Wednesday, May 21, 2008

I Recognized Her From the Gym

News that the Lower East Side has been named one of the country's most endangered historic sites by the National Trust for Historic Preservation got me thinking about the changing face of nearby St. Mark's Place. Over the years, the stretch of 8th St was the hangout of everyone from Thelonious Monk to W. H. Auden to Jeff Buckley, but today, New York magazine sums it up thusly: "It's tacky. It's garish. It's crawling with tourists and trend-starved teenagers." Just 25 years ago, however, it was the place where you might see a still unknown Madonna leaving the gym, as Amy Arbus did:
The picture of Madonna was taken before her meteoric rise. “I stopped her on the street because I recognized her from the gym,” Ms. Arbus said. “She was the one sitting around naked in the locker room the longest. I remember looking at her and thinking that with a body like that, I would too. In the picture she looks as if she knew what was about to happen to her.”

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