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Diverse City

 In 1868, Louisa May Alcott reportedly wrote the last paragraphs of  Little Women  from her uncle’s double-wide red townhouse at 130-132 MacDougal.

 In 1868, Louisa May Alcott reportedly wrote the last paragraphs of Little Women from her uncle’s double-wide red townhouse at 130-132 MacDougal.

Great group on Saturday!

Guests ranged from a vacationing Australian-born microbiologist now doing her research at Berkeley to a woman who taught in the 1960s at PS 41, but who hasn't lived in NYC in 40 years.

Plus a gay foursome absolutely thrilled to finally see Stonewall and two New Jersey teens on a school assignment.

All loved seeing the house on MacDougal St. where Louisa May Alcott once lived.

Meet all kinds of people and see all kinds of things on a Save the Village tour!

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Deals can be had ....

Louisa May Alcott's family home on MacDougal St. 

Louisa May Alcott's family home on MacDougal St. 

Want to know more, and take a tour, but also love a bargain?

Here is the answer! 

https://www.groupon.com/deals/save-the-village-tours

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Big Corner: MacDougal and Bleecker

Plaque erected by the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation marking where the San Remo bar once stood. Photo © Estate of Fred W. McDarrah

Plaque erected by the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation marking where the San Remo bar once stood. Photo © Estate of Fred W. McDarrah

 

  The San Remo was a bar at 93 MacDougal St. at the corner of Bleecker. In its heyday it was across from the Café Borgia and the Figaro. Big destination corner.

  Now 93 MacDougal is a crappy chain coffee store.

  It was a hangout for folks like... well, look on the plaque.  Now, not so much.

  Jack Kerouac described the bar's crowd in his novel The Subterraneans, which is based in large part on the San Remo:

Hip without being slick, intelligent without being corny, they are intellectual as hell and know all about (Ezra) Pound without being pretentious or saying too much about it. They are very quiet, they are very Christlike.

  Save the Village indeed. If it is not already too late.

  Dylan's song Subterranean Homesick Blues also is derivative of the place. Take one of the Save the Village tours and learn more. And have fun doing it.

OLD/NEW Cafe Borgia edition, or, Four Cornered

Nighttime view of Cafe Borgia, MacDougal and Bleecker Streets, May 22, 1966. Below, same view in December, 2015. Photo by Fred W. McDarrah.

Nighttime view of Cafe Borgia, MacDougal and Bleecker Streets, May 22, 1966. Below, same view in December, 2015. Photo by Fred W. McDarrah.

  Taken from in front of the Figaro Café (on the SE corner of Bleecker and MacDougal Sts.), directly across the street, of the Cafe Borgia (on the NE corner of Bleecker and MacDougal Sts.).

  The NW corner at the famous intersection housed the San Remo Café. It is now a soulless chain coffee place. The SW corner had a funeral home. Now it has a branch of J.G. Melon's, a noted Upper East Side watering hole.

  Café Borgia, a bohemian's dream that was styled like an Old World cafe with medieval decor, drew patrons including Bob Dylan, Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, Andy Warhol, Edward Albee and James Dean. It closed in 2001 after 60 years in business.

  Another historic stop on the Save the Village: The Beats and Bob Dylan walking tour. 

Dylan and Beats tour announcement

Dylan Salutes, Christopher Park, Sheridan Square, January 22, 1965. Photo by Fred W. McDarrah.

Dylan Salutes, Christopher Park, Sheridan Square, January 22, 1965. Photo by Fred W. McDarrah.

This is the press release that went out the other day about the new tour:

Bob Dylan and the Beat Generation poets - Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, Peter Orlovsky, Gregory Corso and the rest - all were products of a postwar culture that lauded Eisenhower and the Military-Industrial complex, Father Knows Best, the John Birch Society and the KKK.

  In song and in verse, Dylan and the Beats rebelled against that way of life and became touchstones of a new generation.

