Posts Tagged ‘Jack Kerouac’

When everybody dropped by the Cedar Tavern

October 13, 2010

“You had painters coming in there, and poets,” wrote artist Larry Rivers in a November 5, 1979 New York piece about the Cedar Tavern.

The legendary beat-abstract expressionist hangout hit its stride in the 1950s and early 1960s, when it was located at 24 University Place.

Writers like Jack Kerouac (supposedly banned from the premises for peeing in a sink), Frank O’Hara, and Gregory Corso were some of the regulars.

But it was really more of an artist’s establishment, as Rivers explained:

“When you went to the bar, de Kooning was there and Franz Kline and Milton Resnick, and every writer who wrote about art . . . everybody would come down. That was the place to go—it was a scene.

“Women came in; parties emanated from there. It had a certain kind of exuberance, and every day and every night you could just drop in before you went home.

“It was your neighborhood bar, but the neighborhood was really the art community, the downtown art community.”

Photos by Fred McDarrah, chronicler of the Village in the 1950s and 1960s.

1940s Beat writer hangout: Hector’s cafeteria

June 16, 2010

There were actually four Hector’s cafeterias in Times Square, according to a 1970 New York Times article chronicling the closing of the last one on 44th Street and Broadway.

I don’t know which one is in this 1952 photo—nor is it clear which Hector’s was chronicled in the opening pages of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road:

“Dean had arrived the night before, the first time in New York, with his beautiful little sharp chick Marylou; they got off the Greyhound bus at 50th Street and cut around the corner looking for a place to eat and went right to Hector’s, and since then Hector’s Cafeteria has always been a big symbol of New York for Dean.

“They spent money on beautiful big glazed cakes and creampuffs.”

Desserts seemed to be Hector’s specialty. “The dessert counter, 12 feet long and three feet high, was a gourmond’s dream,” the Times article says.

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

“Shall we go down by the automat?”

May 3, 2008

This ad for Horn & Hardart’s automat in Times Square survives in midtown, but the automat itself is pretty much part of restaurant history. It was a terrific machine-age idea: Pop a few coins in the slot, select the dish you want, and out comes your food from one of the many compartments.

Dozens of automats thrived all over the city. But after the 1960s, fast food outlets multiplied, and, well, you know the rest. The last Horn & Hardart’s, on Third Avenue and 42nd Street, was shuttered in 1991. 

The Times Square automat was a big hangout for Beat writers. In Lonesome Traveler, Jack Kerouac writes, “Shall we go down by the automat and watch the old ladies eating beans?”