Monday, November 8, 2010


Getting ready to leave NY tomorrow and I'm already missing it. I love this loft, I love this neighborhood, I will miss my son and daughter. Leaving NY is like those acupuncture suction cups they place on your back—it takes a lot of oomph to pull away from this much energy.

Before we left for the weekend to go to Philly, Maya and I walked around the East Village on our way to, where else, Veselka's, and stopped inside this nondescript antique store on Ninth Street. 

  Archangel Antiques on 9th St.

Inside, a curmudgeony old man wandered out from the back as if he'd just woken up from a seven-year nap. Maya asked if he had any small taxidermy animals, and without missing a beat, he replied he'd sold all his little ones. But as a matter of fact, he had bigger animals— a lion and a deer. I wasn't quite sure I'd heard him correctly, although Maya didn't flinch. What the......? A lion? Isn't that illegal? And where does he keep the deer? In the back storage room where he naps? It was all rather bizarre or maybe obscure, as we found out later: Obscure on Tenth St. is the place to go for small taxidermy animals. The other place is Evolution in Soho.

Welcoming mounted raccoon at Evolution with penis bones for only $8.

On Evolution's first floor is a hodgepodge of touristy taxidermy stuff—iridescent butterflies, humongous beetles and bizarre walking sticks, pinned between glass. Upstairs is the really interesting stuff, much of it museum quality, for those who have a thing for colorful birds (probably illegal) or smiling squirrels for viewing in their library.

Small smiling mounted animals. Oh please, stuff me!

What is it about taxidermy that intrigues? Obviously a lot of people want to buy it (enough to support a store in Soho), but what is it exactly that they like? Is it the grotesqueness and oddness of having a dead animal on your mantel, or a way to prolong life forever, perhaps the life of something you've love? Maya and her friends find taxidermy really cool, but she made it clear she'd never do it to a pet. Could I ever stuff our pet rat Malka when she dies? Many questions but not enough time for answers. Leaving tomorrow. Goodbye New York until the spring.


  1. "those acupuncture suction cups" are referred to in Yiddish as bhankiss, to put it phonetically. Shteln bankes is "placing cups." I first saw them in one of the apartments in the Tenement Museum on Orchard Street. I think my mother most have told me of their use when I was a child, because it didn't alarm me when Gwyneth Paltrow was spotted with round circles on her back at a red carpet event and the world was shocked to learn of cupping.
    I'm so jealous you're in New York, especially downtown, at this most wonderful time of the year.

  2. Thank you Linda! So interesting about the placing cups, the bhankiss, never knew that! and never knew about GP introducing cupping to the world...

    Yes it is wonderful here but freezing as of yesterday. Don't be too jealous, just come back in spring, the other most wonderful time of year. xC

  3. Yes, I like browsing the dead at Evolution. I prefer skeletons and random bones (not raccoon penis bones, despite the charming display) to taxidermy. Many years ago, when I lived in the 27th Street loft and that area was still almost completely industrial, we discovered a taxidermy shop on a sidestreet in the lower 30s. Not a tourist shop, this was a shop for the trade with thousands of glass eyeballs in varying sizes and colors, and other essential accoutrements. As well as animals, large & small.

  4. I wonder if it's still there? Nah, probably not, now it's the fancy stuff like Evolution. Taxidermy is just weird, but a lot of people (including a LOT of Maya's friends) are into it. Go figure.