Friday, May 21, 2010

Pig Sty

On a warm weekend night, at the corner of 2nd Ave. and St. Mark's, an older lady carrying groceries walks through the crowds of screamers, looks at the trash on the sidewalk and sighs, shakes her head.

"It's a pig sty," she says. "I moved to this neighborhood in 1967 and it was never, in all those years, such a pig sty."


Illustration by Victor Kerlow

"Even in the 70s?" I ask.

"No, in the 70s it was totally different. It was like after dark on Wall Street. So quiet. And clean. And then NYU came in and all these fast-food restaurants. Somewhere in the past ten years or so, boom! All these people showed up. And now it's a pig sty."

The light changes. We start walking.

"Eh, maybe I'm just getting old and cranky," she says.

"I'm getting old and cranky, too," I tell her.

"Well, then," she smiles, touching my arm, "Here's to the old and crankies!"


Note: This is the first in what may or may not become a series of true vignettes with original illustrations by the artist Victor Kerlow, whom I interviewed here.

18 comments:

Ken Mac said...

hear hear!

EV Grieve said...

More please!

Karate Boogaloo said...

Lets start a band called the Old & Crankies.

Anonymous said...

Remember the old "2nd Avenue Griddle" ?? It was right there on the NW corner of 2nd and St. Marks Pl...back in the 50's-60's.

The Ancient said...

Great post -- more vignettes, please.

P.S. Neighborhoods are always changing. Back in the 19th century, when my grandmother was a child, she would go out in the morning and roll her hoop around the northern part of Washington Square. A line of mostly Irish policemen would stretch across the square, keeping the poor children to the south side of the park. Occasionally, however, a derelict would slip through to sleep on one of the benches on the north side. At which point she was sometimes known to break into song: "Sixty cats, sixty rats, sixty dirty Democrats."

(Bear in mind that the politics of the two parties were very different in the 1880s.)

Melanie said...

Nice piece.

Bowery Boogie said...

like the feature.

BrooksNYC said...

Ever older,
Never crankier!

Barbara Hanson said...

A couple of years ago in the West Village, an older woman asked for my help crossing the street. She complained about the tourists, "They act like they've never seen buildings before," then said, "Maybe my friends were right when they said, 'Brenda, you'll hate it in New York.'"
I asked how long ago that was. She thought for a moment, then looked a bit startled when she told me, "Forty years."

amgphoto said...

Yes, here's to being old and cranky!

Anonymous said...

Nonsense, I was living in the East Village in the 1980s and it was a pig sty then if not more so. All along 2nd ave people sold junk and stolen goods and there were always the same amount of fast food joints and NYU entitled brats. My friends who lived on the West side then called the East Village "Dirty Land."

Caleo88 said...

Excellent Jeremiah.
To Anon. 2:16...Yes it was dirtier and rougher in the early 90's, but the junk sellers didn't usually appear until after dark. Does anyone remember back in the old days when people would line St. marks with folding tables and chairs all the way from 3rd ave. to at least 2nd ave. and sell all manner of used goods and handmade crafts. I had a friend who set up shop every friday night and he'd sell old pornos and his poetry.
Then Giuliani time cleared all the hawkers away.

fifilaru said...

I lived there in the 70s and 80s. It was a sty then too. The garbage swirled around one's ankles while walking. I thought it was kind of amazing how much garbage there was. I think time fogs things over and we remember things as we wanted them to be.

Jeremiah Moss said...

thanks guys. i'll plan to do more of these with Victor. and if anybody's got some good vignettes of your own, like these from readers...

http://vanishingnewyork.blogspot.com/2009/09/mars-invasion.html

http://vanishingnewyork.blogspot.com/2009/09/b-pizza-bagel.html

...please send them in.

Nayantara said...

Nice drawings.

Anyone remember Walter Gurbo's drawing room on the back of the Voice?

This kind of reminds me of it, in spirit, not in style...

Goggla said...

Cool, yes, let's have a series!

James Taylor said...

This reminded me of a conversation I once had with an artist named Jeff late one night at Veselka on Second Avenue. He'd lived in the East Village since the 60s and said that in 1978 on a Saturday night you could stand on the corner of St Mark's Place and Second Avenue and maybe see one other person pass by, invariably a man walking his dog.

I think the changes we complain about have been slowly happening for a long time. It's only in recent years that they've accelerated to such a ridiculous rate.

Anonymous said...

The 2nd Avenue Griddle appears in some shots taken from across the street in the barber shop in an episode of "Naked City" - "Man Who Bit a Diamond in Half". There is a scene shortly after in a diner, - don't know if it is the 2nd Ave. Griddle, or not, but if they were shooting across the street, it would make sense to shoot in there.