Spent this warm mid spring Monday morning roaming the streets of SOHO in search of the past, trying to find myself and trying to find a good cup of coffee to wake me up after having gotten up extra early to help Jackie get a cab to LaGuardia to begin her extended Spanish holiday. Couldn't get back to sleep, no reason why I even thought I could, so took the F train downtown and eventually ended up on Prince Street where I spent a lot of time a long time ago. If I didn't know where I was, I wouldn't know where I was. Things have changed, they don't look the same, but then again nothing has changed, just me. At the corner of Prince and Elizabeth Streets there is still enough to anchor me to a life lived many lifetimes ago, and thanks to the Habana Coffee Shop/Cafe, at the corner of P&E, I was able to drag myself out of this depressing stupor.
Wasn't really in the mood to be taking pictures, just wanted to find a park bench in the sun to drink my coffee with some other old guys. This guy didn't seem like he'd mind or engage me in some mindless conversation which I was not feeling up to.....
but as I was walking up Elizabeth Street 4 or 5 storefronts north of Prince, I saw this sign for Moe's across the street from Albanese's which is still in operation. Moe's is now an art gallery, although the interior is still the original 1920's butcher shop. A must see, really.
By 11:30 I was getting hungry and had the good fortune to pass Prince Street Pizza at 27 Prince between Mott and Elizabeth in what was at one time the east end of Little Italy. Unlike most pizza places in NYC and just about everywhere in the USA these days which seem to be run by people from the middle east who are often nice but just move here and drive a cab, or open a convenience store or a pizza place but have no real understanding of the concept of what pizza is, this place was owned and operated by real Italians who understand that the transcendent nature of good pizza is more than the sum of its parts. Since it was still early, the pizza was fresh, hot, garlicky and great. So great in fact, that I could taste it for the rest of the day.
While I'm on the subject of drifting around SOHO on warm Sunday summer mornings in the 80's and 90's, here is a very interesting and foreboding photo I took on the corner of Prince and Mott in August of 1994, the beginning of the end of a golden age when lots of downtown NYC looked like this.
What was of particular interest here beside the image itself, is the outline of a body on the sidewalk under the poster advertising Jeff Buckley's first album Grace. He died about 3 years later at age 30. Am I making too much of this kind of coincidence? Maybe.