On Detail of the Day: A Friendly Lion


In which The Gay Recluse documents the ruins of Washington Heights and self-referentially quotes an earlier post.

Date: April 6, 2008

Location: 161st Street between Broadway and Amsterdam

Hello, friendly lion! 100 years ago, you were not such a big deal, but now you would cost $50,000 at Olde Good Things. We’re glad you’re attached to the building; otherwise you would have been taken away when they stripped out the inside a few weeks ago!


Olde Good Things arrives to haul away as much treasure as they can get their hands on. So far the friendly lion hasn’t been touched! (Btw, this building sold for $500k a few months ago.)

In Washington Heights we live among extremes of material decadence and breathtaking neglect, apparent in the crumbling cornices of Ft. Washington Avenue and eroding limestone facades of St. Nicholas, not to mention the tiled mosaics in the entrance foyers of the apartment palaces of upper Broadway — grand, tessellated spaces reminiscent of The Alhumbra — through which uncountable millions of apathetic feet have passed in the decades since their painstaking construction. Only here among the ruins can we permit ourselves the indulgence of a certain wistful nostalgia for the past, knowing it is one that we can never hope to regain.

–The Gay Recluse, September 2007

2 Responses to “On Detail of the Day: A Friendly Lion”

  1. 1 Margie

    With all due respect,
    You make it sound like Olde Good things are stealing– when in truth what they are doing in “taking thes things away”, is allowing them to be preserved rather than demolished! Would you rather these lovely things get thrown in the dumpsters?! That’s what would happen otherwise. How about a little truth in advertising here?

  2. Whatever, Margie. You used the word “stealing” not me, although “raping” is more like it. Unless Olde Good Things is a non-profit museum (and even if it is), it’s in the business of taking architectural details out of the environment in which they were created and into a different (and presumably, more affluent) one. Much the way rich cultures all over the world have robbed indigenous ones of all sorts of artifacts for display. I don’t have any objection with this per se — it’s pretty much the way of the world — but I’m not going to pretend that Olde Good Things is some kind of public service, particularly when I live in the n-hood losing the details. And did I say anything about a dumpster? My preference would be that the houses be restored! I’m just glad the lion is stuck to the house or else they would have “saved” that, too! And speaking of truth in advertising, you seem to have a pretty clear agenda here. I’m guessing you work for them or something? Please be sure to let us know next time you write!

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