Posts Tagged ‘Ratner’s’

“The New Bohemia”

April 17, 2008

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):