Friday, August 18, 2006


Merlin Remembered

Above:Merlin at home in the snow
Above :Merlin at home

Wednesday of this last week as I was walking past the Con Edison power substation , I noticed some brightly colored petals ,a candle and a piece of paper ahead of me , at a distance , at the northwest corner of the substation . I had a feeling as I approached the seeming possible memorial , that I knew who the person remembered might be .I felt that it had to be Merlin ... and indeed, when I was close enough to see and read the paper placed at the base of the candle , the memorial was a remembrance of Paul Hogan ,more commonly known among those in the neighborhood as Merlin.

Merlin was a very well known and popular street dweller who lived for some time , in all kinds of weather and year -around , at the northwest corner of the Con Edison substation spending his time reading , eating, drinking , excreting , sleeping and talking to people . Merlin rarely if ever left his spot on the corner for any purpose . Since he couldn't walk very far without pain ,most of the time friends in the neighborhood did his shopping and ran errands for him bringing him food ,magazines, papers, clothing ,bedding and wine .

Merlin left his spot one last time in August of 1996 to go to the hospital where he died 10 years ago on the 16th of the month of August in 1996 .

A wake and vigil of considerable moment, lasting for the better part of 2 weeks , was held in the neighborhood at Merlin's corner . Some nights the sidewalk and street around the memorial were so densely packed with people that it seemed that everyone in the neighborhood and the surrounding communities was attending , crowded together ,all kinds of folks , from all professions and callings , from high and low paying their respects to Merlin . At one point, at the end of the first week, the police came to the site in large numbers with the purpose of ending the vigil and removing the candles ,flowers and considerable clutter that had come to dominate the sidewalk and street at Merlins corner .There was some discord and confusion resulting in several people being arrested with numerous cameras and reporters ,including the New York Times , in attendence . In the end "The People" stood their ground bravely and successfully , the police left the field and the vigil continued another week or so longer . This is how it was 10 years ago in this neighborhood .

Wednesday, August 16, 2006


"Howl "No More

Last summer at this time we were in the midst of the "Howl" festival . "Howl", supposedly a local arts festival , over the few years that it was held became large , big- time- corporation supported and not that much representative of the East Village artists and arts scene .The festival co-opted many of the older local yearly events and mixed them into a much larger , less neighborhood and less intimate affair in the late summer .Certainly the Federation of East Village Artists (FEVA ) which was the organization behind "Howl" didn't represent or include the majority of East Village artists . Jim"Mosaic Man" Power wasn't ever in any significant way included . Indeed he was generally dismissed as just an irrelavent local" character" that generally created problems . No matter all the extant evidence of work done in the neighborhood on walls ,sidewalks and lamp posts Jim was never ever considered by FEVA as significant enough to be included in any significant way. Not everyone was happy with "Howl" and some ,including Jim , actually made their own smaller celebrations to provide an alternative to "Howl" .

Last year during the "Howl"festival some of the anarchist and squatters held a festival of their own called "Squatterfest"in the east cemetary yard of St.Marks- in- the -Bowery church. On the last night of their festival they held a dance on top of the Winthrop burial vault dancing for hours to hard core ,bathed in red light, on top of the cross on the door of the vault with some dancers wearing pentagrams .

On the last day of "Howl" last summer, Jim and "Biker Bill" Walker held their own celebration in the midst of the Howl" street fair on St. Marks Place . At the "Cave" Jim and Bill hung a huge flag on the front of their building and quietly celebrated the veterans of the East Village . Jim was in the Army signal corp and Bill was a Marine and both are Vietnam veterans .The picture included would not have been taken had not the commander of the 9th precinct, inspector McCarthy, not said "Bob you 've got to take that picture of Jim and the flag" . I , of course , turned around and looked at the flag and then took the picture above .

There were even some in the neighborhood last summer that were so happy that "Howl "was over, that during the dissassembling of the big stage that had occupied a large part of Tompkins Square Park they drummed contiuously until the stage was completly gone from the park.

And now this summer, finally "Howl" will be no more .

Tuesday, August 15, 2006


Surprise Monday afternoon concert in TSP

Team Spyder

Monday afternoon , Tompkins Square Park was the scene of an afternoon concert that was for most attending , a surprise. A small crowd was in attendance and thus the relation of the bands to the audience was more up-close ,in-the-round and intiment than usual. Among the few bands that performed , Team Spyder,Psalter and Defiance were the crowd pleasers.

The word in the park was that there will be more such"surprise " concerts in TSP this summer and fall .


Friday Night Sport on Avenue A

Drunks having sport with a drunk at Ray's candy store on avenue A Friday night .

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