east on Kenmare Street. The coziness continued as I walked on. There are no tall or industrial buildings, only quaint little restaurants, kitschy shops, typical New York City apartments, and dirty auto-clinics. Even with the run down delis and parking spots, the coziness doesn’t go away. Loud noises characteristic of other streets in New York do not exist here, only chatting, and subtle sounds of automobiles passing. Even though there is a lot of scaffolding, it doesn’t seem like there is lots of construction going on from the sound. No drills, no banging or clinking, even at 1:30 pm on a sunny Monday afternoon.

Since the streets are perfectly straight from one end to the other, I naturally walked straight down the sidewalk. Also, because Kenmare is a two-way street, cars are frequently passing, and I always looked both ways before crossing to be careful of cars. As I continued on, I found myself looking at the myriad of ads and posters that were displayed on walls, trashcans, street signs, and in store windows. As a heavily retail based street, there was absolutely no shortage of these signs. I gazed at all the signs that were on every store on the street, which is why walking down this four block street took quite a long time for me. I was also surprised by the large juxtaposition of the trendy restaurants to the old auto-clinics, and noticed myself looking back and for the between the two establishments. As Morris writes in his article, “the most basic and transparent of bodily actions and dispositions (for instance, walking, spitting, gazing, resting, etc.) have no neutral or ‘natural’ form but are always culturally and socially produced, often through mimetic processes” (685) [1]. While walking down this street, I noticed other pedestrians doing the exact same as me, looking as the random but interesting posters as they were walking along the straight and long sidewalk; definitely, this is a mimetic process that we have all learned in our social world.

Along with the many posters, I also noticed how many empty spaces there were on the street. So many stores had “For Rent” signs stuck to their windows, and even spaces without any signs. Although some parts of the street definitely seemed developed and has gained popularity through the media, other parts were still desolate and stuck in the past. Contrary to many other streets in New York, this street is not corporate or industrial at all; it is in fact the opposite. Morris writes, “Some popular practices (like music or, as I am arguing, certain kinds of walking in the city) operate primarily as sites for the production of a certain intensity that can potentially have important ideological effects” (691) [1]. As opposed to the Financial District of Midtown where people walk incredibly fast as they rush to work etc., the intensity here is slow- paced and leisurely, to indicate a site of fun and pleasure.

Works Cited:

Morris, Brian. “What We Talk About When We Talk About ‘Walking In The City.'” Cultural Studies 18.5 (2004): 675-697. Print.

Entry #4 (10/5/11)

Although Kenmare Street is an emerging place with quaint shops scattered along the lane, it was certainly not as pleasant during the early 20th century. This street was notorious for illegal activities especially during the Prohibition era (1920-1933), such as bootlegging and gang fights; the Mafia also contributed to this, as Kenmare Street is part of Little Italy. This crime and violence can be seen throughout a series of New York Times articles.

The earliest article, “1 Dead, 3 Wounded in a Bootleg Feud,” Jerry Ruberto, a man with a long criminal history, was finally killed on Kenmare on February 1922. Jerry was murdered as he was lured into Café Venezia, located on Kenmare and Elizabeth Street, as retaliation for killing Silvio Melchiore, the founder of the restaurant. Silvio and his brother were part of a bootlegging band.

In the next month, March 1922, more bootleg action occurred on Kenmare, as shown in “Agents Raid Garage Get $100,000 Rum”. Prohibition Agents Peter Reager and John Kerrigan dressed as laborers and roamed the streets of Kenmare and Elizabeth for a week. They suspected barrels of “chemicals” entering and leaving the Kenmare Garage Company located on the southeast corner of Kenmare and Elizabeth streets, and finally decided to pretend as automobile inspectors to further investigate this garage. They had also hired a search warrant, which allowed them to go deeper in the location. When they were brought to the fourth floor by manager Patsy Alfano along with 25 Italian men, they seized sixty three barrels of whiskey, which was valued at $100,000 at that time. Alfano was brought to jail for the violation of the Volstead Act. This is particularly interesting because to this day, this spot is still a parking garage. However, while this garage was occupied by Italian men before, it is now more Chinese than it is Italian. The sign to this establishment includes Chinese characters, and when I peeked inside, I saw a few Chinese men wandering about.

