WHEN the sun goes down at the Murray Spaceshoe on West 10th Street near Greenwich
Avenue, two self-proclaimed "ukulele freaks," Ted Gottfried and Jason Tagg,
like to sit outside and "uke on the stoop."
Translation: Mr. Gottfried and Mr. Tagg want to share their love of the ukulele
with the public in a modern-day takeoff on folk music hootenannies that they
call uke-i-nannies. They perform nightly on the steps of their apartment
building, nicknamed the Murray Spaceshoe. The jam sessions are pictured live
on the Internet via what may be the city's - if not the world's - only stoop-cam.
A line on their Web site, www.SonicUke.com, exclaims, "Check out who's hanging
out on the Spaceshoe stoop with our live stoop-cam." Underneath, a red icon
advertises this feature as "new!"
The stoop-cam is nicely hidden under the Juliet balcony at 130 West 10th
Street, an old apartment building known as the Murray Spaceshoe for decades
because, long ago, a man named Murray designed custom-made
shoes there that he said gave the foot extra space. Murray Space Shoes are still made and
sold in California, but not the West Village. The name, though, has lingered
somewhat mysteriously since the 1940's, painted in green block letters around
Mr. Gottfried, 50, and Mr. Tagg, 30, love living in a building called "Spaceshoe"
because of the cosmic, comic tone it brings to their lives. They are the
kind of guys who would welcome the chance to participate in extraterrestrial
shenanigans. Mr. Tagg, a Web site programmer, said that if the building were
to turn out to be a thinly disguised portal to another universe, well, that
would be too cool.
And they sing about a dream:
Yeah, we're still sitting here
Waiting for the day the Murray Space Shoe craft
Will come and take us away.
The stoop-cam was Mr. Tagg's idea. Mr. Gottfried, the former owner of See
Hear, an East Village bookstore, thought it would be an
excellent way to promote their duo, Sonic Uke, and ukulele playing in general.
"This stoop is a treasure," Mr. Gottfried said. "We want people to come play
with us on the stoop." (And indeed, people have. Some of them are listed
under "Links to Friends.")
But the stoop-cam is also a beast that needs constant feeding, perhaps more
than even Sonic Uke can provide. The nighttime uke-i-nannies can be a real
hoot. But a viewer looking at the site midday is likely to see only up-to-the-minute
snapshots of concrete steps. Six steps. All day long.
But what is a stoop-cam for, if not to show a full picture of real life on
"The postman makes a regular appearance," Mr. Tagg said, "so does FedEx,
and Tara the cat."