clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Farewell, Joey Arak: A Who's Who Looks Back on an Epic Curbed Run

Today is Joey Arak's last day as senior editor at Curbed. Those are words I never hoped to type, but there they are and there he goes, towards a great new job and—oh yes— fatherhood. We're sending him off with drinks galore somewhere deep in the East Village tonight, but before that, we want to send him off in style here first.

To that end, Curbed editor Sara Polsky—who will be here on Monday, alongside a rotating cast of special guest editors while we work to replace the irreplaceable—compiled an Arak best-of. Plus, we asked a bunch of folks and friends from across the New York City media and real estate spectrum to share parting thoughts on Joey. They were kind enough to do so, and their words, along with the best-of, appear after the jump. My words are simple: respect, Joey, for crafting the essence of what Curbed has become. Master of the red arrow, guardian of the grim reaper, from Chuppariffic to Little Chittaly, and Bob and Bonnie, no one made me laugh more. Thanks for everything.

DOTTIE HERMAN, Prudential Douglas Elliman
On Curbed, Joey's "take" on the real estate industry is insightful, humorous and edgy. His terrific, funny writing will be missed and I wish him well in his new career.

ROBERT HAMMOND, co-founder, Friends of the High Line
It's not easy to be snarky and sweet at the same time but he did it. Joey's reporting and close attention to detail has helped tell the story of the High Line. We will miss his humorous accounts and witty insight.

JONATHAN MILLER, president, Miller- Samuel
After reading most of his 11,000+ posts on Curbed, I've learned one thing about Joey: he's a solid writer who figures out the nuance and appropriately exploits the hell out of it. Actually I've learned two things about Joey. He's also seriously funny. Wait. Three things. He also secretly loves a good Miami Dolphins thrashing. Joey, I wish you success in your next move.

MICHAEL GROSS, author, 740 Park
Joey writes faster than a speeding bullet, is more powerful than a locomotive, and is able to leap tall buildings in a single bound and deflate big egos with a single word. He may not be Superman (if he was, he'd stay at Curbed), but he's close. Hate to see ya go, big guy. Vaya con condos.

SARA POLSKY, editor, Curbed NY
Some of my favorite Joey posts, in no particular order....
1) How Not to Stage an Apartment: Our Easy 10-Step Guide
2) Selling New York Episodes 1-2: Now With More Selling
3) Brooklyn Heights Townhouse Is Actually a Decoy
4) Top 10 Bitchiest Architecture Reviews in New AIA Guide
5) With New Leadership Set, Our Favorite Sheffied 57 Memories
6) Courtney Love and a Politician's Broker Walk into a Chelsea Townhouse
7) Glory, Glory Shcnabeluja: Palazzo Chupi Now Sold Out
8) Madonna Paying $40m for Upper East Side Doublewide
9) The Best New Buildings of the Decade

KERRY MCGOVERN, senior manager of communications, National Hockey League
Joey and I found each other in the heady blogging days of 2003. Both of us were blogging for fun on the side (those were the extent of the aspirations of blogging back then), and became fans of each other's sites though we lived on opposite coasts. We quickly decided to team up and co-edit a blog called Tale of Two Cities, him covering the New York scene, I representing Los Angeles. It didn't take long for me to discover how talented, clever and just flat out good he was at this hobby called blogging. So much so, I basically never held my end up of the bargain, mostly spending my time enjoying his posts and never getting around to writing my own. Fast forward to now, Joey parlayed that blog into a real writing career, becoming one of the most respected writers to grace masthead of the Curbed empire. And now, we are all in mourning since he's moving on to his next adventure of a career in PR, leaving the blogosphere a little less witty. You're all growns up, Joey. Let me be the first to welcome you to the world of PR. I have a feeling you're going to be better at it, as you were at blogging, than me as well.