Two months later, in May 1922, the scene did not change much. In “Bootleggers using Costly Motor Cars,” a twin-six (a new touring car) occupied by seven young men was seen on Kenmare and Mulberry Streets, which finally turned on Grand Street. A detective saw them and immediately suspected a bootleg gang, but his colleague was skeptical due to the nice dress of the men and the costly new car. However, the detective answered that many of the cars in the Lower East Side are very costly, thus suggesting that the businesses of the bootleg industry and gang members were quite successful. At the end of the article, one detective says, “Of the murders in New York in the past year, I believe that thirty-five or forty have been over the division of profits in bootlegging (3)”. It was definitely a lucrative but highly illegal business to be in during that period.

Even three years later (October 1925), violence from bootlegging continued. In “Mysterious Blow Kills Man in Home,” a man named Leon Memi was murdered and found on the floor of his flat on Mulberry Street close to Kenmare. No one heard or saw anything related to the murder, but the presence of several one-gallon glass jugs and wine and whiskey bottles hinted at a bootlegging battle. Another suspicious clue was that Memi’s chauffeur was seen with him on late Saturday night, the night of the murder. The presence of a chauffeur also indicates that Memi was not a poor man even though he only worked as a clerk, and it hints at him being involved in some bootlegging action.

As we can see from all these articles during the Prohibition Era, Kenmare Street was not a pleasant place to be at in the 1920s. Crime and violence were a frequent occurrence, as well as a myriad of illegal activities that all connected with each other. It is really surprising to observe how much the Lower East Side and Kenmare street especially has developed and gentrified over the past decades. No one back in the day could have imagined the trendy restaurants and shops, along with the coziness that exist on this street today.

Works Cited:

“1 Dead, 3 Wounded in a Bootleg Feud.” New York Times (1857-1922): 12. ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The New York Times (1851-2007) with Index (1851-1993). Feb 24 1922. Web. 4 Oct. 2011 <https://ezproxy.library.nyu.edu/login?url=http://search.proquest.com/docview/99649455?accountid=12768>.”

“Agents Raid Garage Get $100,000 Rum.” New York Times (1857-1922): 18. ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The New York Times (1851-2007) with Index (1851-1993). Mar 31 1922. Web. 4 Oct. 2011 <https://ezproxy.library.nyu.edu/login?url=http://search.proquest.com/docview/99422427?accountid=12768>.”

“Bootleggers using Costly Motor Cars.” New York Times (1857-1922): 35. ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The New York Times (1851-2007) with Index (1851-1993). May 21 1922. Web. 4 Oct. 2011 <https://ezproxy.library.nyu.edu/login?url=http://search.proquest.com/docview/99574063?accountid=12768>.”

“Mysterious Blow Kills Man in Home.” New York Times (1923-Current file): 23. ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The New York Times (1851-2007). Oct 12 1925. Web. 4 Oct. 2011 <https://ezproxy.library.nyu.edu/login?url=http://search.proquest.com/docview/103502740?accountid=12768>.”

Entry #5 (10/17/11)

The U.S. Census Bureau offers a lot of information and statistics about any state or region by zip code in the United States. Kenmare Street is located in the 10012 zip code region, which is an approximately 13-15 block area with Washington Square Park and West 4th Street as the northern boundary, 6th Avenue as the western boundary, Broome Street as the southern boundary, and Bowery as the eastern boundary. Thus, this area covers Greenwich Village, SoHo, some parts of Little Italy, and a little of Chinatown. I used the fact sheets that show the data from the 2000 census.

The total population of this area is 26,000, with the most number of people in the 25-34 age range. As this area is a popular neighborhood with apartments that are extremely expensive, I am not surprised with the shown age range, as I would expect this are to be attractive to young professionals who are starting to earn a good amount of money. 64.6% of the people also have a bachelor’s degree or higher, which is much higher than most neighborhoods. With people having ample education, perhaps their income is higher, which allows them to live in these kinds of neighborhoods. The mix of neighborhoods in the 10012 zip code is interesting as well, since the dynamics of these neighborhoods are very different. In more monetary terms, Greenwich Village is higher up in status than Chinatown or Little Italy (although these areas are developing well), so there is a large mix of real estate prices within this zip code. Perhaps more young professional live in SoHo and Greenwich Village, while more families live in Little Italy and Chinatown. It would be interesting to compare the differences in age range, education, and income in the different neighborhoods.

