As lead-a-counterculture-icon-around-his-old- stomping-grounds pieces go, there's not much surprise in today's Times profile of Dog Soldiers author Robert Stone, whose memoir of the Beat Generation, Prime Green, drops on Tuesday. As the author trundles through the East Village, there's the fond memory of how back in the day you could give a bum a dime to watch your kid; the lament that newly cleaned buildings have ruined the neighborhood's "grimness"; and an odd story about how returning GIs, given their first slice of pizza, put scoops of ice cream on it because they thought it was pie. Still, the biggest watch-and-weep moment comes when the old soldier comes face-to-face with the Devil itself:
Heading toward Astor Place, he discovered that one of his favorite coffee shops had been turned into a Starbucks. Stopping for a light, he said, with less sadness than surprise: "I used to have such a tremendous sense of the city and of this neighborhood, and it's lost to me now."
Well, yes. We all know the Starbucks-is-taking-over feeling. But we'd suggest Stone dig deeper. After all, last time we checked, that Astor Place Starbucks had bathrooms grim enough for any old-timer. Plus, we hear they're doing a brisk business in Venti PizzaCremas.