The Lower East Side—once home to the immigrants, the dreamers, and the destitute has become residence to a new legion of dot-commers, sheeshee bistros, bars for the bridge and tunnel crowd, overpriced housing, and yet still the best bagels in New York. Perhaps more than any neighborhood, the new Lower East Side epitomizes the gentrification of the city during the Giuliani administration, one where the original inhabitants of the area cannot afford to eat in. To be fair, the sterilization has only spread as far as Delancy Street, and east of that lies terrain thus relatively untouched by the hands of greedy developers and obnoxious post-collegiate hipsters. However, this area is mainly Puerto-Rican, Jewish, and elderly, and not really that punk at all.
The Lower East Side Stitches probably prefer the confines of Rivington Street, where DIY punk-haven ABC No Rio is located, amidst tailors and bodegas, yet their sound is too glammy for the LES; they’re definitely more of a St. Marks Street type band, where all the punk kids and wannabe punk kids from Long Island and Jersey hang out on the weekends to peruse the record shops and go see bands like D-Generation (when they used to play at Coney Island High, which has since been closed down, and rumors circulated that they were going to build a Burger King in its place, in true punk irony, but they space still remains vacant). Unfortunately, punk is no longer the sound of the LES (was it ever? Even in the heydays of the early ‘80s, CBGB’s was located on the Bowery between 2nd and 1st Streets, technically west of the Lower East Side), and now all you hear is salsa, bootleg hip-hop, and bad post-rock emanating from the practice spaces on Ludlow. Dreams still get swallowed up, even in a neighborhood as “cool” as the LES.
// Notes from the Road
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