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Bodie, California: Best Ghost Town In The West!

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The Curse of Bodie: Legacy of Ghost-Town Ghosts?

Today, the ghost town of Bodie, California, is one of the most authentic abandoned gold- mining towns of the Old West (figure 1). It is also reputed to be a “ghost” town in another sense: Some claim, according to a TV documentary, that Bodie is inhabited by ghosts who guard the town against pilferers (Beyond 2000). Supposedly, a visitor who dares to remove any artifact can be plagued by the dreaded “curse of Bodie.”

Boom Town

The 1849 discovery of gold at Sutter’s Mill in the western Sierra foothills lured men and women to California from across the United States and indeed the world. Prospectors equipped with picks, shovels, and the ubiquitous gold pans searched for placer deposits-loose flakes and nuggets that have eroded and washed into streams.

These deposits were searched for by “panning” (an art I once learned in the Yukon) in which the lighter dirt is deftly washed out, leaving behind the flakes of “color” that are collectively called “gold dust.” The discovery of sufficient placer deposits sparked quests for the “mother lode,” involving hardrock mines laboriously dug, blasted, and shored up with timber (Williams 1992, 5; Smith 1925).

A decade after the gold rush began at Sutter’s Mill, four prospectors made a rich strike on the opposite side of the Sierras-that is, in the eastern foothills. They agreed to keep the discovery secret until the following spring, but one, W.S. Bodey, returned with another man, a half-Cherokee named “Black” Taylor. Having traveled to Monoville for supplies, the pair were returning to their cabin when they were caught in a blizzard and Bodey perished.

Named for its discoverer, camp Bodey was soon rechristened “Bodie” when (according to local lore) a sign painter misspelled the word and the new version was preferred (Bodie 2001; Misspelling 2003). At first Bodie was largely neglected due to other strikes in the area. Mark Twain was among the gold seekers who rushed to nearby Aurora, Nevada, for instance.

However, Bodie eventually boomed. In 1876, a freak mine cave-in exposed a valuable body of gold, and the Standard Consolidated Mining Company responded with a large investment in equipment and lumber. Another rich strike followed in 1878 in the Bodie Mine, which, in just six weeks, shipped gold bullion worth a million dollars. Meanwhile, Bodie grew rapidly, with boarding houses, restaurants, saloons, and other enterprises springing up (Williams 1992, 9-10).


Camps like Bodie attracted a breed of adventurous types:

Besides the business and professional men, mine-operators, miners, etc., there were hundreds of saloon-keepers, hundreds of gamblers, hundreds of prostitutes, many Chinese, a considerable number of Mexicans, and an unusual number of what we used to call “Bad men”-desperate, violent characters from everywhere, who lived by gambling, gun-fighting, stage robbing, and other questionable means. The “Bad man from Bodie” was a current phrase of the time throughout the west. In its day, Bodie was more widely known for its lawlessness than for its riches. (Smith 1925)

There were other perils and hardships, including the savage winter of 1878-1879 in which hundreds died of exposure and disease, and mining accidents that claimed victims by falling timber, the explosion of a powder magazine, and other means (Smith 1925; Bodie Cemetery n.d.).

Given Bodie’s reputation, it is perhaps not surprising that one little girl, whose family was moving to the mining town, reportedly prayed: “Goodbye God! We are going to Bodie” (Smith 1925).



Hardships and violence aside, Bodie was a thriving, bustling place, containing some 600 to 800 buildings and a population that reached over 10,000 (Williams 1992, 10; Johnson and Johnson 1967, 20). As it appeared about 1880,

The traffic in the streets was continuous and enlivening. There were trains of huge, white-topped “prairie-schooners,” bringing freight from the railroad, each drawn by twenty or more horses or mules, and pulling one or two large, four-wheeled “trailers”; ore wagons, hauling ore down the canyon to the mills; wood wagons bringing huge loads of pine-nut from long distances, for the mines and mills and for general use; hay wagons, lumber wagons, prospecting outfits, nondescript teams of all descriptions, spanking teams driven by mine superintendents’ horses ridden by everybody, and most exciting of all, the daily stages that came tearing into town and went rushing out; the outgoing stages often carrying bars of bullion, guarded by stern, silent men, armed with sawed-off shotguns loaded with buckshot. . . . (Smith 1925)

