What's Good? Friday (sorry)
Thinking of the people I've interviewed who are no longer here. #38
My own issue of the East Village Eye.
Back in February, the FAQNYC team interviewed Leonard Abrams, former publisher of the East Village Eye, and Julie Golia, curator for the New York Public Library. The NYPL had recently acquired Abrams’ collection of the arts and culture publication he ran from 1979 through 1987, and both wanted to talk about its influence and what the library had
We spoke for about 45 minutes. It was Leonard’s first zoom so it took a bit of time to get that together, and he ended up calling in anyway because his headphones were making a weird sound. But our conversation was so fascinating to me. We learned about his time in New York City, what it was like to run a publication like his, what he’s done in the decades since. I loved that he didn’t do what so many people tend to do, which is to believe that the time they lived in a place – the time they consumed its culture – was the only important time. Leonard still believed in New York City, even though it was now so expensive to make it work. But the young people, he said, “they live in very small places. they live in basements, they live in holes in the wall, they share. They still go out, they go to clubs, they do all kinds of creative things..”
We finished the interview, we published it, I bought a copy of the East Village Eye on eBay, and I moved on to the next story.
This week, my colleague Harry Siegel shared that Leonard had died suddenly of a heart attack. It made me very sad to think of all the things he talked about wanting to do, having finally found a home for one of his creative passions.
Being a reporter is weird, in a lot of ways. You meet people briefly, you learn as much as you can about them, and then that’s it. If something happens to them, sometimes your story is the 2nd or 3rd Google hit, oddly connecting you with them forever.
Years ago I wrote about a surprise retirement party for a beloved ice cream man in Glendale. It was a strangely moving experience. The person who threw the party was upset that more people didn’t show up, and she worried the party wasn’t everything she hoped for. But once Steve Stathopolous, known as Steve the Ice Cream Man, made it to Yerman’s Pub, all of that went away. He said the party made him feel “like a king.” When I found out he died a year later I was so upset I went to his funeral, wanting to show some respect.
That same year I wrote about Tommie O’Quinn, who owned a mysterious storefront on Northern Boulevard that never seemed to be open. When I finally got a hold of him I learned that the shop had random things, like a motorcycle, but was really just a showcase for his son’s basketball career. At the time, Kyle O’Quinn was playing for the Orlando Magic, but the Queens kid first reached legendary status when his 15th-seed Norfolk State upset 2nd-seeded Missouri to advance in the NCAA tournament in 2012. Tommie died later that year in a car accident, and when Kyle was traded to the Knicks he spoke about how rough that loss was. He wished his dad was alive to see him play for the home team, the man who loved him so much he turned a whole storefront into a shrine.
(I also wrote about the big indictment scene this week but these above stories are more significant, in my mind.)
Other interesting reads this week:
I’m bringing Rat Stanley on a little trip and there won’t be a newsletter next Friday. Where are we going? Stay tuned!
Thanks for reading!