Gay Street



December 12, 2011


Gay Street Final Presentation

Works Cited

Brick, Michael. “Paying Tribute, and Last Respects, on Gay Street.” The New York Times [New York] 27 Dec. 2003: B3. Print.

Corbould, Clare. “Streets, Sounds and Identity in Interwar Harlem.” Journal of Social History 40.4 (2007): 859-94. Print.

de Certeau, Michel. “Walking in the City.” The Practice of Everyday Life. Berkeley: University of California, 1984. 91-110. Print.

Dewan, Shaila K. “Fire in Storied Building Kills Greenwich Village Mainstay.” The New York Times [New York] 26 Dec. 2003: B1. Print.

Finn, Robin. “Did You Hear the One About the Drug Laws?” The New York Times[New York] 1 Feb. 2005: B4. Print.

Green, Penelope. “Act I, Scene 1: A Basement in the Village.” The New York Times[New York] 21 Dec. 2003: 11.1. Print.

Kifner, John. “Always New Joy to Be Found in Ancient Ruins.” The New York Times[New York] 15 Oct. 2003: B2. Print.

Kilgannon, Corey. “Fending Off Pot Smokers on Gay Street – NYTimes.com.” Metro – City Room Blog – NYTimes.com. Web. 16 Nov. 2011. <http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/07/01/fending-off-pot-smokers-on-gay-street/&gt;.

Margolick, David. “Still Radical After All These Years; At 74, William Kunstler Defends Clients Most Lawyers Avoid.” The New York Times [New York] 6 July 1993: B1. Print.

Woods, Mary N. “After-Images of the “New” New York and the Alfred Stieglitz Circle.”After-images of the City. By Joan Ramon. Resina and Dieter Ingenschay. Ithaca: Cornell UP, 2003. Print.

September 14, 2011

Nestled within Greenwich Village, Gay Street is a crooked, secluded pathway that connects Christopher Street to Waverly Place, just west of 6th Avenue. Distinct from the uniform intersections of the rest of Manhattan’s tightly structured grid, Gay Street bends around a corner, obscuring the northernmost end that connects to Christopher Street, before one has even walked a block. Its tiny length secures its spot as the shortest street in Manhattan.

As Waverly Place serves as the northern border of Washington Square, it became especially heavily trafficked when Washington Square Park opened in 1826. New Yorkers realized that they required a place to store their horses, and accordingly, the passageway that later became Gay Street was originally created to be used as stables. Eventually, the stables were cleared out as low-income housing, often for the African American servants of wealthy landowners who lived in the ritzy West Village.

Why Gay?

Several theories exist regarding the origin of the street’s name. While the street was officially named in 1833, it is unclear when people started referring to Gay Street by that name. Given its proximity to Christopher Street, often regarded as a hangout or haven for the LGBT community, some consider Gay Street to reference the accepting nature of the neighborhood. Others posit that it was named after Sidney Howard Gay, a vanguard Boston abolitionist and editor of the National Anti-Slavery Standard newspaper. Despite his prominence in later years, this notion is often contested due to the fact that at the time the street was named, Gay was all of 19 years old, and perhaps not reputable enough to earn a New York City street namesake.

Another theory stems from a classified article dated May 11, 1775, which attests to the fact that one R. Gay was selling a horse near the Village area. While the only link here is that Gay Street was previously used as stables, it is the least contested evidence thus far.

Residential Life

The first homes were built on Gay Street in the early 1820s, originally as homes for Black servants of landowners in the area. Officially widened for residential use in 1833 by the City of New York, the secluded street still feels rather narrow, cozy, with especially slim sidewalks. As Black residents continued to occupy Gay Street, it eventually became an area full of Black musicians, which fit well into the overall demeanor of the Village and its tendency to foster art and creativity.

Its geographic orientation, secluded and off the beaten path, lent itself nicely to play host to speakeasies, such as one at 12 Gay Street called the Pirate’s Den, and another gay friendly speakeasy called the Flower Pot, on the corner of Christopher and Gay. 12 Gay Street went on to be the home of the mistress of Mayor Jimmy Walker, Frank Parris, the creator of Howdy Doody, and the building is allegedly haunted, home to the Gay Street Phantom.

