St. Marks Place
When the teenage version of me visited NYC, the destination was always the punk-infested East Village. I don't know if anyone has written about that moment at St. Marks Place, before hip-hop made it to MTV and grunge blew its head off, but it was a weird mix of stuff. Punk, at that moment in the form of hardcore, persisted as the prevailing aesthetic of the region, but it also seemed vaguely interested in the popular music of the time, which happened to be heavy metal and country music. It's a weird memory, but that strange influence created more hairsprayed manes and cowboy hats than you'd expect. It was punk, but it was punk trying to stay current -- somewhat humorously, or maybe ironically. And politically, punk seemed alive because it was a bit flexible, current, pragmatic. Now when I walk through St. Marks, I see something different. The punks who remain, in far smaller numbers, and now peeing on the Chipotle, all look like original '70s punks, with an aggressively retro aesthetic. Perhaps my philosophy of pastiche pragmatism would make no sense to these purists, but I can't help feeling that this reactionary anti-style is only style. Anyway, that's what I was thinking while reading this NY Mag story on the current punk scene at St. Marks.