Real is the New Fake is the New Real

I’ve always prided myself on having a pretty good eye for spotting new things that are pretending to be old — Bennigan’s is an easy one, Balthazar is way harder, the East Staircase at Grand Central is impossible — but these days my Fake Filter is starting to register false positives. Blame it on the Culture of Deception. I shot this collage because I really liked the way the letters of the old sign were still “visible” even though most of them had fallen off.

As I was walking away, however, I began to wonder how such an old and esoteric (read: non yuppie-serving) business could survive in the white-hot real estate frenzy of Tribeca. Then I began to think that perhaps what I’d seen was not an actual old rubber supply company storefront, but part of a movie or TV set. (Isn’t there a now Law & Order series that’s entirely about malfeasance in the plumbing industry?)

Thanks to Google, I discovered that this so-real-it’s-almost-fake store was, in fact, a genuinely old business that had relocated to Long Island some time ago. (No doubt this move was a result of the white-hot real estate frenzy of Tribeca, but I repeat myself.)

Though I’ve never set foot in a rubber supply store in my life, it saddens me to know that United Rubber undoubtedly be replaced with something a lot less interesting, a lot more fancy, a lot less real. My hope is that the new tenant will be a Design Within Reach store, so I can pick up some of those cool new old Eames rockers.

(United Rubber Supply, 54 Warren St, Manhattan)