I found the origins and language tab the most interesting. People with Italian ancestry was the highest amongst all groups, with a whopping 2997 people, or 11.5% of the total. This is surprising because although Little Italy makes up for a small amount of this zip code, there were still the most Italians. Perhaps the population density is extremely high in Little Italy, or the Italian population spread to nearby neighborhoods. Most people were native born in New York, but around 30% were natives. Although Little Italy experienced an influx of Italians during the late 1800s, and Chinatown received many immigrants after 1965, almost 50% of people from Europe and Asia entered this neighborhood from the years 1990 to 2000. This explains that immigration is still commonly taking place.

With so much going on in this area, it is essential to discuss the businesses operating here. There are many businesses in this area, but the top three are retail with 604 establishments, professional, scientific, and technical services with 516 establishments, and accommodation and food services with 338 establishments. This should be no surprise to anyone, since this is a primary shopping area (SoHo) for many, and a popular place for restaurants. As Kenmare Street is mostly characterized by its retail stores, restaurants, and auto clinics/parking garages, the businesses of Kenmare is a good representation of the entire are of the 10012 zip code.

Works Cited:

United States. US Census Bureau. “Fact Sheet.” American FactFinder. US Census Bureau. US Government,
2000. Web. 13 Oct. 2011. <http://factfinder.census.gov/servlet/
ACSSAFFFacts?_event=&geo_id=01000US&_geoContext=01000US&_street=&_county=&_cityTown=&_state=&_zip=&_l
ang=en&_sse=on&ActiveGeoDiv=&_useEV=&pctxt=fph&pgsl=010&_submenuId=factsheet_1&ds_name=null&_ci_nbr=&
qr_name=®=%3A&_keyword=&_industry=>.

Entry #6 (10/19/11)

Book Cover

For the fiction book about my street, I chose Little Sister’s Last Dose by Alex Minter. This mystery novel is about Felix Novak, a country boy who traveled across the country to New York to investigate about his sister who died from an overdose. He finds Soraya Navarro, his childhood best friend, whose boyfriend owns the club that his sister died in. He also fathers his courage to confront his estranged father, who is a personal investigator, and used to work in the NYPD. They encounter and have to overcome drug lords, police detectives, and rich old men to find out the mystery of Felix’s sister, who was actually murdered. This story is a thrilling and detailed story of wealthy young adults who enter the world of debauchery and drugs.

“Then they were moving up Spring and around to Kenmare Street, past Lucy’s Natural, past a Thai restaurant, an outdoor cafe called Loup, and a bicycle repair shop, past scrawny trees and a little fenced-in park that was full of psychotic drunks, and past couples walking home for naps and sex in the failing light of a Saturday afternoon. Felix pulled, but Kringle’s grip didn’t waver and he wouldn’t catch Felix’s eye.

‘Move,’ the man said, in that same whiny cat voice. They stepped into a wide square parking lot half-filled with SUVs and foreign sedans, at the foot of Kenmare Street. Kringle flipped Felix against the graffittied side of a building that butted up to the lot. Felix felt his back bang against brick. He pushed off with his ass, knee up, and put his fist into Kringle’s jaw, but the main backpedaled and the blow was soft. Kringle grabbed his throat and punched him in the gut. Felix took the hit hard, went up against the bricks, felt Kringle’s fist press his kidney right up against his spine”(114).

The characters enter the neighborhood of SoHo/Little Italy and into Kenmare street in this passage, but the stores that are mentioned are not actually on the street. Lucy’s Natural is a nonexistent store, and Cafe Loup is actually located in the West Village. The inaccurate placing of the stores can throw people off, and create an inaccurate depiction New York. However, the depiction of Kenmare Street is quite real. Minter mentions the notorious Kenmare street parking lots, and the ample graffiti that is present on the sidewalks. Fiction books of New York can give the reader a sense of New York, but only from a very limited perspective. Authors can pick and choose what to use to create their own realities in the stories.

