There used to be a store on 10th Street off of Fourth Avenue in the East Village that sold a little bit of everything — the kind of junk/miscellany store that can only exist in maybe Buffalo at this point (or maybe Bushwick, but even that’s way more organized). This was more than 10 years ago, long before the Strokes management company put their situation room/office on the block, and long long before NYU threatened to turn the whole block into a dorm and evicted most of the businesses, at least temporarily. A sad, permanent casualty was the deli on the corner that sold “VAGETABLE SOUPE” as a part of its salad bar.
What made this junk shop noticeable wasn’t just the selection (although I think I still have a vintage, neon-orange “FOLK YOU” button from there on an old parka somewhere) but the guy who either owned the place or just worked there. He often held court outside dressed in a quasi-Clockwork Orange costume — bowler hat and one eyelashed eye, but not the all-white look — and I think he was in a band with a name like LYPPS, INC (but not Lipps Inc, as I am 100 percent sure he had nothing to do with the song "Funky Town").
While the button proves that some store was there, I wonder if it was really as weird and stinky as I remember it to be, and if the Clockwork Orange guy was actually some sort of East Village Snuffleupagus. It’s especially hard to imagine now that that block is mostly upscale restaurants, although the fancy ice cream place does offer an ice cream cake called "Poo on Grass." That’s fairly old school, and surely something that, in 10 years, I’ll be sure I just made up.