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Tuesday, February 15th, 2011

Ray’s Candy Store @12:03 am
Lower East Side, NYC

Well, here we go with the debut post from my new blog, “Marty After Dark.” Anybody out there? Or did I lose everyone with my month absence? I know how fickle everyone on the internet can be, so we’ll see who made it over here. Anyway, the explanation for what this is all about and what I’m going to be doing can be found right here: What’s Going On. If you’ve stumbled here and don’t know who I am and are curious, you can read all about me here: About Me (I’m a legend in my own mind!)

Big thanks to “Boris” for a spectacular job on designing the Marty After Dark banner. As always, “Boris” was able to put together an iconic piece of art that really makes the page come alive, thanks, Daddio! And my friend and the coolest DJ in the world, Gidget, once again set up a facebook fan page for the site and she and “Boris” will be maintaining it. You can click on the button over on the right, or just click here to be part of the fan page—Marty After Dark on facebook  And you can check out Gidget and “Boris” on Woody radio, here’s the schedule page: Woody Radio Schedule.

So now that you know what’s going on, it’s time for our first late night adventure. Since today was Valentine’s day, I thought it only fitting to venture out to a candy store that never closes. And this isn’t just any candy store, it’s a place that’s been on the block on Avenue A for over thirty years—Rays Candy Store, right across from Tompkins Sqare Park. The owner is Ray Alvarez a man who just celebrated his 78th birthday, sadly I missed that party, check out the photos here: Slum Goddess at Ray’s birthday party. So since this being Valentine’s Day, I thought we’d make a late night visit to Ray’s candy store, wish him a belated happy birthday, a happy Valentine’s Day and maybe get an egg cream soda. Come on, let’s get out there in the dark and get this blog moving already!

Okay, here we go off on the maiden voyage of Marty After Dark.

We'll go up 6th Avenue to 34th Street to catch the F train to the Lower East Side. Goddamn, it's windy and chilly out here tonight, I can't wait for spring to be sprung.

A lonely street vendor waits for customers that probably won't be showing up on this cold and windy evening.

And here we descend into the bowels of the subway system in Manhattan.

Hi asshole!

Hot damn, only about a three minute wait and here's the F train.

Hey look who's our neighbor, the asshole who can't stop texting. He never looked up once during the whole trip.

And we're here. We'll exit on Houston Street.

There's not a lot of people out tonight, even though it's Valentine's Day. For me, February is one of the worst months in New York. Kind of a cold and lonesome month. I bet there's people at Ray's though, let's soldier on.

Katz's deli is closed for the evening, but the sign is still lit.

And here we are, Ray's Candy Store, there's ATM here if you're still with us Joey D!

Another angle of the quaint candy store.

Here's some of the outside signage.

And here's some more.

I chopped off the bottom of this sign, but it says, "Everything Made With Love." Nice.

Let's go in and check it out.

And here he is, the man himself, Ray Alvarez. Ray's a really nice guy and personally greets everyone who comes in. He just turned 78-years-old and works the candy store from 8pm to 10am seven days a week. He told me it keeps him young. And he is the youngest and friendliest 78-year-old I've ever met.

There's plenty of drink choices in here, but I already knew what I had to try, one of Ray's famous egg creams.

As soon as I order Ray fly's into action. He pours...

And he mixes.

And here's the frothy final result and it's delicious!

Here's some signs and the hot dog cooker in the front window of Ray's Candy Store.

And some people have gathered inside at the counter. The crowd changes every five to ten minutes in here and it's an eclectic mix of people that pass through the door.

Here's Bob with Ray. Bob said he's been coming here so long he's not sure when he first started venturing to Ray's. He got a hot dog to go.

This couple got a small order of fries.

And here's Ray serving the fries up. Yeah, that's the small order, I can't imagine what the large one looks like!

Here's some of the candy housed behind the front counter.

As you can see from the signs, there's about anything here that your appetite desires.

Obligatory Ray's mirror shot! Some things I just can't let go.

More signs in the back of the store.

Here's a sign you could eat off of. How handy is that?

Here's some "Save Ray's" pictures. About a year ago, Ray was almost evicted from this space. He fell behind in rent and the landlord was ready to boot him out. The neighborhood rallied around Ray and raised some money to help him with his rent and thankfully he's still here.

Ray's garnered a lot of press through the years and it's plastered on the walls in between the sandwich signs.