JESSICA COEN, editor-in-chief,
Before there was Look at This Fucking Hipster, there was Blue States Lose. Joey, a brave warrior in the war against Crap That Shouldn't Be On The Internet, tirelessly dissected—and brilliantly knocked down—the stupid, sweaty hipsters who appeared day after day on the Cobrasnake, Last Night's Party, and other should-be-illegal photoblogs. In his regular takedowns, he gave us the words to describe the disgust that we all felt. He gave us a voice. He gave us Princess Coldstare and Leotard Fantastic. And most importantly, he gave us hope.

ELIOT SHEPARD, director of technology, Curbed
Shut up, Natalia. You know I hate it when you talk in the lobby.

EV GRIEVE, East Village blogger
Even though I feigned interest in the Miami Heat a few times, we seemed to share an enthusiasm for items about the Mystery Lot, East Villagers wearing pink shirts and condos with stainless steel slides. More important, as a fledgling blogger several years back, I often looked to see how Joey played a story. I always appreciated his knack for snappy walk-off lines, crisp prose and hilarious headlines. (One one of my favorites remains: "Free Parking Comes With a Price in Carroll Gardens: Angry Stares!") I credit him with making me better at whatever it is that I do. May his future be full of 20 Pine Streets.

JOYCE COHEN, New York Times "The Hunt" columnist
Joey, you've been a man after my own heart ever since Curbed graded my very first Hunt column an "A." (Even though the link connects not to my column but to the wedding announcement of a bride named Barbara Hunt. And even though the grade was given by Lockhart.)

But you quickly filled (overfilled, dare I say it) his worthy shoes, doing the work of two people, or maybe three. Almost always, I could tell which snappy prose was yours, even before clicking through to the byline. On the day of this bittersweet departure, I send you boundless best wishes for the double-big adventure ahead.

OREN ALEXANDER, Prudential Douglas Elliman
When I first moved to the city and decided I was going to be a broker (or had no other choice since it was September of 08) I figured I needed to do my homework. Joey gave me the best set of cliff notes I've ever had. He taught me who the players are and even gave them nicknames (my favorite was Doogie Howser) to make it easier on me. He is like the smart asian girl sitting next to me in class constantly supplying me with everyday cheat sheets. Even though its his last day today, I am not worried as I'm sure he will hand down the torch, he lit six years ago that helped guide me through this crazy world of NYC Real Estate. Wishing you nothing but success in your future Joey! -Lil Shvo 2.0?

ADAM GORDON, self-described "developer/target"
Am I suffering from Stockholm syndrome? Perhaps the notion is politically incorrect and inflammatory even for these hallowed pages. But, I will miss Joey. Charming, engaging, forthright and inquisitive, he added to the conversation about buildings in New York. No matter if, for a brief shining moment we ended up on a pedestal, or in his sights, we likely deserved his wry words. At a certain point, few of us are spoken
to with any degree of honesty if the subject is tender. Joey told the unvarnished tale, and for that he will be forever respected and sorely missed. Wishing you well in your next adventure.

PETER DAVIES, Curbed contributing editor
Big J Arak, the King of Curbed, takes words and turns 'em gold. I'd be fretting over the latest Kaufman pile, digging through the thesaurus for another mix beyond "hack attack," and he'd be putting up post after post, each one filled with gems. My all time fave is the tag he put on the new Queens Police Academy: Narcitecture. Funny. To the point. Classic Arak. We've been playing together for over four years now, starting at Curbed way before the Steele Empire conquered the Western Hemisphere, back when Joey would still say cute things like "it's just a blog" and really mean it. Today he's leaving the cozy nest of Cooper Square, and I'll be missing him starting now.

JASON SHEFTELL, New York Daily News real estate correspondent
Joey has ruined me from time to time. Called me unshaven, unkempt, and a nuclear bomb once, which he tried to pass off as a compliment. He's also made my Friday's miserable and wonderful. Is he going to mention us, will he be kind, will he understand my pov. How many hits because Joey like the article? Also, he's way too tall, so you can't intimidate him. When we first met, he flashed this coy Gumby smile like "Haha," I know what you're writing about tomorrow. The sad thing is, he helped revolutionize real estate thought, and made people understand what's important. I'll never forget his post about, um, his post about, um, his price chopper idea, and his post about, the thing is, I like them all. He was and is and will always be the remedy to rainy day real estate stories. But he's still way too tall.

