By James Maher
Name: Michelle Candela
Occupation: Writer / Artist
Location: Tompkins Square Park
Time: 2:30 on Friday, Oct. 7
Originally, I’m from Philadelphia, but my father’s side of the family are all from here. I moved to New York in 1985, then I left in 1995, and I came back in 2005.
I used to work in animation. I write. I’m trying to write a couple screenplays. I did act for awhile. I was a librarian. It was one of the best times of my life here. I lived on Avenue B between 4th and 5th.
As a matter of fact, I come down here every now and then to recharge my batteries. I came today to see some friends of mine down the street on Avenue A. I just like coming in and walking around.
Avenue B was nothing like it is now. There was garbage everywhere, which I didn’t mind. There were lots of bodegas and small little shops, which really weren’t much. There’s the Horseshoe bar, which is a great bar on B. On the corner of 7th and A was King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut, then there was 7A Café, which is now Ms. Lily’s, and then across the way was Leshko’s. That was a Polish coffee shop, and it was the first time I ever had kielbasas and pierogies. Next door to King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut was Sal’s Pizzeria, which was where I found my kitten, who I had for 18 years. She was a little black cat and she was so adorable. I named her Zia. So I got her right there and I fell in love with her.
New York, and especially down here… you never had to worry about who you were. It was unpretentious. It was just life. When you came over here you could just be yourself. It didn’t matter what walk of life you came from. It was where all the misfits congregated.
You can still see it now. There are a lot of really cool people here. The feel and the community was just awesome. It was down to earth. It was just life. People were cool. Whether they had a bad attitude or a good attitude, it didn’t matter, because it just fit into the neighborhood and you understood it. Everybody understood each other.
My philosophy is: Be who you are; have a great time; everybody is awesome.
James Maher is a fine art and studio photographer based in the East Village. Find his website here.