However, like other boom towns, Bodie’s period of glory was brief, lasting from 1879 to 1882. The decline was slow, with the two major mines-the Bodie and the Standard-merging in 1887 and operating successfully for the next two decades. A disastrous fire struck in 1892 and-with a steady decline in the interim, including additional mine closings and abandonment of the Bodie Railway in 1917-another devastating fire destroyed much of the town in 1932 (Johnson and Johnson 1967, 20-21). Although Bodie was already dying, further decline having resulted from Prohibition and the Depression, some mining continued. However, there were no new strikes and companies eked out only minor profits, largely by using the cyanide process to extract gold from old tailings (i.e., mine refuse). By the 1950s even this recovery operation ceased and Bodie became a ghost town. Explains one writer: “When people were leaving Bodie, there were no moving companies in the area. People simply packed what they could on one wagon or truck and left the rest behind.” He adds, “That is why many of Bodie’s buildings still contain belongings that were left here years ago” (Williams 1992, 36).

In 1962, after years of neglect, Bodie became a State Historic Park, and two years later the Ghost Town of Bodie was dedicated as a California Historic Site. It has also been designated a National Historic Site. Bodie is maintained in a state of what is termed “arrested decay,” which means the buildings are protected but not restored (Johnson and Johnson 1967, 21; Bodie 2001, 3).

Ghost Town, ‘Ghost’ Town

Old, deserted places inspire the romantic and the superstitious to think of ghosts, and Bodie is no exception. It represents an entire townful of potentially haunted houses and other premises-168 remaining structures-as well as the Bodie cemetery. It is, gushes one ghost-hustling writer, “A ghost town that is really a ghost town” (Myers 1990).

However, the reports of ghostly activity tend to fall into categories of familiar, well-understood phenomena. Consider, for example, occurrences at the J.S. Cain House at the corner of Green and Park streets. Once the home of a prominent businessman and then the residence of caretakers’ families, it is supposedly haunted by the specter of a Chinese woman, possibly a maid who worked for the Cains (Hauck 1996).

Reportedly, this “heavy set” Chinese lady appeared to children in their second-floor bedroom. Also, a ranger’s wife stated:

I was lying in bed with my husband in the lower bedroom and I felt a pressure on me, as though someone was on top of me. I began fighting. I fought so hard I ended up on the floor. It really frightened me. Another ranger who had lived there, Gary Walters, had the same experience, in the same room, except that he also saw the door open and felt a presence and a kind of suffocation. (Myers 1990)

All of these effects are well known and may occur when one’s consciousness shifts into a state between being fully asleep and fully awake. In this condition, seemingly realistic “waking dreams” often occur, involving ghosts, aliens, or other beings. Also in this interim state one may experience “sleep paralysis” in which, although the mind is awake, the body is still in the sleep mode. The sensation of being held or strapped down is a typical consequence (Nickell 2001).

Some apparitional or auditory experiences such as those reported at Bodie-for example “a woman peering from an upstairs window in the Dechambeau House” or “the sound of children’s laughter . . . heard outside the Mendocini House” (Myers 1990)-may be similarly explained. These typically occur when the experiencer is relaxed or performing routine work. Such a mental state may allow images or sounds to spring up from the subconscious and thus be superimposed upon the consciousness (Nickell 2001).

One man visiting the Bodie cemetery with his little girl noticed her giggling and apparently playing with an unseen entity. This was supposed to be “The Angel of Bodie,” a child who was killed when she was accidentally hit in the head by a miner’s pick (Myers 1990). Actually the dead child was Evelyn, the three-year-old daughter of Albert and Fannie Myers, who died in 1897. Her grave is surmounted by the figure of a child angel, sculpted of white marble (Bodie Cemetery n.d., 5)-an ideal model for a little girl’s imaginary playmate (see figure 2).

Figure 2: Investigator Vaughn Rees examines the tombstone of “The Angel of Bodie,” reportedly one of the resident ghosts.Figure 2: Investigator Vaughn Rees examines the tombstone of “The Angel of Bodie,” reportedly one of the resident ghosts.

