The New York Times’ Andy Newman covers the sad tale of the East Village’s legendary Second Ave. Deli, facing imminent closure due to a major rent increase.

Though most of those interviewed by Newman described the restuarant’s possible end as an unqualified tragedy (says Jackie Mason, “a sandwich to a Jew is just as important as a country to a gentile”), leave it to former Screw publisher / Midnight Blue host Al Goldstein to put it in some perspective.

Even as the restaurant steadily raised its prices – the mammoth Instant Heart Attack, a pile of meat sandwiched between potato pancakes, is listed on the menu at $19.95 – Jack Lebewohl kept the place full and kept up the restaurant’s tradition of helping out the less fortunate. Last year, he hired a down-and-out former pornographer, Al Goldstein (above), as a greeter.

“I have not eaten so well since I lived with my mom,” said Mr. Goldstein, who was fired after he was found sleeping in the restaurant’s basement. Mr. Goldstein, a noted gourmand until a recent stomach-stapling operation, declared the deli’s shuttering “almost as sad as the closing of Chock Full O’ Nuts,” though he added, “I never thought Jack’s pastrami was as good as Katz’s. It’s kosher. It was bland.”