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East Village Eye, Back For One Big Edition


In 1981, I had just moved to the States and was looking for work as a music critic. I contacted New Musical Express New York correspondent Richard Grabel, who recommended I try the East Village Eye. So instead of calling the offices, I walked to Avenue B and 4th street, where the publisher and editor Leonard Abrams heard me out, despite my not having one review with me. He stuck me behind the typewriter, asked me for 500 words and no more on a new release with “Remember, brevity is the soul of wit”, and went off to buy wings. By the time he came back, I was finished and I used that review (of Pil’s Paris The Spring -I overestimated it) to get into the Village Voice and the Village Voice to get into Creem.

I was good friends with Leonard and the late great managing editor Richard Fantina and so the news that the lefty arts and politics monthly was coming back  “for one big Special Edition in conjunction with the East Village Eye Show this September” was something in the nature of tidings of great joy.

Some of my closest friends in the 80s (hi Celeste) wrote for the Eye, whose  tagline “It’s all true” was, indeed, all truth, though perhaps more of a reflection of Leonard’s (a documentarian today) vision of speaking truth to power, than we realized at the time. Ground zero for the AIDs decimation of the local art scene, with the likes of Keith Haring and Cookie Mueller contributing and dying on its watch. A Reagan hater of immense proportions, East Village Eye was around to watch the scene crumble before its eyes as gentrification and Reaganism took its toll.

The office itself was a magical place, with writers, proofreaders, and art directors all over the place, huge mock-ups quite literally, cut and pasted. Talk about an education in magazine publishing, it was magazine publishing come to life. The place was a knockout, pop heroes from Jeanette Lee (yes, back to PiL) to Richard Hell would hang out there, music always playing, the energy level through the roof.

One more thing, on a personal level I was broke and Leonard suggested I sell ads. This directly lead to my spending the following 30 years plus in advertising, so really, yeah, very important for me. Let’s hope Leonard decides to expand the scope.

The East Village Eye Show, September 9th to October 9th at Howl!


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