Graffiti on Kenmare Street

Parking lots

This novel fits in with many other stories set in New York City. Often, these books portray New York as a playground for the wealthy, and present a story about how these people play in this city. Drugs, sex, and trouble are very common themes, as authors frequently tell stories about how the characters cope with these taboo and troublemaking subjects. Glamour often turns into difficulties, and materialism can cause deep, alarming problems when not handled in control. As New York is a place where lots of illegal activities happen, it is a great setting for mysteries. Minter takes advantage of the deep secrets of New York and tells a compelling story about the lives of young troublemakers who fall into the traps in the city.

Works Cited

Minter, Alex. Little Sister’s Last Dose. New York: Pocket Books, 2003. Print.

Entry #7 (10/25/11)

The film I chose for my street is Donnie Brasco, a 1997 film directed by Mike Newell, which is based on the book Donnie Brasco: My Undercover Life in the Mafia. The movie is a true story about the infamous FBI agent Joe Pistone, alias Donnie Brasco, and his experiences as an undercover agent in the Bonanno family mafia in New York City. This all starts when Brasco, played by Johnny Depp, befriends Lefty Ruggiero, played by Al Pacino, and slowly becomes a member of the family. When Sonny Black becomes the leader, he cannot keep up with his double life. The more he is involved with them, the more he starts to be associated with the mafia crew. He loses his family, as he spends more and more time with them. His ultimate dilemma is that he must report his findings to the FBI and arrest the entire crew, which means that he will be ending Ruggiero’s life, who has formed a close friendship with him. This film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Adaped Screenplay.

In one of the opening scenes, Ruggiero meets Brasco at 176 Mulberry Street, which is the Mulberry Street Bar. This is an essential scene in the film, because this is where Ruggiero accepts Brasco to be a part of him and his mafia family. This bar still exists, and looks similar to how it looks in the film. Tourists now flock to this spot because of this film; this perhaps devalues the place, since tourists only go to the location because famous movies have filmed there, not because of what the bar offers . Kenmare Street is also shown exactly the same as how it looks even today. In class on Monday, we discussed about how New York is portrayed in movies. Often, this city is glorified and depicted through its infamous buildings and places. However, this film does not exactly do the same. There are some scenes where the cityscape and grandiose bridges are shown, but it mostly shows the typical landscape of New York streets, which I think is pretty rare in most movies set in New York. There are many scenes where the duo is driving through the streets of NY, showing the more mundane life of this place. For example, right after they leave Mulberry Street Bar, they are driving through Little Italy/Lower East Side, which show the many shops, dirty streets, and the less luxurious lifestyle.

Ruggiero and Brasco in Mulberry Street Bar

Exterior of Mulberry Street Bar today

The duo on Kenmare Street

Many scenes in Donnie Brasco are set in Little Italy, where the Italian mafias were situated. This story does not 100% match the real story of Joe Pistone, such as the specific settings. Thus, the choice of settings in this film is interesting to our discussion of how New York is portrayed in movies. Also in class, we talked about how there is an over familiarity with New York through film. So, why did the director choose this street and the surrounding areas? Mulberry Street is notorious for bootleggers and the hang out spot for the Italian mafia, so Newell perhaps chose this particular bar to indicate this. Perhaps he chose this area to authenticate the setting, to continue the stereotype of this area and the mafia. There is an over familiarity present in this film, as the director continues to support the street’s Italian mafia reputation; the audience is informed that this area is infamous for this reason. New York is known for its eclectic neighborhoods, and this movie certainly illustrates this trait for Little Italy.  This film definitely continues the legacy of Kenmare Street and its relation to crime, violence, and gangs.

Works Cited:

“Donnie Brasco.” On the Set of New York. On the Set of New York, 24 Oct. 2011. Web. 26 Oct. 2011.

<http://onthesetofnewyork.com/donniebrasco.html&gt;.

“Mulberry Street Bar.” New York On Tap. New York On Tap, n.d. Web. 25 Oct. 2011.

<http://www.newyorkontap.com/reviews2show.asp?show=1109&gt;.

