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Goo, Crust and a Dial Tone

The city’s latest report tells us our payphones are clean and that most of them work. But in the East Village many are either broken, disgusting or both.

Think crusty gum stuck to receivers, lewd drawings of body parts scrawled across metal enclosures or slime from sweaty hands glistening on plastic handles.

There are 13 payphones on 13th and 14th Streets near Avenues A and B alone. Most are pretty grungy — and recently many were not functioning. Six of the 13 payphones on that small stretch of East Village pavement were broken. The one outside Stuyvesant Grocery and Deli on Avenue A near 14th Street had no dial tone; the one outside Alphabet Café on 14th Street at Avenue A had wires ripped from the receiver; and the one outside the East Village Café on Avenue B near 13th Street had a sticker that read: “This public pay telephone is temporarily out of service,” dated July 30, 2010.

It’s amazing that anyone ever uses them, but they do.

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