September 20, 2007

E. 1st Street and Red Velvet Cupcakes (on E. 4th)

(Ed. note: To appreciate this post more fully, please read the post, 1917: Trotsky's Flâneur Boy Wanders Downtown.)

Yes, Seryozha, there really is a First Street, and it's still here in 2007, ninety years after your daddy took you home so he could lead the Red Army. Considering what befell all of you, I wish you had stayed in New York and grown up in the city. I will tell you about First Street in 2007, a charming and humble byway in what we call the East Village.

We'll walk from west to east on First Street, beginning at the Bowery. The famous anarchist Emma Goldman first lived on the Bowery when she arrived in the city, and she came to see your daddy deliver his farewell address in NYC in 1917.

The first block, Seryozha, between the Bowery and 2nd Avenue, has sadly been colonized by bourgeois arrivistes. Breaking the heart of the late Jane Jacobs, developers replaced vibrant street life with overly pricey nondescript condominium developments called Avalon. I visited their website (hard to explain to a boy from 1917, sorry), and I was surprised to see that they tell interested buyers that Washington Square Park is located in the East Village. Is there no end to their bourgeois lies, Seryozha?

You and your daddy would enjoy the blocks further to the east. Right away, on the left at 36 East First Street you'll find the offices of The Catholic Worker. Still publishing! Dorothy Day, who founded the paper, started out with a socialist daily, the Call, and interviewed your daddy for her first assignment. Continuing, we see organic spas, an Australian eatery, a playground, and so much more. First Street peters out at Avenue A, so we'll walk around these avenues also.

For a special end to our walk, Seryozha, I'll treat you to a red velvet cupcake at the family owned Pinisi Café on E. 4th.

By the way, if you had accomplished your walk from 164th Street in the Bronx to First Street, you would have traveled 8 miles. That's far for a little boy to walk!

Check out an entertaining presentation about a Trotsky impersonator showing up in an old Fox Movietone newsreel here.

Finally, your daddy would be amused to know that Frida Kahlo is still really famous, not because she was a Trotskyite but because she lived a colorful life and was in so much pain.

Image: Walking Off the Big Apple's beloved Frida Kahlo doll

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