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Coca Crystal, a Wild Child Turned ‘Unconventional’ Mother

Coca Crystal from her Facebook pageRalph Ginsburg Coca Crystal

The first thing on Jackie Diamond’s to-do list: “2008 – Publish book.”

“You see I’m behind schedule,” the 64-year-old said of the unfinished work, her chest purring with laughter. “I got busy with cancer.”

Ms. Diamond is better known to students of the underground as Coca Crystal – a secretary, writer, and “Slum Goddess” for The East Village Other who went on to host a cult cable-access television show for nearly two decades.

In 2006, she was diagnosed with lung cancer. Since then, she’s had three operations to remove over a third of her lungs, undergone chemotherapy, and become a patient at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in Manhattan. The last time her cancer returned, her doctor told her it had spread to a part of her lung that was inoperable.

Her to-do list continues: “2010 – Movie based on my life released. Drew Barrymore stars as Coca Crystal.”

“And then the dignitaries and the party,” Ms. Crystal imagined. “And then I’ll live happily ever after. Finally.”

But the real reason she wants to publish her book isn’t the dream of a movie deal – it’s Gus. Read more…

Looking Back | The Fillmore East

Crowd for CSNY tktsAmalie R. Rothschild A huge crowd formed around the Fillmore East in May 1970 when tickets went on sale for Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young.

The push to preserve blocks of the neighborhood through a landmark district has, not surprisingly, led to a lot of conversations about the history of the area. The proposed district covers roughly six blocks, and perhaps no property within the tract has hosted more important figures in American culture than the former Fillmore East building at 105 Second Avenue.

Now, the entrance to the building is an Emigrant Savings Bank, and the 2,600-seat theater has been replaced with an apartment building. But the Fillmore’s three-year existence had a lasting impact culturally; Jimi Hendrix, Joe Cocker and Miles Davis all recorded well-regarded live albums there. The Who played their rock opera, “Tommy” in its entirety for the first time in the United States in 1969 at the Fillmore East. And the first rock concert to be broadcast on television was taped there in 1970.

But the Fillmore’s impact went beyond the performers onstage. Numerous technological innovations during the theater’s short existence were adopted at concert venues across the country.

“I was blown away by what a creative, experimental theater environment there was at the Fillmore East,” said Amalie R. Rothschild, a photographer who was among the many NYU students who landed dream jobs at the Fillmore when it opened in 1968. “It was a real place to do real things. The students had a live laboratory within which to work.”
Read more…