Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Crusty Row, now with a vacancy in Tompkins Square Park

[Photo by Melanie Neichin via East Village Corner from a few weeks ago]

This past weekend, a reader sent me an email asking what has happened to Crusty Row.

If you've walked through this section of Tompkins Square Park this spring, then you've probably noticed the area is mostly free of the usual summer travelers. (Bob Arihood had a post at Neither Neither More Nor Less on Monday titled Crustys : Rare Birds in T.S.P. These Days.)

Indeed. I've heard that the NYPD has been running anyone who looks as if they belong to this group out of the Park. There isn't any proof of this — just what some Park regulars have observed. (Or maybe the proof is that the Park is mostly traveler free.)

Colin Moynihan has noticed all this too, and checks in today with a story in the Times titled In East Village, Harbingers of Spring Are Missing.

He writes:

Their arrival in Tompkins Square Park has become a predictable harbinger of spring, a surviving custom in a neighborhood that has undergone various upheavals and changes over the past several decades.

But this year, they have not materialized. People have reported stray sightings of one or two visitors, but nothing like what the neighborhood has come to expect. No one knows if they are simply late this year or if, for some reason, they will not come at all. Either way, their absence has been conspicuous.

Moynihan quotes Chris Flash, who notes "The whole ecology of the neighborhood is out of whack." He also quotes Steven Hirsch, who created the crustypunks site. He "theorized that the visitors were steering clear of their usual haunt to avoid a blizzard of summonses that he said the police began issuing late last summer."

And there is LES Jewels, who provided a quote in rhyme:

"It's a park, it’s for all, for all to be,

and Tompkins Square now is just a memory,

it ain't like it used to be.

I'm sitting here in Tompkins Square,

drinking vodka like I do anywhere,

next thing you know you got a pair of cuffs on,

and those silver bracelets, they ain’t no fun."

Susan Stetzer says that locals didn't make a big deal about the travelers. "At least they are quiet," she says.

46 comments:

Uncle Waltie said...

What's a Susan Stetzer? Some new cocktail or something?

Anonymous said...

It's the economy, too. Even the crusties aren't making as much money as they used to from panhandling, mommy/daddy handouts, etc. these days.

Anonymous said...

Oh gosh how I miss these loud obnoxious creatures begging me for money and yelling at me if I don't give them change. How I yearn for the past days of increased drug use & crime. Sigh...

Anonymous said...

I'll take the travelers ANY DAY over Fratty McFratster and his merry band of wooers/barfers all dressed in matching bros and ho's gear from the mall.

glamma said...

please bring back the travlers. we need them here!
wish the legal system would focus on all the rich white collar criminals. then they could make some real money rather than harassing the downtrodden, criminalizing poverty and destroying cultural fabric of neighborhoods at the deepest possible level.

Mykola ( Mick) Dementiuk said...

So when the Crusties see that there is no more living Lower East Side welcoming them, and instead treating them with scorn and police arrests, are they traveling into Brooklyn and there finding a home for awhile?

Anonymous said...

Ironically, many of the crusties are from yuppie families. They are the rebels, and they usually do it for a few years then get back into regular society if they don't wind up on drugs. I went to school with a bunch of them that used to drive down to NYC every summer to sleep in the parks. When I see them, I see yuppies!

Anonymous said...

maybe they are down the jersey shore doin the games on the boardwalk in a way the park and the row are not the same

Debbie said...

Sure lots of them are black sheep from rich suburban families. But hard to believe most of them turn into yuppies with all the face tattoos and substance abuse issues.

Tom said...

Anyone who thinks these obnoxious punks are in any way good for the neighborhood needs to get over themselves.

Anonymous said...

This is great news! I loathe the "travelers", GOOD RIDDANCE!!! I.F.H.C

Anonymous said...

For once this is not a harbinger of the decline of the East Village, it's great news. I look forward to a summer where I'm not harassed or screamed at for change by someone leeching off their parents' trust fund for a few months.

Anonymous said...

leave it to evgrieve readers to defend and idealize these people.

Munk said...

Anyone who wants the crusties back is wack. It's like wishing that a bag of garbage be dumped on your bed. The longing for so-called "old New York City" is pretentious.

Marty Wombacher said...