Here's a piece from the Villager on a benefit for Ray's.

Here's an article on the wall about photographer Bob Arihood who's documented Ray's and the neighborhood with his photography. Check out his blog here: Nadie Se Conoce.

A couple of girls shouted hi to Ray in the window and asked if he needed any helpers for the night, so he invited them in.

And here they are, from left, Molly, Ray and Ilana.

They took off their coats and Ray taught them the fine art of making an egg cream.

Ray shows them the next step.

And here they sample the finished product.

Now Ray let's them try to make one on their own.

And here they are with the fruits of their labor, some fries and an egg cream. After this, they helped wait on people that came in the store.

Including Shivan and Molly who got an order of fries.

Paul and Claudia stopped in as I was getting ready to hit the road.

And a parting shot of the loneliest wiener in town. Goodnight everybody, see you tomorrow, after dark!

Ray's Candy Store
113 Ave. A (Near 7th St.)
Lower East Side

When you enter Ray’s it’s a little bit like going into a time warp. It’s a small shop with a well-worn light blue counter to lean into and suck back an egg cream and chomp into a hot dog with cheese, onions and mustard. It’s got an old world clubhouse atmosphere to it that couldn’t be duplicated if you tried. And of course there’s Ray, a charming, likeable one-of-a-kind guy running a one-of-a-kind store. There’s no menus, you have to look around at the hand-painted signs that hang on the walls in between faded newspaper items and assorted bric-a-brac to decide what you want to order. I like a place that makes you look around, it’s a reminder that you should do that more often in life. While I was in there nobody was talking on a cell phone or texting and it brought back a memory I had while doing the 365 bar crawl last year. I had approached a couple who were seated at a table and were busy texting while I told them what I was doing.

They put down their iPhones to pose for a photo and I gave them a business card and the twentysomething woman looked at it and made a face and said, “Eww, you’re on Earthlink?”

“Yeah, why, something wrong with that?” I asked wondering why she would care who my email provider was.

“It’s, like, so yesterday!” She said laughing and picking up her iPhone. Her companion smirked and was already back to the texting.

“Well, I’m all about yesterday,” I explained, “I’ve seen the future and it’s one long text that says, ‘nothing’ a thousand different ways.”

I don’t think they heard me, they were too deep into their texts to care, their faces were colored with a whiter shade of blank. I went back to the bar and had a beer. If you’re all about the yesterdays, stop in at Ray’s and get a sandwich, some fries and an egg cream and help keep a slice of yesterday alive and well on Avenue A in New York City. Ray will love it if you do and so will the neighborhood. Me too.

Further reading:EV Grieve, NY Observer, Jeremiah’s Vanishing New York and Nadie Se Conoce.

And you can help support Ray and his candy store by buying one of the fine products emblazoned with his logo at his online store, check it out: Ray's Candy Store Online Cafe.

Reader Comments (74)

damn can't wait to see more about what this will be. Maybe you took up that suggestion to visit a brothel every night.

February 13, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterkari

@kari: I would need a LOT of donations for that to happen, I'll let Charlie Sheen tackle that one! Check back Tuesday for the first post!

February 13, 2011 | Registered CommenterMarty After Dark

Awesome, Martser! I'll be here daily. You could go to cheaper brothels, yes?

February 14, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterClacky of Bunt's

@Clacky: Not that I would know, but I don't think there's 365 cheap brothels in New York! Sneeze ya tomorrow when this thing officially opens!

February 14, 2011 | Registered CommenterMarty After Dark

Hey Marty - the site looks great! um, except for, well.. there's no post!! I'll check back tomorrow - have fun at Ray's.

Hi Kari and Clacky, nice to see you again! I can't wait to see what Marty pulls out of his sleeve this time.

February 15, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLex

Hi Marty from both of Us !!!

February 15, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJHwang

@Lex: The post will be up tomorrow around noon, I just got home and it went great!

@Jason: Hi to you and Zioum Zioum, nice to see you got to France!

February 15, 2011 | Registered CommenterMarty After Dark



February 15, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterGENE

@GENE: Welcome to the new blog! The first post will be up in a couple hours, as soon as I wake the fuck up.

February 15, 2011 | Registered CommenterMarty After Dark

Looks like a great place to get a snack after partying at the Horseshoe Bar or Manitoba's !

February 15, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterGENE

@GENE: How right you are!

