Not much has changed on MacDougal Street

After Wednesday’s adventures, culminating in an Italian feast, we were a bit tired, but the real wipeout would come over the next two days as I tromped with Steven all over lower and midtown Manhattan.

The first thing on Thursday’s calendar was a lunch meeting with another cousin (from my mother’s side this time). His name is Bruce, and it was only while we were sitting there waiting for him that I realized I actually have a Cousin Brucie (and also a “Bob’s your uncle”, but that’s another story)! Bruce is quite an accomplished musician and composer who also maintains a detailed family history page.

It was great meeting with Bruce, especially since Steven has mostly only met relatives from my father’s side of the family before. And there was a lot to catch up on! Coincidentally, the Asian restaurant he asked us to meet him at (great place, but only affordable at lunchtime) is just around the corner from the apartment that Susan and I lived in when we first got married.

Bruce and Me
Bruce and Me

Bruce said I could use our photo together only if it was upside down. Not sure if he’s planning a visit to Australia or what, but here we are.

After we left Bruce, around the corner we went to my old apartment building in Chelsea, where I started to realize I was building up a collection of doorways on this trip. From there, we walked down Eighth Avenue into the Village.

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The next thing we knew, we were on Seventh Avenue South, where I remembered there were a bunch of gay landmarks. Somewhere in my photo archives I have a huge number of pictures that I took at Gay Pride rallies, the Firehouse, and all over this particular area back in the early 70s. But here’s some of what we saw:

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From here, we gaily walked over to MacDougal Street, arguably Hippie Central back in the day, and wandered around the corner, where I ran across Porto Rico Coffee Company, a place I’ve bought coffee from by mail. We were happy to find that they not only sold brewed coffee in cups (by this time, we really needed some!), but they were also very reasonably priced, friendly, and suitably funky for a coffee shop in the Village.

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After coffee, we agreed that we better eat something too, so I whipped out my Yelp app and discovered that we were just a block or so away from iconic Joe’s Pizza on Carmine Street. Taking Steven to eat NY pizza was on my not-to-be-missed list, so away we went. It wasn’t quite Ray’s, but the taste and feel reminded me strongly of Sergeant’s Pizza, the amazing place on Ogden Avenue back in 1960, where a slice and a 6 oz. Coke was 25 cents (Joe’s was $2.75 for a slice).

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Now fortified by what some experts call “the perfect food” (OK, that was me talking), I took Steven over to Washington Square Park, while boring him to tears regaling him with numerous Greenwich Village tales from my misspent youth, which one day perhaps someone will collect into an anthology, have printed in a limited edition, and throw them all away. Just trying to see if you’re paying attention.

I took him through the park, over to see the site of the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire (photos from which haunted me for years as a child), up to Washington Mews, and finally down 8th Street to Sixth Avenue and up to the site of the extremely infamous (“you will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy”) loft at 500 Avenue of the Americas. Hope you enjoy this little collection of tourist shots and street photography:

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And as last, but definitely not least, we then hiked back to Seventh Avenue to catch a train downtown to the Wall Street area where we met up with Henry and Billy from my high school band The Newtonian World Machine (with special surprise guest Sue). We ended up going to not just one, but two bars and actually closed down the second one…the first time I’ve ever done that (although it was only 10:30 PM)!

The conversation and camaraderie was unsurpassed, as always…despite the insane amount of time we missed each other.

Me and Billy and Henry and Sue
Me and Billy and Henry and Sue

Next: Midtown Mania

2 thoughts on “A Gay Jaunt to the Village

  1. Great entertaining writing, David! You do have a real knack. I’ve not been back to NY since ’55. Kind of miss it…

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