Quite randomly, I found myself giving a walking tour of the E.Vil. yesterday to a small group of high school girls from Reno, Nevada who are all theater-arts people. It was a favor for a friend of a friend, who had organized a learning by location tour through a company that went bankrupt a few days before they were set to depart Reno for New York City. Anyhoo, it was interesting to discover their points of reference as well as what they didn't know. They were familiar with Little Shop of Horrors (which premiered at the Orpheum on 2nd Ave. in 1982) and of course Rent (centered in the E.Vil.), but not up on graffiti artists Keith Haring and Basquiat. They had heard of Andy Warhol but not Lou Reed (both performed at the Electric Circus on St. Marks Pl.). They had never heard of Hari Krishnas (I took them to the Hari Krishna tree in Tompkins) but they did know who Allen Ginsburg was (he was at the first Hari Krishna gathering in NYC underneath the tree). The kicker was taking them to St. Marks Church in the Bowery where washed-up party girl Lexi was memorialized after she famously fell out of a window in a Sex and the City episode. Above, I snapped a pic of the girls posing for another photographer at Tompkins Square Park (homeless person in the background, natch). Pop quiz, girls. Explain in fifty words or less what gentrification means.
Special thanks to New York Songlines for helping me organize this tour.