I have found that some people seem especially susceptible to ghosts-because they are more inclined to believe or because they are especially imaginative. I continue to use a questionnaire that helps me analyze reported ghost encounters, and thus far I find a good correlation between those experiences and the number of traits associated with fantasy proneness (Nickell 2001).

This correlation continued with my research at Bodie, although colleague Vaughn Rees and I obtained only four completed questionnaires there. (A ranger stopped the project since I had not obtained official permission, something I usually try to avoid to keep employees from being told what to say.) Nevertheless, even with this limited sample, the highest ghost-experiences score was matched by a high fantasy score, and similar results were obtained with six questionnaires we obtained at another California ghost town, Calico.

In addition to perceived phenomena, photographs represent another form of “evidence” for alleged ghosts at Bodie. Again, however, there are familiar patterns. For example, streaks of light in some photos (Lundegaard 2002) are consistent with the camera’s flash rebounding from something-such as the wrist strap-in front of the lens (Nickell 2001).

Bodie Curse

Yet, if some people are to be believed, there are not only ghosts in the windswept town but, purportedly, spirits who are responsible for protecting its treasures by implementing the “Curse of Bodie.” Explains the narrator of one television documentary:

Bodie’s inhabitants were of hardy stock, fiercely possessive of what they had built in this barren desert, and it is said that the long-dead spirits want to ensure that what they left behind remains intact. According to legend, anyone who removes anything-large or small-from the town is cursed with a string of bad luck. Misfortune and tragedy are heaped upon the victim until the stolen item is returned. Some claim that the ghosts of Bodie patrol the crumbling ruins to guard against thieves. (Beyond 2000)

According to park ranger J. Brad Sturdivant, “The curse still exists today.” Spooked former visitors often return old nails and other souvenirs taken from Bodie. While “Most of it comes back in an unmarked box,” the ranger states, “We still get letters . . . from people saying, ‘I’m sorry I took this, hoping my luck will change’” (Beyond 2000).

The earliest use I have found of the phrase “The curse of Bodie” appears in the 1925 reminiscence of a former resident. However, he was speaking of something entirely different, namely what had befallen Bodie and caused its decline. As he wrote: “the curse of Bodie, as it was of ‘The Comstock,’ was the stock market, which was manipulated by stock gamblers in San Francisco for their own profit, regardless of the merits of the mines, and without thought for the thousands that found their ruin in the unholy game . . .” (Smith 1925).

The notion of a quite different Bodie curse-one that does not harm the town but instead defends it from pillagers-is of much more recent vintage. Not surprisingly, it appears to follow efforts to preserve Bodie as a historic site. Obviously the “curse” is being officially promoted today when a ranger encourages the idea on a television program and the museum/gift shop displays an album of letters from those believing themselves accursed.

Although these letters may be only a selection and three are undated, the earliest of the remaining twelve was sent in 1992. Having taken a nail from Bodie, the writer states: “Life since then has been a steady downward slide. It’s possible that all the unpleasant events of the past nine months are a coincidence, but just in case the Bodie curse is real I am returning the nail.” Another letter, from 1994, is addressed, “Dear Bodie Spirits”:

I am SORRY! One year ago around the 4th of July I was visiting the Ghost Town. I had been there many times before but had always followed the regulations about collecting. This trip was different, I collected some items here and there and brought them home. I was a visitor again this year, and while I was in the museum I read the letters of others who had collected things and had “bad luck.” I started to think about the car accident, the lost [sic] of my job, my continuing illness and other bad things that have “haunted” me for the past year since my visit and violation. I am generally not superstitious but . . . Please find enclosed the collectibles I “just couldn’t live without,” and ask the spirits to see my regret.

This was signed, “One with a very guilty conscience.”

On the TV series Beyond Bizarre (2000), a German man related how his uncle had removed a small bottle from Bodie and two days later had a car accident on the Autobahn. The next day his son took the bottle to school to show classmates and on the way home had a bicycle accident. Said the man, “Yes, I do believe in the curse of Bodie.”

Figure 3: Artifacts from Bodie - especially ones pilfered from there, like this old fork - supposedly attract the fearsome “curse.”Figure 3: Artifacts from Bodie – especially ones pilfered from there, like this old fork – supposedly attract the fearsome “curse.”

