Out and About

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This afternoon my Downtown Scenes class was fortunate enough to take a walking tour of the East Village (or a portion of the Lower East Side, as he would have it) with Cary Abrams, a long-time teacher, friend of PWHNY, and affiliate of the Lower East Side History Project.

At the outset Cary shared a quote from Alfred Leslie, who moved to the Lower East Side following WWII and took up a career as an artist. Tomorrow we’ll watch the famous film he made with the photographer Robert Frank, Pull My Daisy (1959), and think about it alongside the poetry of the Beat icons who feature as actors in the film. For today, Cary wanted us to think about people who walked these same streets in past eras. To that end he quoted Leslie:

There’s an essay at the end of Thoreau’s Walden on the pleasure of walking. I can’t recall it exactly, but it went something like this: “I wish to speak a word for walking and for wildness, for taking little walks along unmapped paths, like the saunterers of old….” After the war, the wild was no longer nature, it was the city. You had the feeling that you were starting out on a journey that had no end in sight, and from which you’d never return. There was an element of danger in it, and of psychic and primitive power…… Everything was accessible, if you went after it…. And it was particularly so on the Lower East Side which was like an abandoned part of the city.

We’re not sure where the quote comes from. (Does anyone out there recognize it?) I tried finding it on Google Books to no avail. Cary says he took it from the placards attached to the fence on the Second Avenue side of St. Mark’s Church, which we passed today on our walking tour. Wherever it comes from, it’s a terrific quote, encapsulating the thrill of walking in the city in a particular moment of time whose echoes are barely audible to us.

Photo of Alfred Leslie, 1960, by John Cohen, from Artnet.com.

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Speed Levitch at Bethesda Fountain, Central Park. Sunday, 8 May 2011.

One of my favorite people, one of my favorite places. Can’t think of much else I’d rather have done on a sunny spring afternoon in New York.

Previously on PWHNY. And elsewhere.

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For the next week, while NYU is on spring break, things may continue to be a little slow around these parts. Be assured, though we’re hard at work (returning copy edits on these, for instance), we feel a little like this thanks to the midterm reprieve:

Girl Walk // All Day from jacob krupnick on Vimeo.

The Times ran a piece on this video a week ago. For a free download of the complete Girl Talk album, click here. Have a great break!

Because I sometimes only get out of my neighborhood when I’m online. Sad, I know.

Calling out the Times for not knowing much about Marble Hill, where Manhattan and the Bronx meet by land. [Boogie Downer]

The Times should have talked to Michael Miscione, Manhattan’s borough historian. See his comments on this old City Room piece by Jennifer 8. Lee, which gets the borough border history right.

New Yorkers who want to protest the censorship of David Wojnarowicz’s video at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. will march along museum mile on Sunday, December 19. [Art +]

What did we lose to gain the Bayonne Bridge? [Ape Shall Not Kill Ape]

We loved this profile of Newtown Pentacle’s Mitch Waxman: “Tour Guide of the Toxic.” [Baruch College Dollars & Sense]

A rare Coney Island victory: Shore Theater landmarked. [Amusing the Zillion]

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While I’ve been working on my book about Television’s Marquee Moon I’ve had ample opportunity to poke around the history of Club 82, a historic downtown drag venue (founded in the late ’50s by the mob, who controlled much pre-Stonewall gay nightlife) and an important early site, alongside nearby CBGB’s, for New York’s underground rock scene. (Here’s the entry from About.com’s Gay and Lesbian Travel section; here’s a fan site brimming with photos from the club’s earliest days.)

Everyone played there: Television, The Stillettoes (pre-Blondie), Wayne County (of course). The New York Dolls played an important show there in April of ’74 in which all the members but Johnny Thunders played in dresses. Lou Reed and David Bowie were in the audience now and again. Debbie Harry once said Club 82 was where kids from her New Jersey high school went after the prom; when she played there with the Stillettoes, members of the Who were in the audience.

