The Curse of 50 Perry
May 27, 2008 4:27 PM   Subscribe

What happens in 50 Perry Street in the West Village of NYC?

My morning commute walks me past a small door close to the corner of Perry and West 4th in the West Village of Manhattan. The door is adjacent to the restaurant Sant Ambroeus, and almost looks like kitchen access, but it has it's own number and is painted a different color.

Here is a google streetview of the mystery door, with a sketchy man hanging out underneath the jumbo air-conditioner.

What makes this door a mystery you say? Some mornings the Cognoscenti of new york, dressed to the nines in italian loafers, tailored suits with perma-tans and D&G sunglasses, are buzzing in and out of the door, back and forth to their luxury cars parked on the street - Air kisses are given, hugs exchanged. Other mornings it looks like a casting call, with good looking actor types lurking around outside, though I can see several pairs of legs sitting on chairs inside.

I was thinking AA meeting, maybe, but if so it is an ultra-trendy one, and the door/building otherwise has no marks.

Though I always walk on the north side of the street, the other morning I wandered somewhat close to the door and conversation stood still until i passed. I'm terrified to poke my head in, and using anonymous just in case I've stumbled on some sort of NY Fashion Industry morning pow-wow before they set that weeks style agenda.
posted by anonymous to Society & Culture (7 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
It's the "Perry Street Workshop." An AA meeting. I found this in about 20 seconds using google.
posted by fire&wings at 4:43 PM on May 27, 2008 [2 favorites]

More. When I lived nearby, there was a restaurant across the street that had a window hatch where they served coffee, and they seemed to make half their income feeding caffeine to the AA crowd.

Your reason for being anonymous is highly ridiculous.
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 4:48 PM on May 27, 2008

Though in a bizzare twist, this post is now the #4 result for the link posted above.
posted by GuyZero at 5:17 PM on May 27, 2008

AA club house, tiny room, always packed. It blows my mind how little space recovery people make do with in NYC, but I suppose it makes sense considering the high cost of rent and the self-supporting nature of 12 step groups.
posted by The Straightener at 6:25 PM on May 27, 2008

AA/NA, I once walked by there drunk, and, seeing the same stream of interesting-looking folks that you did, I asked some raggedy looking 50 year old dude hat it was, and he said I was an alcoholic and ought to come. And hugged me.
posted by sondrialiac at 10:07 AM on May 28, 2008

I saw a famous actor leaving that AA meeting several times, but I guess it would go against the whole anonymity thing to say his name here.
posted by mattbucher at 12:41 PM on May 28, 2008

Perry Street has been in existence as an AA meeting at that location for 50 years exactly. Tens of thousands of people have gotten sober there, had their lives change completely and gone from dying to living creatures.

The neighborhood has changed around us. The West Village used to be a lower-to-middle income neighborhood, with light industry and more than its share of creative people. That continued even into the early 90's, at which point the little junk shops and local delicatessens, laundromats and other elements vital to a neighborhood began to disappear, to be displaced by high fashion flagship stores and...well, more high fashion flagship stores, as well as some spas, thrown in for good measure.

Perry Street began to stand out more. It is still filled with the most remarkable mix of people, a true cross section of society, in a tired, overused phrase, but accurate here. "From Yale to jail," as they say in AA, or "from Park Avenue to the park bench." The room is filled with all types and fueled by one cause - to stay sober and save each other's life. To that end, this dingy little storefront has performed its task magnificently, and many owe their lives to this room.

Perry Street is aware of its place in the neighborhood and tries its best to be a good neighbor, attempting to keep noise down and to keep our side of the street clean, literally and figuratively speaking. Sometimes, less-than-stellar elements of society appear, but they either leave eventually or they stay and change, and we in the neighborhood are all a little richer for it.

It's not the bohemian West Village anymore and the newest residents might be agog at this motley crew whom they see as devaluing their coops and condos. To them I say "move to the suburbs." It may not be Greenwich Village of old, but this is still New York, honey. There are still some real people left here. Perry Street is a proud reminder of that, with its mix of famous stars, starving artists, bankers, bums, personal trainers, real estate and fashion tycoons and everybody else under the sun.

I would argue that few places exemplify New York City, at its best, as well as Perry Street. It should be treated like a treasure, not a curse. And, by the way, if you think you have a problem with alcohol, you are more than welcome!
posted by nomadcat at 11:12 PM on January 7, 2009 [2 favorites]

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