Well, the Grateful Dead that is anyway. On June 1, 2017 – marking exactly 50 years ago to the day – the Grateful Dead Tribute Band (Ice Petal Flowers) brought along some speakers and decorated the area with tapestries hung from the fence. It was June 1, 1967 that marked the start of a relationship between NYC and The Grateful Dead. They played their very first (free) show at Tompkins Square Park.
So at the beginning of this month the music from that time came alive again. Passersby checked out what was happening and then just stuck around because the band was great. Official NYC Grateful Dead Family DJ Matt Lilly said he was “pleasantly surprised” by the quality of the music; they knew what they were doing. They were clearly true fans.
The event lasted around four hours and was thoroughly enjoyed by fans young and old, putting out “good vibes and great music.”
Over the last 40 years, the East Village has changed quite substantially in terms of eateries and shopping options. According to Bruce Weber however, some things have stayed the same. One of those is Moishe Perl’s bakery (certified kosher) located on “a block that could be described as dicey,” requiring the owner to move along some of the drunks sleeping on his street corner.
Perl has seen a lot of changes throughout the four decades he has been baking babka for the locals. He has seen all sorts of different demographics come to the area, such as “hippies, families and yuppies.” But throughout all of this, one thing has remained consistent: the bakery that still only accepts cash as a payment method for the bakery that has received both the “Best of the Borough” and “Best Smell Ever” awards in its time.
But it’s not just the bakery that has remained consistent. Some of the village’s old timers maintain that the spirit remains the same too. According to manager of Trash and Vaudeville, Jimmy Webb, the spirit of the area – rock ‘n’ roll – is still very much alive. And according to artist Dave Ortiz, “It’s still a neighborhood where there’s a freedom to be who you are,” and for him that means skating in Tompkins Square Park, just like he did back in 1988.
The good news is, therefore, that the East Village – despite any changes it may have undergone over the last four decades or so – remains a place that has upheld its spirit and where people can call home.