If you’ve ever been to Union Square, you’ve seen them: They chant, drum; sometimes they even give you a free copy of their scripture. Hare Krishnas are often shrugged off as an urban oddity on par with clipboard people, but what lies behind those orange robes and endless mantras?
“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.
Owner Stephanie Wang greets a dripper at the new Drip Alchemy Bar (Photo courtesy of The Alchemist’s Kitchen/ Nutridrip)
“It’s the age of integration,” explained Ingrid, the in-house herbalist on duty at The Alchemist’s Kitchen.
I would have nodded agreeably if there wasn’t a large needle jammed into my arm, delivering a pinkish-orange liquid straight into my veins by way of a plastic tube. It’s safe to say that I was probably one of the first people to shoot up on the corner of First and First since Mars Bar was torn down there years ago. But I wasn’t mainlining China White– I was undergoing the Drip Alchemy Experience, a “nutrient-rich journey” currently on offer at The Alchemist’s Kitchen, which opened in February on the ground floor of the sleek condo building that replaced Mars Bar.
“I was very logical for my whole adolescence until I got a little older and I moved to LA. I started to reintroduce myself to these aspects of the metaphysical world,” explained Vanessa Cuccia, the founder of Chakrubs— a company that makes “sex toys made from 100 percent pure crystal.”
She was addressing a small class of women at Please, a sex shop in Park Slope– for the occasion, the shades were drawn at what’s normally a proudly-transparent establishment. Eileen, Vanessa’s friend and member of her original “focus group” cradled an acoustic guitar and a permanent smile.
A few years ago, Vanessa started carrying crystals around with her “everywhere she went” (according to the event invite that first attracted me to this class), but her bond with crystals took an entirely different turn after a woman with a “very large crystal collection” presented her with a particularly attractive specimen. “That would make a great dildo,” she recalls telling the room full of neo-spiritualists. “And the idea just kept growing and growing and growing.”