The transformation of Orchard and Broome Streets into the Little Italy of the 1970s continues in preparation for the filming of The Irishman, director Martin Scorsese’s mob drama on the disappearance of labor boss Jimmy Hoffa.
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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.
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.
Greenwich Village in 1960 was ground zero for folk music. Beat poets of the ’50s gave way to folk singers in Village coffee houses like the Gaslight Café and Café Bizarre. Musicians gathered at the Kettle of Fish bar and Izzy Young’s Folklore Center, which sold books, records and instruments.
Bob Dylan Is the Village Voice’s Final Cover Boy, But He Wasn’t the First to Record ‘Blowin’ in the Wind’
It is appropriate that the Village Voice ends its print run today with a photo of Bob Dylan on its cover. Like the Voice, which launched in 1955, Dylan also got his start in a Greenwich Village filled with coffee houses and small clubs that featured poetry readings and folk music.
As a member of the New World Singers, singer-guitarist Happy Traum was a regular on the Village music scene. This week Traum talked with us about Gerde’s Folk City, the West 4th Street club where Dylan played his first professional gig in April 1961. Traum recalled that before Dylan performed it on stage, he shared the lyrics to perhaps the best loved folk anthem: “Blowin’ in the Wind.”
For perhaps the entire life of Lanza’s, all its customers passed under a turn of the century ad for PN Corsets. The sign was there in 1993 when Woody Allen used Lanza’s for a restaurant scene in Manhattan Murder Mystery. In 2015 we featured the PN ad, painted on the adjoining building, in a collection of neighborhood ghost signs.
“As the hour grew late and working people around Tompkins Square Park began turning out the lights on Memorial Day 1967, police asked several hundred music lovers to turn down the volume of a guitar-and-bongo concert in the park,” reported the New York Daily News. “The crowd’s reply … was a barrage of bottles, bricks and fists that left seven officers injured.
“And thus began the Summer of Love.”
Political hype started long before those red MAGA hats. “Modern political buttons really started with the McKinley-Bryan election of 1896 and some of the early ones were amazingly colorful and detailed,” said Marty Kane, a collector, as he told us about the political memorabilia show that took place Sunday on the Lower East Side.
On the eve of the release of Martin Scorsese’s latest film Silence, a new exhibition traces the director’s career from its birth in Little Italy. Although Scorsese moved from his parents’ apartment on Elizabeth Street decades ago he has said, “A lot of what I learned about life came from there.” The exhibition at Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria tells the director’s story through approximately 600 artifacts, most drawn from Scorsese’s personal collection.
For Ramones fans, Forest Hills High School in Queens is as seminal a site as performance venues CBGB and Max’s Kansas City. The school is where the Ramones – Joey, Dee Dee, Johnny and Tommy – first met. On Sunday, the intersection in front of the school at 67th Avenue and 110th Street was renamed The Ramones Way to honor the late pioneers of punk rock.