Seaport Report


By Janel Bladow

The kids have settled into their new school classes but outside it still doesn’t feel like September. Sunday the Seaport was sizzling – hot, hot, hot, setting record temps, and filled with people. No signs of recession here! Just outdoor tables full of hungry customers and stores clearing their shelves with fall sales.

Double the number of outside café tables at J P Mustard to handle the hungry and lively music blasting as the business is brisk at Abercrombie & Fitch. Brookstone celebrates customer appreciation with a big sale, Body Shop is discounting with a buy one, get one half off and Benetton has items 15-percent off.

Anyone who was in New York City 20 years ago will be excited to learn there’s a Chock Full O’ Nuts “café” (actually a serve yourself counter but let’s not get picky) in the recently opened Gristede’s on Maiden La. Why should we care? Because….their nutted cheese sandwich is back — nice sweet date nut bread with cream cheese between the thick slices. Years ago it sold for less than a dollar. Today’s price? $3.99!

How one stays in business in the mess that is Fulton St. is beyond Seaport Report. Yet the area thrives. On just one block is a hot new eatery, Sophie’s Cuban Cuisine at 141, while a few steps down the street across from one of the two Dunkin’ Donuts on the three-block stretch a new Starbucks is coming soon.


On the other hand, a trip to the east end of Fulton St. marks a sad passing. Once you wind your way through the scaffolding, the blocked crosswalks and piles of construction debris, you’ll find yourself on a narrow wedge of what was only a few months ago a wide sidewalk filled with carts of books. The sign outside the Strand Bookstore says “Closing September 21. For real this time. 70% off everything. Ever want to see these books again, buy ‘em.”

Seaport Report went in and like several other customers loaded up with a big bag of books. The stacks are pushed into the store, away from the walls, nooks of the store are roped off and bare. The marks of years of a musty and messy mishmash are all that’s left. Store employees are as sullen as ever, the guard intently reading his novel and a few browsers picking through the remains.

Lindsay Degutis, Strand annex manager, e-mailed S.R.: “The people in the neighborhood are sad. For a lot of people it is a nice, quiet space where they can spend their lunch hour. I can’t even count the number of interesting people and their hundreds of stories over the years. There have been customers who try to fix up an employee with her nice young Australian filmmaker friend to someone who is looking for books on pigeon rearing because she and her husband saved and have owned a pet pigeon for 3 years now ( I still get updates)….

“We are not organizing our remaining stock. The best we can do now is to try to help people and stay out of the way so they can browse for themselves. The store obviously means a lot to our staff and our community. …It was good while it lasted, but in the great New York tradition of change, we are making way for the new. Read ‘Downtown’ by Pete Hamill that explains it all. We don’t have any on hand here, but we should have three used copies at our 12th St. and Broadway location.” Thanks Lindsay and good luck…as for the rest of us, best get yourself to the annex before all the bargains are gone.


Saturday the Seaport streets will be filled with peddlers pushing a greener world. Join Olympians, athletes, celebrities and actor Matthew Modine, founder of Bicycle For A Day for a fun kick off for the first annual Bike for a Day. In addition to a bike ride and a “Two Wheels or Two Feet” fitness walk with former Olympic star Sharon Seagrave (that’s on skates or in sneakers), the festivities include live music, guest speakers and prizes. Fun starts at 10 a.m. and goes till 5 p.m. on Pier 17.


Starting with an opening reception on Friday, Sept 26, General Growth Properties hosts a stimulating exhibition of sculptures and portraits by two noted contemporary artists.

Sculptor John Carnright, known for his Primitive Futurism movement, and painter Allen Stamper, known for soul illuminating portraits, will be showing their works throughout the month. Carnright says on his web site “primitive futurism begins with a simple truth: We’ve all evolved from indigenous peoples.” Carnright goes on to say that all of us are influenced by culture and “…today’s ongoing Internet global cultural explosion. Yet, throughout it all, tribal instincts still guide us all.” His pieces are large, most wood constructions and multimedia compositions. Carnright began his artist style along with other Primitive Futurism artists in the early 1970s through the 1980s in California, Colorado, New York and Connecticut.

Allen Stamper grew up in Hawaii and New York surrounded by art: the son of artist Willson Stamper and Martha Alexander Stamper, children’s book illustrator and writer. Stamper studied at the Honolulu Academy of Art and describes his art as “…snapshots of little occurrences that mark me in some way”.

Opening reception:

6-9 p.m. at @Seaport, 210 Front St., Fri., Sept. 26 – Nov. 26.