Gay Street is the perfect place to go to get away from the boisterous noise of Manhattan life, if needed. Save the corners, each building appears to be residential, and is built in the mid-19th century style. As a result, Gay Street is a place to step back in time for one short block and admire its simplicity, but also its rich history.

Gay Street Location

Gay Street and Washington Square

Works Cited

Farnsworth, Cheri. Haunted New York: Ghosts and Strange Phenomena of the Empire State. Mechanicsburg, PA:                      Stackpole, 2005. Print.
Naureckas, Jim. “Gay Street: New York Songlines.” New York Songlines: Virtual Walking Tours of Manhattan Streets.             Web. 14 Sept. 2011. <http://www.nysonglines.com/gay.htm&gt;.
Young, Greg. “Mistresses and Misnomers: the Story of Gay Street.” The Bowery Boys: New York City History. Blogspot,             25 June 2009. Web. 14 Sept. 2011. <http://theboweryboys.blogspot.com/2009/06/mistresses-and-misnomers-                 story-of-gay.html>.
Photos courtesy of:

September 21, 2011

Rounding the corner from Waverly Place onto Gay Street, I could find no words. Literally. Gay Street, apart from the signage that looks similar to any other street in the West Village, only had text that included numbers of apartment buildings and a sign advertising the company that provided some scaffolding. Without storefront, billboard, poster, or banner, Gay Street left me concerned. As I began to walk up the street, I hoped that perhaps around the street’s bend I could find something more promising.

Before I made it there, I came upon a gate wedged between two brownstones with the following sign:

It reads: “Do not place garbage in front of gate. All garbage must be placed in the cans. Thank you.”

At first I was simply pleased to have found a trace of words on my street, but upon further reflection, it became clear to me that the sign seemed to fit the demeanor of Gay Street nicely. It represented order, civility, a change of pace from alternative (and more common) forms of garbage disposal throughout the city. Gay Street handles its trash differently, not putting everything out in the open for anyone to peruse. It is hidden, private, secluded; it is orderly, with each apartment building fitting squarely against its neighbor. Each building fits has its proper spot, just like the trash. It handles day-to-day life differently, without bustle, without blemish, without cars, and practically without people.

Even the “Thank you” at the end of the sign made me consider the polite and quaint nature of Gay Street. While other signs around the city are loud, blatant commands, the “Thank You” reminds those who live on Gay to keep the street orderly as a courtesy. It is not an order, but rather something to keep in mind. As the street is entirely residential, it should be treated as a home would be treated, and the residents of Gay Street seem to be looking out for their neighbors and keeping up appearances, with the spotless, skinny sidewalks.

September 28, 2011

To appreciate a walk along Gay Street, one must also take note of the environment of the walk that happens around it. Tucked away between 6th and 7th Avenues, Gay Street provides respite from the fleets of taxis making their way up and downtown. Eastward, one hits 5th Avenue, a view of the Empire State Building, a reminder of the bustle and stereotypical landmarks the city offers. Washington Square Park can often promise groups of lost freshmen, street performers, babies splashing in the fountain, or puppies frolicking merrily in the dog park. If one heads west of Gay Street, other streets in the West Village offer boutiques, restaurants, cafes, or preschools. Around Gay Street in every direction, the city is bustling.

One particular Monday afternoon, I spent twenty minutes walking up and down Gay Street (which, considering its size, means I went back and forth a considerable amount).

I encountered:

1 woman talking on a cell phone on her stoop

1 disgruntled man who looked lost

2 dogs being walked by their owners

2 owners, aforementioned

6 stoops

7 trees

9 bikes chained to the same fence

14 building facades

Some scaffolding

Mix ingredients well, and ta-da! Gay Street.

