Archive for the ‘Cool Customers’ Category

Trick or Treat!

Sunday, October 31st, 2010

Some of our friends who have popped into the Mystery Spot during this glorious Halloween season.

Lauren and Lucia totally rock the roller derby girl look for Halloween, giving it their own special spin. Lauren is twelve, a ballerina and figure skater, and skates with the Holy Rollers. Our good friend Lucia, also twelve, has taken the art of being a Girl Scout (or, as we see tattooed on her arm, a Hurl Scout) to a whole new level of cool. Lucia, when not skating the derby, sings and plays guitar in the rock band Tofu Decoy. Both girls accessorized their look with vintage 1950s cat’s eye eyeglasses from the Mystery Spot ($8 – 15).

Our friend Darth Maul (aka Raffie) is 8 and likes catching animals. In fact, at the moment he’s taking care of an injured bird he caught and is nursing back to health. He instantly bonded with Petey the Piranha.

Marta and Pablo get a giggle from the vintage 1960s Bozo the Clown masks ($8.) we’ve got a stash of at the Mystery Spot. Remind us to tell you about the time we and our friend Leah raided an old novelties warehouse in Soho being emptied out to renovate into high-priced condominiums. The workers were throwing everything in the dumpster and very kindly allowed us to have a run at the place. We loaded up on all sorts of deadstock vintage novelties – including these Halloween masks.

See Who’s Shopped the Spot Lately!

Wednesday, September 22nd, 2010

We’ve been so busy shopping barns, basements and attics and getting ready for our fall season, we’ve been remiss in posting photos of our recent visitors, customers and friends. Herewith, forthwith, and toot-sweet: some favorite recent Mystery Spotters!

Right before they stepped out onto our front porch to play an amazing free show with Mercury Rev for the townsfolk of Phoenicia, Dean Wareham and Britta Phillips browsed the vintage wares of the Mystery Spot. Dean scored a stack of used vinyl, and Britta scooped up this beautiful vintage 50s deep blue velvet halter top, among other goodies.

World-famous artist/illustrators Jordin Isip and Melinda Beck and their daughters Chloe (6) and Simone (8) came up for a visit and rocked the Spot. Jordin and Melinda are prom-worthy in a Sixties Rat Pack gold dinner jacket ($95.) and Sixties red chiffon cocktail dress ($85.), Simone is clad in a vintage girl’s plaid Fifties frock ($20.) with purse, hat, sandals and garish 70s piggy bank ($8.) , and Chloe the cutest cowgirl this side of the Rockies, complete with cowboy boots, cowboy book, and unusual handmade confetti-cellophane cowboy hat!

Vinyl overload! Holly, Louie and Kate raided our record room and found these treasures. Singer/songwriter/all-around wonderful person Holly Miranda recently performed a free show on our front porch which you can see clips of here and here. Kate Moennig (The L Word) is an amazing actor soon to be seen in The Lincoln Lawyer. And Captain Louie is a lifelong close personal friend of the Mystery Spot! Their vinyl scores include Patsy Cline, To Kill a Mockingbird, and Jaws ($3 – 12.)

People often ask us who created the beautiful Mystery Spot log hanging above our entryway. Full credit goes to artist and dear friend Keith Strahan. When we moved to the old Gormley Hotel on Main Street last year, our biggest concern was whether or not the log would fit the porch (as it was custom-made for our previous location). It fit perfectly! A sign from the heavens indeed.

A while back the editor of The Believer in San Francisco contacted us and invited us to contribute artwork to the magazine. We weren’t familiar with this McSweeney’s publication at the time, but once we took a gander, we were hooked. Have you seen it? In our opinion it’s absolutely the best publication out there. Books and culture, art and photography; a cover-to-cover must-read every month.

Anyway, this is a long-winded way of getting to the photo above. That’s the aforementioned editor, Andrew Leland on the left. We’d never met in person until this summer, when he made a special trip to see us and our shop. Accompanying him, Betsy Wright Milton and Lily Gurton-Wachter. Behind them, the original painting of Songbirds of the Catskills, which was published as the inside front cover of The Believer in 2008. In their hands, some of their Mystery Spot loot: a vintage Fifties yellow and white kitchen wall clock ($35.), an old children’s storybook, and a Lily Tomlin LP. Needless to say, we had a wonderful time hanging out and cooked up all sorts of future projects. Can’t wait!

