1/30th at F3.6, ISO 3200 (35mm).
I'm the biggest offender in romanticizing New York winters. The reality is that it's four months of this crap. It's gorgeous when you look up, but there's not much looking up on a daily basis.
1/30th at F3.2, ISO 3200 (35mm).
Here are the highlights of a fascinating interview that I had last week, where Santo spoke about playing shows in the old squats, the gallery scene, and the transition of the East Village. You can read the full interview on EVGrieve.
Name: Santo Mollica
Occupation: Owner, The Source Unlimited Copy Shop, Musician
"When the store first opened up there wasn’t too much happening in terms of the store itself. I was playing a lot of music in different clubs and came out with a few albums. I was doing the musician thing and working a lot of odd jobs. I was delivering tip sheets for this guy who used to handicap race horses for Belmont. In the morning I would deliver them to different newsstands for him. He would crank them out in his apartment and I would deliver them and then come here and open the store. I mean, you could live down here cheap. There was a lot of energy going on and it wasn’t all focused on making money because you didn’t have to make a lot to live here...
The copy business is interesting because you always see different people. It’s the same but different all the time because of what’s involved. People are always coming in with something, where you’re like, I don’t even know what this is? Nowadays we get more students. The focus when we started was mostly for the two of us to have a job because I was giving the music a shot. I had some good notoriety with some of my albums, charted on college stations, some light touring. Mostly at that time I was doing guitar, vocals, some percussion and then I shifted over to percussion. Now I back people up as a percussionist. I do some jazz, some folk-rock, whatever the call is really. That’s where it’s at for me.
I used to play a lot of these, I guess they were squats. People would have shows there. These were places where they’d give you a bucket to go into the bathroom and you’d have to pour the water in, or the lights were coming in from the lampposts. They would string electricity from the lampposts. They were co-ops in the purest sense. It was guerilla construction. They made it livable and habitable. It was them who made the neighborhood what it is now because they started living here. It wasn’t just a drug block anymore. It became a viable and livable place.
Around the early to mid 1980s a lot of the art galleries started coming in and the area became more commercial, for better or for worse. There were always the cafe society people and the artists and writers but more people started coming around when more stores started opening up. The galleries took some of the danger out since there were more people coming around. That was when things started changing and the landlords started getting wise to the fact that they could get more money. Before that they were like, ‘Please, take my place.’ Or they were just abandoning them. The values started rising and people started to realize the value but there was also no residual effect in the neighborhood from the galleries. You would see the limos pull up, you’d see the people get out, go to the gallery, do whatever they were doing, get back in the limo, and then they were gone.
The same thing happened in Williamsburg and in Bushwick. We kind of wrote the book on that and everybody followed it after that. Get the artists in here and get them in here cheap. You think one thing is happening and it’s not. I remember Red Square on Houston Street. When that came in everybody was like, 'this is bad news.' It was one of the first luxury places but before they got the Blockbuster and Fedex in there they just had the buildings up and they wanted some notoriety, so they’d have art shows, where the Sleepy’s is. It was like we did in the squats. We played there at an art gallery opening and it was all cinder blocks and it was cold. I didn’t realize at the time what was going on.
I’m old school and have been through the battles. There ain’t too many people left that can say that. But we’re here now and we’re doing stuff and trying to keep it going forward. We’re trying to retain a little bit of the old school but meanwhile be conscious of now and not be living back then. I’m not big on the way things were and that kind of stuff, because things were a certain way before I got here. I was the new guy so I can’t begrudge other new guys. I’m not big on the way things were and that kind of stuff, because things were a certain way before I got here. I was the new guy so I can’t begrudge other new guys."
1/250th at F3.2, ISO 3200 (35mm).