Holism suggests, “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” But as with all of New York City, it is those parts that make the whole so outstanding, and through viewing them individually, we can appreciate on a more specific level the characteristics of each portion. Michel DeCerteau describes how synecdoche can be applied to the structure of a city. He explains that synecdoche, in literature, replaces totalities by fragments, that it names a part instead of the whole which includes it. Gay Street may be made up of individual stoops, the occasional pedestrian, biker, dog walker, or lost city-goer, but the totality of Gay Street would not be so unique without each of these components. Moreover, according to DeCerteau, in viewing each neighborhood, or even each street of New York in conjunction with one another, one “amplifies the detail and miniaturizes the whole” (101).

The parts are seemingly just as important.

DeCerteau also asserts that the experience of sitting and looking at the view of the city from the 110th floor of the World Trade Center allows the voyeur to “no longer be clasped by the streets that turn and return it according to an anonymous law, nor is it possessed, whether as player or played, by the rumble of so many differences and by the nervousness of New York traffic” (92). Gay Street’s pedestrians seem to be acting of their own volition to walk down the street. Its destinations, Waverly Place to the south and Christopher Street to the north, are quickly and easily accessible from 6th Avenue, and even intersect with one another just west of Gay Street. Gay Street does not exist “according to an anonymous law,” because it defies the law of the grid altogether. Crooked, turning, and tiny, it follows none of the rules the rest of the city seems to obey. It thrives because of its difference, distinctly juxtaposed with the bustle around it, purposefully detached from the “rumble of New York traffic” (92).

Gay Street is sought because of its difference, because of what makes it distinct from other streets in the city. During the brief jaunt up and down the street, I was welcomed by layer after layer of brownstone, narrow sidewalks, each building sandwiched next to and across from its neighbors. This closeness in proximity to one another amplifies the feeling of togetherness and the neighborhood-like feeling of Gay Street among its residents. It is, primarily, a street to live on, rather than a street that one could live on if they wanted to. To walk along it is to notice its distinct demeanor, while somewhat removed from the craziness of the city, but still connected by the mere act of walking, wandering, and finding oneself on Gay Street.

Work Cited

de Certeau, Michel. “Walking in the City.” The Practice of Everyday Life. Berkeley: University of California, 1984. 91-110. Print.

Photos by Molly Salas

October 5, 2011

The residents of Gay Street lead their lives behind closed doors. From my brief visits there, I have only seen one or two people who looks like residents out on the street, who greeted each other and then entered their own doorways. The rest seem to be visitors walking through for a view or a better route to Christopher Street. Yet in 2003, the death of one resident of Gay Street seemed to cause great sorrow in the New York Times, which featured articles about David Ryan, 55, who moved into the basement apartment at 14 Gay Street in the early 1970’s (Dewan). Mr. Ryan’s address at 14 has been made famous by author Ruth McKenney’s novel “My Sister Eileen,” apparently as it was where Ruth McKenney lived previously.

14 Gay Street, home of David Ryan (in the basement)

Unfortunately, Mr. Ryan died in a fire while in his home around Christmas in 2003, and his death led to three articles in The New York Times that week alone. He was an active opponent of a plan to build a new PATH train entrance in the neighborhood, which he asserted would “interrupt the equilibrium and destabilize the houses on Gay Street” (Dewan). The feature article “Fire in Storied Building Kills Mainstay of Greenwich Village” describes that Ryan’s life “seemed to embody the time and place in which he lived. He lost a companion to AIDS in the 1980’s… managed short term rentals of some apartments near his own… and spoke to everybody” (Dewan).

Mr. Ryan’s attitudes toward the Village started early in his life. In “Act I, Scene 1: A Basement In the Village,” written days before Mr. Ryan’s death, a 27-year-old Ryan is quoted as saying “I moved here because it was creative and alive and not Park Avenue.” Ryan’s attitude embodied the feeling of neighborhood in Greenwich Village and particularly, of Gay Street. By living within a literary artifact, Ryan is able to foster the spirit of the Village through his own experience as well as how it is portrayed in “My Sister Eileen”. The Broadway musical “Wonderful Town,” is based on the book and conveys the spirit of Greenwich Village as “an independent republic of bohemian ideals, a notion that has always loomed larger than the actual acreage that physically defines the neighborhood” (Green). While each resident is apparently indoors or elsewhere when I go to visit, Ryan’s sociability shows that Gay Street is a place to call home, while everywhere else in the city is the place for conducting other facets of life. Although Mr. Ryan no longer occupies the apartment he lived in, a “visual sensation that lingers after the stimulus that provoked it has disappeared” still remains (Woods). While not something articulated through a photograph, the experiences of what occurs inside the doorways of Gay Street can be shared through neighborly experiences, and through personalities like David Ryan.

Works Cited

Dewan, Shaila K. “Fire in Storied Building Kills Greenwich Village Mainstay.” The New York Times 26 Dec. 2003: B1+. Print.

Green, Penelope. “Act I, Scene 1: A Basement in the Village.” The New York Times 21 Dec. 2003: RE1+. Print.

Woods, Mary N. “After-Images of the “New” New York and the Alfred Stieglitz Circle.”After-images of the City. By Joan Ramon. Resina and Dieter Ingenschay. Ithaca: Cornell UP, 2003. Print.

October 17, 2011

A look at Gay Street in 1895 might yield similar information that a look at Gay Street today would. According to the 1895 Sanborn map, each building on Gay Street was used as a dwelling space, and no building exceeded five stories. Before the notable twist in the road toward Christopher Street, the northeast side had the same practically identical, immediately adjacent three story buildings gently hugging side to side from numbers 9-19 Gay Street.

1895 Sanborn Map of Gay Street

Gay Street today retains all of its 19th century demographic. While the only stores or non-residential buildings immediately touching Gay only have entrances on Waverly and Christopher Streets today, in 1895 it was not so. Waverly Place, (then spelled Waverley according to the map) was also exclusively host to living spaces, but today it is rife with coffee shops, bookstores, and restaurants. While its neighbors have undergone stark transformations, Gay Street from the exterior looks almost identical to how it was over a hundred years ago.

Demographically, Gay Street has consistently been comprised of multi-family residences up and down the block according to both the 1890 and 2010 censuses (U.S. Census Bureau), which leaves much room for mystery as to what occurs once these residents enter their front doors. The community of Gay Street is built beyond the sidewalks and the narrow street and people walking their dogs and simply walking home, but each building is a smaller enclave of its own.

Demographic Map of the Village

Key for Map, Above

In 2000, the median age was 38 on Gay Street (Socialexplorer.com), which explains the fact that whenever I go visit during the day on a weekday everyone is likely at work. Upon visiting this past Saturday night, however, the street came alive. Couples traipsed up and down Gay Street looking for a place to eat on Christopher or Waverly and enjoy the quiet walk on the way. Dogs were escorted, babies were pushed in strollers, and a sense of street-wide camaraderie was even more evident as people exited their front doors and headed into the heart of the Village.

Works Cited

“Digital Sanborn Maps 1867-1970.” Map. Digital Sanborn Maps — Splash Page. Web. 17 Oct. 2011. <http://sanborn.umi.com/&gt;.

“Social Explorer – Demographic Maps.” Social Explorer. Web. 17 Oct. 2011. <http://www.socialexplorer.com/&gt;.

United States. Census Bureau. Census Bureau Home Page. Web. 17 Oct. 2011. <http://www.census.gov/&gt;.

October 19, 2011

Wonderful Town Revival, 2003

Wonderful Town opens on Christopher Street in the 1930s. A tour guide leads a group across the street, and he’s singing. “On your left, Washington Square, Right in the heart of Greenwich Village… My what charm! My what grace! Poets and peasants on Waverly Place-“ (4).

By way of Ohio, Ruth and Eileen move to Greenwich Village, where they settle on Christopher Street. Wonderful Town was based on the collection of short stories by Ruth McKenney entitled My Sister Eileen, who in real life resided in the basement of 14 Gay Street. The musical changed this fact to show them at Christopher Street (“Ain’t it quaint, ain’t it swet, pleasant and peaceful on Christopher Street”) (4).

The tour guide starts to read. “Ever since 1870 Greenwich Village has been the Bohemian cradle of painters, writers, actors, etc., who’ve gone on to fame and fortune. Today in 1935, who knows what future greats live in these twisting alleys? Come along!” (4). Ruth, an aspiring writer, who throughout the play is described as the homelier yet more intelligent sister, sends her manuscripts everywhere with no success. Eileen, hoping to be an actress, is often regarded as the better looking, boy crazy sister, and meets men all around the city like it’s nothing. Upon their arrival, Ruth and Eileen meet all sorts of characters around Christopher Street.

Rosalind Russell as Ruth Sherwood

A philosopher carrying a sign saying “Meeting at Union Square” as he yells “Down with Wall Street! Down with Wall Street!” (8). A cop, an Italian who owns a restaurant, a former professional football player, a painter, all live on Christopher Street and interact with Ruth and Eileen. Suddenly, they find themselves living in a basement and paying the steep rent of $65. Through tribulations of underground workers blasting out the new subway (presumably the 1 train), eating spaghetti every night, the sisters wonder, “why, oh why, oh why, oh –  why did I ever leave Ohio?” (26). The sisters soon realize, however, that the hometown they left was stifling and the city they moved to was full of possibilities, albeit taking some getting used to. While Eileen meets man after man, Ruth remains disconcerted with her lack of male companionship, where she breaks into “One Hundred Ways to Lose a Man,” where she battles her wits and intelligence against being demure and dumb (37).

At the end of the play, after meeting upon meeting with editors, and one in particular, Mr. Bob Baker, getting arrested with Brazilian sailors in Brooklyn, Ruth realizes her success is imminent, and romance with Mr. Baker the editor ensues. After all of the tribulations and chaos, Ruth and her sister Eileen realize that moving to New York, and specifically the Village, was a great match. While Ohio was comfortable and homey, Ruth and Eileen’s experience on Christopher Street (but in actuality, Gay Street) honed the right amount of camaraderie and neighborhood relationships while at the same time opening them up to new career and romantic possibilities in a bigger, more bustling city.

October 26, 2011

Carlito’s Way is a far cry from the cheery city lifestyle portrayed in Wonderful Town! Just released after five years in prison, Carlito Brigante (Al Pacino) is ready for a crime-free lifestyle, away from drugs, gambling and gang life. He makes his way back to the barrio, but his first adventure with his cousin Guajiro turns sour fast. Thrown headlong back into the world of drug deals, Carlito has to defend himself as Guajiro is killed and the others involved are armed. Suddenly, Carlito realizes he cannot avoid his old life as easily as he thought.

Yet before Carlito went to prison, he was in love with a young dancer named Gail (Penelope Ann Miller). Soon after the altercation with Guajiro, Carlito goes to Gay Street, where we soon learn that Gail, who still dances, is living there. To Carlito, Gay Street does not represent possibility and promise, like in Wonderful Town, but rather, love lost and opportunity missed. While he eventually reunites with Gail, who lives in a huge apartment for her career of stripper-but-also-sometimes-dancer, their second try at a relationship is not seamless.  “Everything you learned in the neighborhood won’t do anything but get you killed,” Gail tells him.

Carlito’s attempts to remain far from crime are further compromised by his lawyer, Dave Kleinfeld (Sean Penn), a frequent user of cocaine and alcohol. Kleinfeld stole one million dollars from a client, an Italian mobster by the name of Tony Taglialucci. Taglialucci threatens Kleinfeld that he must help him break out of the Riker’s Island Prison, and Kleinfeld urges Carlito to help him. Carlito obliges, yet Kleinfeld ends up murdering Taglialucci and his son instead of helping him escape.

Suddenly, Carlito’s life seems to be going very poorly. His business deals continue to go awry, and his secrecy makes Gail lose trust in him. While he plans to save enough money to retire in the Bahamas with Gail, his plans are continually foiled by those around him, and especially the plots of those in the barrio.

Gail and Carlito outside her apartment

Kleinfeld also appears to consistently be on the other side of the law, and agrees to falsify information to put Carlito away after some of Taglialucci’s men attempt to assassinate him. Kleinfeld is killed in the hospital where he is recovering, and Carlito is now set on fleeing with Gail and his expected child. However, Taglialucci’s men and remaining son Vinny won’t let him off that easily. They pursue Carlito in Grand Central, where he encounters other men he has had altercations with in the past. Rather than escaping to paradise, the only way Carlito can flee his old lifestyle is through death.

Carlito’s Way shows a crime-ridden, seedy New York, and does not stop to highlight the differences between Gay Street and the rest of the city. The narrative of the story does not focus on New York, but rather Carlito and his relationships with others. It is, more than anything, a character piece that fails to see the intricacies of the neighborhoods and the way they shape the upbringings of its denizens. Other than consistent reference to “the barrio,” that is the only part of New York featured in the film. Gay Street to Carlito, although never explicitly outlined by name, represents love and a dream that is never realized.

Official Trailer: Carlito’s Way 1993

November 2, 2011

Gay Street on a Saturday night and Gay Street on a Tuesday night are polar opposites: like Jekyll and Hyde, or Phoebe Buffay and her twin Ursula. One Saturday night a couple of weeks ago, Gay Street, only lined with apartments, offered very little as far as nightlife, bars, or restaurants. Nonetheless, people were teeming on the street. Whether it was perusing the shops on Christopher and making their way south to see what lie ahead on Waverly, or, in my case, visiting one of two puppy shops on Christopher, Gay Street seems much more accessible at night. During the day, it is very obviously barren and vacated, but at night, pedestrians seem to be keen on more possibility. Lights were on inside the apartments, and I acknowledged that people were at home and planning their evenings (it was still sort of early). The nighttime on Gay Street on a weekend is much more inviting, as couples and groups of friends walked along it throughout the evening. While they didn’t ultimately find a destination on Gay Street itself, there were interactions to be had, new acquaintances to be made, and a whole communal sense of belonging and a willingness to peruse the rest of the Village as a group. As Joaquim Schlor puts it in “Night Walking,” the street turns into “the home of the collective” (236). He says that not only does the street provide an exchange of news and a fostering of relationships between neighbors, but that they also “take on a particular character as a result of it” (237).

Gay Street on the weekend

Conversely, Gay Street at night on a Tuesday is a horse of a very different color. Tuesdays are quiet, with hardly any lights on upstairs, suggesting that the residents of Gay Street may go to sleep on the early side. One woman emerged from her apartment, number 16, and rounded the corner onto 6th Ave. But something I noticed about the pedestrians of Christopher and Waverly that doesn’t happen during the day, is that more than several times, as people crossed Christopher or Waverly past Gay Street, they would always pause for a second and see what I was doing. Perhaps because my presence there was rare, or perhaps because they thought that they might be missing something on the street, my standing on Gay Street at night suggested that maybe something more was going on that they couldn’t see in the dark. Hidden partially by the night, they were willing to give Gay Street a second look.

As Schlor recounts from the Viennese physician Van Leyden, “I notice in myself an inclination for expeditions in the twilight areas and the darkest areas of the city. I feel that only from there will one understand the way the whole works” (241). Through walking on Gay Street at night in two entirely different scenarios, I acknowledged that the night time brings about much more possibility from the crooked street, and while nothing was occurring on the street on a weeknight, there seemed to be much more possibility than in the daytime.

November 9, 2011

Gay Street does not exist on television. There are no cozy coffee shops for sitcom characters to sit in, boutiques for women to shop at or bars to meet significant others. As far as television writing is concerned, it’s a bust, except for all of the places to live! Sadly, as far as my research has taken me, no producer has suggested that Gay Street be home to any television character, ever.

