History happens in pubic space. The election of Barack Obama brought crowds to 125th Street. Crowds formed at the World Trade Center on news of Osama Bin Laden’s death. Last Friday night it happened on Sheridan Square. In front of the Stonewall Inn, the crowd stood transfixed, staring into their iPhones, Blackberrries and other assorted digital devices. Several shouted out the numbers of state senators supporting gay marriage as it got closer and closer to the magic number: 32. When I got there, there were shouts of 30 or 31. It was hard to tell really, it wasn’t a coordinated countdown, like the Time Square ball dropping. Some were still at 29 while others were at 31. It depended on whether you were on HuffPo or NYTimes. The whoops of the crowd came in waves, making it feel like the number 32 was reached several times.
Amidst the random shouts and general giddiness Danny Fields, the punk impresario and Warhol Factory/Max’s Kansas City regular, stood alone, taking it all in. We talked a bit about who might have liked to be there, but, unfortunately, were no longer with us. I mentioned Herbert Muschamp, also a Factory regular. Fields got mildly misty and said that for all the great writing all that mattered was that he was a good man.
It would have been great to read a Muschamp reaction to the events on Saturday morning. Perhaps he would have found a way to weave together preservation with gay issues and architecture. If Robert Moses got his Lower Manhattan Expressway would Sheridan Square have been effected? Would the Stonewall riots have taken place somewhere else, or at all? Or was it a perfect storm encouraged by oppressive power brokers, Village politics, and twisted off-the-grid side streets. Muschamp might have found a freewheeling yet substantial approach to the event, as in his gay-centric essay on landmarking the Edward Durell Stone’s Gallery of Modern Art. In “The Secret History of 2 Columbus Circle” he memorably brought together Henry Geldzahler, lacy underwear, swanky taste, and Singapore slings–all in one sentence! This story was made for him.
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