“The New Bohemia”

I found this gem at a rummage sale in New Jersey two decades ago. Written in 1966 by John Gruen, a former art and music critic for the New York Herald Tribune, it’s a fascinating snapshot of the creative scene and the energy it fed on in the newly coined East Village. From the intro:

“Walking on St. Marks Place on a weekend night, you become aware of a rhythm. It has an imperceptible underground beat and you feel it increasing as the night wears on. The rhythm of the Combine Generation is taking over. It can take you to a bottle-party in a $15 a month loft (records by Bob Dylan only), to an underground poetry reading, to a wild ‘happening,’ to a way-out theatrical production. It can lead you to encounters with dope addicts, free-love cultists, Swedenborgians, or white chicks looking for noble savages.”

Yep, it’s all for real—not a trace of sarcasm or a thinly veiled putdown from cover to cover. It’s refreshing.

One of the best things about the book is the map marking circa-1966 venues that are for the most part long gone. Stanley’s Bar on Avenue B and East 12th? Nope. Ratner’s on Second Avenue and East Sixth? Finito. (Click to enlarge):

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4 Responses to ““The New Bohemia””

  1. John Gruen Says:


    I was really pleased to read the brief exerpt from my very first book! Thank you for unearthing it!
    Hope you have a chance to see my newest tome . . .called “Callas Kissed Me . . . Lenny Too!” A Critic’s Memoir—-just published and in all the stores.

    Best Regards,

    • Dawn Says:

      Does anyone know Penny from the bookstore in the village? Can’t remember the name of the bookstore or her husband’s name…..

  2. Hipster dude eye candy from the 60s « Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] Hipster dude eye candy from the 60s A couple of bohemian-on-the-street photos of hip-looking guys ambling around the Village in the 1960s. The first guy is strolling down St. Mark’s Place around 1966. The photo is from John Gruen’s 1966 guidebook The New Bohemia. […]

  3. aldo tambellini Says:

    Hello, I just found this site and saw John Gruen’s response. I was one of the artists that John Gruen wrote about in his book. I had a group called Group Cenbter and we were the underground in the Lower east Side in New York. Now, at age 81, I am trying to gather my work and need to get information on Jack Greenbaum who had several of my pieces. He was a dentist in NYC and collected work of artists he liked in exchange for dental work…he ended up wiht my work ald also, Pollock, Dekookning and others….I was wondering what happened to hsi estate. If John Gruen still reads this I was interested in hearing form him or anyone who was in the LES at that time. I will be returning to NYC showing my work form the 60s’ done in black…lots of round forms at the chelsea art museum opening reception October 6, 2011 at 5:00pm and the recreation of my performance Black Zero done in 1968 at the brooklyn Academy of Music and recreated for Performa 09….the performance will be on October 20 at 6:00 PM.
    My best to all and it is greta to go back to those special times and books like John Gruen’s important piece.
    Aldo Tambellini

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