Poking around to see if any video from the club existed, I came across a great video memoir of the scene, recorded by T. Roth, former frontman of the glitter band Another Pretty Face, who currently has a substantial following on YouTube where he posts videos under the name Zipster08. Here are his fantastic recollections of the club:

And of course a bit of video from the club does exist: Here’s Ivan Kral’s footage of Wayne/Jayne County in stage at the 82:

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File under: Things I probably won’t see/do in person, given they’re outside my little downtown bubble, and also given the fact that my next two December Saturdays, per long-standing Smith-Waterman family tradition, will be spent in the back room of DBA for their annual East Village neighborhood fair of homemade holiday gifts. But if that’s not your scene, try one of these:

A guide to holiday markets in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens. [Markets of New York]

A five-borough guide to holiday lights and shows [CBS]

Another guide, specifically geared toward Astoria. [We Heart Astoria]

Sunday: Bronx Messiah and Taste of the Bronx Food Show. [Bronx Mama]

Saturday and Sunday: Harlem for the Holidays. [Uptown Flavor]

Also Saturday and Sunday: Staten Island Society of Model Railroaders sponsors its annual holiday train show and toy giveaway. [SI Live]

Queens holiday lights photo by Alex Goodwind from the CBS post linked above.

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A century-old faded ad for Bloomie’s, Lexington btwn 115th and 116th [What about the Plastic Animals]

Have you explored the South Bronx Cultural Corridor? [Bronx Arts]

Inauguración de LUIS MARQUEZ EN EL MUNDO DEL MAÑANA: LA IDENTIDAD MEXICANA Y LA FERIA MUDIAL DE 1939-40, Domingo 14 de noviembre, de 15:00 a 18:00, with a special offer for the Museum’s twitter followers. [Queens Museum]

Brooklyn Historical Society workshop: “Research Your House,” Saturday from 2:00 to 5:00 p.m. [Brooklyn Heights Blog]

Great Kills Park Nature Walk on Sunday [Staten Island Museum]

Timely pre-walk reading and welcome news: After a year’s hiatus, the Staten Island blog Walking Is Transportation is back … with some thoughts about honoring solitude.

“Harlem Fall”: photo by Yojimbot at Harlem Hybrid.

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The least we can do in these times of lean posting:

Just how cold is the axe hanging over Coney Island? [Amusing the Zillion]

Plus: Reminder about the Ruby’s petition and the Nov. 6 rally!

Tottenville: The Town the Oyster Built [Tottenville Historical Society]

Woman discovers WWII explosive in Bronx home [NY1]

Take your kids — or hell, just yourself! — to the four boroughs you don’t live in. [ToNY, h/t Bronx Mama]

NY Art Book Fair at PS1 this weekend [The Q Note]

Houdini House on 113th St. Did you know Halloween was the 86th anniversary of his death? [What about the Plastic Animals?]

Photo credit: Me, for once. The view from my little bro’s new digs in Bushwick, a rooftop the size of a football field.

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Some stuff happening in the New York blogosphere outside the local East Village and contiguous neighborhoods downtown:

“A wonderful castle” on Staten Island, “built by beer and with German whimsy.” SPOILER ALERT: It later became a convent and burned down, as castle-convents built by beer are wont to do. [Ape Shall Not Kill Ape]

If you missed this week’s Poe in the Bronx screening, you can still catch an enhanced Poe exhibit at Museum of Bronx History. (The anniversary of Poe’s death came and went this week.) [Bronx News Network]

With Poe in mind, check out these Halloween events in the Bronx, for those wanting to plan ahead. [Bronx Mama]

Coney Island Eulogy? [Found in Brooklyn]

Photos of Harlem’s Peace Fish Market, circa 1938 [Harlem Bespoke]

At the Noguchi Museum in LIC, Queens, this Sunday: a Geology of Sculpture tour. Geologist Sidney Horenstein discusses the physical make-up of sculpture. Sunday at 3 p.m. [We Heart Astoria]

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As previously tweeted on @pwhny and @_waterman and @TeriTynes:

More here and here.

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