Fooling around in the Back Room of the 5th Avenue LEGO Store

New York is the only city I "know". I think, but am no authority on city planning, that it is a distinctly American city and differs from others in the world in that it is for the most part gridded. For this it is famous and people who are authorities on city planning have had things to say about it, such as "this is very terrible" (Frederick Law Olmsted) and "this is actually quite good" (Rem Koolhaus).


I will say that New York City is probably what would happen if real life urban planning was informed by landscapes similar to LEGO baseplates, that is, conducive firstly to rectilinear constructs that meet at the perpendicular, and that whether I feel terrible or good about New York, I am inconsequential to the city.

Tonight my friend Kelly and I went to a craft show in a Manhattan. One of our school friends was there staffing a table. The management had given us vouchers with which we could use to buy things at the tables. More generously, the alcohol was free.

When Kelly and I stepped out of the elevator we both went, "ugh" at the realization that the space was small, as spaces are in Manhattan, and that it was very crowded. Fairly immediately we went to a soap vendor and smelled what he had to offer.

Two weekends ago I had been on Long Island for the Oyster Bay Oyster festival and a woman there was selling soaps and lotions. The soap smelled like how some parts of residential Long Island are furnished, which is sweetly, yet affirmatively one-dimensional and tacky. Very "like, duh".

City folk demand more complexity from upscale craft soaps. The vendor in the small trade floor this night had pretty good soaps. I appreciate soaps like I appreciate LEGO. It comes in different shapes and colors and its creation is possible through the pasticity of combined elements.  They both smell good. When you interact with either, you feel closer to God.

The floor had a divider going down the middle that made the space into a loop. At one end there was wine and at the other there was beer. I alternated between both as I wove between people with a plastic cup in my hand. By the time we were done there I had soaps to take home and a couple of drinks. I said to Kelly I knew a place that was likely to have fewer people and more room to breathe.

We walked up Broadway (a landmark thoroughfare exempt from the grid) and walked up to the foot of the Flatiron Building.

Alfred Stieglitz, "The Flat Iron". 
"Where are we going?" she had to ask. "We are going to the LEGO store," I said.

The 5th Avenue LEGO store is situated where Broadway, 5th and 23rd converge at Madison Square Park. It is bright and welcoming. We went in and looked at the sets. There were no kids there, only adults.

We went to the back room where they have chairs for children to sit in at small round table, which has a depression in its center filled with an assortment of LEGO bricks.

We got to building. I started making a robot and Kelly started making a plastic model sandwich not unlike some custom models that were on display in the main showroom. I came across part model #553 molded in brown. I told Kelly I had been surprised to see a pair of large, tapered, ebony tits on the screen of the phone of a man sitting in front of me on the bus the other night, and that I was now inspired to build a fertility statue not unlike the ones we had learned about in art history class at Pratt Institute.

LEGO mold #553 "Brick round 2 x 2 dome top".

"Venus of Willendorf". 25,000 BCE.
I dug through the pit of LEGO to find another dome top brick. I found some plates in green and tossed them across to her. "Here is some lettuce, or relish." I found another dome for my robot's chest.

A man of the staff came through the archway into the back room. He wore the yellow apron of the brand. He said to us "I gotta be closing the room soon." It was half past seven and the store would close at 8. I put our creations on the shelf:

Not art. 


  1. Glad to see activity here. I appreciate that this blog offers a different perspective on LEGO than most of the fan blogs

  2. i saw the venus in vienna and it is quite small it would not get recognition a convention if it were a moc