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Special Issue
NYC
The
SET
Portfolio by James Emmerman
Town

Issue No. 175

The View from Here Introducing AIR MAIL’s first special issue, devoted entirely to the theme of downtown New York, past and present

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Barry Blitt’s Sketchbook

Yoko Before John To understand the most misunderstood woman of the last half-century, you have to go back to the beginning

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Bohemian Rhapsody The artist Duncan Hannah’s unpublished 1980s diaries chronicle his run-ins with everyone from Bowie and Basquiat to Warren Beatty and a precocious call girl

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Air Supply

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Guest Edit

My Favorite Things AIR MAIL co-editor and legendary downtown New Yorker Graydon Carter shares his must-have signatures, from hard-soled loafers to one Savile Row robe and more

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What Makes a Neighborhood? Debbie Harry, Woody Allen, Cat Marnell, Ian Schrager, Diane von Furstenberg, and others weigh in

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Open Bar

A Night at the Odeon Jay McInerney, Emma Cline, and Iké Udé gathered at the Tribeca restaurant in celebration of AIR MAIL’s Downtown Set


Sunglasses After Dark A guided tour of CBGB, the Mudd Club, Tunnel, and downtown’s other lost nightlife haunts

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Open Studio

How Hip-Hop Was Made After photographing London’s nascent punk scene, Janette Beckman moved to New York to chronicle hip-hop’s early days and founding artists—A Tribe Called Quest, Run-DMC, and LL Cool J among them

“Sorry, he has this thing against children.”

Eat Your Heart Out Since opening their restaurant, in 1999, the couple behind Il Posto Accanto, on East Second Street, has served up linguine and community in equal measure

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Drink Sam Wai Liquor Store Before leaving Sam Wai Liquor Store with slumped shoulders and empty hands, first-time customers will eagerly scour through a massive… Listen Village Music World Although the red awning outside 197 Bleecker Street reads, “Village Music World,” the store, which sells new and vintage records and CDs… Cook Pino’s Prime Meat In a narrow, tenement-style building on Sullivan Street, this butcher shop has been supplying New Yorkers with quality meat for the last… Eat Arturo’s There are plenty of historic New York pizzerias, but none are as relentlessly traditional as Arturo’s. The Greenwich Village staple first… Shop Artifacts 20th Century Artifacts 20th Century, a cheerful furniture-and-design store on Mott Street in Nolita, has a small-town… Visit Thompson Chemists Europe still has America beat when it comes to independent pharmacies, which are quickly becoming a relic of the past in our own… Sparkle New Top Jewelry To an undiscerning eye, New Top Jewelry is just one of many jewelry shops in Chinatown. People who have searched New York… Drink Sam Wai Liquor Store Before leaving Sam Wai Liquor Store with slumped shoulders and empty hands, first-time customers will eagerly scour through a massive… Listen Village Music World Although the red awning outside 197 Bleecker Street reads, “Village Music World,” the store, which sells new and vintage records and CDs… Cook Pino’s Prime Meat In a narrow, tenement-style building on Sullivan Street, this butcher shop has been supplying New Yorkers with quality meat for the last… Eat Arturo’s There are plenty of historic New York pizzerias, but none are as relentlessly traditional as Arturo’s. The Greenwich Village staple first… Shop Artifacts 20th Century Artifacts 20th Century, a cheerful furniture-and-design store on Mott Street in Nolita, has a small-town… Visit Thompson Chemists Europe still has America beat when it comes to independent pharmacies, which are quickly becoming a relic of the past in our own… Sparkle New Top Jewelry To an undiscerning eye, New Top Jewelry is just one of many jewelry shops in Chinatown. People who have searched New York…

Singing the Lady Electric In the five decades since Jimi Hendrix founded Electric Lady, on West Eighth Street, the music studio has kept its look—and caliber—intact

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Metaphysical Graffiti For the last decade, Blake Kunin has photographed members of the city’s prolific tag crews at work. His pictures memorialize their conquests—and a city whose street-art scene lives on

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Take a Walk and Talk on the Wild Side This week’s podcast celebrates what makes downtown New York great

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“Why Can’t You Write Normal?” Kathy Acker’s journey from daughter of Sutton Place to genre- and gender-bending cult novelist

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Go Big or Go Home A new generation is discovering the pleasures of classic movies at Alexander Olch’s Lower East Side revival house, Metrograph

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“But the legacy I’d truly like to leave is creating music that future generations will use to sedate overstimulated toddlers.”

Neighborhood Watch Michael Kimmelman, the New York Times architecture critic and lifelong New Yorker, discusses the old Village and new downtowns

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“It’s because I’m a potato, isn’t it?”

Ludlow, Lady Gaga, and Me In 2006, Pianos, on Ludlow Street, was a divey service-industry spot attracting the likes of Sweetbitter author Stephanie Danler—and a pre-fame Lady Gaga

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The Nine Lives of Corner Bistro From a gay bar to a butcher shop with a speakeasy in back, the raucous history behind the much-loved West Village burger hangout

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“Good for him. Terrible for Skull Island tourism.”

