Astor Place Soothed My Soul Today.

My work has been taking me into the neighborhood of my old stomping ground of the East Village lately. It has me an emotional wreck some of the time seeing many of the landmarks of my life knocked down and turned into glass and steel. I know the East Village has been an alcoholic Disneyland with all the bars that the NYU kids have been flocking to for the past twenty years or so, but it somehow has retained a flavor until the last couple years. I actually lived on St. Marks Place briefly in 1984, when there used to be more Ukrainian businesses and that guy John Spacely otherwise known as Gringo (once immortalized on a mural the building at the start of St. Marks Place) used to constantly be roaming the block in his frilly shirts. I was a young punk and used to spend my nights hanging out in Tompkins Square Park and going to shows and odd performance events in abandoned buildings and after hours around Avenues B & C. One of my favorite places to go was a place called 8 B.C (8th Street between B & C) anybody out there remember it? It was common to see Quentin Crisp, Allen Ginsberg, Jack Smith, Dee Dee Ramone, Richard Hell, ANDY WARHOL! showing up in the weirdest places at the weirdest times. I am so grateful to have experienced that. There are not many of people of that ilk around anymore. Mostly because back then it was slightly less difficult to be an artist and live here, Berlin wasn't as much of a seriously realistic option as it is now. The only one around out of that bunch now is Richard Hell and I actually did see him in that neighborhood two years ago looking healthy. He must have a rent controlled apartment. I am digressing again, I am in such a melancholy mood these days. Just so sick of hearing about and seeing things disappear in the name of "progress".

Anyway, I got my haircut at Astor Place Hair today and that made me happy. They haven’t been at street level for quite some time but they've got their own world going on in the basement below. There has to be at least fifty barbers operating out of that place. And the energy is pure old school New York. Brisk yet friendly, just how I like it. I used to get my hair buzzed off there back in the day, I had never thought of going there now that my hair is longer but I needed a trim and as going to a salon would kill me this month I popped into Astor on a tip from a friend that they would do a passable job.

Ladies, a beauty tip from FIB, go see Suzy at Astor Place Haircutters, she is a miracle worker. For 16 bucks she will, as she told me "make you beautiful". She is also is an awesome colorist if that is what you need.

Just keep in mind that you are in a real barbershop atmosphere with no Aveda products being used or for sale. There is no smoke and mirrors at Astor Place. Just the basics and I witnessed many a fantastic hair transformation, it was fun to sit there and take it all in.

Since I am talking about the East Village I have to mention this blog that I love and also hate. Jeremiah's Vanishing New York. I hate it because it is documenting the death of Manhattan but I love it because he is not letting it pass by silently. I mourn every time I read it, seriously.

Today he is pissed at the Toll Brothers, they've got a building on 3rd Avenue that blocks the familiar view of the Chrysler building that you would see when you would walk uptown. Bastards. Check out Jeremiah's commentary and photo of some cheap fraying laminate in their NEWLY BUILT lobby. I guess some of those things they say about the Toll Brothers are true!

*Photo courtesy of New York Daily Photo. Next time I better remember to bring my camera!


Anonymous said...

I don't know if I ever went to 8BC. I spent quite a bit of time at King Tut's Wah Wah Hut, Pyramid, and Save the Robots. And the bar at the National Ukrainian Home where 11:00 turned into 2:00 in ten minutes.

Xris (Flatbush Gardener) said...

We were neighbors!

I lived on East 3rd Street, across the street from the Hell's Angels, during the 1980s. That's where I lived when I was a member of the BackRoom BBS, which I wrote about in "Back in the Day" and read at yesterday's Blogade.

Strange, these circles.

Lisanne McT said...

It was great to meet you yesterday Xris!! And that was a really interesting story, I actually had read it already on your blog!

I'm finding as I get older I am meeting more people that I have some sort of connection too, from all the different circles I've run in through the years.I guess it's the law of averages.

I had a friend who used to live in the building next to the Hell's Angels, I think the school was on the other side, no? Back when i was an obnoxious child who really should of been in doing my homework!

The NY TImes City Room called me an "80's throwback" today.

Is that a compliment or an insult? !


Alex said...

Great shot. Love the red,white and blue. Great call out to the old school New York places.

Urban Studies 6 said...

this was a pretty good read.. (kinda reminds of me nick and nora).. and i really wish tht st.marks was still like that now... unfortunately it has gotten really trendy..and a bit over rated.. anyway i wish u'd check out my blog .. its about public, and private spaces in astor.. and please comment..