Entries in Lower East Side (2)


Main Squeeze

I find a lot of things to write and post about at TWM by pure accident and this is one of those cases. Years ago when I first moved here and was doing some freelance writing for New York Newsday, I had written about a shop in midtown that only sold accordions. I wondered if it was still in business, so I Googled, “accordions nyc” and while I didn’t find the shop in midtown, I think I found something and someone more interesting. Intrigued? Then come along as I take a little trip to a shop called, Main Squeeze owned by Walter Kühr on the Lower East Side.

And here we are at Main Squeeze on Essex street, love the neon in the window! This shop was opened in May, 1996. Let’s go inside and see what’s happening.

It’s a long, narrow space. I had called Walter in advance to see if it was okay to do this and he told me to stop by. He’s in the back office and told me to take a look around and he’d be out in a little bit. So let’s take a tour of Main Squeeze.

A Main squeeze window poster hangs in the window. It turns out that the woman in the picture is the same woman that got Walter interested in the accordion at the tender age of 6-years-old in his homeland of Germany.

Walter also uses this image on a postcard he sells in the shop, a beautiful photo and a beautiful woman!

I haven’t seen this many accordions in one room since I did my New York Newsday story. The cool thing about accordions is how each one has its own distinctive look and style.

There’s accordions on display in display cases...

And up on shelves. It’s like a Myron Floren wet dream in here!

This is a cool one, I like the blue color.

It’s a double A accordion, Alfred and Arnold.

An accordion that’s doubling up as a hat stand for this fedora.

A Hohner melodica, I just got a Hooter’s flashback!

There’s more than accordions for sale in here, here’s a whole wall of accordion and polka CD’s.

Love this accordion postcard!

A vintage accordion album cover hangs on the wall. Ooh la la!

There’s also bins of sheet music for sale in here.

Papa John would love this, Monday, Monday for the accordion.

In addition to Main Squeeze, Walter has a nine piece Latin jazz band called The Last of the International Playboys and he’s the conductor and mastermind of the Main Squeeze Orchestera which is an 14 piece, all female accordion orchestra. “Girls Gone Weill,” ha ha ha!

A picture of the orchestra is proudly displayed on the stores wall. Four years ago Walter’s mother was in town celebrating her 80th birthday and the orchestra was playing at the Zipper Factory and they played “Happy Birthday” to her. Walter said it was a great moment for the woman who inspired him to play the accordion as a child.

Here’s the women of the very first orchestra. The Main Squeeze orchestra is truly a dream come true for Walter. I asked him how he thought of such a unique orchestra and he told me he had a dream of 18 women in pigtails and white shirts on a tour bus heading home after a concert. When he woke up he said it was something he new he had to do and he did it. Here’s a picture of the original orchestra from 2002. Since then, he’s pared it down to 14 women, an amazing and unique idea!

And if you’re curious about this and are in the New York area, you can see them live tomorrow night at the Bowery Poetry club. This is the flyer and here’s more information about the show.

There’s lots of cool little items in this display case ranging from an accordion key chain, to tie pins to burlesque playing cards to...

Accordion neckties, I may have to get one of these!

And here’s a portrait of the musician squeezing his true love, the accordion. Walter told me that people shopping online at sites like eBay have hurt his sales and wondered why people don’t like to go out and shop and intermingle with other people. “They don’t know what they’re losing,” he told me and I agree.

He also said that it’s a shame about all the chain stores popping up in New York. One more point I agree with Walter on, I wish there were more unique shops like Main Squeeze around town. I’m glad it’s still there and hope it thrives, stop by and buy a tie if you’re in the neighborhood.

I did!

And one glance at the backward neon and it’s out the door we go.

Main Squeeze
19 Essex St.

Further Reading: accordion to karen, NY Times and Hey Girl.

Everybody’s lookin’ for something.

Surprise link, click on it...I dare you!


Bonus Album Cover Art By Danny The Freelancer!

Danny the Freelancer turned Friday's Happy Hour into album cover art, check it out! Very cool, Thanks, Danny!


Bonus CBBM Mutation Sighting By blue glass!

Blue glass found this Cardboard Box Man mutation photo and sent it in along with this message: "Guests found the chimney’s expression unsettling, though Roger insisted upon its benevolence. This turned out to be his undoing." Aaahhhh!


Motor City Bar

There’s a bar in the Lower East Side that I used to go to a lot called, Motor City Bar. I haven’t been there in quite a while and after seeing that Roger & Me screening on Tuesday, I thought this would be an appropriate week to go and check it out for this week’s happy hour.

Here comes the F train...

And baboom, here we are. There's no sign outside, you just have to know where to go.

Although the door handles do give you a little bit of a clue as to where you are.

And here we are. This place gets packed at night, but it's still the afternoon, so there's plenty of seats to be had.

The bartender was a little shy and didn't want her photo taken, so Lee jumped off his bar stool so I could get a people shot. Lee's a real character and a nice guy. He's a regular at Motor City and has lived in the East Village for over thirty years. Okay, let's take a tour of the bar.

Here's some lit up bottles behind the bar with an "M" made out of wrenches hovering overhead.

Check out the tire table!

An entire wall is covered with this cool black and white painting of a car in action.

Beneath it are actual car seats to put you in a real Motor City mood.

Bare bulbs hang over the bar and illuminate it.

I love the lit up Ford sign on the brick wall in the back room. This has been hanging there since they opened Motor City back in 1996.

And it wouldn't be a true Motor City bar without a giant license plate from the original Motor City: Detroit, Michigan.

This sign made me think of my Canadian friend, Lex. Hi Lex! She may be making an appearance here in June. Stay tuned!

There's a red leather banquette to lounge on in the back room.

And there's a pinball machine back here too.

Here's a painting of a woman racer on the wall, go speed racer, go!

And now the party can really begin, The Duncester and Shawn have shown up. Check out the  mug shot Steve McQueen shirt on Duncester. "Legends Never Die," too cool!

esquared joined us as well, but rather than being in the photo, he took this behind the scenes picture of me shooting the above photo. I'm dizzy after typing that!

He also got a shot of this woman practicing a David Lee Roth move. Nice shot, esquared, thanks for sending it along for this post!

And after several rounds and fun conversation, it's out the door to head on home. Thanks to esquared, The Duncester and Shawn for coming to this week's happy hour!

Motor City Bar
127 Ludlow St. (Between Rivington and Delancey)
Happy Hour Specials: Two for one well drinks and beers from 4PM to 7PM

Further Reading: New York Magazine, Village Voice and Time Out New York.

Philadelphia, PA,
Baltimore in DC now,
Don't forget The Motor City.

Surprise link, click on it...I dare you!


Bonus Comic Book Cover Sent In By Jaws!

Jaws the Cabbie sent in this comic book cover to illustrate his comment. Thanks, Jaws!