DT 500 MAG IS RAMBLING DOWN THE GROUNDS IN ALPHABET CITY, WITHOUT OUR LUGGAGE, HEAVILY HUNGOVER, MISSING A FRIEND WHOM WE LOST BY TRANSFERS SOMEWHERE BACK IN EUROPE. FILLED WITH LIGHT EXHAUST, WE CHECK IN AT 6TH STREET, AVENUE B, NYC. IT WILL KEEP US LEGAL FOR THIS SUMMER. WE ARE MEETING THE OWNER’S FRIEND OF THE “AIRBNB” APARTMENT, WHO HAS THE KEYS. WE FOUND OUT LATER THAT HE APPARENTLY WORKS AS A JOURNALIST AT “NY TIMES,” AND THE WAY HE’S LOOKING AT US TELLS US HE’S FEELING RATHER SCEPTICAL… TWO GUYS COMING ALL THE WAY FROM EUROPE TO STAY FOR ALL THE SUMMER IN NYC – WITH ONLY A SMALL HANDBAG, BOTH WEIRD AND SWEATY …HE WAS DEFINITELY THINKING SOMETHING…
WE COULDN’T CARELESS! AFTER ALL, WE ARE FINALLY IN THE EAST VILLAGE, NYC. WE’RE FEELING TOO CURIOUS AND THIRSTY TO CARE ABOUT SOMEONE’S DOWNER. BY PARKING US ALL IN OUR NEW RETRO DESIGNED APARTMENT AND MAKING A QUIK-STUDENT-STYLE REFRESHMENTS, WE ARE ALREADY ROLLING DOWN THE STREETS!
LET’S ROCK AND ROLL THE VILLAGE IS BUMBLING IN OUR BODIES!
Explore any corner of the EAST VILLAGE, and you will find yourself overwhelmed. It doesn’t mean how many times you come here, it’s never the SAMO. NYC is more magic for us, it is dipping you in an alter-space. It is still about a song, or a novel, or any other thousands of tales. Mate Freddie Mercury wrote in his lyrics in Bohemian Rhapsody “..is this the real life, is this just fantasy?..” – after all – the East Village is definitely the one. The Alphabet City, St. Marks NYC – is without a doubt neighborhood that will make you choose the former option.
Our blocks around Tompkins Square Park has seen its share of immigrants, artists, musicians, drug dealers, beatniks, hippies, anarchists, punks – and now – US again…
With people buzzing in and out of crossing streets, the whole Village is veritably breathing, moaning and sweating harshly, it is so f**** hot here in summer! Waiting for a friend, you can end up chatting with a random lady walking her dog, and she will hardly stop to tell you stories about the time she used to shag Jimi Hendrix. The bum lying on the ground will ask you for a cigarette and, as thanksgiving, tell you she once ended up in a cat-fight with Patti Smith in a bar around the corner. Meeting a drag artist, in the local Deli’s, will offer you a free blow-job. The real community!
The streets are filled with vast New York-style assemblages; fire escapes and the sidewalks are all dirty historical grounds. Stepping them, it will feel like endlessly filthy red carpets with stains of old piss, puke and the worse. Among the rippling traffic lights and the rooftops just barely touching the skies’ graceful presence, there are crowded bars, lively restaurants, and quick-closing you salesmen. But still, the streets are charmingly cozy with peaceful community gardens, filled with fresh vegetables and fruits, just a stone’s throw away from the skyscrapers of Downtown N.Y.C. Every single meter of the village adds its own mark of bohemian spirit to the city’s I.D. Some parts can seem sadly gentrified, but still, the spirit is burning. Sometimes it appears as the God or the Devil themselves have a residency in local illuminating penthouses. You are now on Manhattan’s promised land and just right here were made a lot of creative dreams. For some, it ends before it’s even started. Still, a high number of creative people have sprung out of the East Village and up into the sky.
Our borders are 14th Street and Gramercy to the North, 4th Avenue and Greenwich Village to the West, East Houston Street, and the Lower East Side to the South, and the East River to the East.
Formerly shelter to many immigrants the East Village developed a new identity after the beatniks moved into the area in the 1950s. The city was trashed because of the local economic disgrace and urban decay. Landlords had to lower their prices, so a lot of artists, musicians and creatives saw the golden possibility, moved in and marked their territory.
