From a feature today titled "Fixture of Avenue A Faces the Threat of a Padlock."
A few excerpts:
Opposite Tompkins Square Park, the usual sort of post-midnight gathering was taking place on a recent evening inside a cramped storefront with tile floors and a worn blue counter.
Kevin Mag Fhloinn was there, talking about a probability system he invented, which makes a spin of the roulette wheel so inviting it barely feels like a bet. Mitch Green told how he once tried to interest Rocky Graziano in buying a neon sign. And there was a smiling man who introduced himself as Thrilly-D; he plunked a large order of Belgian fries onto the counter, and, with beery breath, invited his new comrades to dig in.
It was just past two in the morning and steel gates rattled on Avenue A as neighboring stores locked up for the night. Mr. Alvarez peered through a window as a police car sped past. And Mr. Green reminisced about the neighborhood in the mid-1970s, when the streets were so desolate that you couldn't find a cab.
"When there was nothing else around," he said, "Ray was around."
[Photo: Michelle V. Agins/The New York Times]