Thursday, June 23, 2011

20 years on St. Mark's Place

You can catch this exhibit by photographer Jesper Haynes starting tonight at Gallery Onetwentyeight, 128 Rivington St.

I planned on requesting a quick interview with Haynes... but decided to run an excerpt from his blog instead:

In 1986, I moved to my apartment on 90 St. Marks Place, in New York's East Village. It was above the St. Mark's Bar & Grill where the Rolling Stones had just filmed the video for "Waiting on a Friend". It was to be my home, and the backdrop for much of my photography, for the next 20 years.

In those days St. Marks was a rough place. It bustled with runaways and skate kids, with dealers and dime bag rappers and fabulously dressed low-lifes on their way to or from an after-hours club.

... however, life at St Marks began to change. The local fleabag movie house became a Gap clothing store. The Korean delis were replaced by Starbucks. Whole blocks were renovated and gentrified. St Marks was becoming hip. Rents began to rise and the artists, inevitably, started moving out.

My turn came in 2006 when my landlady, with whom I had developed a very close friendship, died. Her daughter inherited the building. Being a businesswoman, in a city that was now all about business, she saw the chance of higher rents and a different breed of renter. She duly gave us a three-month notice of eviction.

I still dream of that apartment and the intense, beautiful, often riotous, times I had there.
These photographs are an honest, spontaneous record of what I have lived and of the lives and loves for which my home in St. Marks became the setting.

[Jesper Haynes]

A few highlights from the week-long exhibit:
Opening Reception Thursday June 23 6-9 PM
Slide show, Book signing and Artist Q & A - Tuesday June 28 7 PM
Closing Party Thursday June 30 6-9 PM


Anonymous said...

Is that last frame a photo of Mike Bloomberg pissing on NY ?

John M said...

1986 St. Marks Pl. was rough? Well, I guess, and certainly compared to today. What a fine, insane place it was, though. Everyone has a different New York in their hearts and that's mine, the '85-'93 version. And I still miss Theatre 80's double bills every time I walk by there.

Scott said...

Here's to another 20 years of riotous times without any riots.

Marty Wombacher said...

That last photo is classic! I definitely will check out the exhibit, thanks for the post!

Vivienne said...

That last photo is epic. This sounds like an awesome exhibit. Thanks for the information!

esquared said...

no different than st. mark's 2006-2026
but on that last picture, you have a pink shirt, khaki cargo shorts, brown flip flop wearing dbag vomiting, the people around him are woo-woooing, the women are wearing mini-skirts and stiletto heels while texting/reading from their "digital life support" and the street will be littered with cupcake wrappers and froyo-cups...

Anonymous said...

is that LES JEWELS from way back/when ????

Anonymous said...

Theater 80! Now-- that's the ONLY part of the EV of yesteryear that's genuinely WORTH mourning.

The first time I wandered in --about 1981 or thereabout-- I caught a random double feature of Sunset Boulevard & All About Eve. "These Theater 80 movies are pretty GOOD!", thought I; too stupid to know that I'd had the good fortune of stumbling in upon a double-feature of two of the greatest movies ever made.

Tom said...

Maybe it's miscommunication or misunderstanding, but some of Jesper's written remembrance seems to editorially side with the gentrification that's taken place, e.g.:

"The local fleabag movie house became a Gap clothing store."

That "local fleabag movie house" was St. Marks Cinema. It was worn, but hardly "fleabag". Moreover, it provided a valued service. Typically, it showed double features -- two second run movies for a little more than half the price of a single first run movie. I used to go to it more frequently than any other theater in the City. To not reference it by name, but dismiss it as a "local fleabag movie house" is wrong. I'd take St. Marks Cinema over a Gap store every day of the week.

Little Earthquake said...

"...a city that was now all about business..."

New York has ALWAYS been about business, since the Dutch bought it from the Lenape. There just wasn't much investment in St. Mark's in the 70s and 80s. But let's not kid ourselves about the nature of man, and this city.

Incidentally, the building in question was also used for the cover art of Led Zeppelin's Physical Graffiti.

Homeboy Steve said...

Sorry I missed the show.
Does anyone know where I might find a picture of the blue neon St Mark's Bar and Grill sign that was on the northeast corner of St Mark's & 1s Ave ?

Dean said...

My friend lived in that same apartment right over the St Mark's Bar & Grill in probably 1982. So many memories of hanging out on his fire escape over St Mark's Place and drinking and smoking up before heading downstairs to the bar.

Anonymous said...

I lived on the third floor of 90 St. Mark's Place in 1985.
I was 23 years old.
Me and my two room mates were among the first wave of gentrification of the neighborhood. We were all writers.
One wrote for Playboy, another for an ad agency, and me for a trade magazine.
Unlike the punker squatters who lived on the top floor, we actually paid rent and had running water.
The people in the neighborhood hated us because we represented the change that pushed them out.
Hard to believe a guy who earned $14,000 a year as a writer for Sporting Goods Business magazine could represent an influx of money and higher rent.
Anyway, after working all day on Times Square in a suit and tie, I'd come back to the East Village and dress all in black to join the other creatures of the night.
The Tompkins Park Riots took place that year, when the homeless "tent city" was torn down by the police.
Downtown Beirut bar was in full swing, along with The Aztec, and Grassroots Tavern. The Holiday Cocktail Lounge was the epicenter of it all, with $1.25 top shelf drinks.
Many of the buildings on St. Mark's were boarded up and condemned.
"Liz and Ronnie" stood on the corner of 1st and St. Mark's selling herb...till Liz just disappeared one day...probably dead.
I basically lived on one piece of pizza a day since all of my money went to rent and subway tokens.
It was probably the most colorful time of my life.
On weekend nights I'd go to Baird Jones' Underground club because it had no cover...or to The Ritz to see the Ramones...or the Cat Club to see Circus of Power and Cycle Sluts from Hell.
My friends would come into the city to visit me...and their eyes would pop out of their heads at the sights.
One night a fight spilled out of the St. Mark's Bar & Grill below us.
A skinhead and a longhair hippie were fistfighting in the street. The crowd watched and egged them on.
When they tumbled to the pavement and the skinhead tried to grab the hippie's hair, an onlooker knocked his hand away to make sure it was a fair fight...and let them continue.
That was the kind of mindset that existed on those mean streets.
Rarely did we ever venture past Tompkins Park into Alphabet City.
At that time we knew it could very well be a one-way trip.
Except on New Year's 1985...when we went to The World nightclub on Avenue C and 2nd Street to see The Ramones. The Beastie Boys, then unknown, were the opening act.
It was a scene that cannot be described.