An area in Lower Manhattan, boxed in between East Houston and 14th Street and Avenue A and Broadway, where a proliferation of bars exist, at least 10 movie theaters, major bookstores, like St. Mark's Bookshop and The Strand Bookstore, performance venues like St. Mark's Church; where in the past it was affordable for impoverished artists to live and engage socially. The remarkable history of the East Village, includes residents like Allen Ginsberg, William S. Burroughs, Miguel Pinero, LeRoi Jones/Amiri Baraka, Charlie Parker, Emma Goldman, Lenny Bruce, Willem DeKooning, Jean Michel Basquiat, Keith Haring, David Wojnarowicz, Robert Mapplethorpe, Iggy Pop, Patti Smith, Debbie Harry, original punker Richard Hell, authors like Arthur Nersesian and Richard Perez.
For many years, it no longer remains affordable for the starving artist; unless that artist is the son or daughter of a banker or real estate magnate. "Trust Fund Babies" are often seen populating the neighborhood, pretending to be poor and fashionably down and out.
Regardless of its pretensions, the East Village remains a stronghold for youth culture, regenerating itself generation after generation; this in spite of the fact that many of its landmarks -- like CBGB, the birthplace of punk rock -- are history. St. Mark's Place and Avenue A and the surrounding blocks retain a distinct character and personality, inviting wanabees and whatnots, twenty-nothings and thirty-zeroes to slum, which has always been true anyway: fakery has always been part of bohemia. But that's okay. Youth and folly go together like ham and eggs.
"East Village ain't what it used to be" -- said in the 70s, 80s, 90s and most recently
"East Village is dead" -- said in the 60s, 70s, 80s, 90 and most recently
"let's go to the East Village anyway; ain't nothing better to do." -- said in the 60s, 70s, 80s, 90 and most recently
"let's go get tattooed, pierced, drunk, bodyslammed, thrown out of a club, ticketed for sipping a forty on the sidewalk, chill in Tompkins Square Park, catch a French art flick, buy a book I won't read or understand, or be up for whatever in the East Village. You down?" -- suggested only yesterday, by me