Wednesday, July 17, 2013

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
Name: Michael Duggan
Occupation: Antique Dealer, Archangel Antiques (334 East 9th).
Location: 4th Street Between 2nd and Bowery
Time: 7 pm on Saturday, July 13th

I’m from Allentown, Pennsylvania. I moved here because I was engaged at the time and the woman I was engaged to had gone to FIT and was a converter for Harvey Bernard, which was sort of a high-end woman’s line. She did all of the development for manufacturing and coincidentally that’s what my current partner does now.

I came straight to the East Village. This was the only place that made sense to me. Most of my friends lived on the Upper East Side at the time — that was where the younger middle class white people would move. It was the safe comfortable place, while this place was edgier. Our first apartment was on Rivington and Pitt Street.

I’ve lived in the neighborhood for 35 years now. When we moved here it was all empty lots. People had goats and chickens. People were camping in empty lots. It was a time when people didn’t want this real estate. I’ve lived above Raul’s Candy Store on Avenue B for 25 years now and we have such a great relationship with them.

This was also the area where you went out and everything crazy was going on. This was the place for people to come and misbehave. I was in fashion sales when I first moved here. I worked in fashion and furniture for the first 15 years I was here for Norma Kamali and then for Versace. I remember one night being out at Cave Canem, which later turned into Lucky Cheng’s, and I went in there and I’m dressed in a Zebra Versace suit since I was working for them. And someone said to me, “You know your friend is downstairs and you have to go and get her.” So I go downstairs and this woman is wearing the identical suit that I have on. They were like, “You have to take care of her, she’s a little toasted.” Here it turns out that it’s Princess Gloria. She was sort of the equivalent of Kim Kardashian of her time. Now she’s best friends with the Pope and her daughter is the editor at large for Vogue.

I work at the button shop on 9th street [Archangel Antiques]. The owners asked me to help them for a few days and I stayed for 20 years. We sell vintage buttons and antiques. We have 2.5 million vintage buttons from the 1830s through the 1950s. Gail, the woman I work for, had started buying maybe 30 years ago and now we predominantly sell our buttons for prototypes to design houses, like Ralph Lauren, J Crew, Anthropology, but also I sell to Boardwalk Empire and Mad Men since they need vintage buttons to go along with the vintage clothing. Everything is evocative of an era.

We’re going to be closing at some point next year. We actually have two storefronts and so there’s a lot of merchandise. The people I work with are in their 70s so it’s just, enough is enough.

Also, the generations have changed. Very few people are looking to buy for their homes anymore because no one has a substantial home life. Having been in and out of home furnishings, and also being a decorator, my house is filled to the brink. Everyone always asks me, “Do you live with your grandparents?” And I say, “No, I like living like this.” Cause for me, I’m kind of the person in the morning, I pull out my 19th-century silver tray and put out all my glassware and silver and have a normal breakfast and people don’t live like that anymore.

And I want to maintain my life. You want to take care of the things you have, those special things. But that also, I think, is a past lifestyle.

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


Anonymous said...

best one yet, imho. why doesn't he take over the button store though. sounds like a cool niche business.

Gojira said...

I've known Michael since the 1980s, wonderful guy. So sorry to hear Archangel will closing, there'll be two more bars we'll get to contend with, I have no doubt.

Anonymous said...

i like bars.

Makeout said...

I want those pants for my birthday! But shorts. Great series btw.

Ken from Ken's Kitchen said...

Another good one! Geez there are a lot of interesting people in the EV.

izF said...


Laura Goggin Photography said...

I have recently been on a button I know where to go!

Another great one, James. Another person I'm glad to know is out there.

i.rene said...

I really enjoyed this post. Will have to add the shop to my list of places to visit!

HippieChick said...

They're CLOSING??? Oh noes! They're such a cool little store, and I depend on Philip the watch guy to fix my lamps and timepieces...

Sam said...

i always see this guy around east village! so nice to read about his story.

would also love to read about the stories of the young creative types living in the hood- so hopefully they get featured here too!

Rachel said...

Sam- you claim to be a fan of this series and then make the very uninformed comment that you would like to see "the stories of the young creative types living in the hood". May I gently suggest that you re-examine the series and you might notice that there a number of "young creative types" featured. Maybe not of the gender, race, class, ethnicity that you are able to identify with but they are there.

But I do agree with you on the point it is a great series.

Thanks Grieve as always.

Anonymous said...

Mr Duggan's store(s? it's still unclear to me) is lovely. He's always been helpful when I've looked for patches, knitting books, glasses, etc. Nice store. I agree, there's less home life than a few years ago. Or, different home life, with identity more tied up in electronic devices than in bric-a-brac. And I like bric-a-brac and button stores.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, James Maher.

Sam said...

Rachel - I never claimed that I am a fan of this series - although I do follow it whenever I can. Read my previous comment AGAIN, I never said anything about being a fan of the series.

And why did you have to bring up "gender, race, class, ethnicity"? I didn't have any bad intentions in my previous comment. You are being malicious.