The closing of two beloved record stores wasn’t the only blow dealt to Manhattan’s music scene over the weekend. Down on the Lower East Side, the social center known as ABC No Rio hosted its last two shows in its home of over three decades.
I often wonder if we would have ever left Manhattan, had a strange man not been living in the basement of our apartment.
Living in the city is a surreal experience for most post-grads – high rise buildings full to the brim with clouds of marijuana, organic produce, and receipts from the local dry cleaner – and if our little corner of the Lower East Side was not one of the last safe places for stowaways, vagabonds, and migrant workers, perhaps we would have continued on with life the way it was; my girlfriend, Danielle, pushing papers for a small corporate law office, and me, pitching diversity inclusive initiatives to one of the last generations of old white men in corporate advertising.
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Six years ago, Josefina Blanc, a former photography editor at Art & Commerce, found herself priced out of Bushwick when the rent on the 10,000 sq. ft. loft shot up from $2,500 to $8,000. Her husband, a performance artist now represented by a gallery in Chelsea, had spent years renovating the space with the understanding that, in exchange, the rent would remain stable, but efforts to appeal to their landlord were in vain. The couple decided to call it quits and moved to South Carolina that year.
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