Take a sure walk to Clayton’s Gallery and Outlaw Museum at Essex Street, only he who owns the only archive of L.E.S. history. He has unique pieces there- A legend alive!
Anyway, the East Village continued to grow to the rear of underground movements. A lot of bars’ ideas were popping up on the streets. Famous bands found their scene right in Village. The “Ramones” performed their first gig at the legendary club “CBGB,” on the Bowery. Debbie Harry, Patti Smith, Mick Jagger among many others were buzzing out here! Artists such as J. M. Basquiat and Andy Warhol made art installations in the neighborhood. A photographer Nan Golding also resided in the area.
DOWNTOWN 500 NYC
WAS MADE JUST HERE
The area was a trash hype. Back then, run-down buildings, prostitutes, drug dealers, punks, bums, streets full of shit and piss were the norm rather than the exception. You could be robbed or raped on your way home…or even at home… The crime was part of the dark soul of the East Village back then…
Watch “Rent” musical if you feel like learning more about the whole vibe – a movie inspired by The East Villagers – where you can taste the survivor character of the area and look into the dirty experience of local creatives who lived and died here. The Blaaank City.
Today, the Village has quite a consumerized infrastructure, money is polishing the city to death, there are offers of conceptual restaurants, uncontemplated cafés, and weird boutiques. The East Village is a sought after area to live. Showcases many hidden treasures such as charming community gardens, vintage stores, and bars such as the “Coyote Ugly Saloon” from the film with the same title or Katz Deli from «When Harry met Sally», famous for the scene where Meg Ryan faked her orgasm.
The cause of its central location between Lower and Midtown Manhattan, it’s a great place to stay during your stay in ”Nu Yawk.” Taxis are quite cheap but as sneaky as London’s drivers, not so rude though as back in the Kingdom. Biking is more convenient and also lets you see the city on another level. Manhattan is just an island and not as geographically significant as everyone makes it out to be. There are 3 subway lines running along the borders of the East Village, which help you get around the city with almost no effort at all. The buses can be a great option as well.
If your tongue is itching for Art Talking, there is a lot of local “Art Chatting Spaces,” lose yourself around mate; galleries, New Museum of Contemporary Art is just around the corner on Bowery, Kraine Theatre or Theatre 80 St Marks, a lot of design stores and other concepts. Check the scene on the web, street papers, or it always works to talk to the local people who occasionally can lead the projects themselves. Downtown is conveniently small and cute, everybody kinda sees everybody and is curious about new babes! New Yorkers are real folk.
The East Village also is known for its small conceptual shops and vintage clothing stores. Amen! There is plenty of them everywhere. For old knock–out designer clothes, go to “Tokio 7” on 7th Street & 1st Avenue – fun! “Buffalo Exchange” on 11th & 1st is another hyped vintage store that won’t immediately empty your wallet (unless you go crazy in there – as you just might). Fans of the punk rock should definitely check out “Trash and Vaudeville” at St Mark’s Place, talk to the owner – he can show you “tails and horns.” After all, he does own the most famous rock n’ roll clothing store in the world, which also happens to be a real “rock n’ roll heaven.”
The main girl at Bowery is Patricia Field at Bowery 306. She, with her two rock star poodles, is often in the store herself. If you’ve seen “Sex and the City” more than twice – you will recognize the Field babe as the show’s costume designer. If you feel like bubbling and share- she is the right one to do it with like she quickly did with us, Patricia can invite you to her private room and tell you some about her making it all. If not her, there is always some stars around anyway. Watch out!
There are legends all over the place, find a local guide, there are even more treasures on this ground!
Hungry? There are three fantastic food markets in the area which you can use if you feel like cooking yourself a nice meal one evening. We did it once, we burned it all, lol, so we did a restaurant again. But in these markets, you can buy organic food and products. The most famous is, of course, the Union Square Greenmarket, but the Tompkins Square Greenmarket and St Mark’s Church Greenmarket are also fabulous! There is grocery- and liquor stories at almost every Avenue, as well as Delies, to serve you around the clock.
The East Village is essentially heaven for coffee addicts like we are. Head to “Everyman Espresso” on 13th Street for delicious espresso and to “Ninth Street Espresso” on 9th & Avenue C or try “Abraço” on 7th & 1st just for a chantilly cup of any kind.
