St. Mark's is Dead: "A Cycle of Bohemians Hating Each Other" (New at Reason)

Author Ada Calhoun talks with Reason TV about growing up on America's hippest street.


"The hippies didn't much like the Beatniks and they really hated the punks. The punks didn't much like the hippies and they really hated the hardcore kids. So it's been this cycle of bohemians hating each other," says Ada Calhoun, author of the acclaimed book St. Mark's is Dead: The Many Lives of America's Hippest Street.

A native of the four-block-stretch in Manhattan's East Village which has served as the nation's capital of the counterculture for more than a hundred years, Calhoun spoke with Reason TV about her book which lovingly details the endless creative destruction that has kept St. Mark's Place a vibrant home for everyone from early 20th century anarchists to Andy Warhol and the Velvet Underground, to the punk rockers of the CBGBs era, to the hardcore kids and skaters of the 80s, to the lamented NYU students of today.  

It just so happens that one of St. Mark's Place better-known institutions, the punk rock clothing store Trash and Vaudeville, closed up shop yesterday (temporarily, they're moving two blocks away). Calhoun was quoted by the New York Times in a piece about the store's last day on the street:

"The punk St. Marks Place?" she said. "I'm trying to think of what's leftNot much. I think a couple of people with safety pins on stoops" — teenagers re-enacting the past.

In an area where the only constant is upheaval, Calhoun thinks it's "sweet" that every generation of cultural iconoclasts that have set up shop on St. Mark's is certain their time was the only "authentic" time, and that the area is still a "magical" place for young people even today. 

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