Entry #8 (11/2/11)

After my class that ended at 7pm, I slowly walked down to Kenmare Street, and experienced a great contrast. On campus, bright lights shined everywhere, so much that I couldn’t really tell the sky was dark. Walking down Broadway, this continued, and even more lights were shining in SoHo, where many stores were still open. However, as I turned onto Kenmare from Cleveland Place, the setting changed drastically. There was minimal lighting, which mostly came from the cars, and street and traffic lights. Almost no light came from the stores, which is interesting because this street is full of retail stores, restaurants, and bars. Joachim Schlor writes in his article that “Of course these places, the cafes, restaurants, cafes-concerts, honky-tonks, variety theatres and bars are part of the furniture of the nocturnal street, without which it would lose a great deal of its power of attraction” (249). These establishments are exactly what keep Kenmare Street alive, since the rest is residential, industrial, and not quite physically attractive. I did not see much activity going on on this street, except for a few people outside these types of establishments. Specifically, a delivery man outside a Japanese restaurant, and a few people walking to restaurants/stores on the street. The most crowded and lit up place was a Dell pop up store on the corner of Elizabeth and Kenmare. The store was packed, and even a cameraman was filming the event outside the store. That was the highlight of Kenmare at 7pm last night.

Dell pop-up salon

Looking East on Kenmare

Looking West on Kenmare

Although Kenmare is known for its bars and restaurants, none seemed to be crowded. Perhaps bars are not open until later at night and were closed when I visited. The more famous locations were not very transparent as well; I could not see inside the restaurants or bars, only the exteriors. Even the latest hotspot hotel Nolitan was reserved and quiet; it seemed like it didn’t want to attract customers with its lights and the exterior, which contrasts with many other New York attractions, especially in Times Square. Perhaps Kenmare wants to retain its residential setting, and keep it from tourists, so that it only attracts people who are in the know about these establishments.

The Nolitan Hotel

Despite its minimal light and relative darkness, Kenmare didn’t feel threatening or dangerous at all as I walked down the street. I felt as if it retained its coziness from daytime, as it was quiet and seemed familial. It also didn’t feel socially divided as well. Schlor mentions that ever since the end of the eighteenth century, there has been a mingling of social classes on the streets at night. This is evident on Kenmare, as shown by the businesses. Perhaps the more upper class flock to the swanky Nolitan hotel, while the middle and lower classes dine at the cheap take-out restaurants, or work in the garages. I also noticed that there were more cars at night, perhaps due to the middle-classes commuting from work to home. Overall, I can tell that Kenmare Street is a diverse and friendly place, even at night.

Travertine (restaurant)

Works Cited:

Schlor, Joachim. Nights in the Big City: Paris, Berlin, London 1840-1930. Trans. Pierre Gottfried

Imhof and Dafydd Rees Roberts. London: Reaktion Books, 1998. Print.

Entry #9 (11/9/11)

The Sopranos

I could not find a television show that was filmed on Kenmare Street, so I decided to use The Sopranos, which includes scenes filmed in Mulberry Street Bar—the same bar used in Donnie Brasco (view film post). This bar, which is portrayed as Averna Social Club in the series, is where the Lupertazzi family often meets. Only the interior of this Social Club is filmed in Mulberry Street Bar, the exterior is the façade of another bar on Mott street.

In the episode The Blue Comet (season 6 episode 20), Phil Leotardo and his men meet at Averna Social Club to discuss matters. Leotardo decides to kill the DiMeo family, and his men immediately follow up. In this scene, these men come together at this place to discuss serious matters, which set up the plot for the future. In the case of Donnie Brasco, Lefty Ruggiero and Donnie Brasco meet at this exact location, which looks different than Averna Social Club. This scene is also essential, as it is where Ruggiero accepts Brasco as part of him and his mafia family. In both filmings, Mulberry Street Bar is an important location where the characters move the plot right along. Due to these famous scenes, tourists and fans visit these locations.

Averna Social Club (Mulberry Street Bar) in The Sopranos

Averna Social Club

Ruggiero and Brasco in Mulberry Street Bar

In the article by William Sadler and Ekaterina Haskins, they state that  “We argue that television’s representations of cities create a “postcard effect” that affords the viewer the pleasure of a tourist gaze, a disposition that both reflects and legitimizes a fragmented experience of visiting a location without immersing oneself in the intricacies of its politics and geography” (196). Although the location is removed from its context on screen, people are still attracted to these places because famous happenings occurred, and perhaps they feel connected to these films and TV shows by going to these places where the actors were once there, filming the fictional stories. Despite the events being false, people still want to visit these places because they are somewhat glorified and put to light on screen. An obscure place becomes a tourist attraction just because of a filming there. Thus, the authors write that “Television show settings, therefore, act not only as a narrative links in trivial stories about colorful-characters, but also as potent rhetorical devices in a tourist economy driven by the production and consumption of places and their images” (213).  In our economy, these kinds of places on screen do not only serve one function; they serve as locations where more profit can be earned. In other words, these places act as the products in product placement; now, there is “location placement” as well.

