You Pasty Kids Get Off My Stoop

The young people of New York’s East Village have a particular look. Predominantly viewed in their natural habitat of St. Mark’s place, the stereotypical example has pale skin, ripped clothes, and hair that’s been dyed either dark, or a color that doesn’t appear in nature. They often smoke or talk about music, and while subculture tends to gather in the corners of school cafeterias or graveyards in small towns, the punks, Goths and generally “scene” kids of New York have their own haven, specially tailored for them over many decades.

It seems only natural these particular young people would be drawn to the village. The founders of their generally preferred art forms passed through those streets, (and a few musicians probably passed out there, too.) One of the most classic influences for the so-called “spooky kids,” Edgar Allan Poe, made his home in of Greenwich Village. Works like Poe’s Annabelle Lee, the Telltale Heart, and the Raven are still favorites of the fishnet-clad, who might purchase said fishnets right in the Village today.

When it came to music, loud rock and roll could be heard in the Village pretty much from the start. The biggest, brightest, and future best acts in the rock and roll played the Fillmore East, bands and artists who are still frequently loved by the “children” of Village. Some Fillmore acts even chose the venue for live album recordings, among them Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention, and the Grateful Dead. Later on when the punk movement gained steam, down on the Bowery lay CBGBs, the place where many of punk’s parents got their start before the mecca closed in 2006.

Anti-establishment has been a common theme in the Village and some of its surrounding areas. Past residents include the likes of Abbie Hoffman and Iggy Pop, and back in the 60s, scores of hippies also flocked to the area to make it their home. Today, many self-identified punks bear a recognizable, rebellious anarchy logo on their jackets and tshirts, as statement clothing is a Village staple in and of itself. A top place to purchase these fashions is Trash and Vaudeville on St. Mark’s, where one can purchase plaid, vinyl and studded clothing to their heart’s content.

Observances have even made their way into Village in a mode that might tempt any pierced, eyelinered teenager. Every October 31st, tens of thousands of costumed marchers can be seen in New York’s Village Halloween Parade, which has its seemingly appropriate start down on 6th Avenue. The massive, PG-13 event also garners countless spectators, who are frequently also costumed.

But for many young Village-goers, the spectacle and mischief of Halloween may come more than once a year.

-Amy Eiferman

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Filed under Amy Eiferman, Neighborhood Focus

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