Thanks to reader Andy Reynolds for sending in this music video from 1984: "In the Evening" by Sheryl Lee Ralph.
It begins in a graffiti- and trash-strewn Astor Place subway station, where a bag lady dressed in pink chiffon and cat-eye glasses is defending a precious box of red shoes from a pair of thugs who wake her from her cardboard bed.
After fighting them off, she emerges to Astor Place, passes the old newsstand recently replaced, and heads down St. Mark's. Outside the vanished Dojo, she digs through the trash and finds an image of her other, more glamorous self--the woman she becomes "in the evening."
I ate many meals from Dojo's, but commenter Flower Power at NYPL recalls in the 1960s when it was "an ice cream store that sold treats with drug names like Panama Red or Acapulco Gold ice cream. Kids showed up with dreams in their eyes and safely slept on the sidewalk lined up like sardines."
From Dojo, the bag lady hustles past the former All-Craft Foundation (once the Dom and Electric Circus), a "resource for people in recovery" from drugs, with its distinctive stairs painted with warnings: NO ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES, NO POT SMOKING.
The All-Craft disappeared in 2000, stranding "hundreds of people who relied daily on the center for sobriety meetings, support, and community. Among them are an impressive blend of punk-rock stylists and senior citizens, Wall Street risers, and down-on-their-luck drifters."
Today it's a strip mall with a Chipotle, Supercuts, and luxury, bamboo-floored lofts.
From there, the bag lady runs to her crappy apartment in burnt-out Alphabet City. "New York," she sings, "life in the city can be so hard."
In her squat, she transforms into a sequined lady of the night. The dance sequence ensues. In the end, she awakens to daylight in an empty, echoing Times Square that is nearly unrecognizable. The famous Bond clothing store is still there--with a GOING OUT OF BUSINESS banner hanging on its face.
The disco lady turns back into a bag lady and scurries away, into the lost city, to struggle through another day in that tough town.