Tompkins Square Park Just Not the Same Without Hordes of Dirty Vagabonds

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Photo: Bob Arihood/Neither More Nor Less

Something is amiss this spring in Tompkins Square Park. The "crusties" — groups of young punkish nomads who set up shop each year near a section of benches that has come to be known as Crusty Row — have mysteriously failed to materialize. "It’s like the birds aren’t migrating this year; the salmon aren’t swimming upstream,” one prominent East Villager told the Times. Two people who know a lot about crusties have a theory:

Last summer, a steady flow of the travelers frequented the park from May through September. During that time, a local photographer, Steven Hirsch, documented the visitors’ presence and recorded their stories on a blog, crustypunks.blogspot.com. This year, Mr. Hirsch theorized that the visitors were steering clear of their usual haunt to avoid a blizzard of summonses that he said the police began issuing late last summer for infractions like drinking in public or lying on a bench.

A street poet who goes by the name L.E.S. (for Lower East Side) Jewels, a Crusty Row regular who lives in New York year round, agreed with Mr. Hirsch.

Thanks a lot, The Man. When are you opening the Disney store, The Man?

In East Village, Harbingers of Spring Are Missing [NYT]