HEATHER LETZKUS, blogger, NYShitty
I was very disheartened to learn that Joey Arak will no longer be gracing Curbed with his editorial presence/wizardry. I have regularly enjoyed his witty commentary on matters real estate be they lucid--- or as is usually the case in North Brooklyn otherwise--- for some time. Excoriating developers and our fair city's real estate insanity is like shooting fish in a barrel: anyone can do it. What Joey has done is different; dare I say it--- but I detected a hint of heart. I wish you the best of luck in your future endeavors, Joey. You will be missed in the Garden Spot of the Universe!

DOLLY LENZ, Prudential Douglas Elliman
When I think of Joey I am reminded of my daily morning routine reading with my first cup of coffee and enjoying his insightful and witty perspective on New York and everything real estate. Joey's passion for his subject matter permeates his writing and I especially enjoy his coverage of new developments. I will miss his magic.

LEONARD STEINBERG, Prudential Douglas Elliman
Joey will be sorely missed. His often brutally honest take on the goings on in New York real estate set a new standard for online reporting. His keen eye and wicked sense of humor made each hot item that he dug up seemingly out of nowhere, and often before it was in print, miraculously informative, and surprisingly entertaining. He is a huge loss to the real estate scene. Now if only we could meet he real? He seems too good to be real! His legend will never die.?

FREDRIK EKLUND, Prudential Douglas Elliman
Joey Arak and the geniuses at Curbed has changed real estate forever. I check five times a day, and I'm always surprised on how quick and in what depth they cover our news. In true Curbed-manners they are always critical but logical and with humor. I love how they link articles together in clever and unexpected ways. I will miss Joey and wish Lockhart and Sara all the best moving forward. And by the way: start in Europe (it would be a success instantly) because real estate transactions have less transparency and there is an even bigger appetite for celebrity gossip these days compared to the US.

ANDREW BERMAN, Greenwich Village Society for Historical Preservation
It's the end of an era. His sharp eye and even sharper keyboard will be sorely missed. I hope his obsessive talents will be put to good use elsewhere.

ELIE PERLER, editor, Bowery Boogie
Joey Arak is exactly the type of blogger we emulate at Bowery Boogie. His snarky writing style and sharp wit make nearly every subject stimulating to read. And easy to understand. We wish him the best of luck in all his future pursuits.

Joey has set the standard for real estate writing in this city. He has an innate talent for being able to gracefully interject the stuffy side of real estate with humor, gossip and fun and make it palatable for any reader - all (miraculously) without pissing off the real
estate community. It is a talent that every publication envies and has tried to emulate. He'll be greatly missed but lucky for us, we know Sara will be able to fill those big shoes and will continue to provide the quality we've grown to expect as a result of his work.

JAKE DOBKIN, founder/publisher, Gothamist Network
Friends and comrades, the light has gone out of our lives and there is darkness everywhere. I do not know what to tell you and how to say it. Our beloved blogger, Joey "Stuy Town" Arak as we called him, is no more. Perhaps I am wrong to say that. Nevertheless, we will not see him again as we have seen him for these many years. Who amongst us is capable of taking up his mantle, and fashioning such well-formatted link-blocks? Which of you will rise to the towering mastery he achieved of re-cropping real-estate photos and pasting zombies and grim-reapers on top of them? He has left a hole in our RSS-readers that shant ever be filled. Now his archived posts belong to the ages.

STUART ELLIOT, editor-in-chief, The Real Deal
Yeay, Joey's leaving! Thanks for making our lives easier here at The Real Deal.

SCOTT SOLISH, nightlife editor, and former Curbed intern
Joey is a blogger's blogger. He knows everything about his beat and takes the ridiculousness of New York City life and romanticizes it in a way that brings you in on the joke without embarrassing or ridiculing his subjects for no reason. Its a quality that these newbies with their iMovie, cellphones and Twitter don't appreciate. He taught me a lot about blogging, european soccer, East Village pizza places and Stuy Town. A great coworker and a better friend. He will be missed.