Maybe they're all in jail for sitting at the chess tables and defiantly not playing a chess game.

Melanie said...

I spoke with this group of traveling individuals and they were respectful and nice.

Anonymous said...

They moved west. They are in and around Washington Square Park now. Last week they called us "yuppie mother f*ckers" when we wouldn't give them money, HA!
And the other night a couple of them took over the spot on W3rd & Sullivan, which is usually occupied by a friendly elderly bum that I buy beer for. Hope they didn't scare him away for good. I hate these little bastards, TSP can have them back.

Bowery Boogie said...

Crusties seem to be scattering. Spotting a bunch of groups on Delancey of late. They're never in one place for long.

blue glass said...

"I'll take the travelers ANY DAY over Fratty McFratster and his merry band of wooers/barfers all dressed in matching bros and ho's gear from the mall." anon 9:39
thanks anon. yet another wonderful choice for us: noisy bars or noisy druggies; crusties or frat boys.
garbage is garbage no matter what you call it.
why do we have to choose from different types of crap? why can't we have some folks that are respectful of others?
IT IS COOL to treat people the way you'd like to be treated.

Bayou said...

I have an enormous problem with the irresponsible romanticizing of the crusties. Picking up used syringes in the playground, in the grassy lawns of the park last summer -- lest they get into little feet or paws -- was sobering and maddening both.

Goggla said...

Maybe they finally grew up?

Jeremiah Moss said...

they've always been cool to me, unlike the Frat-bags and their teetering, shrieking girlfriends who treat everyone except their clones with disdain and worse.

for the two decades i've shared the sidewalks and park with them, the Crusties are quieter and more respectful by far.

David said...

i've never had a problem with these people, if they ask me for something i look them in the eye and speak without an attitude, it's either a yes or no and i've never been back sassed.

Anonymous said...

Please, there are still plenty of these degenerates in the EV. I step over them and their puke every morning. I wish the cops would really crack down and crack skulls.

Jeremiah Moss said...

i also don't understand how people keep saying Grieve's readers are "romanticizing" the crusties. where's the romantic or idealizing language? the only vaguely pro-crusty type of statement made here, again and again, is that they're more bearable than the fratty crowd.

i think this idea that crusties are romanticized is a romantic notion in itself.

Anonymous said...

Are they really more bearable?

They commit crimes against residents, leave their needles places, dirty the city with vomit and themselves, pick fights when you say no or when it suits them, and block the sidewalk. Quieter, maybe sometimes. At least the frat crowd is only on the weekends in bars and is easily avoidable.

Bayou said...

@Jeremiah. I AM a Grieve reader and my comment was directed at the NYT article, which reads, with its "adventurous tales of illicit rail travel," Jolly Roger flags and poetry by Jewels (!) like a Woody Guthrie song.

onemorefoldedsunset said...

Some around Union Square still. Pretty quiet.

Anonymous said...

You can tell the crusties from well-to-do and middle class families by their teeth. The ones who are in it temporarily have some amazing teeth. I am kind of jealous.

Jeremiah Moss said...

Bayou, understood. that is some romanticizing there in the NYT. but i have not seen it from commenters here, yet people keep saying so.

Uncle Waltie said...

I was gonna say something very profound, but then my Internet connection went down...or maybe I'm just too drunk.

Jeremy said...

I'd give them more respect if they didn't starve their dogs. Because they do, I wish nothing but bad things upon them.

Anonymous said...

I thought the crusties had moved to BillyBurg??

Anonymous said...

Two things:

1.) I've only ever found one needle in TSP. I walk my kid to school through it every day and we're in the playground all the time. I'm looking for the fuckers, too. I'm pretty sure that given all the entitled Yuppie parents (like me!) in the East Village, if junkies were leaving needles on the playground, you'd hear a lot more about it.

2.) When I was growing up in Chicago, there was always a pack of crusties around Belmont and Clark, by the open air alternamall there. We local blue collar punks despised them because they seemed all to be rich kids from Royal Oak, Michigan, but they were pretty fucked up. Their rich automotive executive daddies had done a number on their heads, even if they got to run the platinum card once in awhile, and while some might have been slumming tourists, most had serious mental health issues.

Anonymous said...

