Posts Tagged ‘East Village 1960s’

A helpful guide to 1967 East Village drug slang

September 5, 2013

newbohemiaguyLate 1960s drug culture apparently had readers of The New York Times perplexed.

How else to explain this article, dated April 16, 1967, that translates slang words and phrases spoken by East Village drug users?

The reporter hung out with young adults who were part of the “scene,” in other words, “people over 25 years old who hold sporadic jobs when they need money and can be understood only by other members of the “acid bag.”

It reads like a quick anthropological study of a primitive culture or tribe.

“The lingo of the ‘head,’ or drug user, is as diverse and incomprehensible to an outsider as the laboratory jargon of a nuclear physicist,” states the article.

“‘Head’ also has two meanings—what a person thinks and what drug he uses. . . .”

Eastvillageslangnytimesclip“A ‘shrink’ is a psychiatrist. Acid is LSD; grass is marijuana; a joint is a marijuana cigarette and a high is the feeling after using a drug.”

“In the East Village, people don’t carry things in a bag.  They carry things in a sack,” the article goes on. “A ‘bag’ is what they like and ‘what’s happening.'”

My favorite: “When a person’s mind is blown, he hears a phrase, word, poem, story, or sound that is ‘too much.'”

“The affluent set invades the East Village”

December 7, 2011

So read the headline from a New York Times article. Was it from 2002? 1996? 1988?

It actually dates to November 1964, and the piece chronicles a familiar story: how the artists and writers who moved to the neighborhood when it was rundown and unsafe resented the onslaught of rich uptowners who came to live there—or just slum it for the night.

“The uptown rich, who popularized Small’s Paradise in Harlem and the Peppermint Lounge in Midtown, have discovered the East Village nightspots,” explained the Times.

“‘First there were the artists,’ [Stanley] Tolkin said.” Tolkin was the owner of Stanley’s, on Avenue B and 12th Street, a hangout for painters, musicians, and poets.

“‘Then there were the teachers and writers, and little by little, we had everyone—advertising men, doctors who live in walk-up tenements, lawyers just starting out, construction workers.'”

“‘They all seem to work at something during the day,’ Tolkin said. ‘But at night, they change their clothes and become Beatniks.'”

The owner of Slug’s, another Bohemian bar on East Third Street, had this to say about the uptowners:

“‘They’re bored, and they have no other place to go. It has to become a fashionable place. It always happens to places like this. I’m going to raise my prices then.'”

[Fred W. McDarrah photos from The New Bohemia, by John Gruen, published in 1965]

The hippest hangout in the 1960s East Village

August 24, 2011

You know how everyone always complains that a once-cool bar or club has been ruined because it’s been discovered by bridge-and-tunnel types?

The same gripes were repeated in the mid-1960s about the Dom (above, in 1966, photo by Fred W. McDarrah).

Occupying the former Polish National Home at 19-25 St. Marks Place, it was once the burgeoning East Village’s hippest nightspot—run by Stanley Tolkin, proprieter of Beat hangout Stanley’s bar on Avenue B and 12th Street.

When exactly it opened depends on what book or article you read, but it seems to have hit maximum hipness in the mid-1960s. The Dom apparently wasn’t one space but an upstairs dance club/performance art area plus a downstairs bar/restaurant.

But by the time this grumbling review came out in 1965’s The Inside Guide to Greenwich Village, the place was over, invaded by “another element.”

The Dom disappeared sometime in 1967, when the space became the Balloon Farm, then the Electric Circus, next a community center/rehab facility, and over the years a succession of other short-lived bars and cafes.

The topless cellist arrested by the NYPD

October 28, 2009

Charlotte Moorman, a native Texan, trained for a traditional concert hall career as a cellist.

But after moving to Manhattan in the late 1950s to study at Juilliard and play in the American Symphony Orchestra, she became interested in avant-garde works and mixed media.

CharlottemoormanIn 1963 she founded an avant-garde art festival and began performing around the city with composer Nam June Paik.

Her concerts were pretty cutting edge: She played the cello nude from the waist up.

Today, it’s actually legal for women to go topless. But it was shocking stuff back in the 1960s. She and the fully-clothed Paik were even arrested at a 1967 show in Midtown.

Cops released Paik, but Moorman was tried and found guilty of  indecent exposure. The verdict was later overturned. 

She continued to perform works such as “Cello Sonata No. 1 for Adults Only” and “TV Bra for Living Sculpture,” during which she donned a bra composed of two tiny televisions.