  Fred W. McDarrah, the longtime Village Voice photographer and picture editor, was right there with his camera as it happened.  


  The worlds of Dylan and the Beat poets overlapped in many ways. The Beats and Bob tour will visit the coffee houses, clubs, and other venues (some remaining, some not) where the Beats made literary history. And when Dylan met Ginsberg in Ted Wilentz's apartment above the 8th St. Bookshop in 1963, the two began a lifelong friendship. Dylan was well familiar with the Beat poets when he left Minnesota for Greenwich Village in 1961. The tour stops at the MacDougal Street club were Dylan first performed, the bars he frequented and often performed at, and some of his Village homes, hangouts and hideouts.

  Every ticket on every tour includes a keepsake postcard packet of iconic McDarrah images and the tours go to the same locations to see how they have changed,  how they are the same, and to hear the stories behind the famous photos.

  The Beats and Bob tour is the second in a series of four Greenwich Village Walking Tours based on the photographs of McDarrah, including the ongoing Save The Village tour, and two tours starting later this fall, the East Village tour and the Artist’s World tour.

  Tickets are $25 (Adult) and $15 (Students, seniors, individuals with a valid library card, or a membership in a Historic Preservation Society, Group or Association) and every ticket includes a keepsake postcard packet.

   All tours are available for private bookings; custom or combination tours can be arranged. For tour schedules, to make reservations and for more information, go to SaveTheVillageTours.com.


  MEETS AT CORNER OF MACDOUGAL ALLEY AND MACDOUGAL STREET


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   The original Save the Village tour now joins the New York Knicks, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and dozens of all you can eat sushi joints, on Groupon.

  https://www.groupon.com/deals/save-the-village-tours

Happy in the House

Bob Dylan and Allen Ginsberg, among others, pose for a group portrait by Fred W. McDarrah at a recording session, Record Plant studio, New York, November 13, 1971. Pictured are, from left, David Amram, Dylan, Happy Traum, Gregory Corso, Peter Orlovsky (kneeling, fore), Denise Mercedes, Allen Ginsberg, Sadi Kazi, John Sholle, Arthur Russell, and Ed Sanders.

Bob Dylan and Allen Ginsberg, among others, pose for a group portrait by Fred W. McDarrah at a recording session, Record Plant studio, New York, November 13, 1971. Pictured are, from left, David Amram, Dylan, Happy Traum, Gregory Corso, Peter Orlovsky (kneeling, fore), Denise Mercedes, Allen Ginsberg, Sadi Kazi, John Sholle, Arthur Russell, and Ed Sanders.

  The big Folk City show at the Museum of the City of New York has had a handful of concerts to go along with the fabulous exhibit (of lyrics, instruments, maps, recordings, albums, clothing, memorabilia and of course photos by Fred W. McDarrah).

  We ran into one of the above photographed musicians the other night at one of the MCNY concerts. Not Bob Dylan, but Happy Traum.

  Happy is most famously known as one half of Happy and Artie, a duo he began with his brother. They released three albums, Happy and Artie Traum (1970, Capitol), Double Back (1971, Capitol) and Hard Times In The Country (1975, Rounder). He is a folk legend, having first appeared on record at a historic session in 1962 when a group including Phil Ochs, Pete Seeger and Dylan gathered in the Folkways Records studio to record an album called Broadside Ballads, Vol. 1. With his group, The New World Singers, Traum cut the first recoded version of Blowin' in the Wind and sang a duet with Dylan, who performed under the pseudonym Blind Boy Grunt, on his anti-war Let Me Die in My Footsteps.

  On this night at MCNY the performers were The Chapin Sisters and Eric Andersen. The sisters are at best marginally talented and coast along on the memories fans have of the short but brilliant career of their uncle Harry, who died in an accident on the Long Island Expressway in 1981.   

