Yesterday's NYPD siege of the Hell's Angels club on East 3rd Street couldn't have been much fun for the Angels. (Well, we've seen Gimme Shelter: Maybe this is how they have fun.) But it did manage to bring together a happy little balcony party just down the block. Shawn Anderson is a gregarious 37-year-old painter and set designer who lives on the fifth floor of a tenement at First Avenue and 3rd Street. On the street, it was a crush of cops, TV news trucks, and neighborhood onlookers. But up on Anderson's scruffy terrace, it was a cozy (well, frigid) klatch of news photographers training their cameras on the action below.
It started before noon, when the cops' stakeout began. Anderson's super had seen Mary, a cheerful AP shutterbug, on First Avenue, fumbling with her many cameras. He invited her up on the roof for optimal viewing, and soon some other photographer friends joined. When cops shooed them off the roof — latter-day Weegees from the News, Newsday, and the Voice were there by this point — the super went seeking a neighbor with a view. Anderson immediately offered his terrace (and enlisted a filmmaker roommate to record the scene below to post it on a Website.) Getting fully into host mode, he also dragged out a space heater, offered everyone tequila (all declined, he says), and served one of the photographers coffee. The siege was still going on when Anderson had to leave for work, but he even let one shooter stay behind. (He thinks it was the grizzled-looking Voice guy, who sported a black biker's jacket.) Why such generosity? "It was a real New York, Dog Day Afternoon moment," Anderson said, "the moment the Hell's Angels were getting busted." —Tim Murphy