BY BOB KRASNER
This past weekend was perfect weather for the 9th annual LUNGS (Loisaida United Neighborhood Gardens) festival. Although it was an abbreviated schedule this year due to COVID concerns, there was still music and performance going on in gardens all over the east side.
La Plaza Cultural, at 9th St. and Avenue C, presented actress/writer/performance artist Penny Arcade, who began by singing acapella just before reminiscing about her early 80’s home in the East Village that was located just down the street. Not only was there no doorbell at the front of the building, she noted, there was no door. Arcade read from her piece entitled “Front Row Seat at the Apocalypse”, took a phone call from Hip-Hop pioneer Fab 5 Freddy mid-performance and unknowingly had a reunion of sorts ( but not quite).
In a piece that railed against gentrification, its effect on youth and the fact that NYC has gone from “the city that never sleeps to the city that can’t wake up”, she mentions that people come up to her to tell her that they read about her in Patti Smith’s book “Just Kids.”
“No, you just read my name, ” she corrects. “You didn’t read about me.”
In one of those lovely coincidences that is almost too good to be true, Patti Smith was eating lunch with her longtime guitarist Lenny Kaye directly across the street, easily within earshot of the well-amplified sound system. No one, including Arcade, seemed to notice that fact and neither Smith nor Kaye gave any indication of having heard her.
And so, an ethereal moment of connection between two veterans of the 1970’s downtown scene passed by, noticed only by a bystander who happened to connect the dots.