After Bobby Kennedy was shot, Pete Hamill, who was next to him when it happened, wrote about it in the June 13, 1968 Village Voice:
"We knew then that America had struck again. In this slimy little indoor alley in the back of a gaudy ballroom, in this shabby reality behind the glittering facade, Americans were doing what they do best: killing and dying, and cursing because hope doesn't last very long among us."
La plus ca change, huh? Americans doing what they do best. Kill people.
The tie here is that Kennedy's career in electoral politics is due to Hamill, Jack Newfield, the Village Voice and the Lion's Head.
And Wes Joice, who owned the bar from the early 1960s until 1994, before dying of lung cancer in 1997.
All discussed on the Save the Village tour.
In his book "A Drinking Life," Hamill wrote about the Lion's Head:
"I don’t think many New York bars ever had such a glorious mixture of newspapermen, painters, musicians, seamen, ex-communists, priests and nuns, athletes, stockbrokers, politicians and folksingers, bound together in the leveling democracy of drink."
It was in Joice's joint - steps away from the offices of the Voice - that Hamill and Newfield convinced Kennedy to make the surprise move to run for the Senate from New York in 1964. (Some say Kennedy decided to run for the Presidency there as well, but these are likely altered versions of the Senate story, as he made that decision after meeting with a hunger-striking Ceasar Chavez in California in early 1968.)
Pete and Jack wrote for the Voice, knew Kennedy well, all were Irish and enjoyed an occasional pint, and the deed was done.
One of Kennedy's biggest campaign rallies that fall was also in the Village, captured by Voice photographer Fred W. McDarrah. Kennedy evoked Beatlemania by Balducci's when he leaped on the back of a flatbed truck with local pol Assemblyman William Passannante during a campaign event.
First, go and read this.
Then take the Save the Village tour.