February 15, 2011 | Registered CommenterMarty After Dark

Will we ever see Marty in the Morning? Or is that NC-17?

Ha. Congrats on the new venture! And a most worthy first subject!

February 15, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterEV Grieve

Good to see you back! Good luck with the new adventures!

February 15, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterProfessor Dungpie.

I like this, a hell of a lot. Black and White pictures gives it a more retro look, more New Yawkish if you will. Love the start with Ray's, perfect place to launch this. Very much like 365 but without the pressure to drink and a lot more freedom to go and do whatever you feel like. Any place that you visit and take pics like these will be received with lots of love from all because these stories are unique and need to be shown all over the country. Its like a mini movie and we are all included,,,,Marty, congrats on a great start.

February 15, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAl

I love the photos in black & white! Old school and classic - keep it up!

February 15, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBarra Barra Barra

Earthlink is so gross!

Great first post Marty, looking forward to more

February 15, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterHandel

Welcome back, Marty!

I'll now be quoting you often: “I’ve seen the future and it’s one long text that says, ‘nothing’ a thousand different ways.”



February 15, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterGrade "A" Karen

@Handel: Ha ha ha! I must drop Earthlink so I can fit in! Thanks for stopping by and chiming in!

@Grade "A" Karen: The sad thing is it went right over their heads. Great to hear from you!

February 15, 2011 | Registered CommenterMarty After Dark

Great to see you on the loose again. This looks like a great format for you and I love the black and white night look! Looking forward to following you on your new adventures.

February 15, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBarfly

Darkness on the edge of town...Marty style! Black and white photography and N.Y.C. go together very well...nice touch! Rays looks like the kind of place I could happily eat at everynight...though I'd probably have to double dose myself with Glipizide diabedes meds every time I did and my doctor would ream my ass the next time I went in for a visit! It would be criminal to let a place like Ray's go under, so everybody who's in the area and is able should stop in for some good eats! And as for little miss earthlink..."Hi Asshole!" Welcome back Marty, this blog looks like another winner!

February 15, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJaws the Cabbie

Looks like me and Mean Lean may be heading east again. I LOVE IT ALREADY!

February 15, 2011 | Unregistered Commentermityerac

Bee-you-tiful, Marty. Great subject for a first post. The new look is fab! Mazel freakin' Tov to Marty After Dark!

February 15, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterNed Sparks

Oh, hey Marty...if any of your bartender freinds from the 365 days are reading this, you should check out my new collection of t-shirts and sweats...the 'No Psychos' line of shirts is something no bartender should be without. Instant classic! www.printfection.com/jawsthecabbie

February 15, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJaws the Cabbie

@Barfly: Thanks, glad you made it over here!

@Jaws: Glad you like the black and white look, I think it fits the subject matter. And everybody check out the Jaws store @www.printfection.com/jawsthecabbie

@mityerac: When are you coming out here? Give me some advance notice!

@Ned Sparks: Thanks, you and Karen have to join me in an after dark adventure one of these nights!

February 15, 2011 | Registered CommenterMarty After Dark

Holy Moley ... you started your new adventure with a BANG! Great concept, great pics, and great writing!

Thanks for sharing Ray's with us!

February 15, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterroadsidewonders

Great first post. Have really missed having an everyday check on blog since 365 did last call. Your photo stories are a great way to build a little 'down to earth ' wall between reading all the news and facing the rest of the day. Cheers Sir!

February 15, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMarty in Montreal

@Roadside Wonders: Thanks, glad you like the concept and hope you come back.

@Marty in Montreal: Thank you Marty, I'm glad you came over and hope you keep checking in!

February 15, 2011 | Registered CommenterMarty After Dark

love ray's, esp. after dark
and how is it that you get to meet purrrdy ladies on your adventures. molly and ilana can make my egg creams, after dark or otherwise...

February 15, 2011 | Unregistered Commenteresquared

Hey Marty, thanks for the heads-up. New blog looks great, and what a way to start it off, with a lengthy love letter to Ray's (which has, aside from those awesome egg creams, the best vanilla malteds too). Congratulations, you Earthlink dinosaur. (Wonder what those dweebs woulda said if you'd told them you were on Compuserve; now THERE'S a relic from the Mesozoic era.)

February 15, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLisa

@esquared: Thanks for stopping by and chiming in! Molly and Ilana are going to be helping Ray out some nights, so you'll probably see them in your travels.

