Sunday, December 28, 2014

A 1980s 'Night Walk' in downtown NYC

[Screengrab from the "Night Watch" trailer]

The Times has a feature today on Ken Schles, who spent part of the 1980s living and taking photographs in the East Village.

He now has a follow-up to his 1988 book "Invisible City" titled "Night Walk."

Here's a description of the book:

Schles revisits his archive and fashions a narrative of lost youth: a delirious, peripatetic walk in the evening air of an irretrievable downtown New York as he saw and experienced it. Night Walk is a substantive, intimate chronicle of New York's last pre-Internet bohemian outpost, a stream of consciousness portrayal that peels back layers of petulance and squalor to find the frisson and striving of a life lived amongst the rubble.

Here's a trailer for the book...

Schles, who now lives in Fort Greene, "rejected the recent tendency to view the East Village of the 1980s as a golden age of louche glamour," according to the Times. "A lot of dysfunction has been romanticized," he said.

The book "is dedicated to the memory of those who died in the scourge of AIDS and violence that gripped the East Village during the 1980s."


Anonymous said...

Lest we forget, half the artist population in the EV in the 1980s died from AIDS

Anonymous said...

Maybe people glamorize it because many artists tolerate chaos and dysfunction easily. The new norm of the east village seems to be that the chaos and dysfunctional quickly become the prey of the entrepreneur looking to make a quick buck. Rent-seeking is the new scourge of the village now. Given that the city is now firmly behind (or run by) the plutocrats rather than the upstart artist this is what I see as a new trend. I can sympathize with those that would pave over the potholes of the 70s-80s village. I wish I had seen the art and performance scene at its chaotic apex.

Personally I view the often touted dichotomy between the rampant louche seen in past decades with the current gentrification as false.

Anonymous said...

The commenters here love the old days. How dare this person say otherwise. The EV now is the real nightmare. Crack, AIDS, high crime, TSP as a drug den/ homeless campground? Those were the best days ever. Don't think otherwise.

daho said...

Anon at 3:29: I don't think it has to be one way or the other, and there's certainly a middle ground between when it was uninhabitable and when it was filled with artists. I lived here when east forth and B were a "campground" of a homeless drug den every morning. And you know what? Was never bothered or accosted by them. They were quiet, and certainly not whoop-whooping in the middle of the night. So yeah, those times for many were the best days.

You either get it, or you don't.

Anonymous said...

And the LOUDEST proponent of "The Great Old" Days syndrome is MR(S?)EVGRIEVE H(ER)IMSELF.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Funny, I've lived in the EV since 1979 and I didn't think of it as violent or chaotic in the 80's. It was just a neighborhood where people lived, worked and played.

Schles writes about having to lock his car doors when driving down the Bowery. As paranoid as a suburban hick.

Anonymous said...

Sprockets: "Und now ve dance…"