William Warder Norton launched his publishing company in 1923 with “Lectures in Print” pamphlets at Cooper Union, at the western end of St. Marks Place. Nearly a century later, his house has given this book the best of all possible homes. My wise and creative editor, Tom Mayer, had me rewrite this book several times without making me hate him. He did this by always being right, and by offering advice like, “Read a few August Wilson plays and think about the structure of one-set drama,” which is sort of the opposite of what editors usually say two years into a book project.
Ryan Harrington, Tom’s assistant, is supersmart, ultra-efficient, and great fun to be around. This book would be a shadow of itself if not for the two of them. Thanks also to the rest of the team there, including designer David High, lawyer Laura Goldin, production manager Louise Mattarelliano, designer Chris Welch, managing editor Nancy Palmquist, and copy editors Tara Powers and Stephanie Hiebert.
Thanks to Peter Steinberg for believing in this idea early on and for intro- ducing me to Tom, and to everyone who helped me make a living through writing and editing assignments, teaching work, and fellowships while working on the book these past three years, including Anthony DeCurtis, Peggy Engel, Sheila Glaser, Daniel Greenberg, Kathleen Hanna, Logan Hill, David Kelly, Andy McNicol, Vanessa Mobley, Julia Pimsleur, Colin Quinn, and Kristal Zook. Thanks also to thoughtful early readers of chapters, including Jami Attenberg, Boris Fishman, Robi Polgar, Lili Taylor, and Jason Zinoman.
Thanks to clutch babysitter Erica Pirchio, inspirational cabal the Invisible Institute, and friends Tara McKelvey and Tim Gunn (who more than deserves his reputation as the nicest man in the world); and to all the places in New York City that let me write there when I had to escape my tiny, LEGO brick–strewn apartment, especially the New York Public Library (Schwarzman, Mid-Manhattan, Jefferson Market, and Ottendorfer branches) and the South 4th Bar & Café.
Endless gratitude to the 2014 Alicia Patterson Foundation Josephine Patter- son Albright Fellowship, 2014 Kiplinger Fellowship, 2014 Residency at the New York Public Library’s Frederick Lewis Allen Room, 2013 MacDowell Colony Residency, Oasis 2013 Commission Grant, and the Council on Contemporary Families 2013 Media Award for Print Coverage of Family Issues.
Love to my family, in particular the Medlin men: my husband, Neal; stepson, Andrew Blake; and son, Oliver. Oliver was born at the since-closed St. Vincent’s Hospital in the West Village in 2006, and the first person to hold him was nurse Rita Devine, who has lived on St. Marks Place for more than thirty years.
Thanks to all the experts who helped me ransack their amazing collections, especially everyone at the New York Public Library, among them: Maira Liriano (U.S. History) and Matt Knutzen (Maps). Also infinite thanks to the generous souls over at St. Mark’s Church-in-the-Bowery, especially Winnie Varghese and Roger Jack Walters. Roger not only let me camp out in the archives, but also read drafts of chapters and offered vital corrections. Other exceptionally helpful archivists: the Allen Ginsberg Archive’s Bob Rosenthal; Boo-Hooray Gallery’s Gabriel McKee; Cooper Union’s Carol A. Salomon (who, thanks to her con- scientious review of pages I sent her, saved me from several errors); the NYU Fales Library’s Lisa Darms; Little Missionary Day Nursery’s Eileen Johnson; Municipal Arts Society’s Erin Butler; Museum of the American Gangster/The- atre 80’s Lorcan Otway; MoMA library’s Jennifer Tobias; Neighborhood Pres- ervation Center’s Felicia Mayro; New-York Historical Society’s Marci Reaven; NYU Tamiment Library’s Sarah Moazeni and Kate Donovan. And thanks to the countless people who went out of their way to provide timely research recom- mendations, including Rebecca Amato, Harry Kellerman, C. Greg Kirmser, Tony Mann, Molly McGlone, John McMillian, Joel Millman, Annelise Ream, Christopher Rzigalinski, Luc Sante, David Smith, Darcey Steinke, and David Voorhees.