Isaiah Barr The saxophonist and co-founder of Onyx Collective, an experimental group of artists, is taking on fashion and filmmaking

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Open Book

Street Scenes A collection of Saul Leiter’s newly discovered color photographs offers a rare look at his pioneering, painterly vision


In 1995, I moved to the East Village, in New York City, where I would sometimes eat by myself at the Cooper Square Diner, on Second Avenue. There I would occasionally see a fantastical, almost Edwardian-looking elderly person, often alone as well, staring straight ahead, chin up, and wearing a wide-brim fedora, billowing scarf, mascara, rouge, and a large brooch on his lapel. One time we were the only two diners in the restaurant, sitting close to each other, and I asked if he’d mind if I drew him in my sketchbook. “Not in the slightest,” he said. As I sketched, I would ask him questions, mostly to break the awkward silence, and I was a bit floored by his hilarious, thought-provoking answers, which I would transcribe onto the portrait. After I finished, he asked if I would pay for his lunch, which I gladly did, and with a slight nod, he left. The waiter asked to see my drawing and enthusiastically told me all about Quentin Crisp, his book The Naked Civil Servant (which I would promptly read), and his storied past. Over the next few years I would see Quentin around the neighborhood, and draw him from time to time at the diner. I would sometimes walk him to the deli so he could buy some tea, or escort him to his door, on East Third Street. “The safest street in Manhattan,” he’d proclaim, and then add in a low whisper, “because of the Angels,” gesturing toward the Hells Angels headquarters across the way. Every now and then I would spot him crossing Second Avenue against the red light, arm outstretched in front of the screeching, horn-blaring traffic. “Aren’t you afraid they might run you over?,” I asked one time. “They wouldn’t dare,” he said dryly. The last time I saw Quentin, in 1999, he looked more fragile than ever and seemed uncharacteristically worried about his health. He was about to go to Britain on a national tour and joked that he was afraid he wouldn’t make it back to his beloved East Village (which, prophetically, came true, as he died the following week in Manchester, aged 90). I walked him one more time to his door, and with one last nod of his head he was gone.
Is Edited By

Graydon Carter and Alessandra Stanley

Deputy Editors

Ashley Baker Ash Carter Chris Garrett Nathan King Julia Vitale

Design Director

Angela Panichi

Chief Technology Officer

John Tornow

Books Editor

Jim Kelly

Arts Intel Report Editor

Laura Jacobs

Senior Editor

Elena Clavarino

Editor at Large

George Pendle

Photo Director

Ann Schneider

Copy Editor

Adam Nadler

Production Editor

H. Scott Jolley

Associate Editors

Jensen Davis Carolina de Armas Clara Molot Paulina Prosnitz Elinor Schneider

Art Director

Paloma Huerre

International Editor

Isabelle Harvie-Watt

London Editor

Bridget Arsenault

Columnists

Cazzie David Emma Freud Lisa Henricksson
Walter Isaacson Pico Iyer Rachel Johnson
John Lahr Jonathan Margolis Linda Wells
James Wolcott

Writers at Large

Lili Anolik Johanna Berkman Joseph Bullmore Vassi Chamberlain William D. Cohan Rich Cohen Michael Hainey Stuart Heritage George Kalogerakis Sam Kashner James Kirchick Alexander Lobrano Alexandra Marshall

Contributing Artists

Monica Ahanonu Barry Blitt André Carrilho Paul Davis David Downton Andrea Ferolla Josh Gosfield Cathy Graham Eric Hanson Angelica Hicks Pip Johnson Hilary Knight Danielle Kosann Michael Lindsay-Hogg Ross MacDonald Joe McKendry James McMullan Donald Robertson Charles Dare Scheips Grant Shaffer Ed Sorel Ralph Steadman

Contributing Photographers

Jonathan Becker Justin Bishop Alex Board James Emmerman Marcos Fecchino Daniel Paik Art Streiber Sharon Suh Justin Weiner

Architectural Consultant

Basil Walter

Communications Director

Monika Camara Batista

Head of Audience Development

Rachel LeSage

Cartoon Editor

Bob Mankoff

Music Supervisor

Randall Poster

Photo Editor

Emine Gozde Sevim

Designer

Zoé Gillette

Technology

Brooks Oakley Justin Rubaloff Sade Singleton

Interns

Kendra Huber Gasper Tringale-White

OUR CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER AND CHIEF MARKETING OFFICER ARE

Bill Keenan and Emily Davis

Shop General Manager and Brand Partnerships

Anjali Lewis

Advertising Director

Michael Pescuma

European Sales Director

Selim Mataraci

Integrated Marketing Producer

Alex Dickerson

Financial & Business Operations

Marc Leyer

Chief Strategy Adviser

Adam Mendelsohn


Merchant

Jennifer Noyes

Editor

Zoe Ruffner

E-Commerce Manager

Isaac Metlitsky

E-Commerce Associates

Coco Paul-Henriot Roxy Solis


In Memoriam

Peter Bogdanovich Duncan Hannah Douglas McGrath Richard David Story André Leon Talley

Issue No. 175
November 19, 2022
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Issue No. 175
November 19, 2022