Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Out and About in the East Village

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

By James Maher
Name: Margie Segal
Occupation: Teacher, Retired
Location: 4th Street between Avenue A and First Avenue
Date: Monday, Nov. 6

I’m a retired New York City school teacher. I came to college here from New Jersey many, many years ago. I came in the late 1960s. I was in NYU. That wasn’t this neighborhood then, now it is.

As a college kid it was fabulous — fun things happening all around, but the city itself was in pretty bad shape. It was crime ridden over here. But when you’re that age it doesn’t seem to bother you. There were neighborhoods you just didn’t want to go into and this was one of them. I stayed out of Tompkins Square Park. I didn’t really have any trouble, but as a woman I was on guard a lot, especially going near the park, the subways — just being out at night alone was not something you wanted to do, not that I didn’t do it.

My best and favorite memories are going to the Fillmore East every weekend and seeing all those bands — the Grateful Dead, the Allman Brothers, Jefferson Airplane. That was always a fun time. It was a lot of fun staying up and listening to music all night long. It was very cheap. The club scene wasn’t for me. We were just more out and about ... being out and being with friends. Basically it was just being out of the streets.

This neighborhood to me represents everything that New York was and should be. The diversity, and a place for people of all incomes and all walks of life. I hate to see that disappear. I do see that it’s changing. My friends and neighbors are affected by it and that bothers me. I like to live by all kinds of people.

Back then there was just a feeling of freedom and possibility. That’s what this was all about. Maybe if you talk to 18 year olds now they might feel the same way I felt then. You know, it was a horrible world. The Vietnam War was going on, we were protesting, but there was always a feeling of hope that we were going to change things and it would be a better place. We always just felt very free. We had nothing, like Janis Joplin said, ‘Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose.’ We had nothing to lose, so we felt free.

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


Anonymous said...

Love the observation, "I like to live by all kinds of people." Me, too!

Anonymous said...

Yes! This gives me hope.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

"out in the streets"! love this series and love this woman's attitude! what a gem!

Anonymous said...

Yes that's what it was all about, "a feeling of freedom and possibility". The idea that you are a unique individual and can come and go as you please. Can't put a price on that. There is still freedom and great people like Margie that make everything possible. Great outfit and the shades.

Anonymous said...

Feeling free. I want that. As things go in the world, we are relatively very free. But on an absolute level, not so. How many people even want freedom these days...or are they content in the matrix? Does it vary by age?

Anonymous said...

FYI: Me and Bobby McGee was written by Kris Kristofferson and Fred Foster. Janis just sang the song.

Anonymous said...

We need to fight to keep the diversity. There needs to be more places where people can come together. I hope that Charas community center will be saved and have different community groups and shelter that has nothing to do with luxury housing. A place for immaterial joy and interaction.