welcome   |     stoop    |     photos    |     sounds    |     friends    |    contact us

September 5, 2004: City Section page 6
On the Stoop, 'Whatever' Is Always in Focus
Photo: Michelle V Adins

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 the entryway.

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 a stoop?

"The postman makes a regular appearance," Mr. Tagg said, "so does FedEx, and Tara the cat."

Sonic Uke is a New York-based ukulele duo. Check out our photos, chord charts and free mp3s here.

Ukulele Trivia

Mailing list
Find out about upcoming gigs and new recordings. Join our mailing list.