Praise the lord and pass “The Power Broker.” A book geek with a passion for New York history has stepped up to the cash register and bought Freebird Books & Goods — saving a beloved neighborhood reading room from going, well, the way of the General Slocum, and saving me some serious heartache.
As readers of this column may recall, I was petrified when word came in June that the store’s founding owners, Rachel London and Sam Citrin, were looking for new “investors” in the homey used bookshop at 123 Columbia St., near Kane Street.
Another one bites the dust, I thought each time I passed the store’s psychedelia-covered front grate, rolled down for indefinite closure. I was sad at the thought of some book-themed café with $9 salads named for short stories I never read replacing the store, which served Moxie soda and microwavable corn dogs.
Luckily, it seems I wasn’t the only one who saw the danger.
Peter Miller, the man who will make Freebird fly again, won’t say that he doesn’t visit theme restaurants like the ones that line Smith Street. He is quick to admit that he lived in cute-as-a-cliché Greenwich Village for years before moving to the Columbia Street waterfront district. A neighborhood, however, must have more to read than menus — no matter how erudite the description of locally grown squash soup, he said.
“Boutiques and theme restaurants don’t define a neighborhood’s success,” said Miller. “There are a lot of readers in this neighborhood and this store has really grown to reflect people’s interests.”
Miller said he plans to run the store in the same way that London and Citrin did — as a community space with shelves for local writers and frequent events. Like many people in the waterfront district, Miller values living in a place where neighbors talk to each other about what is happening around them, which happens to be a lot.
“The city wants to redevelop the waterfront. There is construction everywhere and people are reading about these things,” he said.
Conveniently enough, Miller is already is armed with the right books for the conversation. “I have definitely accumulated a lot of books about New York, and there are several hundred that I plan to put back out to the shelves,” the bibliophile said.
Though no reopening date has been set for the store, Miller said that we readers wouldn’t be kept waiting too long.
“We are laid-back in this neighborhood,” he said. “But I am excited to get started.”
Ariella Cohen is a freelance writer in New Orleans.
Stop the bug: Get a free flu shot on Oct. 17 or Oct. 19 at Assemblywoman Joan Millman’s office, 341 Smith St., between Carroll and President streets between 10 am and 1 pm. The 200 doses will be available on a first-come, first-shot basis. …
Zoo-topia: Chelsea Garden Center is hosting a free petting zoo on Saturday, Oct. 13 from 1 to 5 pm. There will be pony rides, pumpkins, and a bevy of furry animals, plus a sale to distract mom and dad from Junior’s gallops on the pony.