Is “Downtown” Dead?

Cookie Mueller.jpg

The art world isn’t the same. New dance is derivative; fashion’s faded; there’s been nothing major in American theater since Albee.
When one is in a graveyard mood, it seems as if all our blood has long since flowed under the bridge. Yet poets make hay from just such Margaret R U Grieving moments, and critics may too, especially with shows like the one now at New York’s Grey Gallery to spur us.
“Downtown Pix: Mining the Fales Archives 1961-1991″ took me and photographer friend Robin Holland on a melancholy trip back to the East Village and Tribeca, to the Soho Weekly News and Village Voice where we worked — sometimes for almost nothing. (At the Soho, my spouse, art critic John Perreault, and I were first paid in chits to a long-gone restaurant called the Locale.)
We had no choice but to immerse ourselves in that loud, ambitious, druggy ocean of talent, working and playing with dozens and dozens of artists and writers inside and out of those dusty offices. 
So here’s my downtown graveyard walk, just posted in Obit Magazine. 
Notes: The photo at the top (via Grey Gallery) is a Kate Simon portrait of Cookie Mueller, taken in 1989, the year Mueller died of AIDS-related illness. Film director John Waters called her “a writer, a mother, an outlaw, a fashion designer, a go-go dancer, a witch-doctor, an art-hag and above all, a goddess.” Cookie wrote juicy columns for the pre-Conde Nast Details — and was a pleasure to meet.


The contact prints at left were made when this writer spent his days and nights in and around the Soho Weekly News.
In case it isn’t clear, once you get a dose of downtown, you’re hooked.

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