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.
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.