About Frank Mastropolo

Posts by Frank Mastropolo:

No Comments

Hate Trump? There’s a Button For That

Even Super Bowl Sunday could not keep Donald Trump from dominating the discussion at the Political Memorabilia Show at Seward Park High School. The school’s alumni association partnered with the Big Apple Chapter of the American Political Items Collectors to feature buttons and posters that championed political heroes and hacks, pop culture icons and social causes of the past.

More →

No Comments

Is This the Last Relic of the Hippies on St. Marks Place?

(Photo: Frank Mastropolo)

It couldn’t have been easy being a barber on St. Marks Place during the hippie era but somehow one shop has survived. Now called the St. Marks Barber Shop, the haircutter has been around since the 1960s or ’70s, according to Albert, one of the shop’s barbers.

Recovering hippies may recall when this was the Royal Unisex Barber Shop, located across St. Marks from the Electric Circus. A ghost sign, with mind-blowing psychedelic lettering, was covered by a new sign for the shop in 2017 but was recently resurrected.

For more ghost signs of the East Village and Lower East Side, check out our series.

8 Comments

The Fillmore East, ‘Church of Rock N Roll,’ Recalled By Those Who Helped Open It 50 Years Ago

During 1967’s Summer of Love, the Village Theater at 105 Second Ave. was New York’s premier rock music venue. The Anderson Theater, two blocks south, competed with rock acts in early 1968. But the landscape changed later that year when San Francisco promoter Bill Graham converted the Village Theater into the Fillmore East. Most of Graham’s technical staff defected from the Anderson, which soon closed. Graham’s “Church of Rock ‘n’ Roll” presented stars that included Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, John Lennon, Eric Clapton and Elton John.

The Fillmore East’s March 8, 1968 debut show featured Big Brother & the Holding Company with Janis Joplin a month after the band rocked the Anderson. The show also featured blues great Albert King and folk rocker Tim Buckley. Graham’s eclectic lineups exposed rock fans to the best of jazz, folk, blues, Latin and Eastern music and made the East Village the center of the rock universe. Competition from arenas like Madison Square Garden and increased salary demands from bands convinced Graham to close the Fillmore East on June 27, 1971. Graham died in a helicopter crash in 1991.

The 50th anniversary of the Fillmore East will be celebrated tonight, March 8, at Theatre 80 in the East Village, and next month the Who will release a live album recorded at the Fillmore East in 1968. For an inside look at its history, we talked with some of the people who worked backstage and on stage at the storied venue.

More →

2 Comments

The Anderson Theater, Forgotten Forerunner of the Fillmore East

Unlike the former Fillmore East two blocks north, there is no plaque at 66 Second Avenue between 3rd and 4th Streets to honor the Anderson Theater. The forgotten Anderson kicked off with a series of rock concerts sponsored by Crawdaddy magazine on February 2, 1968 with Country Joe and the Fish, Jim Kweskin and Soft White Underbelly, predecessor to Blue Oyster Cult. Notable bands followed in the months ahead: the Yardbirds, Traffic, Procol Harum, Moby Grape and Big Brother & the Holding Company featuring Janis Joplin. Big Brother’s Feb. 17 show introduced Joplin to many New York rock fans.

More →

No Comments

Scorsese Continues Little Italying LES For Irishman Shoot

Work continues apace as Orchard and Broome Streets turn into 1970s Little Italy for the upcoming filming of The Irishman. Directed by Martin Scorsese, the Netflix film stars Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Harvey Keitel and Joe Pesci.

Yesterday we showed you the replica of the original Umberto’s Clam House. The mob favorite, at 129 Mulberry Street, at Hester Street, was where gangster Joey Gallo met his fate. Era-correct yellow street signs that will be used for the film show the attention to detail Scorsese is famous for.

Many of the other faux storefronts also depict real businesses. Forzano Italian Imports and E. Rossi Italy Music & Book, from Friday’s story, were Mulberry Street mainstays back in the day.

Click through our slideshow to see the latest reveals.

No Comments

Scorsese Transforms the LES Into ’70s Little Italy, For The Irishman

(Photos: Frank Mastropolo)

This week Lower East Side hipsters may fret that the neighborhood’s invasion of piercing salons and beard-trimming shops has come to an end. Storefronts on Orchard and Broome Streets sport signs reminiscent of 1970s Little Italy. Signs for E. Rossi’s Italy Music & Book Co., Vitale Funeral Home, Hester Discount Hardware and others have popped up, seeming to herald a comeback for the mom-and-pop shops the man-bun crowd has shunned.

But don’t worry, the shops will be gone soon. The signs are props for the filming of The Irishman, the upcoming Netflix film that examines the disappearance of union boss Jimmy Hoffa in 1975. The flick stars mob drama heavyweights Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Harvey Keitel and Joe Pesci. It reunites De Niro and Keitel with Martin Scorsese, who directed the pair in another LES drama, 1973’s Mean Streets.

Based on the 2003 book I Heard You Paint Houses by Charles Brandt, The Irishman marks Scorsese’s long-awaited return to the gangster genre. Shooting began here in August and will continue through December, just in time for SantaCon to arrive.

1 Comment

If 8th St. Became Jimi Hendrix Way, Would It Get More Crosstown Traffic?

An imagination of Jimi Hendrix Way (Frank Mastropolo)

In the mid-1960s, Jimi Hendrix honed his craft as a singer and guitarist in Greenwich Village clubs like the Gaslight Café, Trude Heller’s, and Café au Go Go. After a 1966 performance at the Café Wha?, Hendrix was persuaded to go to London and form the Jimi Hendrix Experience. He returned to New York a superstar. Hendrix moved to West 12th Street in 1969 and in 1970 built his most enduring Village legacy, Electric Lady Studios.

More →