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BGSQD: Manhattan’s Last Gay Bookstore

The Bureau of General Services–Queer Division is the last gay bookstore in Manhattan. It’s currently in a temporary home at the Strange Loop Gallery on Orchard Street, but it’s fund-raising for a permanent home.

The Day | Strand Workers Reject New Contract

The Strand: Army of One, Let Art Be Your WeaponScott Lynch

Good morning, East Village.

City Room reports that unionized workers at the Strand have rejected a proposed new contract because it would’ve cut vacation days, frozen pay for a year, increased the cost of health care, and cut benefits for newer employees. The bookstore’s management says the move is to compensate for sales that have fallen roughly 5 percent over all since 2008.

Though citywide rents remained relatively high throughout the winter, an MNS report picked up by Curbed brings good news about the East Village rental market: “The biggest decreases in rents from February to March took place in the East Village, where non-doorman studios are now 6.5 percent less.”

Gothamists sees bitter irony in the fact that upscale boutique Blue and Cream is paying tribute to grungy Mars Bar via a new photo exhibit: “Because if there is one thing we can all agree on about the old girl’s clientele, it was how much they just loved the kind of people who buy and sell $220 black t-shirts!” Read more…

Viewfinder | Down the Aisles of the St. Mark’s Bookshop

Last night, politicians and neighbors gathered at the St. Mark’s Bookshop to celebrate the lowering of its rent. So the bookstore survives, but for how long? Will it still be on the corner of Ninth Street and Third Avenue in a couple of years? Or will there be a giant bubble tea shop there instead? It seems like a good time to document an institution of a kind that’s vanishing from the East Village.

St. Mark's Pipes

As a physical space, St. Mark’s Bookshop is sort of retro-futuristic, and more theatrical than relaxing. There is a big-city sense of being on stage. No attempt is made to foster the kind of somnolent, wood-paneled cubbyhole atmosphere so beloved of the stereotypical independent book store. Anyway, it would be a difficult trick to pull off, what with those HVAC pipes slithering around above the customers’ heads like giant, interstellar worms. Read more…