Posts Tagged ‘Dylan Thomas’

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.”

“Are you still alive, Djuna?”

May 15, 2009

That’s what e.e. cummings reportedly shouted out his window on Patchin Place, the West Village gated alley where he and fellow writer Djuna Barnes were neighbors for many overlapping years.

Djunabarnes1925Cummings resided in a house at #4, while Djuna had a studio on the second floor at #5 across the way. She lived like a recluse, so occasionally cummings checked up on her. 

Barnes had been a true Bohemian, moving to Greenwich Village in the teens and advocating free love, sleeping with both men and women. After years spent in Europe (where the photo at left was taken in 1925), she moved to Patchin Place in 1940.

And she never left. Barnes made her home in that one-room flat for 42 years, her $49.50 per month rent paid for by a stipend.

Djunabarnes1962She barely published anything for the rest of her life, but her literary rep grew, and she spent her later years chasing away fans who rang her bell wanting to discuss her work. She died in 1982.

Today, a plaque commemorates cummings’ home at #4. But no plaque marks #5, even though Barnes was a literary heavyweight. Her 1936 novel Nightwood was lauded by T.S. Eliot and Dylan Thomas. 

The photo at right, of Barnes posing beside the Patchin Place gate, was taken in 1962 by e.e. cummings’ wife, poet Marion Morehouse.

Time stands still at the White Horse

December 13, 2008

When this picture was taken in 1940, the White Horse Tavern was just another corner bar on the far West Side, catering to longshoreman working the piers and workers from the Nabisco plant on Bethune Street, among other factories that used to anchor the neighborhood.

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In the 1950s the White Horse earned its bohemian cred, with Jack Kerouac, James Baldwin, and other writers holding court—and Dylan Thomas spending his final drunken night there, as the story goes.

But tensions with neighborhood regulars existed. In New York in the 50s, author Dan Wakefield writes:

“The hostility toward all nonconformists was heightened during the McCarthy fervor of the fifties, when mostly Irish kids from the surrounding area made raids on the Horse, swinging fists and chairs, calling the regulars ‘commies and faggots.'”

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The White Horse today. The building and corner look almost exactly the same, now beckoning tourists, frat boys, and neighborhood folks to come in for a drink.

ryescotchliqueurs

 The loveliest windows on Hudson Street