When I was in undergrad, I was finally free as a bird to explore NYC on my own without supervision, so you can be sure that I took full advantage. One place I would always hit was Porto Rico Importing for some coffee and then Bleecker Bobs just down the street. Being a poor student, I tended to browse more than anything (the shirt above is one of the few things I could afford when I did buy). But I can't tell you the things I learned in that store about music; I felt like I'd found my mothership you might say.
Sadly, the NY Times reported today that Bleecker Bob's is closing now in April. And while I get the whole economy reality/record stores are having trouble like everyone else, it's becoming a Starbucks. Cause that's just what the NYC needs, another fucking Starbucks (shakes head).
RIP BB, your three minute records really did teach me more than I ever learned in school.
It’s all over but the reverb.
Two New York City musical mainstays — Bleecker Bob’s Golden Oldies, a record store in Greenwich Village and Southpaw, a performance space in Park Slope — are calling it quits. And what will replace them may provide fresh evidence that the city has traded its longtime rock ’n’ roll edge for something mellower, and a bit corporate.
Southpaw, which will close its location at 125 Fifth Avenue in Brooklyn in February, will become a New York Kids Club, an activity center for children.
And Bleecker Bob’s, which will close its store at 118 West Third Street at the end of April, will become a Starbucks, according to a manager, Chris Wiedener.
“It’s kind of disappointing,” said Giancarlo Caccamo, 19, a customer at Bleecker Bob’s on Thursday evening, upon learning the news. The vinyl records that pack the wooden bins and milk crates in the cluttered, narrow space are an increasingly endangered species, said Mr. Caccamo, who was in search of a record by Mott the Hoople.
The store’s closing seemed to sound a death knell for vinyl itself. “I just love the warm fuzz that you get,” he said. “There’s nothing like that sound.”
Javier Medina, 43, who began shopping at Bleecker Bob’s in the 1970s and has worked there as a salesman for the last decade, was more concerned about the loss of a piece of history. “This place should be a landmark,” he said while chatting with Gary Rookard, 53, who sells glass pipes on a table outside. “Everybody in the world knows it.”
Mr. Rookard, a 35-year Village resident, agreed but said the change fit the area’s continuing pattern of gentrification. “All that will be left down here are A.T.M.’s and bars, if anything,” he said.
Bleecker Bob’s, which began as Village Oldies Records in 1968, on Bleecker Street, and moved to two other locations before ending up at No. 118, had many rock ’n’ roll moments. Jimmy Page, Led Zeppelin’s guitarist, tended the register there occasionally, as did Frank Zappa, according to employees, who said both musicians were friends with Bob Plotnick, the store’s owner.
In the late 1970s, the store sold punk rock records when few other shops did, customers and employees remembered. Even the building itself, near Macdougal Street, brushed up against fame: in the 1960s, it was also home to the Night Owl Cafe, where the Lovin’ Spoonful often played, Mr. Wiedener said.
What kept Bleecker Bob’s going for years was the back of the store, which was leased to a tattoo parlor, among other businesses, which helped pay the rent. But the last subtenant was a comic book store, which closed in 2008, Mr. Wiedener said, making it difficult to continue.
“I’m sorry I personally couldn’t have done more,” Mr. Wiedener said as he priced a new batch of records, including Led Zeppelin’s “Houses of the Holy” ($20).
The landlord, Greenwich Realty Associates of Long Island, did not return a call for comment. Neither did Starbucks.
Southpaw, meanwhile, will close on Feb. 20, after a four-day series called Americana Pie, which will feature bluegrass and alternative country music.
Its neighborhood, which was fairly dangerous a few decades ago, has rapidly added upscale shops and restaurants and become a magnet for families.
Despite the area’s changing face, Matthew Roff, one of Southpaw’s owners, says he was not having a hard time filling the club during shows, which took place most nights.
“There’s a lot of work that goes into keeping a business like this going,” he said. “I don’t think any place in New York for live music is really bringing in enough revenue these days.”
Like Bleecker Bob’s, Southpaw can also lay claim to memorable moments, including the time Bob Dylan dropped by — as a patron, not a performer — and the night the comedian Dave Chappelle jumped onstage to perform an impromptu two-hour riff on a newspaper someone had handed him, Mr. Roff said. The 7,500-square-foot space also staged Latin music and a popular Saturday night dance party.
Mr. Roff will now focus on Public Assembly, a Williamsburg club he owns, but he will not leave Southpaw entirely: he will sublet the space, which opened in 2002, to New York Kids Club.
He signaled that Park Slope’s changed vibe meant that concert places were no longer viable there. “You don’t want the venue you created, your baby,” he said, “to be mishandled.”