Thursday, December 6, 2007
Years ago, Romy Ashby was walking down Bleecker Street when she was nearly run over by a woman on a bicycle. That woman was Liza Condon, daughter of jazzman Eddie Condon, and from that near-collision came a friendship that Romy says was "like falling into a bucket of honey. I was introduced to everyone—Ira Cohen, Gregory Corso, Judith Malina.” And so Goodie was born.
Goodie magazine, edited by Romy Ashby and published by Foxy Kidd, is an old-fashioned zine, saddle-stitched and printed on real paper. Each issue features an in-depth interview with a single New York personality. Most of the subjects are older people because, as Romy told me over sandwiches at La Taza de Oro, one of her Chelsea neighborhood's last surviving Latin diners, "Older people have better stories and more to say. They’re more interesting than younger people. In your twenties, you shouldn’t have to worry about being interesting, you should just focus on being interested.”
Romy at The Golden Cup
The Goodies include poets, photographers, an octogenarian Chinese opera star, Debbie Harry’s voice teacher, a Lower East Side mystic, and (my favorite) a little gray cat named Hijinx who lives above the sideshow at Coney Island.
“Hijinx is our only non-human Goodie,” Romy explained. “We were interested in her for her involvement with a gang of cats who were implicated in the murder of a New York Aquarium penguin. But, like anyone with a dicey background, she wasn’t talking, so we interviewed the sideshow people. When you visit Hijinx and she comes out of her hiding place, it’s like being greeted by Gloria Swanson. She’s so regal.”
I asked Romy if she thought Hijinx was truly involved in the penguin murder. She said, “According to Serpentina of the sideshow, not only was Hijinx capable of it, she gave the order. She’s the boss of the gang that lives under the Cyclone. After the murder, the aquarium supposedly hired its own hitman and one of the cats ended up in the shark tank. Allegedly.”
Hijinx and Foxy on Halloween: photo by Romy
As Romy and Foxy have published Goodie after Goodie, they’ve noticed a trend: Most everyone has talked about how “New York is being chopped down around them.” In the face of this destruction, the Goodie archive has formed a kind of storehouse of cultural memories that holds the vanishing city—and mourns for it. Romy notes that the city has been constantly changing—for the worse—and sees intrinsic value in expressing grief for it.
“If you were told that all your friends were dying, wouldn’t you feel sad? Wouldn’t you want to sit by their bedsides and tell them how much you love them? That’s what’s happening in New York. Of course we should lament its passing.”
Get your Goodies at: