#114, East Village, NYC
It's about time I showed EVil some love. No, I don't mean the opposite of good, I'm talking about the East Village. You'd think with all the asinine nicknames cooked up over the years for New York or Brooklyn 'hoods that EVil would have caught on earlier. No, instead we are subject to anxious realtors foisting BoCoCa on us, which you can certainly say ten times fast faster than "Boerum Hill, Cobble Hill, Carroll Gardens," but what was wrong with just calling a garden a garden? On second thought, I'll retract my suggestion. It's a small step from EVil to WeVil (the West Village), to NoCanWeWeBroad (North of Canal Street, West of West Broadway), and Hell'sea (the zone between Hell's Kitchen and Chelsea). Better to nip it in the bud before anyone starts getting any more zany ideas.
When I first moved to the city eight years ago, I spent most of my time wandering and exploring the East Village: the Den at Two Boots on Avenue A, KGB bar on East 4th, A Salt and Battery (the chipper with an atmosphere oddly like a lonely high school cafeteria), and the various Irish pubs near the photography studio where I worked as a desk girl, greeting vapid models and making kick-ass cappuccinos for the Italian photographers. The grid layout and numbered street names made it easy for a newcomer to get around, and I loved taking it all in: the noise from the basketball courts, the decaying building facades (Dude, that Led Zeppelin cover was shot here!), the surprise of finding a used book store or tea salon on one of the unassuming blocks.
This 114 is pretty uncharacteristic of the more worn, do-it-yourself aesthetic found in the East Village, so the sharp, pristine shapes caught my eye immediately. The numbers seem to hover in mid-air, shadows clinging to the dark door behind it, like a well-heeled stranger clutching her handbag or his briefcase a little tighter upon discovering they've ventured into the wrong neighborhood. But you just feel like clamping a hand on that stranger's shoulder and saying, "Hey Buddy/Hey Lady, relax. No one's gonna swipe your stuff. No one's even looking at you." Except this is a number. And of course, I'm always looking.