Works Cited

Sadler, William J., and Ekaterina V. Haskins. “Metonymy and the Metropolis: Television Show Settings and the Image of New York City.” Journal of Communication Inquiry 29.3 (2005): 195-216.

Entry #10 (11/16/11)

One would expect that Kenmare Street, which is in- between Chinatown, the Lower East Side, Little Italy, and Soho, is a noisy and rowdy street with many things happening at once. Clare Corbould writes in her article that “To be sure, other areas in New York City were also represented as “noisy,” notably Chinatown, the Lower East Side, Tin Pan Alley, and at night at least, Broadway” (859). However, from the many times I have visited, Kenmare Street has been a relatively quiet street, with noises only coming from chitchat, cars, and cargo loading/unloading. The only time this street was noisy was when I visited the San Gennaro festival.

Today, I visited Kenmare Street and walked down the street from East to West. Here is the sound recording below:

kenmare sound

As you can hear, not much is going on audibly. Sounds are limited; most of the 3 minutes consists of cars and trucks driving by, sounds of people unloading cargo, and around 1:30, there are kids talking. I think this recording is a pretty good representation of what the exterior of Kenmare is like on a typical day. Dominated car parks and garages, this recording mainly consists of car sounds. Since Kenmare Street is an extension of Delancey Street that leads to the Williamsburg Bridge, it is no surprise that many cars drive through this street to get to other places. In a sense, Kenmare is a node for vehicles. The lack of sounds of people is interesting, because it is in the middle of many touristy neighborhoods, but this specific street is not really a popular path to take. It has, however, a good amount of residents, so most of the sounds happen indoors. Likewise, this street has restaurants, shops, and galleries, but it seems like none of the sound happens outside; these establishments are all more internal, and the sound follows that as well.

I also found a song by Butch Walker that I think makes a reference to Kenmare Street. In his new song “Bodegas and Blood,” released in August 2011, he sings about a girl that inspires him.

The lyrics to the first two verses and the chorus are:

Walking into a Bodega while she’s cleaning out her nose
Stuck here in Kenmare square without a place to go
And it’s a beautiful day
And she’s a beautiful face
And she’ll be fine

And the car wash water oozes down the sidewalk city street
Runs like the flow of blood from her legs down to the bathroom sink
And as she looks at the street
And then she looks at her feet
And she is fine
So it seems
Yeah

And it’s days like these
That keep me on my winning streak
It’s all a part of me”

He does not mention that he is referring to New York City, but the lyrics highly suggest so. He refers to Kenmare Square, which is now Petrosino Square, located on the very West of the street. I do not know why he is not updated to the current name. He later sings about a consignment store and a man hanging out at “studio 54,” which are characteristic of New York. However, the first line mentions a bodega, which are scattered all along Kenmare Street. In the second verse, he also mentions “car wash water [oozing] down the sidewalk city street”. This street also hosts many car parks/auto clinics that are likely to have car wash water draining out onto the streets. The fact that he mentions “city street” is perhaps another reference to New York City. Blood is also indicated in this song, which in a way de-glorifies this street. As more upper class neighborhoods and streets are not normally mentioned with blood, Walker may be referring back to Kenmare’s past of blood and violence; it certainly does taint Kenmare’s image.

Perhaps Kenmare Street was once a noisy place, especially at the height of the Italian mafia wars that took place in and around this street. However, the street has transformed into a quiet place, which is uncharacteristic of typical New York City streets. It is definitely not a place to go if you are trying to sonically experience this city.

Works Cited

“BUTCH WALKER LYRICS.” AZLyrics. AZLyrics.com, 2011. Web. 15 Nov. 2011. <http://www.azlyrics.com/

lyrics/butchwalker/bodegasandblood.html>.

