By Bob Ruggiero
By Hilary Hughes
By Peter Gerstenzang
By David R. Adler
By Devon Maloney
By Brian McManus
By Jessica Hopper
By Harley Oliver Brown
On December 23, the Lower East Side lost one of its most recognizable habitués with the unexpected death of Vincent Galvin Jr. He was 25. A budding talent living in that particular New York cross-section of music and film, Galvin had recently produced videos for Amazing Baby, Alternate Routes, and Jim Jones, and also co-produced Motherfucker: A Movie, David Casey's 2007 documentary about the beloved Manhattan party hosted by Michael T., Johnny T., Justine D., and Georgie Seville. Charismatic and poised for success, the Pace grad had big plans for his future, plans cut short on the night of December 22 when he slipped on some ice while out with friends in the neighborhood, hit his head, and died of a concussion the next day.
"Vince is the second New Yorker attached to the film that has passed away since filming," Casey wrote to me in an e-mail. He'd hired Galvin as production manager on the film, but in time promoted him to co-producer. "He took the film to a new level, creating with me a love letter to the New York we know and knew. He was its biggest advocate on the street, and the word-of-mouth he created helped us exponentially." Following the CMJ debacle in 2007 (festival directors decided to pull the movie shortly before its debut), though, that film has yet to see a New York screening, and while it's too old for the roster at the Tribeca Film Fest, Casey has a standing offer for a screening at Tribeca Cinemas if he can secure a sponsor. So now more than ever, Motherfucker really deserves to be seen by a local audience, by the people who were there and who appreciate the party for what it was: an inclusive celebration of New York misfits. And one thing is made clear by the sheer number of friends Galvin had: He understood inclusiveness.
"Vince was an absolute fixture in the Lower East Side, where he lived for several years," says record producer Sarah Lewitinn. "We could go into almost any restaurant, bar, shop, bodega . . . you name it, and Vince was either greeted by name or had 'dated' a waitress." Lewitinn met Vince in November 2005 through a mutual friend, shortly after she'd started dating someone new—and watched him quickly woo her distrustful boyfriend. "This person didn't really like Vince for whatever reason, and didn't really like us hanging out together . . . but in true Vince fashion, the two of them became completely inseparable best friends about a year later. He had a way."
A few weeks ago, Galvin's brother, Patrick, hosted a fundraiser at 151 to raise $2,500 for the Adopt-a-Bench program, which benefits NYC parks and green spaces. "Please join us this Wednesday to raise a Guinness for Vinny, tell a story or two, and remember the Pope of Rivington Street," the invite suggested. The goal was met, and this spring, the park will install a plaque in Galvin's name in the park between Christie and Forsyth, in a walkway that connects both sides of Rivington—his "most famous strut," according to Casey. "Vinny's birthday's in May," Patrick explains. "So we want to have that plaque up by then."
But Galvin's friends and family have another memorial in mind, one that's been a little more difficult to get off the ground. While in town for the funeral, Casey posed the idea of a Lower East Side mural as a testament to the neighborhood that Galvin knew and loved best. "We used to walk the streets of the city, looking for famous throw-ups and tags from old NYC graf legends," Casey wrote about his idea to memorialize Galvin. "We would go to Pell Street, just to see Flying Dragon markers in the concrete and walls. We'd revisit continually old buildings around Five Points and Chinatown. We always talked of projects centered around Forgotten NY, Rev, the Freedom Tunnel, or the mythic murals in the Second Avenue tunnels. The guy knew the true legends in the city and, in my opinion, is now one of them."
Another friend of Galvin's, writer and former MTV correspondent Gideon Yago, suggested hiring the Tats Cru, the celebrated Bronx-based group of former graffiti artists gone legit. Now, they just have to find the space—and it's not been easy. Tats Cru requires written permission and proof that the property owner approves the mural, and ideally they're looking for a wall that's important to other artists as well, to avoid damage or destruction. Reluctant business owners aren't the only deterrent, though; there's also the matter of available expanse. "It's so hard to find any space for murals anywhere in the LES," Lewittin says. "There just isn't any. . . . It's as simple as that."
Patrick says that as soon as he takes his CPA exam next weekend, he's taking some time off to visit his brother's former haunts and talk to business owners himself. "People say 'Everything happens for a reason' or 'Wrong place at the wrong time,' and it's all bullshit," Patrick says. "But all we can do is keep him alive in as many ways as possible. This is just one of them."