Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Out and About in the East Village

In this weekly feature, East Village-based photographer James Maher provides us with a quick snapshot of someone who lives and/or works in the East Village.

By James Maher
Names: Alan and Beverly Lefkowitz
Occupations: Psychotherapists
Location: Tompkins Square Park
Time: 2 pm on Friday, May 9

Alan: I’m from 10th Street between A and B. I was born across the street. My grandmother bought this building about 100 years ago. Two siblings live in the building now. Five generations in the same building.

My grandparents came from Austria. We’re Jewish. They bought a building and had a grocery up the block but didn’t talk much about it. We’ve all gone to the same grammar school on 12th Street between B and C. My grandson goes there now.

What’s funny for me is seeing all the different stores. The corner store on Avenue B and 10th street used to be the candy store and the bookie. The architecture in the area is somewhat similar but the stores are completely different.

In the [family] building most of the people I grew up with are still there. It’s mostly the same. On one level the area is nicer but on another you can’t afford to live here. It’s hard to keep the building up with rent control. I hate what’s going on here, but when I grew up you wanted to get out of here.

I grew up with gangs. You couldn’t go in the Park at night and you couldn’t walk down the street. You were careful and had eyes in the back of your head. You couldn’t walk down certain blocks. I almost got killed a couple times by gangs. I got beat up and robbed. They had knives. There were a lot of drugs, especially on the corner of 7th Street and Avenue B, but the thing that saved this block was that it was the bus route, so there were no cars parked during the days. It was one of the few streets that you didn’t have drug dealing.

We’re both psychotherapists. I grew up in an Orthodox family and decided that I didn’t believe in God when I was 5, so I had a lot of conflict with my family. I left home when I was 16. I knew I was crazy. I think I read all of Freud when I was 12 or 13 trying to figure out what was wrong with me, which was really terrifying.

James Maher is a fine art and studio photographer based in the East Village. Find his website here.


Anonymous said...

I stopped believing in god around 7 years old and there is nothing crazy about me.

Anonymous said...

Damn if my grandma had bought a building here a hundred years ago, I would've long since cashed out, collected my twenty million or so bucks and moved to a beach.

Goggla said...

Another interesting perspective on neighborhood history. Thank you for sharing.

The Philosophical Zombie said...

Beverly? What say you?