Inspired by yesterday's post about Nelson Sullivan's videos, I decided to do a little searching to see if I could find any of "The Church of Shooting Yourself" online. Herewith the fruits of that search.
Like Nelson Sullivan, the guy behind "The Church of Shooting Yourself" -- who went by the name Rik Arithmetic -- ran a bizarre cable access program in the 90's wherein he'd basically walk around New York City (primarily the East Village) with a video camera aimed at himself (hence "shooting" himself), and rant. I was never sure if his content was performance art or paranoia-fueled conspiracy theorist crackpottery or evangelical gobbledigook or high concept shtick or all of the above, but I became something of a fan of it for a little while. In any case, I did a YouTube search, and sure enough, up came the clip below.
Now, what makes this particular clip interesting, if you ask me, isn't Rik's usual bug-eyed exhortation so much as the particular patch of real estate he happens to be spastically striding down. It only takes a fleeting instance to spot that Arithmetic is walking west on East 1st street between Second Avenue and the Bowery. To his left (before he starts spinning like the crazy man he is) is the late, lamented Mars Bar, following swiftly (and sadly) by the hulking edifice of 9 Second Avenue, otherwise known as the Church of All Nations and/or the Taoist Temple of the Ancestral Mother. To Rik's right, you can fleetingly see the entrance to Extra Place before he starts proselytizing to the two gentlemen sojourning on the sidewalk. Take a moment and soak it all in ....
I was always fascinated by this particular strip, tucked just behind the Bowery and CBGB. It was a desolate little sleepy backwater that felt like the veritable edge of civilization.
Today, of course, you'd never recognize it. East 1st between Second Avenue and Bowery is now a gleaming canyon of glass, steel and commerce, although still faltering in that last capacity (no business has really flourished on either side of the street, and especially down Extra Place).
On the south side of the street, the Mars Bar is now gone. 9 Second Avenue is now gone. That vacant lot is now gone. 295 Bowery (or McGurk's Suicide Hall) is gone. On the north side, XOXO is long gone, Extra Place has been re-made into an ersatz "Left Bank" (albeit of largely empty storefronts) and there's now a Chase Bank where the lot on the northeast corner used to be.
I have no idea whatever became of Rik Arithmetic. Perhaps he's still at it...?
Here are a few shots I took back in the mid-90's of East 1st street between Second and Bowery as it was. You may recognize some of them.
Today, Extra Place looks like this (looking south from within)...