I would like to announce that Ruby and I have came to the conclusion that there will be no need for the pair of us to return to the United Kingdom. We are perfectly at home here. We have mastered the subway and are well aware to tip everyone and anyone at 20%. We survived an unguided trip through Harlem and figured out the ATM. We are professionals at attracting free gifts in uber cool shops and we worked out alone that Avenue A is a completely different street from the Avenue of Americas.
We caught subway 6 to 125th street, East Harlem. We emerged from the underground station, greeted by a crew of B boys dancing. An elderly man with greying dreadlocks paced up and down the block carrying a ghetto-blaster with hip hop tunes blaring. Sounds typically cliche but this is what we found on the corner of Martin Luther King Jr Avenue.
I had preconceptions that I might be a little scared or intimated venturing so far north of Manhattan, unguided and with an eight year old child but that certainly was not the case. I’ve come to the realisation that native New Yorkers instantly fall in love with Ruby, how she looks and how she carries herself. Despite the neighbourhood we have been inundated with admirers and Harlem was no different. Phrases such as ‘Daaaamn guuuurl’ and ‘you working that out’ put incredibly large smiles on our face and sniggers in our throats as we soaked in the atmosphere of our cultured surroundings.
Making our way towards Harlem River Drive and on the hunt for the Crack is Wack playground. Particularly easy to find, we both broke out in a sprint as we saw from a distance the mural by one of our favourite artists.
I can’t remember when I was first introduced to Keith Haring’s art, I believe it may have been by my big sister. I’m an 80’s kid so stars like Madonna and Cyndi Lauper made a huge impact in my younger years. As I got older I discovered reasoning behind Haring’s art and I appreciate the social and political meaning behind each piece and his progression in raising awareness of homosexuality and AIDs. I’ve influenced Ruby who is too young to understand Haring’s philosophies but finds pleasure in his simple, abstract design. She has many Haring prints at home including IPad covers and a suitcase which she purchased in Paris last year. We spent some time in the playground distorting our bodies into different ‘radiant baby’ shapes and taking cool pictures.
Venturing across the Harlem streets we caught the 3 Subway to Chelsea Market for lunch. A melting pot of desirable street food, including opulent lobster bars and cute ice cream vendors. We grabbed some corn tacos and made our way to the high line park to relax.
The High Line is the New York City linear park built in Manhattan on an elevated section of a disused Central Railroad spur called the West Side Line. It stretches through the Meat Packing District and Chelsea and offers brilliant views of downtown. It’s an amazing place to hangout with plenty of eating and lounging space.
We moved onto Greenwich Village and instantly felt at home with the bohemian vibe. We visited thrift shops and flee markets and I was gifted a fishnet eye mask from an eccentric shop owner. We ate snow-cones in Washington Square Park and dreamed we were part of the Beat movement. We strolled along 8th Street and onto St Marks Place and the East Village which is alive with punk boutiques, tattoo parlours and fetish shops.
‘Trash and Vaudeville opened in 1975, and has been providing Rock n’ Roll to wear ever since.
Born out of the 1970’s rock and punk scene on St. Marks Place in New York City, Trash and Vaudeville has always provided a wide variety of alternative fashion for Rockers, Mods, Punks, Goths, Rockabillies, and everyday working class heroes who just wanted to walk and dress on the wild side.
Trash and Vaudeville was founded by Ray Goodman in June of 1975. Ray discovered St. Marks Place at the age of 13, and never left. He was immediately attracted to the incredible energy that surged throughout the block. Whatever the scene was – Beatniks – Hippies – Glam – Punk – it was all going down on St. Marks Place.’
We had another surreal moment in this store as we were greeted by Ray himself. Bleached feathered hair, every inch of his body covered in brilliant tattoos, a leather waistcoat and a pair of studded winklepickers. If I can choose anyone to be my grandfather it would be him. I was in Punk heaven and snaked my way through the rails of straight jackets, rubber tshirts and bondage trousers. Happy with the garments I had chosen I made my way to the cash desk. Ray was taking a call so I patiently waited for service. Rudely listening in to the conversation where Ray was using the word fuck a lot, he was furiously trying to explain to the receiver that Rod Fucking Stewart has done a Fucking lot and where the Fuck would anyone be without Fucking Rod Fucking Stewart! (I was laughing hysterically inward.) he hung up and I had his attention, to which he then informed me ‘that was fucking Slash man, I’m gona stay at his at the weekend, fucking Rod Stewart man’. Oh my god, I just smiled and nodded I don’t believe a reply was necessary.
Ray joined the Ruby Admiration Society and told her, he didn’t like kids but she was adorable then gave her a free pair of ‘kitty’ socks. I left the shop bewildered, mind blown at said events.
Ending up at the Samuel Cox statue and another picture perfect moment as we reenacted the famous shot of Jack Kerouac taken by Allen Ginsberg in exactly the same place.
A long walk (we lost our map) back to time square and a spot of well deserved toy shopping for Ruby. A gourmet burger and beer at the Rockefeller Plaza then onto Broadway to see ‘Finding Neverland’ a new production starring Kelsey Grammer and co written by Gary Barlow. The start was incredible, I didn’t see the rest, I fell asleep!
Long live the VEF and I’m a PUNK so GOD SAVE THE QUEEN.