However, In “Metonymy and the Metropolis: Television Show Settings and New York City,” William J. Sadler and Ekaterina V. Haskins discuss the construction of the city through television in a way that Gay Street alone wasn’t very necessary. According to them, “the city becomes a collection of different iconic fragments that together construct a hegemonic narrative of postindustrial metropolis” (196). Through the amalgamation of several different kinds of television programs, the city is constructed as a place for school, a place for family, a place to find love and buy shoes, a gritty, crime-ridden urban landscape, or a place to sit and get coffee with your five best friends. Depending on the programs one tunes into, their vision of the city as a whole is skewed by what is portrayed.

Opening Credits, Season 3

The latter presents itself in the popular sitcom Friends, where the lives of six twenty-somethings  unfold in the West Village. While filmed in a studio in Los Angeles, the exterior shots of New York hope to construct a narrative of hip New York life, through landscape shots of the city and well-known landmarks. One such landmark, which I chose because it is situated so close to Gay Street,  is the Lucille Lortel Theatre. Joey often acts in plays at the Lortel, a popular independent theater on Christopher Street, near Hudson and Bedford. As a staple of Off-Broadway productions in New York since 1955, the Lortel was the perfect place to situate Joey’s productions since it was a hop, skip and a jump from his apartment on Bedford and Grove (which presumably Chandler the data analyst pays for, I don’t know).

Through situating itself in proximity to the Lucille Lortel Theatre and the intersection of Grove and Bedford where there apartments are, Friends makes the characters inherently immersed in the West Village. Ross becomes a Paleontology professor at NYU after working at the American Museum of Natural History, Rachel works at the coffee shop on the ground level of her building until she gets a job at Bloomingdale’s, and Phoebe is a masseuse. Their lives generally consist of going to work, getting coffee, going on dates, seeing fancy plays, and engaging in witty banter all of the time. To quote Sadler and Haskins, “Not only does it banish representations of poverty, homelessness, and racial tensions, but also it disallows any visible signs of these problems such as pan-handling, garbage-strewn streets, and graffiti-covered subway cars” (198).

The Friends Apartment, Bedford and Grove

This works well when each episode in Friends occur in a handful of locations. By keeping the setting in the building on Bedford and Central Perk, with few deviations to show characters at work, there is very little reason to go outside for these characters, except for few episodes such as “The One With The Baby On the Bus,” in which Joey and Chandler leave Ross’s baby on the bus, or “The One With the Football,” in which the friends play football on Thanksgiving nearby. The exterior shots, according to Sadler and Haskins, “have very little to do with the episode’s plotline, and they merely act as anchors. These images metonymically represent the whole city, and viewers come to identify the show’s setting by the use of these images,” (205). Nonetheless, Friends seems to exemplify an “everyday” illusion of New York and the Village, in a way that while New York didn’t explicitly alter their experience, it shaped the way that viewers think of New York, and how in turn New Yorkers adopt this sentiment.

Friends Clip Season 7

Works Cited

Crane, David, and Marta Kauffman. “The One With the Screamer.” Friends. NBC. 24 Apr. 1997. Television.

Sadler, W. J. “Metonymy and the Metropolis: Television Show Settings and the Image of New York City.” Journal of Communication Inquiry 29.3 (2005): 195-216. Print.

Bedford and Grove photo by Molly Salas

Poster of Cast on Crane, rephotographed by Molly Salas

November 16, 2011

For Randy Credico, it was time to get vocal about drug use on Gay Street. A resident of 13 Gay Street, Credico is adamant in an interview with The New York Times that the police are far too stringent about marijuana use on Gay Street, when they should be focusing on catching murderers and solving more serious problems.

Credico calls himself a “politically active comedian,” and finds it ludicrous that the smallest street in Manhattan, according to him, “nabs more people per capita than any block in the city. Right here on Gay Street.” As Gay Street often seems empty and quiet, it makes sense that marijuana users might use the block as a place where it would not be suspect to light up. “People come over here thinking since it’s off the beaten path that it’s a place, it’s a haven to smoke pot. It’s just the opposite,” Credico says.

