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east village

Old/New Across from Artist's Club

Above: A row of art galleries on E. 10th Street between 3rd and 4th Avenues, May 25, 1960. Below, same location in March 2016. Photos © Estate of Fred W. McDarrah

Above: A row of art galleries on E. 10th Street between 3rd and 4th Avenues, May 25, 1960. Below, same location in March 2016. Photos © Estate of Fred W. McDarrah

10thSt.JPG

  That things ain't what they used to be is a song that most people are perhaps bored of hearing.

  But it is an important song.

  The point of all the Save the Village tours is that New York - and everywhere else - needs to learn to strike a balance between progress and preservation. You be the judge: Which version of East 10th St. is preferable? One has decorative stoops, big glass windowed businesses that seem inviting and some personality.

  The other version has uniform brick walls.

  The weather is turning and it is a great time to schedule a walking tour where you can see first hand the changes to various streets and buildings and shake off those winter blahs.

 

Reuben. Not the sandwich.

61 Fourth Avenue today.

61 Fourth Avenue today.

  The Reuben Gallery was a pioneering gallery of Happenings, events and new media art that ran from 1959 to 1961.

  Opened by Anita Reuben in the summer of 1959, at 61 Fourth Avenue, between 9th and 10th Sts., the first public event was Allan Kaprow’s 18 Happenings in 6 Parts (October 4–10, 1959), which inaugurated the term “Happenings.”

  Reuben’s husband, Max Baker, an advertising executive, saw potential in the word.

  The building - now likely to be converted to.... wait for it.... luxury loft condos, is part of the Artist's World tour. Come on the tour to hear more.

St. Marks is the Place

Adam Horovitz (R) and wife Kathleen Hanna at book party for new book chronicling history of St. Mark's Place

Adam Horovitz (R) and wife Kathleen Hanna at book party for new book chronicling history of St. Mark's Place

Cover of "St. Mark's Is Dead," by Ada Calhoun

Cover of "St. Mark's Is Dead," by Ada Calhoun

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.

Ada Calhoun on the Cooper Union Great Hall stage with a Fred W. McDarrah image of Jerry Rubin on St. Mark's Place on the screen behind her.

Ada Calhoun on the Cooper Union Great Hall stage with a Fred W. McDarrah image of Jerry Rubin on St. Mark's Place on the screen behind her.

(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.

The St. Mark's Zeroes.

The St. Mark's Zeroes.

Calhoun and son Oliver with her parents right behind her

Calhoun and son Oliver with her parents right behind her