Viewing entries tagged
lions head

Re-Joice. Sort of.

The stretch of Christopher Street where the Lion's Head bar once served ink stained wretches and the folks they covered was renamed after its former owner in 1999.

The stretch of Christopher Street where the Lion's Head bar once served ink stained wretches and the folks they covered was renamed after its former owner in 1999.

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.

http://www.villagevoice.com/news/pete-hamills-eyewitness-account-of-robert-kennedys-assassination-6692381

Then take the Save the Village tour.  

When Is Kickoff?

Green Bay Packers fans awaiting a Sunday opening of the Kettle of Fish bar, which hosts gathering of Wisconsin sports fans.

Green Bay Packers fans awaiting a Sunday opening of the Kettle of Fish bar, which hosts gathering of Wisconsin sports fans.

A funny thing happened on the way to the tour the other Sunday. There was quite a crowd across the street from Christopher Park, the kick off point for the Save The Village tour. But as we quickly learned, they were not there for an entertaining two hours learning about the Village or why there needs to be a real balance between progress and preservation.

They had not heard of the Village Voice, and while most were not from New York, they were not tourists. More like interlopers. From Wisconsin, of all places.

Fans of most out of town football teams - college and pro (as if there is a difference!) have an adopted New York bar where they gather to watch and root for their old school team, or their hometown NFL team.

The Kettle of Fish, which has a proprietor who used to be a Wisconsin Badger, is where Green Bay Packers fans come to watch their team play. (Badger college football fans gather there too, apparently.) And they gather before 10 am for a 1 pm game. Or even for a 4 pm game. Anything to get a good seat by the TV.

Idiotic, I thought. Then I realized it was not much different from our old game plan of being in the Lincoln Tunnel by 9 am to get a nice parking spot in the swamps of the Jersey Meadowlands to tailgate before we'd root for Richard Todd to finally beat Dan Marino.

All the Packers fans were offered a Greenwich Village walking tour sometime to learn more about the significance of the Kettle of Fish, and the Lions Head bar that preceded it, and the Stonewall Inn a few doors down, and all the other historic spots within, well, walking distance.

Nah. To a man (and woman), each and every one of them passed on a golden opportunity to learn something.

Hence the reason they are called Cheeseheads.