Posts Tagged ‘beatniks’

When everyone hung out at the San Remo

February 11, 2010

In 1950s Greenwich Village, few places were as popular as the San Remo.

Called a cafe but really a bar, the San Remo, at 189 Bleecker Street, hosted a literary-minded Village crowd plus regulars such as William S. Burroughs, Jack Kerouac, Dylan Thomas, and Allen Ginsberg, at left below.

“With its pressed-tin ceiling, black-and-white tile floors and dollar salads with all the bread and butter you could eat, the San Remo attracted a younger, hipper crowd more into experimenting with drugs than The White Horse’s habituées,” states a PBS bio of writer Delmore Schwartz and his favorite bars in Greenwich Village.

“The San Remo, which used to be at the corner of Bleecker and MacDougal in the heart of the Italian part of Greenwich Village, was cool rather than politically and alcoholically inflamed.

“Delmore’s fellow drinkers at the White Horse were ‘hotter,’ more engaged, their ideas forged by the political struggles of the 30’s. The apolitical San Remo crowd were children of World War II and more alienated from mainstream culture by the Cold War.”

Jack Kerouac at the Kettle of Fish in the Village

January 3, 2010

Opened in 1950, the Kettle of Fish—with its large neon “bar” sign outside the door—was already old-school by the time The New Inside Guide to Greenwich Village came out in 1965:

By then it had earned its cred as a hangout for the early-1960s folk music crowd, and before that as a haunt of beat writers, such as Jack Kerouac.

In Door Wide Open: A Beat Love Affair in Letters, author and Kerouac girlfriend Joyce Johnson recalls a night in 1958 when Kerouac visited the Kettle of Fish with poet Gregory Corso:

“Shortly before he returned to Orlando to start packing, [Jack] went out one night with Gregory Corso to the Kettle of Fish, a bar on MacDougal Street that had a rough clientele and was frequented by moving men like Henri Cru. In the fall Jack and I had been photographed in front of its red neon sign by Jerry Yulsman.

“In the small hours of the morning, Jack and Gregory left the bar, followed outside by two men, who beat Jack up, banging his head repeatedly against the curb and breaking his nose and his arm. To his horror, he found he lacked the will to defend himself. . . .”

Kerouac and Joyce Johnson at the Kettle of Fish on MacDougal. The bar moved to the old Lion’s Head space on Christopher Street several years back, where it still is today—and strangely has become the epicenter of Green Bay Packers fandom, as the Daily News explains.

The Kettle of Fish in the 1950s, part neighborhood pub, part beat haunt