Sunday, July 29, 2012

Iris Lezak


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  2. Nice Pic of Iris Lezak. Thanks for posting it -- glad to find it online. Iris, me, and perhaps a total of 6 others lived in the habitable apartments of the 3/4 burned out building at 649 E. 9th St. back in 1978 &79. I was attending the Art Students League at the time. Iris lived in the apt. above mine which was on 5th flr. facing 9th St. and the little Hispanic community park opposite. Iris and I hung out together on a semi-regular basis, being neighbors artists & all, often repairing on warm nights to Thompson Sq. Park in the summertime, having a drink and lots of babble together. We also hung out with a Danforth West Jr. III from Bangor, ME, who last I heard before I moved away, she was going to marry and they'd live in his hometown. We all periodically went to Phoebe's bar -- Danforth being involved in the TV soaps at that time and introducing us to his theatrical friends who frequented the place. He lived in our building, too, and had the only decently furnished apt. there. The length of E 9th St. in front of our building on west to Thompsons Sq. Park was dug up by the city for the entire year I was there. The building's owner was a nice old Jewish fella who was retired but still tinkered about his office / workshop on weekdays in the storefront of the building. He kindly told us in Aug.'79 that he was closing on the sale of the building and moving to FL. A young energetic workaday guy bought it for a good price and fixed it up--- major -- major project. I visited it in 1983, and talked with the young owner-- great job he did. The rents were up at $600+ a month for 2-bdrm apts. -- all filled then. Back in 1979, Iris, Danforth, me & others were paying about $120-150. By 1990, I hardly recognized the area there because so much had changed. I'd moved to Williamsburg, Brooklyn in the early 1980s, and where I lived, it was like starting all over again in conditions like I've just described back in '79. Iris was a survivor -- tough and tender-- a gem, I've always remembered fondly. I wonder if she still plays the flute just before retiring for the night. I guess the Danforth coupling didn't keep her from returning to the Lower East Side. Gary Halsey