Ad-Free Listening, at a Savings of 25%!
Do you ever wish you could listen to the toe-tapping tunes of Cladrite Radio without the commercials? We don’t mean the vintage ads that we share with you every hour or so, but the other ones—the commercials our streaming provider, Live365, adds to the mix.
By becoming a VIP member at Live365, you get to avoid hearing those ads, leaving more time to enjoy the great music of the 1920s, ’30s and ’40s. And right now, Live365 is offering a special deal that we think is worth telling you about.
Sign up now for a year of VIP membership, and you’ll receive an extra four months for free, a 25% savings! Usually, a year’s membership comes to right around $5 a month, but with this special offer, you’ll pay just $3.75 per. And best of all (from our point of view, anyway), you’ll be showing your support for Cladrite Radio. That’s right, we’ll receive a percentage of your VIP membership fee, which helps us to keep the music streaming.
To participate, all you have to do is sign up for the 12-month VIP membership by July 4th! That’s just around the corner, so don’t delay!
Happy 99th Birthday, Olivia de Havilland!
Here’s wishing a happy birthday to actress Olivia de Havilland, who turns 99 years old today!
Happy birthday, Judy Garland!
The wonderful Judy Garland was born Frances Ethel Gumm 93 years ago today in Grand Rapids, Minnesota. From that humble beginning, she went on to an amazing career that few others have matched.
A friend once asked us, “Why is it that you’re so fond of Judy Garland, but you’re not so crazy about Barbra Streisand?”
That’s an easy one for us: With Ms. Streisand (with all due respect), it’s all about her pipes. With Ms. Garland, it’s all about her heart.
Happy birthday, Frances Ethel, and thanks for giving your all.
Happy Birthday, Cole Porter!
The great Cole Porter was born 124 years ago today in Peru, Indiana. George Gershwin has long been our favorite composer from the Cladrite Era, but we’ve come to appreciate Mr. Porter much more in recent years—so much so that he’s pretty much neck-and-neck with Mr. Gershwin. In any case, there’s certainly room in our world for both (and for so many other great composers of yore).
Here’s to you, Cole, wherever you may be.
The Fight to Save New York City
Three years ago, we told you about Louis Shoe Repair (see that post below), which has been open in the same spot since 1921. We fell in love with the place, and stopped by regularly to have our shoes shined when our workplace was nearby (sadly, our offices moved way downtown over a year ago).
That shop, now in operation for 94 years, will close later this month, and not because it’s not still a viable operation—they’re doing just fine. No, they’re closing because the corporation that owns the Empire State Building (that’s where LSR is located) is raising their rent to—wait for it—$25,000 a month. For a shoe-repair shop.
This is going on all over NYC. Thriving businesses of long standing are being forced to close by rent hikes at levels that no small business could handle. This unrelenting greed is changing the very nature of the city we—and perhaps you, too—love so dearly.
There is a group that is working to get some form of protection in place for small businesses; you’ll find them on Facebook here. (You’ll also find a SaveNYC ad in the lefthand column of this site; click that to visit the group’s website.)
Do what you can. Pitch in. Write to the mayor’s office. Write to your city councilman. Tweet when the SaveNYC folks ask you to. If you love NYC, even if you don’t live here, this is your fight, too.
This post originally appeared on May 18, 2012…
Long-time habitues of this space know that there’s no simple pleasure of which we’re more fond than the shoeshine. Few services yield as much satisfaction per dollar spent.
There are a handful of shoeshine parlors near our place of employ, but all but one, Louis Shoe Rebuilders, are dead to us now. This delightful shop, situated on the ground floor of the Empire State Building on the 33rd Street side (honestly, couldn’t we just stop right there? What more could anyone ask of a shine emporium than that it be located in the Empire State Building? But there’s much more to recommend LSR), has been in business since a decade before that storied favorite skyscraper was erected.
Heck, Louis Shoe Rebuilders predates talking pictures by six years. It opened in 1921, relocated while the ESB was erected, and then returned to 33rd Street when the construction was complete.
And yet, as with most neighborhood shine parlors, the prices remain improbably—almost impossibly—low. Had my grandfather ever made his way from Okemah, Oklahoma, to the Murray Hill section of Manhattan back in the 1920s, he would have been charged a quarter for a shoeshine. Today, the tariff is $3, which, allowing for inflation, is virtually the same price.
Consider, by contrast, the cost of a haircut and a shave. In the old days, a tonsorial two-fer ran you the same quarter one paid for a shine (remember that old jingle, “Shave and a haircut—two bits”?). Today, at the barber shop we patronize every two weeks, a shave and a haircut costs $32, tip not included—and that’s a bargain price in our neighborhood. What was the 1921 equivalent of thirty-two smackeroos? Just under three dollars. So while the price of a shave and a haircut, even allowing for inflation, has increased tenfold, while price of a shine has remained, in relative terms, level.
It’s downright miraculous.
What’s more, we very rarely find a shoe shine man (or woman) who isn’t friendly and engaging (and our experience at Louis lived up to that trend), which only heightens the pleasure taken from the experience.
As does the chance to be a relative sport, when it comes to the gratuity. Who wouldn’t pay six dollars, and happily so, for a quality shoe shine at a venerable shop the likes of Louis Shoe Rebuilders? No one but a mean-spirited cheapskate, that’s who, and that six dollars covers the price of the shine, plus a 100% percent tip.
When was the last time you tipped a bartender or a waiter 100%? Perhaps you never have. Well, you can enjoy that rarefied experience at your friendly neighborhood shoeshine stand.
The shine service at Louis is handled these days by Maria and Bolivar Gomez, a married couple in their forties who emigrated to the United States from Ecuador.
When we immediately snapped a couple of photos upon entering the shop, Bolivar shot us a glance that we weren’t quite certain wasn’t askance, so we paused and asked permission, fearing we’d made a misstep. He shrugged his shoulders, as if to say, “Take a picture if you like,” but he seemed none too happy about it. And when we stepped up and took a seat at one of the shine stations, he asked, “How many pictures did you take?”
“Just two,” we said.
“Ten dollars, please,” he said, totally deadpan.
However, Maria’s giggle gave him away immediately, and he quickly apologized for the prank.
As the pictures in the above slidshow confirm, entering Louis Shoe Rebuilders isn’t like stepping into a time machine. The shop’s got a classic look to it, but not an especially vintage one—except for one feature: Along the wall on the left as you enter is a line of small booths that each looks something like a witness stand in a courtroom.
These booths serve the purpose of affording customers—especially female patrons—and their stocking feet some privacy as they await the return of their shoes after as-you-wait repairs are performed.
Needless to say, we immediately fell in love with that row of small booths, and with this shop. And so will you, if you’ll make it a point to stop by the next time you’re in New York.
Give me a book that's entertaining when I'm lying in the hay,
To while away the hours on a simmery summer day.
I want to be lazy like a daisy in the middle of July
And watch the pretty pictures in the sky.
Ho hum, dreaming in the sun,
I'm a lucky one, it's true.
Ho hum, I'm not so very dumb.
I'll bet you'd like to dream there, too.
Beautiful butterlies are dancing in the field across the way,
The nearest thing to heaven on a simmery summery day.
What's the use of hustle-bustle? Find a little time to play.
And you'll never simmer on a summer day.
—On a Simmery, Summery Day
Words and music by James Cavanaugh, John Redmond and Frank Weldon, 1940