For our regular feature spotlighting the people who live and work on the Lower East Side, we talked with singer/songwriter PT Walkley.
How long have you lived on the Lower East Side?
I’ve lived here for a little over 10 years. We started off renting in the Amalgamated Co-ops and now own in the East River Co-ops.
Why did you move here?
Honestly, I was just hunting for apartments, wanting to move out of Williamsburg, and the affordability caught my eye. What’s kept us here is the fact that this is such a wonderfully warm and diverse community. I like that it feels slightly removed from the often-frantic energy of Manhattan.
What do you do?
I am a musician. I write and perform music for films and TV shows and commercials, in addition to putting out an album every year. The latest, “Shoulders,” comes out Feb. 18. There will be a live release show for it at some point soon as well, so stay tuned.
I actually just made my whole catalogue available for free download (with exception of the new album).Afterall, I wrote these songs to be heard and enjoyed, so I am encouraging people to download it all and spread it as they see fit. Here’s the link: http://bit.ly/1ejz3LG
Tell us about your apartment — the good, the bad and the ugly.
We love our apartment. But of course, with two little kids now, it’s starting to shrink real quick.
What’s your favorite spot on the LES and why?
I love taking my boys to the Hillman Park. It’s so beautiful, stays cool in the summertime, and it’s a terrific social outlet for both the kids and the parents.
Favorite cheap eats?
Cafe Petisco is always a solid option. Essex Market as well. There [used to be] a woman with a small shop on the far side of the market who made the best chocolate chip cookies ever.
Favorite place for a special night?
We went to WD-50 once; that was a blast. Also love to hit up Schiller’s as often as we can. That place has such a special vibe.
What do you miss from the old LES?
Ludlow Street. Luna Lounge was where I played my first show in New York City. It’s gone. Earth Matters is gone. My friend Terri was a pioneer in the neighborhood, and her [clothing] store, TG170 is gone, now the Living Room also got the boot. The list goes on and on.
Is there a new arrival you love?
Malt & Mold [the beer and cheese shop on East Broadway]. So well-curated, and there’s always something unexpected to try, be it beer or cheese or beef jerky.
What drives you crazy about the neighborhood?
When they changed the turning rules on Essex and Delancey, it created horrible traffic on Grand Street. Not only do all those idling cars up air and noise pollution, but I am starting to see people cut around traffic out of frustration and nearly mow down pedestrians or bikers. Hopefully there’s a solution in the near future.
What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever seen on the LES?
Well, I’ll never forget the funniest: I was working all hours on a film score. We had a very tight deadline, etc. … I was working out of a basement space on Ludlow Street, and I came up for air and water at about 4:30 a.m. I went into Gracefully [grocery], and sat down with my water. Outside there was a police car parked. The officers were eating donuts inside…really. After a couple minutes, I heard the garbage truck approaching, making its morning rounds.
They pulled up in front of the police car and began throwing massive, overstuffed trash bags into the back…. The third bag was too big for one guy to handle, so the two garbage men picked it up and did the swinging “1…2…3…throw” move…. Only on 3, the bag exploded all over the windshield of the police car…. Dirtiest garbage imaginable, plus coffee grounds, banana peels, you name it.
The throwers both froze for a moment, then just started hysterically laughing. The funniest part was that both officers maintained completely straight faces. The driver calmly turned on the windshield wipers and signaled for the fellows to clean the rest off, which they did. They then finished their donuts and the garbage truck drove off….
In my somewhat delirious state, I couldn’t even laugh until about five minutes later, when I finally processed it all.
Who’s the best neighborhood character you’ve met and why?
Well…I first met actor/director Ed Burns at Ludlow Guitars about 12 years ago. He gave me my first real break, and many after that, and is one of my closest friends as well.