By James Maher
Name: Candice Brewer
Location: Avenue A, between 2nd and 3rd
Time: 3:30 on Monday, Oct. 31
I sell drugs for a living. I’m a pharmacist. I’m an Army brat, so I’m from all over the place.
I moved here in 1978, I’ve lived on 7th Street and 11th Street, and then I moved down to below Houston Street in 1986. Everybody I knew lived down here. Affordability brought me here too, because it was a real dangerous neighborhood. I certainly didn’t go to the lettered avenues. That was way too scary, and there were blocks that I wouldn’t even walk during the day. They were too deserted.
If you ever looked at some of the old photographs, you’ll see that there was nothing going on. The buildings were burned out; the cars were trashed. I would walk home in the middle of the street, because people could come out from between the junked cars and places like that. I had the keys in my hand, and always checking before you opened your door so somebody wasn’t behind you. I’ve come out of my house and seen the police going, ‘Freeze!’ And I’ve seen busts where they’ve knocked down doors… and all the helicopters. Now I’m the scariest thing on Avenue C.
Like all of Ludlow Street, Orchard Street went dark at 5. It was all fabric stores and a lot of it was gravestone stores. The Mercury Lounge was a store for gravestones and you got free parking for a half an hour — you know, cause you could make that decision in half an hour. You can see along Suffolk Street, there are still some of the hoists and tackles on some of the old buildings, so they could pull the gravestones in to do the carving.
I love the music scene. You’d see a lot of interesting people, and there were a lot of artists living around here. There used to be such good clubs around here. It was really a fun time. The Ludlow Street Café, which doesn’t get a lot of press anymore, was the first bar on Ludlow Street, and that was like our living room. I think that came in around 1985, maybe even before Max Fish I believe. We would have parties there, Christmas parties, and birthday parties. It really was our community center – our country store so to speak.
James Maher is a fine art and studio photographer based in the East Village. Find his website here.