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from Marv in Portland, Oregon:
Flash-Kuperstein boy child arrives at 5:09am PST weighs in at 9lbs,10oz,21 inches long. That's about what Jerry and I weighed together. His name is Ezra. He's gorgeous,no wrinkles, athletic torso and is ambidextrous I'm sure! I know he fended me off with his left arm, although it did wind up his own nose
from the nytimes of 1993
ORCHARD STREET will never be confused with a suburban shopping mall. Lining it are tenements laced with a spider's web of fire escapes. Levels and levels of coats are displayed above awesomely cluttered sidewalks. Throngs of people, all sworn never even to think of paying retail, paw suspiciously through mountains of merchandise, be it Italian silk sheets or three-for-$10 T-shirts.
In spirit, this marvelously raucous lane, which extends from Canal Street north to Houston, seems to have changed little since the turn of the century, when Yiddish was spoken everywhere and the Lower East Side was home to pushcarts, penny knife grinders and "glimmer men" who fitted eyeglass lenses by the process of elimination. But a second look suggests things may have changed fundamentally. Once almost all the property owners were Jewish; now a third are from other ethnic groups, principally Chinese, and the people who live above the stores these days tend to be of Asian or Hispanic descent. And for the first time, the traditionally Orthodox neighborhood has strung holiday lights, with a scrupulously correct mix of Jewish and Christian images. The lights represent one small component of an effort to fight back against economic forces that have combined to pull down one of America's most famous shopping areas. Some 400 local merchants and property owners have banded together in a business improvement district to advertise and promote the area, as well as to make community improvements. Their strategy is to burnish and market the historic character of this rambunctious bazaar -- to draw tourists and New Yorkers interested in reliving a bit of the city's more colorful history, while prowling sharklike for present-day bargains. "If we thrive, it's going to have a ripple effect on the entire area," said David Ceci, executive director of the group, the Lower East Side District Management Association. Two blows have particularly kicked the wind out of Orchard Street over the years. One is the gradual loss of the monopoly on Sunday shopping once enjoyed by a largely Jewish business district that closes on Saturdays; with blue laws now a two-decade old memory, Sunday shopping is ubiquitous. The other is the rise of discounting in all forms of retailing, meaning Orchard Street no longer has a special claim on bargain hunters. Throw in a long and bitter recession, major repairs on the East River bridges, persistent parking problems, drug selling and other crime, and an exodus of many loyal shoppers to the suburbs. The result is a prolonged business downturn. There is no body count on the number of businesses that have closed or moved, but the effect is starkly evident on Orchard south of Delancey, where the store vacancy rate is estimated by local realtors to be 15 percent. Fixtures that have moved or gone out of business in recent years include Ezra Cohen, one of the great linen stores; Eldridge Textile Company, which featured an enormous selection of bedspreads; Penchina Textile Company, Bernstein's kosher deli and the famous Grand dairy restaurant.