NANCY SHEPARD, Eliot's mom
Good luck on your new position. You will be missed at I love to read the funny, informative, and snarky articles you write about the insane world of New York real estate. Perhaps you can submit occasional little bits of fun? realtors need to be given a reality check often. Thank you for revealing the real estate fantasy of the last several years and making it enjoyable to read. Will we hear more about the “Pink Palace” or New York’s most overdecorated apartment? Let’s hope.

JUSTIN BURRIS, former Curbed intern and future boss of us all
Joey Arak touched me. Right here, and right here. For those of you wondering (or worrying), those places are my heart and my mind.

Armed with a contagious passion, a mordant wit, and enviably florid prose, Joey was truly an inspiration to me. Working alongside Joey was as amazing an experience as reading his posts. Throughout my tenure at Curbed HQ, I secretly tried to decipher the ingredients to Joey's side-splitting combination of cynicism and mirth. The decadent banter that AIM exchanges usually read something like this:

JB: Hey Joey, I'll just upload the images directly to Flickr, cool?
JA: ok
JB: Sorry about the delay.
JB: hahaha

Looking back, it's plainly clear to me: My implicit laughter stemmed not solely from a feigned attempt to hide my anxiety, but also from the friendly rapport that Joey's mentorship fostered. Joey, despite his sublime journalistic savvy, was simply so approachable, so affable, and so unassuming that I felt like I could, and should, laugh.

ROBERT KNAKAL, cofounder, Massey-Knackal Real Estate
Joey Arak's departure from Curbed is a devastating blow to sarcasm and wit within real estate media. Will the world be able to survive without such a sharply tongued (or should I say "tongue-in-cheeked") journalist? "The Big Knak Attack" (a moniker coined by Joey) will certainly miss the way he could instantly motivate me to read further with just a few smartly worded phrases. Simply stated: We will miss you. Best of luck in
whatever you do!

AJ DAULERIO, editor,
Joey Arak did for real estate news what Professor Longhair did for New Orleans piano. Joey's thirst for adding intrigue to that which is not intriguing is what made him intriguing. Godspeed, Joey. You changed things.

BRIAN KELLY, project manager, Palazzo Chupi
I was on the other side—ending to chose carefully what information was shared and how it might be characterized. These guys were just dying to put up anything that had a strong taste even if it scuttled us. We were trying to accomplish something unusual. What people saw and what they thought they saw was important. And what was this blog anyhow? Palazzo Chupi was an easy target but Joey (& Lock) stuck to the facts. It was apparent that they were interested in and encouraged interest in the city and its ways.

Joey understands much of the invisible fabric that holds us together: community, neighborhoods, self-government, finance, competition and the various forms of civic responsibility that make it possible to suggest that some soul too besotted with money has lost his way. And Joey presented a scathing eye towards the insincere. May good things come your way. All the best.

BEN LEVENTHAL, editorial director, NBC Media; cofounder,
What you have to understand about Curbed is that editors are given tremendous latitude to do sink or swim. More than you think. And even if there are certain rules of engagement now, back the early days Curbed was really a handful of bloggers with an unhealthy obsession with real estate and the Lower East Side and Michael Shvo. No 1,000 rubrics to choose from, Twitter feedback loop, editorial calendar, Curbed Cup. But this isn't me saying that when I was your age we published blog posts by chiseling them into the side of a tenement on Avenue C and 2nd Street. Rather, just that Joey's been Lock's man at the controls practically from the start (first, as a contributor, in May 2005) and the point is that when he started there was an idea of what Curbed should be and the rest was improvisation. No one has had more minute-by-minute, word-by-word, post-by-post impact on what Curbed has become than Joey Arak. He's picked our heros, villains, fixations and fights. (And he's done it for 6 years, which is about 30 in blogger years.) Here's to you, Arak. A fancy colorful cocktail, sipped atop a brand new designer loft rooftop on the Bowery to an epically good run.