@Lisa: I've had the vanilla malted and it's great, I'll get one next time I'm there. Compuserve? Ha ha ha! I forgot all about that! Now I want to get an account there!

February 15, 2011 | Registered CommenterMarty After Dark

Marty hope bar visits are in the plans for your new adventures. Enjoy the pics with you enjoying the suds with other barflies. And hope you take up my suggestion to visit The Assembly (bar used for the movie Trees Lounge) in Queens. Take care

February 15, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterScott

@Scott: I'll probably hit a bar at least once a week and I'm definitely going to go to the Assembly, probably when the weather gets nicer. Thanks for checking out the new blog!

February 15, 2011 | Registered CommenterMarty After Dark

Uh...I don't even know what Earthlink IS. How yesterday does that make me? Anyhoo, love the new site with the black and whites and egg creams and french fries and lonely wieners (ha ha ha! You still gots it!) Ray's Candy Store has been moved to the top of my agenda for the next town visit. Thanks for showing us around, Marty - and HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO RAY!!

February 15, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBiff

@Bifferoonie: Tada! You're here, glad you made it over! We will definitely stop in at Ray's when you're here next.

February 15, 2011 | Registered CommenterMarty After Dark

Good to see you back Marty. Will be nice to having something to read when I first come into work in the morning.

And what the hell is an Egg Cream? Sounds revolting!

February 15, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBrooksy in Oz

Love the new site!!! I love the black and white/sepia theme, too. Very "film noir." Ray's looks like a great little place...I want to go to Alphabet City and Soho next time I'm there. (I want 1/4 order of those fries, too!)

February 15, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAaron

@Brooksy: Thanks for coming by! Egg creams are great if they're made right and Ray makes them perfect! Here's a link to read about them: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Egg_cream

@Aaron: Thanks, so glad you like it! I hear you about those fries and that's the small order!

February 15, 2011 | Registered CommenterMarty After Dark

Keep fucking that chicken Marty.

February 15, 2011 | Unregistered Commentercp

@cp: Hell yeah to that!

February 15, 2011 | Registered CommenterMarty After Dark

We love you Marty! Oh yes we DO!!!!

Good to see you back - hopefully catch up with you again sometime this year : )

February 15, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterClaire Bear

@Claire Bear: Great to hear from you! Thanks so much for checking it out! Are you guys coming back here for a visit? If so let me know for sure!

February 15, 2011 | Registered CommenterMarty After Dark

Great to have you back. I followed the 365 blog and I'm looking forward to spending another year with your new blog. Good start with Ray's!
Yesterday all the way!


February 15, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKen in NJ

I loved this. Great to see so many generations enjoying one place. Beautifully documented!

February 15, 2011 | Unregistered Commentercheese

Hey Marty,Marty, Marty,....glad you are back....egg creams for everybody

February 15, 2011 | Unregistered Commentertehennessey

Congrats, Marty!! Great start to a great blog! LOVE the BW photos, entirely suited the picture matter!!!!

February 15, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterFarscapes

Hey Marty
Great new blog, love the black and white pics

Looks like a new set of places to visit when i return to NYC

February 15, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAussie Matchy

WTG Martser! I missed you!!!!
thsi is awesome.. I love it!!!
Happy Birthday Ray.
you need to take me here when I visit!
haven't had an egg cream in forever! worth hives! so worth hives!!
good to see everyone
and thank you marty for pimping me and "B"
and our little station
and our little facecrack page for you:)
everybody please join up on the facecrack fan page!!!!!

February 15, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterGidgie

@KeninNJ: Nice to see you here, thanks for checking it out! To Yesterday! And to Ray's!

@cheese: Glad you enjoyed it, stop back again tomorrow.

@tehennessey: To Bill Mullen!

@Farscapes: Thanks! Glad you enjoyed it!

@AussieMatchy: Thank you! Let me know when you get back here.

@Gidgie: Thanks for setting up the facecrack page! You're the best, when you're in town the egg cream's on me! (I spill easily.)

February 15, 2011 | Registered CommenterMarty After Dark

damn cool site. But the post is too long! I had to scroll....but excellent nonetheless.

February 15, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterkenmac

“I’ve seen the future and it’s one long text that says, ‘Your FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCkED.”

February 15, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJHwang

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