Whether they were hanging out on stoops or leaning from their windows, many women in the Village kept an eye on the street, serving as an informal neighborhood watch. When Joe Cino first poked around the storefront that became Caffe Cino, interested in renting it, someone on the fire escape yelled down, “Wha’dya want?” It turned out to be the building’s landlady, who asked Cino if he was Sicilian. “Yeah,” he said, so she just threw him the keys. (Joe would place his rent money—often in coins—in an envelope, then wrap it in a scarf, and toss it up to her through the fire escape.) There were few businesses on Cornelia: a bar across from the Cino, a bookstore, an art gallery, and a couple of small shops, including the original Murray’s Cheese Shop. The gallery was run by a creepy artist and pedophile named Frank Thompson, who sold paintings of nude boys with huge penises. Talbot lived next door to Thompson, and on the other side of his apartment was Mona’s Royal Roost—a quintessentially quaint Greenwich Village cocktail bar run by two older women. On the Bleecker Street corner was a butcher shop with rabbits hanging in the window, and down Cornelia Street an Italian bakery named Zampieri infused the street with the smell of bread.
From Chapter 1 of The Downtown Pop Underground — order online, or from a local independent bookstore