I received word over the weekend that Bob Arihood had passed away. Bob was my neighbor when I lived in Alphabet City for 4 years. He documented the lives of the people in the neighborhood who were practically invisible or ignored by the rest of society...drunks, transients, drug addicts, schizophrenics...people that I would be afraid to approach. His beautiful photographs and intimate stories of his subjects really showed what a humanist he was. Check out his blog: Neither More Nor Less. He will be sorely missed.
Sadly, Bob was the source of the only bit of info I could glean when my neighbor Eddie passed away in 2008. Eddie didn't have a family and he wasn't going to get a huge write-up in the Times, but I think that Arihood worded Eddie's obit eloquently and with class. Eddie was a kind soul who greeted everyone on the street (and their dogs- he loved dogs), decorated the tree he lived under for holidays and his birthday, tended a lovely garden and was grateful for any handouts and excess baked goods that made their way out of the kitchen. I remember one day I tried to give him a sandwich and he politely declined, rummaged through a bag and pulled out an enormous platter of shrimp cocktail and asked if I was hungry. People in the neighborhood really made an effort to take care of him.
As the East Village gentrifies at an alarming rate- (one might argue that it's already there)- you can't help but remember that it is characters like these are what made it such an interesting, creative place.