Every now and then, when trawling across the `Net, I’ll stumble upon something that prompts an audible gasp. No, I’m not talking about some variant of pornographic ribaldry, but rather stuff that speaks to my own stubbornly nostalgic predilections. Sometimes it’s a video (like one of these), or sometimes it’s a cache of photos. Sometimes, meanwhile, it’s only a solitary photo. Today, I came across one that practically jumped off the screen at me. Here it is now. Click on it to enlarge.
I’ve spoken about the incarnation of Freebeing Records on Second Avenue just south of St. Marks Place before (notably here and here). You may recall, from that first post, my anecdote about briefly working with a lady who claimed she helped get that shop closed because she believed it to be a quality-of-life liability to the neighborhood (she alleged it was a drug front). I can’t speak to that accusation. I don’t remember seeing anything that shady going on in the place, but I do remember it being loud (as I mentioned, we used to refer to it as “Deafwreckastow,” as in the record store you’d go deaf in). I’m guessing that might have had something to do with it not endearing itself to its immediate neighbors.
In any case, after that kerfuffle, Freebeing moved west, occupying a shop on Carmine Street just across the way from the vinyl stronghold, House of Oldies, and not too far from similarly inclined joints like Golden Discs, Subterranean Records, Record Runner, Disco-O-Rama and Rebel Rebel (all long vanished here in 2017…. grumble!) It wasn’t an especially spacious shop, but I vividly remember regularly stopping into the Carmine location of Freebeing, especially during the era captured in this photo (taken by one Peter Astaire in February of 1987). I know that date’s correct given the albums displayed in the window, among them Bete Noire by Bryan Ferry, Box Frenzy by Pop Will Eat Itself, Out of Our Idiot by Elvis Costello, Revenge by Eurythmics, Children of God by SWANS and George Best by The Wedding Present.
While people will invariably sooner lament the demise of the original Freebeing in the East Village, I do genuinely miss the Carmine Street iteration. Today, the space it once occupied is now a venture called Carmine Street Beers -– which is at least better than a vaping emporium, bank, CVS or cell phone joint.
See the rest of Astaire’s great NYC pics from 1987 here.