Anderen was accompanied by Michele Gazich on violin and viola, Inge Andersen on harmonies, and Steve Addabbo on electric guitar

Anderen was accompanied by Michele Gazich on violin and viola, Inge Andersen on harmonies, and Steve Addabbo on electric guitar

  Anderson is a genuine talent who performed chestnuts such as Violets of Dawn and Come to My Bedside and the civil rights song Thirsty Boots. He has over the years played with most of the above photographed group and has released about 30 albums. He now lives in Europe where there is a more vibrant folk scene.   

  He spoke between songs about his experiences singing on MacDougal Street and at the Gaslight, one of the stops on the Save the Village: The Beats and Bob (Dylan) tour.  

Andersen came out to meet fans after the performance.

Andersen came out to meet fans after the performance.

Andersen signing autographs.

Andersen signing autographs.

SOME PRESS FOR NEW BEATS / DYLAN TOUR

Both Bob Dylan and his pal Allen Ginsberg would come, separately, to feel the vibe of Edgar Allen Poe. In its infinite wisdom, NYU tore the place down and left a plaque and a façade (below).  

Both Bob Dylan and his pal Allen Ginsberg would come, separately, to feel the vibe of Edgar Allen Poe. In its infinite wisdom, NYU tore the place down and left a plaque and a façade (below).  

The new tour The Beats and Bob (Dylan) kicked off the other day.

So far so good. The connections and relationships between Dylan and Ginsberg, Kerouac and friends are fascinating to explore. And so much took place in the South Village.

http://gvshp.org/blog/2015/11/10/the-historic-south-village-home-of-the-beats-and-bob-dylan/

Our friends at the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation made mention.

The tour passes the pictured Edgar Allen Poe location. Dylan and Ginsberg would both make regular pilgrimages to the spot and meditate about Poe. Both men often referenced Poe in their work.

Dylan's 1965 song "Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues" for example makes reference to "Rue Morgue Avenue" which is a short story by Edgar Allan Poe published in Graham's Magazine in 1841. It has been recognized as the first modern detective story

In the Summer of 1939, when 13-year-old Allen graduated from grammar school he listed Poe as his favorite author.

In May 1944, he published in the Columbia Jester Review, "A Night in the Village with Edgar Allen Ginsberg" according to Ginsberg's Estate's web site.

And famously, from "Howl".... "who studied Plotinus Poe St John of the Cross telepathy and bop kabbalah because the universe instinctively vibrated at their feet."

"Everything leads to Poe,"\ Ginz once said. "You can trace all literary art to Poe's influence: Burroughs, Baudelaire, Genet, Dylan...It all leads back to Poe."  

Save the Village: Walking Tours of the Photographs of Fred W. McDarrah / The Beats and Bob leaves from the corner of MacDougal Street and MacDougal Alley every Tuesday at 2 pm, or privately by appointment.    

Where Poe never actually lived, but a reasonable copy thereof.

Where Poe never actually lived, but a reasonable copy thereof.




New Tour Starts Soon

A section of Washington Place next to Sheridan Square Park was renamed in honor of folk legend and Dylan pal Dave Van Ronk. His ex-wife lives near this sign and the Van Ronk name is still on the outside buzzer.

A section of Washington Place next to Sheridan Square Park was renamed in honor of folk legend and Dylan pal Dave Van Ronk. His ex-wife lives near this sign and the Van Ronk name is still on the outside buzzer.

The Beats and Bob(Dylan) Tour gets underway November 10.

We had mused about it earlier. And while we were preparing the Literary/Beats tour, and out doing the Save the Village walking tour, it became clear. Sadly, few people know, remember, had to read in school, or know much about Village literary legends like Willa Cather, Edith Wharton, John Dos Passos, ee cummings, Djuna Barnes, Henry James, William Styron, Theodore Dreiser, John Reed, etc.

But most people know of Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg. And of course everyone knows Bob Dylan. So we'll keep mentioning the vintage Village literary crew. Maybe it'll spark some interest.  And we'll focus on what the people know, and seem to want. 

Allen and Bob met in the Village, at a party above the old 8th St. Bookshop in 1963, and became lifelong friends. They were both products of the Eisenhower '50s, and rebelled against it in their own ways. The world of the Beats and the Folk Music scene that Dylan migrated to both were centered on the same Village street (MacDougal) and both socialized and performed at the same venues.

So a tour that tells their concurrent tales seemed like a smart way to move forward.

Hope you all agree! 

The original Save the Village Tour will continue, of course. And soon the Artists tour (more overlap with Allen and Bob. Was quite a different world back then) and the East Village tour will both kick off.

 

Old/New

Before: The corner of 8th St. and MacDougal in front of the famous 8th St. Bookshop. (Pictured is peace activist David McReynolds delivering a "Ban The Bomb" speech on September 18, 1960.  

Before: The corner of 8th St. and MacDougal in front of the famous 8th St. Bookshop. (Pictured is peace activist David McReynolds delivering a "Ban The Bomb" speech on September 18, 1960.  

After: The same corner, now a chain coffee spot, in September 2015. People came to the Village for, among other things, independent bookstores. Save the Village or it will be nothing BUT awful chain stores.

After: The same corner, now a chain coffee spot, in September 2015. People came to the Village for, among other things, independent bookstores. Save the Village or it will be nothing BUT awful chain stores.

How it was and what it now is: The Save the Village tours highlight lowlights like this. Only YOU can prevent forest fires, as Smokey the Bear used to say. Well, only YOU can prevent future abominations such as this one, where the nerve center of a literary generation morphs into a cookie cutter coffee joint that could easily be found in any strip mall in America.  

All Dylan Tour?

116 MacDougal Street, former home of the Gaslight Cafe.

116 MacDougal Street, former home of the Gaslight Cafe.

The death this week of Bob Johnston, who produced "Blonde on Blonde" and "Highway 61 Revisited" for Bob Dylan (plus classic albums for Johnny Cash, Leonard Cohen and many others) got us thinking about adding another tour to the Save The Village lineup - an all Bob Dylan tour.

Doing research for the Save The Village tours, we went on some other local tours - both walking and on those ubiquitous double decker buses - to see what was good, bad and ugly.

The saddest was at the end of one tour when a woman from Australia turned to me and said, "Mate... How can these people offer a Greenwich Village tour and not even mention Bob Dylan?! That is why I came on the tour!"

Agreed.

I know who John Dos Passos, ee cummings and Dashiell Hammet were, can point to the corner where the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire took place and know where on Grove St. that Thomas Paine wrote "Common Sense." And some people do come on tours for old stuff. But people also want to see places that they can relate to, from their own memories or experiences. That is why we point out where on West 10th St. Julia Roberts has an apartment. (Across from Edward Albee's old place).   

It would not be too hard to put together an All Bob Tour, encompassing where he lived, worked, played, visited, shopped... all below 14th St. (Maybe we'd stretch it up to Irving Place where one of his business managers we know had an office.)

161 W.  4th St., where Dylan first rented an apartment - a top floor studio facing the back.

161 W.  4th St., where Dylan first rented an apartment - a top floor studio facing the back.

The tour would likely include places he performed including just on MacDougal Street: The Folklore Center, Cafe Wha? (see photo), Gerde's Folk City, the Gaslight Cafe and Kettle of Fish; the Theatre de Lys on Christopher Street which was a favorite spot; also the Cedar Tavern on University Place, The White Horse on Hudson St., The Bitter End and the Village Gate (both on Bleecker Street) or he'd be in Washington Square Park listening to music on a Sunday afternoon (as famously captured in a McDarrah photograph elsewhere on this site); or places he lived or crashed such as 161 West 4th St. (see photo) , 94 MacDougal St. (see photo), the former Hotel Earle or One Sheridan Square.

And Fred W. McDarrah did photograph most of these places.

Hmmm...

94 MacDougal St., which Dylan owned in the 1970s. 

94 MacDougal St., which Dylan owned in the 1970s.