For the past year and a half, maybe the coolest touristy thing to do in the city–even if you live here–has been the three-hour walking tour “The History of Art, Crime, Drugs, and Punk Rock on the Lower East Side,” led by Cro-Mags singer John Joseph.
“I had a front-row seat for the craziest, illest, most fucked-up shit you could ever fuckin’ believe,” says Joseph.
I got a fuckin’ photographic memory and I got stories out the wazoo,” he says. Among his anecdotes: Living in the same building as Daniel Rakowitz, who in 1989 killed his girlfriend, dismembered her, then cooked her into a soup that he fed to the homeless in Tompkins Square Park. Hanging out at 171A while the Beastie Boys and Bad Brains recorded their first albums. Going to Union Square–“it was called 14th Street Park back then, that shit was the Wal-Mart for drugs”–to cop pills, weed, and acid. Cops busting through the door of his squat at 713 E. 9th and sticking guns in his face; thugs doing the same with shotguns and pistols while taking over another squat at Eldridge and Rivington. Watching the jazz guys go to Tompkins to score dope, then play at A7 ’til the sun came up. Witnessing rival drug dealers and gang members killing each other in cold blood and warring with cops during Operation Pressure Point in Alphabet City in the mid-’80s.
“The History of Art, Crime, Drugs, and Punk Rock on the Lower East Side” walking tour happens on Sunday at 3 p.m., meeting at the Cube in Astor Place. Tickets are $35, with a portion of the proceeds going to Hardcore Against Hunger–Feeding Vegan Meals to the Homeless.
Expose Yourself To Cro-Mags Singer John Joseph’s “Fuckin’ Photographic Memory and Stories Out the Wazoo” on His Walking Tour of the LES
MICHAEL ALAN GOLDBERG
NOVEMBER 16, 2012