EVER the contrarian, LICtalk has decided to buck the trend and forgo ‘fake’ news this week …for the first time in it’s history, to bring you some original content.
BORN in Ireland and raised on West 125th Street, Patrick Carrajat first made his way to Long Island City in 1970 when he moved one of his elevator businesses here. Eight years later he would also make it his home, securing a 10-year lease on a 2,000+ square foot loft-like apartment above what is now Laundry City, on 48th Avenue just east of Vernon Blvd. He used his skills to build it out in a manner that would optimize the main residential goal of every single male heterosexual: attracting women.
In addition to his day job, Patrick was also a lead singer in a traditional Irish band that played a regular gig at The John Barleycorn, a long-gone pub on East 45th Street. Work, sleep, band, sleep, with a daily stop for coffee and donuts at the diner that’s now known as Dorian’s. That diner, which he believes has been such an establishment since the 1960’s, was also the place where younger people “out here” came together on Sunday’s in the early afternoon, after partying until very late in Manhattan the night before.
According to Patrick, the 1970’s were the beginning of life in LIC, and at night things were desolate. Yet despite all the malevolence going on elsewhere in the five boroughs during the period, the neighborhood had very little crime – which he surmises was as much a result of the local overlords, as it was the diligence of the 108th.
In addition to having a long established working-class Italian population clustered near St. Mary’s Church, the rest of the population mainly consisted of actors, painters, sculptors, and other artistic performers. “Back then it was a great place to live because it was so cheap” Patrick recalled with a glint of nostalgia.
Of course there were fewer imbibing options as well. Notable places included the Ha Cha Inn1 and Prudenti’s, both located across from the police station on 50th Avenue, and both serving Italian fare.2 Prudenti’s would move to the waterfront in the 80’s and become more upscale with a revised name to match ‘Prudenti’s Vicino Mare.’ Nearby the latter’s new location, The Crabhouse opened in 1977. There was also a good salumeria3 on Vernon, and Dominie’s Hoek was called Branca’s Bar – owned by a brother of Brooklyn Dodger pitcher Ralph Branca4. Blessinger’s Bar, now called Jackson’s and used as the setting for the Tom Cruise movie ‘Cocktail,’ Patrick remembered as also having good food, and to this day his favorite pizza in the neighborhood is at Junior’s Cafe.
Finally an anecdote from Patrick’s days in a band. One night in the 70’s he popped into the rehearsal space of a band he heard practicing along 44th Drive and sat in with them for a few numbers. He remembers their musical talents as being quite deft, as they were quick on the uptake for any songs he chose to sing. The name of that band was Talking Heads, and the location was where two of the members lived at the time. They recorded their third album, Fear of Music, in that space, using:
“a Record Plant van manned by a sound engineering crew parked outside Frantz’s and Weymouth’s house and ran cables through their loft window. On these two days, Talking Heads recorded the basic tracks with Brian Eno.”
Talking Heads, who cut their teeth playing punk club/dive bar CBGB’s, went on to sell-out arenas and other large venues world-wide including Forest Hills Stadium. Patrick Carrajat would also go on to have his moment in the spotlight through his other life-long passion, by opening the Elevator Museum here in Long Island City. A labor of love, the museum closed down last year, but not before being memorialized by The New York Times and The New Yorker. Both of which used his affection for elevators to take a closer look at this legendary Long Island City resident.
New York’s Keenest Elevator Enthusiast – “In his zeal, he even disdains the cardiovascular fad of taking the stairs. “You should reserve those heartbeats for sex,” he said”
To The Elevators, and Then To The Pit – “He has been entranced with elevators since he was 11 and made $5 from fixing one alongside his father, a repairman.”
Fear of Music – the history of the recording of Talking Heads third album
Rock n Roll: Talking Heads in Forest Hills – “by the end of the two-and-one-half-hour show, the entire sold-out stadium seemed to be a mass of rock-and-roll celebrants, dancing on their seats and in the aisles”
44-45 Vernon Blvd – this is the still-existing building Talking Heads, lived, practiced, and recorded at in the 70’s
Hostel Business Wants to Make a Push Back Into New York – particularly LIC. On the other hand, I’ve seen the movie ‘Hostel’ and I’m not too sure
Take a Tour of ‘The Jackson’ Condos – Yimby dons the hard hat for an update
Vernon Boulevard Tree Lightings – tonite at 6pm at Vernon Mall, Thursday from 4:30-6:30pm outside LIC Bar
Tipping the Building Staff – yup, it’s that time of year
Seven Charged w/ Drug Trafficking at Queensbridge Houses – meanwhile, right up the road