Filmmaker to Get ‘High on Ludlow Street’ with New Documentary [INTERVIEW]
BB: What are your thoughts on the current state of Ludlow Street as nightlife district (above Delancey)?
Management companies now rent the storefronts and apartments, the days of handshake deals are a thing of the past. Bloomberg handed out liquor licenses like party favors. The families are long gone, many bought out for 5K. South of Delancey has galleries, some sweet boutiques, and New York treasure The Metrograph… but above Delancey is another story.
I learned of “Hell Square,” the grid within Houston, Delancey, Allen and Essex. Even on weekday nights it’s like Bourbon Street during Mardis Gras. Although the pandemic put it on pause. For my neighbors Steve and Anna, who once jumped through flames to survive and remain on Ludlow, “Hell Square” says it all. At the same time there are young dreamers landing in Chinatown, out in Ridgewood or Bushwick. We had a “moveable feast” for a while on Ludlow and as Hemmingway said, “wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you”. Everything is cyclical. As this pandemic fades, who knows where the next Ludlow will pop up?
Carlo McCormick and I were recently marveling at how our kids and their friends are so creative and forward thinking, while at the same time analog in many ways. My daughter Milah founded a print art magazine called Dizzy and has her 8th issue coming out, my son Travis creates graphic novels and comic books. They both have directed music videos and short films. When Travis was in his twenties he lived on Ludlow south of Delancey, renting a room from a Chinese family that didn’t speak a word of English. Both kids have pals who run spaces and galleries on Ludlow. One is called Entrance at 48 Ludlow. Another is 22 Ludlow.
So the creative spirit lives on at the southern end where, in many ways, it all began in 1962 when Tony Conrad moved into 56 Ludlow. He found a copy of The Velvet Underground by Michael Leigh lying in the gutter on the Bowery and that is how the band is named. In July 1965, Lou Reed, Sterling Morrison, and John Cale recorded the first VU demo in Tony’s building. That same year Brian Jones (who abandoned The Stones tour for Manhattan) was brought to 56 Ludlow by Al Aronowitz to meet Lou Reed and Sterling Morrison and to score some acid.
And so it goes.