Belief aside, such anecdotal evidence does not prove the existence of a “curse” (or “hex” or “jinx”)-an alleged paranormal attack. Indeed, belief in curses is merely a superstition, a form of magical thinking. Once the idea takes hold, there is a tendency for any harmful occurrence to be counted as evidence for the belief, while beneficial events are ignored. Through the power of suggestion, the magical conviction spreads from person to superstitious person, until many believe, say, in a King Tut’s curse, a Hope Diamond jinx, or a Kennedy family propensity for misfortune (Nickell 1999).

A different mindset allows one to shrug off such nonsense. Skeptics sometimes hold “Superstition Bashes” during which they break mirrors and challenge other superstitions without fear of consequence. In attendance may be a resident spokesperson (such as myself), identified as a friggatriskaidekaphobiologist-that is, one who studies the fear of Friday the Thirteenth and, by extension, other supposed causes of bad luck.

I have even specifically challenged the Curse of Bodie-not by pilfering items from the site, which is appropriately illegal-but by collecting artifacts that have come from there. As shown in figure 3, these include an 1879 check, drawn on the Bodie Bank, and two 1882 issues of the newspaper, The Bodie Evening Miner. If it be argued that these were not pilfered from Bodie, the other item, an old fork, reportedly was: I bought it from an antiques dealer who said she picked it up herself at Bodie several years ago without apparent consequence.

I would like to donate these items to Bodie. I am only waiting for the time when the town’s custodians officially cease promoting superstition and disclaim the existence of any Bodie curse.


I am grateful to CFI Librarian Tim Binga, SI managing editor Ben Radford, and intern Dawn Peterson for research assistance, and to Paul Loynes for his professional word processing.


  • Beyond Bizarre. 2000. Travel Channel documentary, September 24.
  • Bodie Cemetery: The Lives Within. N.d. Bridgefort, California: The Friends of Bodie.
  • Bodie State Historic Park. 2001. Guide booklet. Sacramento: California State Parks.
  • Hauck, Dennis William. 1996. Haunted Places: The National Directory. New York: Penguin Books, 36-37.
  • Johnson, Russ, and Anne Johnson. 1967. The Ghost Town of Bodie. Bishop, California: Sierra Media Inc.
  • Lundegaard, Karen. 2002. Identifying spirit photos. Available atwww.karenlundegaard.com



  • Misspelling of Bodie. 2003. Available at www.bodie.net/st/Bodey.asp.
  • Myers, Arthur. 1990. The Ghostly Gazetteer. Lincolnwood, Illinois: Contemporary Books, 40-48.
  • Nickell, Joe. 1999. Curses: foiled again. Skeptical Inquirer 23(6), November/December: 16-19.
  • —–. 2001. Phantoms, frauds, or fantasies? Chap. 10 of James Houran and Rense Lange, Hauntings and Poltergeists. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, 214-223.
  • Poag, Larry. 1997. Poag’s Guide to Shopkeepers and Shootists of Bodie. Lake Grove, Oregon: Western Places.
  • Smith, Grant H. 1925. Bodie: The last of the old-time mining camps. California Historical Society Quarterly IV: 1; reprinted in Williams 1992, 11-24.
  • Williams III, George. 1992. The Guide to Bodie and Eastern Sierra Historic Sites. Carson City, Nevada: Tree By The River Publishing.

Joe Nickell

Joe Nickell's photo

Joe Nickell, Ph.D., is Senior Research Fellow of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry (CSI) and “Investigative Files” Columnist forSkeptical Inquirer. A former stage magician, private investigator, and teacher, he is author of numerous books, including Inquest on the Shroud of Turin (1998), Pen, Ink and Evidence (2003), Unsolved History (2005) and Adventures in Paranormal Investigation (2007). He has appeared in many television documentaries and has been profiled in The New Yorker and on NBC’s Today Show. His personal website is at joenickell.com.

