There will be no corn beef and cabbage at this year’s St Patrick’s Day celebrations in the East Village. At least not if you are going to the party hosted by John Casey. Irish whiskey will be more welcome for the toast to his country’s patron saint, as it is perpetually, including John’s other annual open house, bah-humbug Christmas, the decorations for which were still up when I visited his shop today. But that is hardly surprising as John’s rubber stamp store on 11th Street is a unique combination of museum and modernity. It is a curiosity shop full of wit and wisdom – the sign on the front door says it all.
When John first came to the East Village in the late sixties, it was not safe to walk down the street in the daytime let alone at night. Things have obviously changed since then – in some ways at least. Drug vendors still have a go at getting stamps made ( there was an order ‘busted’ while I was there ) and the machinery for making the stamps is from the fifties. If you can draw it, or imagine it, John can make a stamp out of it. In fact he says some of his best work is from reading people’s minds. John is busier now than ever and even though photoshop and computers enable the process, he still uses rubber rather than plastic for the stamps, and it all happens there right before your eyes.
The man himself is a charming Irishmen. When are they not? He was shy to have his photograph taken when he hadn’t combed his hair, but talked with a gorgeous authenticity about the village. Sometimes he takes special visitors to Veniero’s, the century old Italian cafe down the street. On Tuesday nights he goes to Mona’s for jazz, a regular pleasure for over seven years, starting before midnight and grooving on until about four in the morning. That’s the joy of keeping artistic hours in the village, John said, it doesn’t matter what time you get to work on Wednesday…
Dear Gabrielle I have not written to express my appreciation of your posts for sometime (my bad) So here goes, thank you for the amazing (yet what seems to be the everyday there in New York) reports that you post I look forward with great anticipation to the wonderful way that you present each report ,once again thank you very much. David Ord Sent from my iPad
Ah David – this is very thoughtful of you thank you! It always seems to happen that just as I think I won’t have a new story to report that someone like John Casey appears and I am entranced again by this great city. You never know what you will find next and gems like John make the quest all the more rewarding. I would love to go to the jazz night he talked about at Mona’s in the east Village – that Dixieland & blues combo is really my kind of music – so stay tuned…!
How marvellous, my kind of shop
Also I totally agree with David Ord, Gabrielle your posts are endlessly interesting thank you
Thank you Dallas – you would love John’s shop, there are all sorts of quirky treasures and complete irreverence to the usual norms. I could easily become a stamp maniac with pockets full of bed bugs and Alice in Wonderland characters. So much fun. And John himself, saying not to take a photo because he hadn’t combed his hair… what a character!