For something different, try a delicious bubble tea at the take-out café “TKettle” on St Mark’s Place. Start at “MUD” at 307 E 9th St., for a great NYC brunch. A hippie kind of a treasure trove place with a genuine flirting people on the sides. Go to “Schiller’s Liquor Bar” at 131 Rivington St., which is a really charming and casual neighborhood restaurant with a continental menu, even its bathroom became a local attraction thanks to its chic design. A nice one. This bar is owned by a pretty old school guy named McNally who also started up eminent “Pravda” bar and “Balthazar Restaurant” This man knows how to do it, take a fit talk to him if you have a chance.
If you want to test local Japanese rock and roll bonanza dining which is quite recognize in the area- try “Kenka” on 25 St. Marks Place. Rich food, Japanese draft, sake’s heat, punk interior and kitschy people running around! Go to “Lucien” for dining and winning classy style, it’s a French bistro cuisine with traditional gems like escargots de Bourgogne, modules mariniére traditionally and Marseille-style bouillabaisse. They also have a full wine list, and you just might end up sitting on a table next to some A-list actor or model. If you are kinda bored, take a move and be seen, everything is evident in this place, and in Downtown in general, the owner of this home will notice you, and you might get to know him and his A-list friends a lot better, like we did, cheers Lucien J.!
You can walk to the jungle of Tompkins Square Park by day. There are often local live music performances in old school traditions. The park has a substantial history of well-known names using the area with both beauty and beasty purposes. If you get tired of the music, definitely stop by our favorite “Miss Lily´s,” an irie Jamaican restaurant and bar in the hood, with a exotic choice of the draft ( try a “Blue Moon” beer draft, it’s a mead ! ). If you want to meet real Alpha citizens, this is the place to chat – “Miss Lily’s” took over a legendary café called ”7A” which was a gen spot on the block in the 90s. A waiting stuff from the covers. Today, you can eat a delicious plate of native Jamaican food here, sit next to decent celebs like Edward Enninful or Lady Gaga, as we did– all at 132 W. Houston Street. A real local peace-place!
If desserts are on your green lust-list, head to “Spot Dessert Bar” on St Mark’s Place or “Chikalicious Dessert Bar” on 10th Street. “Paradis To-Go” on 11th & 4th has the best tiramisu in the area. Really a delicious fat gain before a wet night out…
”Drugs, Sex and Rock’N ’Roll” is the theme? Explore happy-hours and let out your spirit. Every street here is filled with bars and restaurants – one better than the other. Still, all of them are pretty good.
“The Blind Barber” – at 339 E 10th St. If you’ve arrived at this address looking for a drink and think you’ve mistakenly walked into a barbershop, easy mate; you’re in the right place. Walk in and past the salon to find one of New York’s coolest speak-easies, with seasonal drinks and a crowd always ready to party. Remember to check out the dates to see your fave party plan. NYC is not a Berlin, you can miss for real, lol.
Once you’ve progressed beyond the streets modest awning, you’ll find yourself en route to the underground lair of “Jimmy’s No. 43”. Here, the warm atmosphere will engulf you as your eyes gaze from wall to wall admiring (or questioning) the eccentric decor and antlers dangling throughout.
“The Pyramide club” at 101 Av. A, can be a fun place to take a drink as well or here could emerge a good bash too. It is an E. V. oldie and indeed a place where anything can happen. We reached some nude artistic performances – even RuPaul on the floor. Shantay – You stay!
“Niagara” bar is a legend as well, 112 Av. A. Good vibe, excellent music, on weekdays the crowd is laid-back and quiet, but on weekends it tends to be a bit crowded and loud. Cool if you’re in the right mood. If you’re not, though, “Miss Lily’s,” as mentioned earlier, is just on the other side of the road.
However – there are plenty of bars around. With just a small dose of patience and wanderlust, you’ll find the perfect one for you in no time! East Villagers are relaxed, conceptual and very social people – pick up a talk with basically anyone friendly, and there is a good possibility they will invite you to them and show you other high places. Just find your flow and explore, the city is right on your doorstep, it’s always the right time to rock the night away!
Photo: Andreas Rod