Directed by: Anthony Desiato

Written by: Anthony Desiato

Bombastic, cranky, and irreverent, Jay Meisel operated a booth at New York's Empire State Flea Market for almost four decades. In his cramped and cluttered retail space, the comic book vendor decried a lack of taste and class in modern society, attributed his dwindling revenue to a rising "Latin" population, and berated his customers with a gruffness that belied his kind interior. Jay often said he planned to die in his booth. Instead, when management announced that the flea market was closing its doors for good, Jay faced the far more challenging task of boxing up a life's work. By Spoon! The Jay Meisel Story documents Jay's final days at his weekend home of 35 years.

Review:

By Spoon! The Jay Meisel Story

By Alexia Amoriello.

Anthony Desiato’s documentary By Spoon! The Jay Meisel Story is sure to grab attention within the very first minute of the film, when Jay Meisel bitterly declares his animosity toward technology. Meisel has every right to be angry while the Empire State Flea Market, where he runs his comic book store, is going out of business after 37 years. Although Meisel is irreverent and cantankerous, Desiato manages to capture the furious comic book vendor in a way that makes him enjoyable to watch. The film makes it apparent that beneath his angry exterior, Meisel is actually a genuinely kindhearted man.
By Spoon! The Jay Meisel Story includes interviews with a wide variety of customers who frequented Jay’s comic book store. Despite Meisel’s rude remarks, it is clear that his customers truly appreciated him and his business. Meisel’s comments might be a bit harsh at times, but he makes the film both humorous and poignant. It is upsetting to see Meisel forced to close his store, but his attitude adds a sense of authentic lightheartedness to the film.
Desiato’s film goes beyond the personal story of Jay Meisel, as the film also acts as a reflection of modern society. Meisel continuously complains about changing aspects of society, but rightfully so because these changes ultimately led to the end of his business. Watching Meisel rummage through the items in his store will certainly hit viewers with an intense feeling of nostalgia.
By Spoon! The Jay Meisel Story is a profoundly impressive achievement from first-time director Anthony Desiato, who also wrote and produced the film. The documentary is structured in such a manner that the film maintains a constant aura of professionalism. In addition, all of the text in the film is displayed in an endearing comic book style font, which really contributes to the film’s overall charm.
Even for those unfamiliar with Jay Meisel or the Empire State Flea Market, Desiato’s film is unquestionably worth viewing. The film is absolutely entertaining from beginning to end. At times the film might be a bit depressing, but it is practically guaranteed to have audiences laughing out loud. By Spoon! The Jay Meisel Story is a remarkably well-made film that is the perfect blend of hilarious and heartbreaking.
By Spoon! The Jay Meisel Story is an official selection of the New York City Independent Film Festival and will be shown at the festival on October 12-18, 2015.