THE EKLUND ǀ GOMES TEAM

Two Businessmen Talking About The Village Summer of ‘22

By Roger Paradiso

We have been following Jim Drougas who runs the highly popular Unoppressive Non-Imperialist Bargain Bookstore at 34 Carmine Street in the West Village. After years of COVID and rent moratoriums, Jim hit the crossroads and his landlord asked him to leave by July 1 of this year. Jim is fortunate that the owner of “Temperance”, a wine bar right next door at 40 Carmine Street, offered Jim a room where he can put together a nice big chunk of his collection of accessibly priced unusual select books ranging from the poetry of William Blake to the many books of Village poets and pop stars like Bob Dylan. 

JAMES DROUGAS IN FRONT OF HIS NEW BOOKSTORE, which is next to his old bookstore. Photo by Yiping “Holly” Wang.

It works for now. Jim is still putting his tables of books outside the Wine Bar when weather permits. It’s almost like he didn’t leave. I asked Jim what he thought of the future and here is what he wrote.

“How I feel now is apprehensive dismay about the newest variant bio threats and the rats abundant and the crime waves by and against homeless and the protection of guns and the assaults on Asian folks and innocent unprotected small children and the legislative war on womankind., and the enormous threat of an ending of democracy if the next presidential election is as dismally encumbered by more of all of the same.

And yet still rather heartened by the potential for humans who are so resilient and resolute. That they will flock to the right books when I present them in unfathomable proportions just by simply putting the books out there for people to discover the great writers and poets of the past.

My mission on earth isn’t done.” 

I talked to Paul Rizzo, the owner of The Bitter End, and he said “Business is slowly coming back. You have to realize that the crowd, which is 25 and under, don’t care about COVID. The older crowd, which I get also, is still a little skeptical about COVID. We have a great landlord and the government gave me the PP and other monies. We also got a great response from fans of the club to a “Go Fund Me Page” so we made it through ok.”

“I’m more worried about the conditions on the streets of the West Village and the City in general. The muggings and stabbings are turning people off. We’ve had shootings in the area. There was gunfire going off the other night. We had a stabbing by the West 4th Subway Station. A friend of mine got jumped on 3rd Avenue between 29th and 30th because he didn’t have a cigarette to give to this man.

ANTHONY PARADISO of WestView News (left) interviews Bitter End owner Paul Rizzo on his famous stage. Photo by Roger Paradiso.

I asked Paul about the sheds crowding up the sidewalks and the streets. “The sheds are a problem. The city has got to do something about them. The residential buildings can’t get the garbage picked up on schedule. The sheds become homes for the rats. And they cause a lot of traffic and parking problems.”

Paul is concerned that the crime, the inconvenience to parking and the concerns about going into subways are going to turn people off who want to come to his club. He says, “The music scene has spread out to the Boroughs and Jersey where it is cheaper to operate and people don’t have to travel into Manhattan which is expensive. Now the only thing people come into Manhattan for is Broadway, museums and some restaurants.”

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