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East Village Eye Publisher Leonard Abrams Dies

Leonard Abrams, the sixty eight year old former editor and publisher of East Village Eye and subsequent documentarian died of a heart attack a mere two weeks after the New York Public Library acquired the East Village Eye archives consisting of documents, manuscripts, artworks, videos, ephemera and a complete run of the original printed publication.

The East Village Eye was an arts, politics, and pop publication that published from between May 1979 and January 1987, if The Village Voice was the elder statesman of downtown, and Soho News its kid brother alternative, East Village Eye were the new kids on the block, scrappy, holy independent chroniclers of the world outside Leonard’s storefront window.

Abrams gave me my first break after I wandered off the streets and asked for an assignment. I sat at his typewriter and gave him 500 words on a Public Image Ltd and walked into a career back in 1980. East Village Eye was a blast with a who’s who of pop stars on a certain level (Richard Lloyd passed out in an armchair, sure, Jeanette Lee and Futura 2000 dating? There they are), cool guys like Cookie Mueller (Dr. Mueller to you) and Gary Indiana. There were parties constantly, music, art galleries, and a hybrid world of burgeoning violence on the streets, for the Eye 4th street and Avenue B.

Run with the late Richard Fantina (When Fantina left they survived one more issue), it was a manual of lower east side hip and, for me, a calling card that got my foot in the door.

After Eye closed, Abrams continue as a documentarian including his masterwork “Quilombo Country” (here) about the indigenous tribes of Brazil who came from escaped slaves. Chuck D did the voiceover.

The last time I spoke with Leonard I gave him an article for a one off revival of the magazine in 2018, I was in England at the time of the party and missed it.

But I wish I had thought to thank him for taking a chance on me. Abrams was a good man, and a great artist and entrepreneur from a golden age of Manhattan

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