Cassandra Jones and Ben Olson made out like bandits here at the Spot. Cassandra – who, as a buyer for Macy’s, knows a thing or two about fashion – scored a vintage 50s NOS (that’s New Old Stock) brown wool coat with mink collar, with original tags ($130.) and a vintage Sixties Hong Kong hand-beaded silver shell top ($95.). Ben, a NY-based painter, whose work is currently being shown at The Gallery Bar on the Lower East Side, worked the vinyl room. Cassandra left us with these words: “This place is fabulous – I’ll be back many times!” Looking forward, Cassandra!

The Watershed Post out of Andes, NY, is our new favorite local news blog here in the Catskills, and the women behind it are Lissa Harris and Julie Resichel, holding daughter Ruby, who, btw, is holding a book called Ruby – Heart of Gold from 1895, which we just happened to have on our shelves. You can’t really tell from this photo, but the 1895 version of Ruby eerily resembles 2010 Ruby. With them is their friend, writer Alison Cherry. OK, now go click on their blog – it’s great reading!

Guerilla Filmmaking in Phoenicia!

Friday, September 17th, 2010

Our customers often whip out their cameras (still and video) and start shooting the moment they enter our doors. Yup, the Mystery Spot is that photogenic! But we don’t usually pay it much mind.

Imagine our surprise and delight when this fun and energetic video popped up online. This is one of many wonderful Pocket Memories video mash-ups created by Andrew DeVigal. Enjoy!

Mystery Spot & Phoenicia, NY from Andrew DeVigal on Vimeo.


Tuesday, August 17th, 2010

We’re still pinching ourselves. The free show that Mercury Rev and Dean & Britta played on the Mystery Spot porch Sunday afternoon was truly special. Hard to explain, but those lucky ones who attended know what we mean. (The videos in our previous post give a clue). Deepest thanks to music/entertainment lawyer extraordinaire (and dear friend!) Loren Chodosh, who put the whole event into motion, to Lisa Gottheil and Kellyn Slone at 2:30 Publicity for all their hard work and support, and to the Kirks and the people of Phoenicia for letting us do our thing. Most of all, thanks to D&B&J&G for giving us a day to remember!Here are a few photos. (All photos © Laura Levine).

Grasshopper, Jonathan Donahue, Britta Phillips and Dean Wareham with some of their Mystery Spot swag.

Jonathan Donahue, Grasshopper, Dean and Britta on the porch of Mystery Spot Antiques.

Britta Phillips sings a beautiful version of "I'll Keep It With Mine."

Dean Wareham checks out the vinyl room.

Porch rockers!

The crowd on Main Street.

Tommy Ramone and Dean Wareham. Tommy's band Uncle Monk will be playing a free show on the Mystery Spot's front porch next Sunday (Aug. 22) at 2 PM.

A Summer’s Weekend (or Two)

Friday, August 13th, 2010

Visits with some of our friends, neighbors and customers who’ve popped into the Mystery Spot recently. We’re deep into the summer rush here at the Spot, so forgive us lagging behind on posts. Do keep checking back for more updates, including photos (and video!) from Ida, The Naysayer, and Holly Miranda’s porch shows.

Our friend Michael Gira has been very productive lately. Case in point: new son Swan (left) and a new Swans release (My Father Will Guide Me Up a Rope to the Sky) coming on September 27. And an upcoming world tour. (Extra Credit Fun Fact: we (that is, Laura Levine) took the photos for Swans Children of God album cover.

Swans, NYC, 1985 © Laura Levine

This photograph (above) isn’t from Children of God, but it’s one we took around the same time.

World-renowned mezzo soprano Maria Todaro has sung the title role of Carmen and numerous other lead roles on opera stages around the world, and was tickled to find this 1895 libretto of Carmen in our book room (Homer’s Books d’Arte). She and her partners will be bringing the Phoenicia Festival of the Voice to the Catskills in mid-August and it promises to be an amazing event. You’ll be able to see her perform al fresco in the park in Falstaff on the evening of Sat. Aug. 14. (And the next day come on by the Spot to catch Jonathan and Grasshopper from Mercury Rev and Dean and Britta on our porch at 1 PM for a free show!).

Molly models our favorite vintage Forties child’s green smock (ties in the back) with white piping ($40.). Since we last saw her, Molly has  learned to do a handstand.

