“St. Marks Place in New York City has spawned countless artistic and political movements, providing a backdrop for social and cultural revolutionaries from Leon Trotsky to Andy Warhol, the Ramones to the Beastie Boys, W.H. Auden to Keith Haring, Allen Ginsberg to the skaters of the movie Kids. Every group has maintained that their era, and no other, marked the street’s apex as the epicenter of American cool, and that after they left—whether ‘they’ were the Beats, the hippies, the punks, or the hardcore kids—the street was dead. In this idiosyncratic work of narrative history, enriched by more than two hundred interviews and dozens of rare images, St. Marks native Ada Calhoun traces the 400-year history of the area from its origins as a Dutch farm to its current incarnation as a hipster playground—organized around those pivotal moments when yet another group of miscreant denizens declared, ‘St. Marks is dead.’ And yet, Calhoun shows how the street continues to provide each new generation of rebels with a place to call home.”
I have a Modern Love in the New York Times this weekend about wedding vows, religion, and airline policy. Here’s an excerpt:
One thing I love about marriage (and I love a lot of things about marriage) is that you can have a bad day or even a bad few years, full of doubt and fights and confusion and storming out of the house. But as long as you don’t get divorced, you are no less married than couples who never have a hint of trouble (I am told such people exist). You can be bad at a religion and still be 100 percent that religion. Just because you take the Lord’s name in vain doesn’t make you suddenly a non-Christian. You can be a sinner. In fact, I think it’s good theology that no matter how hard you try, you are sure to be a sinner, just as you are sure to be lousy, at least sometimes, at being married. There is perfection only in death. Read the whole thing here.
UPDATE: The piece went viral, and the New York Times did a follow-up on the response. You can read that here.
Idaho lawyer Richard Hearn just won a surprising and groundbreaking abortion-rights victory at the Ninth Circuit, and no one seemed to be saying anything much about it, so I called him up and asked him why. Here’s my interview with him for New York Magazine‘s The Cut.
Do you expect courts around the country will see more of these cases, because of the rise in home abortions using drugs purchased online?
I think DIY abortions are already exploding. They are usually done early in pregnancy, and very few people are being prosecuted for it, because few people know about it. The Georgia case [Kenlissia Jones] is an exception, because she told the social worker when she went to the hospital. Most women don’t go to the hospital and they don’t tell anyone. That’s why the number of official abortions is going down. Because it’s so easy. These Texas laws (they may close down the remaining abortion clinics in that state) will force women not to go to Planned Parenthood, because they can’t get there or can’t afford it. Read the rest here.
On June 1, 2015, I spent 8 hours at the Montgomery Circuit Courthouse in Christiansburg, Virginia, for the sentencing hearing of Jessica Ewing, who killed her friend Samanata Shrestha at Virginia Tech last year. I wrote a story about the case for Cosmopolitan online. Here’s an excerpt: “I think most people are probably scratching their heads,” Ewing’s lawyer, Tyson Daniel, told Cosmopolitan.com by phone before the hearing. “Because the only thing that has been presented all this time has been the commonwealth’s evidence.” And what the commonwealth described in its summary of facts was bleak: Shrestha had invited Ewing over for dinner. At the apartment, Ewing strangled Shrestha, then put the body in a sleeping bag and put it in the victim’s car. Her plans to burn the body were thwarted when a friend wouldn’t help her. She described this in a damning journal entry as: “Some friend. He fucking won’t even help me move a goddamn body … friendship test failed.” Read the rest here.
I wrote an ode to quickie friendships for New York magazine’s The Cut: …Twentysomething friendships involve long, late nights, all-day walks, and hours-long phone conversations. But having friends in your 30s is functionally impossible. There is no good time to see people, no friend equivalent of the candlelit dinner and rose-strewn canopy bed. To stay friends is to make do with the social equivalent of a taco truck and bathroom quickie. As the opposite of a sensualist, I actually prefer this. There’s something both efficient and exciting about having friends woven into the texture of daily life. It feels almost illicit when we manage to steal time together, like we are cheating on our grown-up lives… Read the whole thing here.
St. Marks Is Dead: The Many Lives of America’s Hippest Street. Coming November 2, 2015 from W.W. Norton & Co. Pre-order from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or iBookstore.
Why should we care about St. Marks Place?
St. Marks Place is the hippest street in America. It has always been a home for misfits, and there are still kids flocking here from all over the city, and the world. Girls and Broad City both prominently featured the street in 2015. For a century it has been where young people—revolutionaries in the teens, Beats in the fifties, punks in the seventies—have gone to feel free and find each other. In the 1960s, it was the east coast center for hippie culture. The East Village had The Electric Circus, The Dom, and The Fillmore East. American punk was born here: the New York Dolls, the Ramones, Blondie. The hardcore kids and Beastie Boys hung out here in the eighties. And now you can sing all those bands’ songs at the East Village’s many karaoke bars. (more…)
“What’s your sign?” a woman asked me at a business meeting that would determine if I would be hired for a project involving a lot of time and a lot of money. She had my résumé and references; why look skyward? “Pisces,” I replied. “Ah, you’re emotional!” she responded. In fact, the very same day, someone who’s known me more than 20 years told me I was singularly unemotional. Whom to believe — the best friend or the stars? Read the rest here.
Psyched to be in this NYCgo Neighborhood by Neighborhood video about the East Village—hanging out at St. Mark’s Bookshop, as I do in real life. The pub date for St. Marks Is Dead is November 2, 2015. Pre-order the book here. Watch the video here.