His outspokenness has gotten him into trouble in recent years. In 2008, he tried to interfere with policemen arresting some young men for using marijuana outside his home. Although Credico was arrested for this interference, it has not hindered his advocacy for these drug users since. Through comedy clubs and working outreach to influence drug users to make better choices, Credico claims that he “uses the stage to attack the system.” He is critical of the ways that police officers use his street as a location to hit a quota of arrests and ambush mild offenders. “Either there’s a snitch or there’s a camera, I don’t know what,” he says.

Credico’s interview with The New York Times shows his willingness to create awareness of a problem he finds important, for he is not specifically discouraging people from lighting up at all, but rather hoping to prevent police officers from making arrests in such an obvious location. Sitting on his stoop, recounting the events of his interference with the arrest and, subsequently, his own arrest as a result, contributes to what Corbould would call “an assertion of self through sound” (862) Credico’s morals are clear: help others avoid a sticky situation by telling them not to break the law (or specially, to not break the law there.) Credico’s protection of his own space and the way he injects his morals into those around him, including the NYPD, allows him to “take possession of the soundscape,” to not sit idly while those who wander on his street decide to light up, but to take action while they are there, and through the interview, take preventative measures for the future (867). Credico’s arrest in 2008 has since gotten him countless interviews and articles in various newspapers, as well as gigs at comedy clubs to further spread his message through sound. As recently as October 27, Credico served as the MC for a comedy event regarding Occupy Wall Street, which gave protesters an opportunity to let off some steam as well as comedians to make conjectures about the longevity of the movement. All of this was done with a giant marijuana leaf to the performer’s right.

Mr. Credico’s Interview Can be Found Here.

Works Cited

Corbould, Clare. “Streets, Sounds and Identity in Interwar Harlem.” Journal of Social History 40.4 (2007): 859-94. Print.

Kilgannon, Corey. “Fending Off Pot Smokers on Gay Street – NYTimes.com.” Metro – City Room Blog – NYTimes.com. Web. 16 Nov. 2011. <http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/07/01/fending-off-pot-smokers-on-gay-street/&gt;.

November 21, 2011

Google Earth has, in recent years, brought the entire world to our fingertips through several well-placed clicks and drags of the mouse. From a completely zoomed-out view of the globe from space, I can hone in on particular continents, and view seemingly every corner of the planet, from expanses of the Sahara Desert to my neighbor’s deck in San Diego: it’s a voyeuristic medley of the whole world. In cities New York, Google Earth’s function of showing landmarks, shops, restaurants, coffee houses, parks, things that sound familiar or that they were included in a show or movie once, or tags of locations by users take up every block of the digital city. YouTube videos, Wikipedia articles, and user photos are attributed to specific locations where the videos were filmed or where the Wikipedia articles are about: as Galloway puts it, “ephemeral or transitory activities may be captured, stored, and redistributed in perpetuity,” (389).

As my little orange Google Earth man travels away from the aerial view into the street view, the buildings gain more of a texture, and the details of each façade on the street come into focus. As my little orange man’s perspective shifts along the street, a curious scene is in front of him (me?): people are everywhere! Along Gay Street, someone is exiting a cab, neighbors are chatting on the sidewalk, people are sitting on their stoops enjoying the day. Where has this Gay Street been on my visits? Where are all of the people? Furthermore, did Google just happen to get extremely lucky on this particular day that they captured Gay Street, or did they take picture after picture on several days, and chose these scenes for its good vibes and friendly demeanor? Did Google construct Gay Street to appear the way it does on their interface?

Part of the interactive tags on the map of Gay Street, back in the aerial view include things like “Gay Street – it’s really called that!” “Greenwich Village” “Christopher and Gay Street” among others. Other than the label explicitly stated on the map, users have taken it upon themselves to label this street, whether they have recognized it before, or take note of it because it its name that strikes them as humorous, Gay Street is something to be noticed. Through user contributions, an “augmented reality” of Gay Street is constructed. The name alone attracts visitors. The whole interface allows users to “augment physical spaces by providing context-specific information to mobile users walking through the city,” (392). Google Earth allows people to make their experiences relivable, through the interactivity of the program, walks along Gay Street can be recreated over and over again, with subtle reminders of what was there then and what is there now.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: