A gentleman named Darren Palmer posted this image on the Facebook group Manhattan Before 1990 this morning, and it immediately struck a chord with me.
Here’s Mr. Palmer’s official description….
Sophie Bramly - Afrika Bambaataa & Crew, E. 12th Street, Greenwich Village, NYC, 1983...Sidenote...That is the famed Asti Italian Restaurant across the street behind them. Asti was unique in that many of the waiters were professional Opera Singers who routinely performed for the restaurant guests. Asti first opened in 1924, and was open for over 75 years before closing in early 2000.
I actually used to live just east of this spot for about six years. Asti was still there when I moved in in 1996. After it closed in 2000, the space re-opened as a frankly gaudy steak joint called The Strip House, largely lacking any of Asti’s charm and character.
One night in the mid-90’s, as I was walking home from some event in the West Village, a matronly lady came swanning out of Asti, asking me if I could help her open the front door to her apartment building. The entrance of which was accessed via the same vestibule that led in Asti. Being the helpful chap that I was, I obliged. She’d indeed gotten her key stuck, but I swiftly managed to get the door open — only to find her zealously groping me. I politely declined her advances and was on my way. Ahh,.... youth.
Other observations: This would have been taken right in front of Cinema Village, and Mike D. of the Beastie Boys used to live pretty adjacent to this spot, if memory serves.
And Afrika Bambaataa, of course, is a goddamn legend.