I hate it when I see them with their starving dogs. Just saw a few of them this weekend in the park on the corner of Second Avenue and 10th. No water for the poor dogs. I wish the police could just take these animals away from them. I suppose they'd just go out and get others, though.

Shawn Chittle said...

100% agreed they are quiet and respectful.

When I see some I ask "Are you hungry?" they say "Yes." Once or twice I do actually get a "No."

I goto Ray's and buy 'em some food. It helps Ray's, it helps the kids, but mostly... it helps me feel good that I'm helping someone who is less fortunate than I.

As I see them happily chow down, I walk away with a feeling that is indescribable.

Anonymous said...

And why are so many of their pups pregnant? It's so irresponsible and I hate to see a pregnant puppy looking like she's about to die of heat exhaustion on the sidewalk next to her disinterested owner. I love pittys, but dogs need discipline and I've often felt that certain crusty dogs would take a nip out of me given half a chance, because they have not been properly trained and they live on the streets which is dangerous, making them defensive.

I've never had anything but pleasant interactions with crusties. I do feel for these kids -- money can do a lot, obviously, but if your parents throw you away or don't love you, I don't care how rich you are. That shit hurts. But they in turn should be better parents to their dogs. And maybe lay off the drugs and booze before it's too late.

john penley said...

THE POLICE got a tough guy who many people know and he is a friend of mine to run these kids out of the park with a suggestion that they start hanging out in Union Square or get their asses kicked. I didn't like this and told him so when he told me. He thought he was gonna get special treatment from the cops but as soon as he cleared the park they busted him and he is probably going back to Attica where he has done a lot of time. This is not the first time cops have used illegal means to get punks, crusties and homeless people out of TSP. This action on the cops part is ILLEGAL and should be investigated. If I made an agreement and a conspiracy to have people assaulted for any reason I would be arrested. Many people know the guy the 9th Pct. made the agreement with and since they screwed him in the end the DA should talk to him and investigate this. POLICE STATE IN EFFECT AT TSP !

Anonymous said...

good to see mr. penley back again it is good when he has the GUTS to say what is what at the end of the day who's park our park.....

chris flash said...

AnonymASS 5:00, describing crusties, says:

"They commit crimes against residents, leave their needles places, dirty the city with vomit and themselves, pick fights when you say no or when it suits them, and block the sidewalk."

This describes the FRAT CROWD precisely, and they're not just running around on weekends.

You may not like the look or smell of the crusties, but they are infinitely MORE bearable than annoying bar hopping hipsters, slumming yuppies, and monied transients like trust fund frat rats.

As with any ecosystem, with the proper number of crusties and so-called "undisrables," we can keep the balance of yuppies and TRUE undesirables in check.

poopy pants said...

Uncle Waltie:

A Susan Stetzer is a political appointee who keeps members of the board terrorized by her abuse of power.

Among her other abuses, she prevents venues that that have violated no laws from getting liquor licenses, yet she fast tracks board approval for licenses for venues owned by her allies and her allies' relatives.

Her come-uppance is not far away!

Anonymous said...

I like Uncle Waltie!

chris flash said...

Right on, Poopy Pants!

A Susan Stetzer is a political creature using "quality of life" issues in order to garner political favors and chits that she can call in later. From what we are learning about her, she keeps her administrative job at the office of CB3 (she's not even a member!) because she's got dirt on the other board members. She's the J. Edgar Hoover of "Community" Board Three!!

Ken from Ken's Kitchen said...

I ride past them sleeping in the mornings along the Greenway bike path. Do they winter in Florida?

Anonymous said...

i clearly don't have the background many of you have with susan stetzer but i called her office once to complain about that bogus adopt a cat place on 10th just off avenue a and she called me right back and seemed genuinely concerned. as it turned out the lowlife who was running the place moved his scam joint (i think down to houston) but not before he got an earful from me personally about his treatment of the animals in his care.

Anonymous said...

Yes there are some kids that are assholes, and there are some kids that beat and starve their dogs. But let me tell you those kids get shit from everyone else and their dogs get taken away from them from others in the community.
btw no one left we all just moved to 2nd ave. And most of us are not rich kids from the suburbs and those that are are mostly chill and do this to ride the rails not to make you feel good or bad about them.
And yes they did get those skinheads to kick us all out because they're big and it just isn't worth getting beat up and robbed for a bench