The East Village/Save the Village tour, starting this month, all of a sudden has a news peg. Hot new book is out this week about St. Mark's Place. Was excerpted in the New Yorker this week (with the requisite Fred W. McDarrah photo of St. Marks Place denizens in the 1960s http://www.newyorker.com/books/page-turner/the-many-lives-of-st-marks-place). Author Ada Calhoun also had an OpEd piece in the Sunday Times. And she is on the cover of the Village Voice. And...
Of course the book has plenty of McDarrah photos. One that is on this web site - but not in the book - was featured by Calhoun at an event at Cooper Union's Great Hall Monday night. The photo is of Jerry Rubin waving a machine gun on St. Mark's Place.
Sad to say I doubt a lot of the people at tonight's event knew who Jerry Rubin was. There were a lot of old timers there - store owners, junkies, musicians, characters, etc. But for better or (I say) worse, names like Jerry Rubin, the Village Voice or Beat poets don't resonate as much in today's youth culture as I think they should.
(Case in point: I had a cracked tooth pulled the other day. The man with the pliers was a younger guy from the San Francisco Bay area. We chatted about the usual things. Seems he had never heard of the City Lights bookstore WHICH IS IN SAN FRANCISCO, the Beat Generation literary movement or any of its poets, or the Village Voice newspaper. Yes he was a dentist. But a basic cultural education/background just isn't part of the social curriculum anymore it often seems.)
Anyway, Calhoun gave a delightfully brief and funny compact history of the street, then gave way to a band made up of some of her friends, including Beastie Boy Adam Horovitz and his wife Kathleen Hanna and downtown performers like Murray Hill and Bridget Everett, the bawdy cabaret singer.
They did some Ramones songs, King Missile's classic, "Detachable Penis" and Lydia Lunch's "Saint Marks Place." And some others I did not recognize.
Her young son Oliver joined the band briefly and she pointed out a lot of her friends and other people in the audience that helped her on the making of the book, including her dad, noted art critic Peter Schjeldahl. And Gloria S. McDarrah, who patiently went thru 50 years of St. Mark's Place photos last year for Calhoun to select from.
Anyway, but the book. Read it. And see it come to life by going on the East Village/Save the Village tour.