When I first moved to Manhattan on April Fool’s Day 1980, the East Village was a cooler and creepier place than it is today. It’s still cool and creepy here and there. Some of the blocks don’t look that much different than they did back then. But from Avenue A eastward to Avenue D, well, that was a whole different world for us white folk, mostly artists, musicians, junkies and club kids, looking for cheap rent, cheap dope, cheap drinks and fun bars to mix all of the above with loud music.
I first lived on St. Mark’s between 2nd and 1st in a railroad apartment with the bathtub in the kitchen. I was a junkie then, a “speedballer” actually, which meant I shot dope and coke together, which was good for staying up all night while still maintaining my narcotic composure. I shared the apartment with three other junkies. We’d sleep all day, then cop some dope and coke in the abandoned buildings of Alphabet City, stay up and go to clubs all night, then out for breakfast at Kiev after watching an hour of Mary Tyler Moore reruns. Such was life.
I moved into a boarded-up storefront on 3rd street between A and B shortly thereafter. A two-bedroom apartment for $375 a month. All the streets south of 6th between A and B were pretty scary then. Between B and C they were really scary. Between C and D? Well, you didn’t want to go there at night. At all.Read More