More than two hundred St. Marks Place denizens helped with this book. I am grateful to everyone who spoke with me over eggs at Café Mogador (no. 101) or wine at Café Orlin (no. 41), responded to my emails, answered my phone calls, invited me into their homes, or let me stop them on the street. Whether we spoke for five minutes or five hours, your contribution is appreciated. Thank you: George Ackerman; Cey Adams; Judy Gumbo Albert; Brooke Alderson; Adam Alexander; Leslie Alexander; Michael Allen; Tara Allmen; “Anna”; Penny Arcade; David Arnold; Julian Baczynsky; Elliott Banfield; Bill Barrell; Ted Barron; Roberta Bayley; Kevin Beard; Snooky Bellomo; Tish Bellomo; Anselm Berrigan; Edmund Berrigan; Chuck Bettis; Tom Birchard; Zac Bogus; Jerry Brandt; Perry Brass; Peter Brill; Michael Brownstein; Maggie Bullock; Ambrose Bye; David Cale; John Campo; Nancy Cardozo; Kristin Carey; Kathy Cerick; Lisa Chamberlain; Robert Christgau; David Ciriaco; Christen Clifford; Paula Collery; Bob Contant; “Crusties” Booshy-Boosh, Rokkoe, and Princess; Cary Curran; Nadia Dajani; Manohla Dargis; Lisa Darms; Jamie Darrow; Darla Decker; Paul Delaney; Paul DeRienzo; Danny Diablo; Mike Diamond; Joey Dick; Bill DiPaola; Nicky Dirt; Johnny Dynell; Michael Sean Edwards; John Erdman; James Estrada; Scott Ewalt; Stephen Facey; Arnold Feinblatt; Susan Fensten; Larry Fink; Steve Firestone; Charles Fitzgerald; Al Forsyth; Jessica Forsyth; Libby Forsyth; Priscilla Forsyth; Eileen Freedman; Marty Freedman; James Fuentes; Michael Galinksy; David Garcia; Judy Garrison; Charles Gehring; Phillip Giambri; Bert Gibson; Nell Gibson; Hysen Gjonaj; David Godlis; Daniel Greenberg; John Gregg; “E.V. Grieve”; Art Guerra; John S. Hall; Myrna Hall; Zoe Hansen; Debbie Harry; Joyce Hartwell; Jesper Haynes; Amelia Hernandez; Murray Hill; Mike Hodder; John Holmstrom; Adam Horovitz; Mark Howell; Ronald Hunter; Ernie Hurwitz; Mike Jackson; Jaap Jacobs; Billy Jacobson; Mark Jacobson; Rae Jacobson; Rosie Jacobson; Angela Jaeger; Eileen Johnson; Joyce Johnson; Hettie Jones; Jeff Jones; Thai Jones; Barry Joseph; Judith Josephs; Linda Justice; Milton Kamen; Matthew Kasten; Steven “Perfidia” Kirkham; Jonathan Kirschenfeld; Highlyann Krasner; Paul Krassner; BB Kuett; Bill Kushner; Pete Langway; Ben Laurence; Pamela Lawton; Phoebe Legere; Adriana Leshko; Jaroslaw Leshko; Ross Lewis; Gene Lichtenstein; Miranda Lichtenstein; Annie Lionni; Jessica Loeser; Lydia Lunch; Jenny Lynch; Ann Magnuson; Alyssa Maldonado; Richard “Handsome Dick” Manitoba; Tony Mann; Matt Marello; Mariann Marlowe; Danny Martin; Dirty Martini; Felicia Mayro; Khade- jha McCall; Terry McCoy; Arthur McGee; Chloe Sweeney McGlade; Jimmy McMillan; Rick Meeker; Rev. Jen Miller; Joel Millman; Amaury Mondol; Wells Moore; Ben Morea; “Jeremiah Moss”; Mary Nelson; Paula McGregor Newman; Jeremiah Newton; Dan Oko; Kristina Olitski; Lorcan Otway; Ron Padgett; Clayton Patterson; Philip Pearlstein; Rosebud Pettet; Father Tom Pike; Jim Power; Robert Prichard; Adam Purple (aka David Wilkie, aka Les Ego); Colin Quinn; Antonella Rao; Marci Reaven; Henry Rollins; Bob Rosenthal; Carole Rosenthal; Jeff Roth; Philip Roth; Nancy Rubin; Jerry Saltz; Ann Sanfedele; Luc Sante; Robert Sawyer; Kenny Scharf; Peter Schjeldahl; Katie Schneeman; Paul Schneeman; Jerome Schwartz; Anthony Scifo; Barbara Sibley; Gary Sim- mons; Joey Skaggs; Curtis Sliwa; Ratso Sloan; Guy Richards Smit; David Smith; Peter Nolan Smith; Raven Snook; Raven Solano; Sherry Sotomayor; Sparrow; Peter Stampfel; Johnny Sundstrom; Carl Swanson; Taku; Louise Teiga; J. G. Thirlwell; Kim Turim; Ann Tyson; Rachel Tyson; Winnie Varghese; Anne Waldman; Roger Jack Walters; Lewis Warsh; John Waters; Jimmy Webb; Arnie Weinberg; Susan Wheeler; Joshua White; Elin Wilder-Melcher; Andrew W.K.; Bert Zackim; Nick Zedd; Jason Zinoman.
Thank you to all the photographers who helped me secure images for this book, especially John Penley, Roberta Bayley, and David Godlis, who were above-and- beyond generous with their time and work. The New York Times’s Jeff Roth, a kind soul and ridiculously sharp dresser, mined the paper’s photo morgue for trea- sures like the image of W. H. Auden in his slippers at the hardware store, that without his diligence may have been lost in time.
A number of people important to the life of St. Marks Place have died since I began work on this book, including Michael Allen, Amiri Baraka, Leee Black Childers, Curly Giambri, LES Jewels, Derek Lloyd, Judith Malina, Paul McGregor, Taylor Mead, Florence Otway, Rosebud Pettet, Tommy Ramone, Lou Reed, Rene Ricard, Adam Yauch, and, since the book was finalized, Curly Giambri and Adam Purple. The neighborhood also lost two people in the horrible March 2015 building explosion on Second Avenue between St. Marks and Seventh Street: Nicholas Figueroa and Moises Locon. Earlier losses also deeply felt while working on this book: Veronica Geng, Jeremy Morris, Elio Schneeman, George Schneeman, and Brad Will. May they all rest in peace.