Corbould, Clare. “Streets, Sounds and Identity in Interwar Harlem.” Journal of Social History 40.4 (2007): 859-94. Print.

Entry #11 (11/23/11)

Nowadays, we look at digital representations of cities and streets almost everyday. Non-digital cartographic maps that have been used for many years in the past show us where certain streets are, their relationships to other streets, which can give us directions to a certain destination. However, digital maps, which include satellite imagery can illustrate the physical reality of streets. Through the photographs, we are able to see the true appearance of these locations. Buildings, cars, people and ultimately the space of that location can be seen. However, these maps are not available in real time, so the images that the viewers can access are not an accurate representation of the location at that exact time. Anne Galloway writes in her article that

As such, the maps include and exclude particular aspects of the city, and just as new empowering relationships may be enabled, so too may certain unequal power relations be perpetuated and new limitations or restrictions emerge. Without accounting for these possibilities, the design of ubiquitous technologies may set us on paths for which we are not socially and culturally prepared, and at the same time limit chances for creativity, serendipity, and innovation (403).

Thus, using these virtual maps and images does not recognize time and space of locations, and will not give the user a complete experience. For example, Google Maps now does not show Nolitan hotel, which opened in May 2011. Also, users of these technologies cannot experience the audial, olfactive, aspects of the street, and are not exposed to the people, cars and everything else going on at the location. They cannot embody the live experience, which does not let them truly be familiar with that specific place.

Non-existent Nolitan hotel on Google Maps

Nolitan hotel (opened May 2011)

On the other hand, fictional representations of places not only show streets as a physical entity, they also include the culture and history of the location. Especially in more interactive forms such as video games, places are represented as a real place digitally. Thus, “live” people exist, and there is a certain concept of time. True Crime: New York City is a video game that takes place in New York City, and it features a GPS-accurate recreation of the city. It is about the protagonist trying to take revenge for his father, which involves investigating crime families scattered throughout the city. Thus, as the title suggests, this game features lots of crime, violence, and drugs that happens here. These “augmented realities” are accurate to a certain extent, but still lacks the experience of reality. There is an extra layer of information that is included, perhaps to make these representations more real. In Kiri Miller’s article, she writes, “Moreover, as San Andreas demonstrates, these games also tend to collect and transmit preexisting cultural narratives and modes of expression drawn from more traditional folkloric domains” (280). Hence, these video games are based on a certain type of narrative of that location, which may involve certain stereotypes or fixed representations of a place. In this picture of Kenmare Street, the most prominent feature is the Italian flag that lines the streets and even the restaurant. Since Kenmare is part of the North of Little Italy neighborhood, the game developers perhaps thought putting the Italian flag would further authenticate this street/location. They are definitely going back to the “cultural narratives” and “traditional folkloric domains” of this street, as it was once a main street of Little Italy. If I go to Kenmare today, the street certainly does not look like this, so video games still do not embody the space and time of any location. Video games once released cannot be forgotten; if these games are not updated as the city develops, players are stuck with the same portrayals of the city even as New York City advances.

Kenmare Street in True Crime: New York City

In the Mulberry Street picture screenshot in True Crime, someone is getting mugged in the middle of the street, which is dark and barren. As people play these games, they may start to form certain representations of the streets, and showing these violent and dangerous situations can distort their views of New York City. Although these streets are usually safe, friendly and teeming with energy, the portrayals in the game do not illustrate this. Thus, games like these can present a twisted reality of this city.

Screenshot of True Crime: New York City

Works Cited

Galloway, Anne. “Imitations of Everyday Life: Ubiquitous Computing and the City.” Cultural Studies, Vol. 18. 384-408.

Kiri Miller. “Grove Street Grimm: Grand Theft Auto and Digital Folklore.” Journal of American Folklore 121.481 (2008): 255-285. Project MUSE. Web. 21 Jan. 2011. <http://muse.jhu.edu/&gt;.

“True Crime: New York City Visits Nolita.” Gothamist. Gothamist LLC, 15 Sept. 2005. Web. 21 Nov. 2011. <http://gothamist.com/2005/09/15/true_crime_new_york_city_visits_nolita.php&gt;.

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