Randomness #3

Saturday, July 31st, 2010

Metal Head Weekend in the Country. This delightful black metal group came down from the mountains in Big Indian to get ice cream next door, check out the Mystery Spot, and experience a bonding moment with Timmy the CPR Dummy Factory Reject. They hailed from Poland, Greece, Columbia and Queens. Agrath representing.

All in a Weekend’s Work and Play

Sunday, July 18th, 2010

It’s always a mystery when we open the doors of The Spot for the weekend because we never know who’s going to enter our little world. This past weekend brought us a mix of old friends, fun new customers, an actress, a television personality and a crossword wunderkind.

This lovely lass is Lauren Messing, a young actress who you’ll be able to see this summer in The Electroscheme. She studies acting at NYU (as once did her delightful cousin, Will & Grace’s Debra Messing).  Lauren declared this vintage Fifties white rayon crepe spinworthy dancing dress so laden with rhinestones it has a life of its own ($100.). was the dress she had to have, and we  found it hard to disagree.

So the next time you spot a sparkling vision in white gliding up the red carpet at the Emmys or Oscars, take a close look – it may very well be Lauren, in her stunning new dress.

We suspect that Kelly Cutrone and Ava Cutrone fall under the classification of a Force of Nature. They burst into the Mystery Spot with a wave of energy and  fun and had us on the floor laughing for half an hour. It took us a while before we even realized that Kelly is a world-famous publicist (People’s Revolution), TV star (MTV’s The Hills and The City, Bravo’s Kell on Earth) and best-selling author; and Ava, well, she may only be eight but she’s well on her way to greatness as well.

Of course, they didn’t come just to entertain us – they came to shop! And so they did – check out Ava’s killer mod 60’s flower power culotte romper ($20.) and NOS 60’s “Celebrity” Miami Beach striped vinyl tote ($20). – just perfect as a carry-all for her new puppy Lola. (And waterproof! A feature which came in handy about 3 minutes after this photo was taken).

Liz Pulos is a dear customer friend. She started out as a loyal Spot customer (and still is!), but she is now officially a Friend. And we couldn’t be happier! When people plan their trips months ahead just to come visit the Mystery Spot, we know we’re onto something good. Liz, Donny and their other friend Liz spent the better part of their vacation weekend here in the shop, and everyone emerged a winner.

Liz didn’t buy this 60s Mad Men Style black-and-white striped NOS ensemble (cocktail dress underneath; bolero jacket on top – $65), but it looked so great on her we just had to take the photos. Don’t you love the hat, purse, and two-toned shoes she picked out?

Liz’s husband Don Undeen went (natch) straight to the record room where he loaded up on some killer jazz vinyl as well as a 1971 copy of Rolling Stone with Miles Davis on the cover ($15.)

Their friend Liz Linstrom was on a lamp quest, and she was most successful! As Liz and this 1950s abstract mauve ceramic lamp with fiberglass shade ($68.) lamp are united for the first time, you can feel the love in the air.

But really, did anyone charm us as much as young Caleb Madison? He asked if we had any old crossword items, and our brain churned a bit and then immediately recovered the latitude and longitude of The Little Folks Cross-Word Puzzle Book circa 1949 ($14.)  which has been suffering in obscurity for at least 8 years in the back of the book room, just waiting for someone like Caleb to come along and rescue it. Caleb was thrilled, we were thrilled, and we suspect Will Shortz will be thrilled as well when he opens his Christmas presents this winter. (Shhh….!)

Caleb is a pretty modest fellow, but we were able to get him to spill that he’s the  youngest person to ever have a crossword published in the New York Times Sunday Magazine, at a mere fifteen. (He’s all of seventeen now). And we have some crossword pals in common (shout-out to Andrea Carla Michaels! When are you coming to visit my shop already???)

The Mystery Spot Hearts Artists (and Vice Versa).

Friday, July 16th, 2010

It’s funny how on certain weekends we notice trends. For example, there might be a sudden run on Fifties lamps. Or 60’s soul 45s. Some weekends a parade of musicians stop in. And this past couple of weekends, artists.

Artist Joe Andoe has been a faithful Spot customer for quite a few years now. He always heads straight for the record room, and we must kinda like him, because we allowed him to talk us into selling him our only display copy of Steamin’ with the Miles Davis Quartet right off the wall ($5.). He also picked up a sweet copy of Bill Doggett and his Combo ($10.). Whenever he stops by the shop when we’re closed (more often than not), he sometimes leaves us cool drawings on the backs of record jackets.

Wes Lang has some pretty great tattoos. They really grabbed our attention, and no wonder, he’s an artist himself. He chose this vintage Happy Face mug ($10.). for his official Mystery Spot portrait. Having taken a peek at his latest work at the Zieher Smith Gallery (Smile, It’s a Great Day) we now get it.

Our old friend Amy Arbus and I rose in the ranks together back in the early 80s when we were both young photographers for the Village Voice. My beat was the downtown music scene; hers’ was street fashion, recently collected in a beautiful book, On The Street. She’s not only a great photographer, but one of the nicest people you’ll ever meet. And she was very happy to make the acquaintance of Desdemona, The Devil Girl of Phoenicia, The Mystery Spot’s very own mascot (NFS).

Marc Rubin and Ina Kozel have an amazing studio a few miles down the road from the Spot. Ina’s silk paintings are breathtaking, and Marc creates alternate universes in his workshop. Marc is also the dude who custom built the beautiful record bins in our vinyl room for which we will forever be grateful. Ina took home this vintage “French Ivory” hand mirror ($7.) which is neither French nor Ivory, as it turns out. But still nice.

The Mystery Spot Rocks! (Part 1)

Friday, June 25th, 2010

The Mystery Spot must be sending secret rock star pheremones out into the mountains. How else to explain the outstanding musical talent that stepped through our doors the other weekend?First, two old friends of ours’, Ira Kaplan and Georgia Hubley of Yo La Tengo stopped in. OK, this wasn’t a total surprise, as they told us they were going to stop by, but it’s always so nice to see them and catch up on old times and new doings.

Ira and Georgia headed straight back to the vinyl room (no surprise there) and stocked up on a pile of great vintage 45’s ($3. each) including the original single of CAT NIP by Dave “Baby” Cortez. Kismet, as just recently, Ira recorded a cover of that very song with his friends the A-Bones, with none other than Dave “Baby” Cortez himself joining the session.Here’s a little piece of Yo La Tengo trivia you probably didn’t know: the very first time Ira and Georgia performed together in public  (the debut, as it were, of Yo La Tengo) was in May 1982, at my twenty-fourth birthday party at the offices of the New York Rocker, where we all worked. (I was Photo Editor/Chief Photographer, and Ira was Record Review Editor). In fact, here’s a photo of that fateful, historic moment:

That’s me (Laura Levine, the birthday girl) attempting to carry a tune as Ira and Georgia back me, and Will Rigby from the dB’s is up to his usual shenanigans. (I wish I could remember who took this – Ina G., perhaps? I know I handed my camera to someone when I took the mike….)

Here’s another – this one’s by me – that’s Ira on the left, Georgia on drums, Managing Editor Glenn Morrow (of the Individuals) on vocals, and Peter Holsapple (of the dB’s) on guitar.

It was an annual tradition to host my birthday parties at the Rocker offices – any excuse for a beer-soaked musical free-for-all. The office was on the second-floor loft of a building on on lower Fifth Avenue (166 Fifth). A few ratty sofas and broken metal desks, with an amazing array of records and posters taped up to the walls. All thanks for our editor, Andy Schwartz for making it so homey. As Andy recently pointed out in his blog, most all of our little group still remains friends to this day.

Not to go off on too much of a tangent here, but for those of you interested in reading more about my early days as a downtown New York music photographer, here’s a good, thorough read – a three -part interview conducted by Scott Woods of which really got my brain cells firing on all cylinders as I mined the past to answer his questions. You can also see more of my music photos on my website.

OK, that’s just Part One of our rock star weekend! Keep reading to see who came in next….

The Mystery Spot Rocks! (Part 2)

Friday, June 25th, 2010

At the same time Yo La Tengo were puttering around the back room of the Spot flipping through our 45’s, another customer was in the front of the shop. She seemed happy to keep to herself, spending time in the book room and gathering up a selection of vintage items. After Ira and Georgia left, she brought her purchases up to the counter and we started to chat. She introduced herself to me, and whaddya know – it was Karen O from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs!Karen O is not only utterly delightful, she has great taste. She purchased our favorite hat in the shop – a one-of-a-kind treasure we’d just picked up a couple of weeks earlier. (You can read more about it in our Memorial Day Weekend Estate Sale Finds post.)

Here Karen O holds some of her purchases: the book Avant-Garde British Printmaking, 1914 – 1960 ($30.), and the aforementioned old men’s straw fishing hat with netted top ($22.). We can’t think of a more deserving head!