COOL PEOPLE – Bill Murray on Gilda Radner

oldloves:Bill Murray on Gilda Radner:<br /><br />
"Gilda got married and went away. None of us saw her anymore. There was one good thing: Laraine had a party one night, a great party at her house. And I ended up being the disk jockey. She just had forty-fives, and not that many, so you really had to work the music end of it. There was a collection of like the funniest people in the world at this party. Somehow Sam Kinison sticks in my brain. The whole Monty Python group was there, most of us from the show, a lot of other funny people, and Gilda. Gilda showed up and she’d already had cancer and gone into remission and then had it again, I guess. Anyway she was slim. We hadn’t seen her in a long time. And she started doing, “I’ve got to go,” and she was just going to leave, and I was like, “Going to leave?” It felt like she was going to really leave forever.So we started carrying her around, in a way that we could only do with her. We carried her up and down the stairs, around the house, repeatedly, for a long time, until I was exhausted. Then Danny did it for a while. Then I did it again. We just kept carrying her; we did it in teams. We kept carrying her around, but like upside down, every which way—over your shoulder and under your arm, carrying her like luggage. And that went on for more than an hour—maybe an hour and a half—just carrying her around and saying, “She’s leaving! This could be it! Now come on, this could be the last time we see her. Gilda’s leaving, and remember that she was very sick—hello?”We worked all aspects of it, but it started with just, “She’s leaving, I don’t know if you’ve said good-bye to her.” And we said good-bye to the same people ten, twenty times, you know. And because these people were really funny, every person we’d drag her up to would just do like five minutes on her, with Gilda upside down in this sort of tortured position, which she absolutely loved. She was laughing so hard we could have lost her right then and there.It was just one of the best parties I’ve ever been to in my life. I’ll always remember it. It was the last time I saw her.”<br /><br />
- from Live from New York: an Uncensored History of Saturday Night Live</p><br />
<p>So much love for this story, Gilda and Bill Murray for telling it. xo Maya


Bill Murray on Gilda Radner:

“Gilda got married and went away. None of us saw her anymore. There was one good thing: Laraine had a party one night, a great party at her house. And I ended up being the disk jockey. She just had forty-fives, and not that many, so you really had to work the music end of it. There was a collection of like the funniest people in the world at this party. Somehow Sam Kinison sticks in my brain. The whole Monty Python group was there, most of us from the show, a lot of other funny people, and Gilda. Gilda showed up and she’d already had cancer and gone into remission and then had it again, I guess. Anyway she was slim. We hadn’t seen her in a long time. And she started doing, “I’ve got to go,” and she was just going to leave, and I was like, “Going to leave?” It felt like she was going to really leave forever.

So we started carrying her around, in a way that we could only do with her. We carried her up and down the stairs, around the house, repeatedly, for a long time, until I was exhausted. Then Danny did it for a while. Then I did it again. We just kept carrying her; we did it in teams. We kept carrying her around, but like upside down, every which way—over your shoulder and under your arm, carrying her like luggage. And that went on for more than an hour—maybe an hour and a half—just carrying her around and saying, “She’s leaving! This could be it! Now come on, this could be the last time we see her. Gilda’s leaving, and remember that she was very sick—hello?”

We worked all aspects of it, but it started with just, “She’s leaving, I don’t know if you’ve said good-bye to her.” And we said good-bye to the same people ten, twenty times, you know.

And because these people were really funny, every person we’d drag her up to would just do like five minutes on her, with Gilda upside down in this sort of tortured position, which she absolutely loved. She was laughing so hard we could have lost her right then and there.

It was just one of the best parties I’ve ever been to in my life. I’ll always remember it. It was the last time I saw her.”

– from Live from New York: an Uncensored History of Saturday Night Live

So much love for this story, Gilda and Bill Murray for telling it. xo Maya



Greenwich Village Sunday (1960 Documentary On The Counterculture / Beat

Culture In 1960’s New York)



Greenwich Village: what remains of New York’s beat generation haunts?

Inside Llewyn Davis


A new Coen brothers film celebrates Greenwich Village in its 60s heyday, but what’s left of Dylan and Kerouac’s New York? Karen McVeigh takes a cycle tour of the area
Inside Llewyn Davis still
A still from the Coen Brothers new film, Inside Llewyn Davis. Photograph: Alison Rosa/Studio Canal
Karen McVeigh
Sunday 22 December 2013 01.00 EST Last modified on Thursday 22 May 2014 06.51 EDT

Five decades have passed since America’s troubadours and beat poets flocked to Greenwich Village, filling its smoky late-night basement bars and coffee houses with folk songs and influencing some of the most recognisable musicians of the era.

A few landmarks of those bygone bohemian days – most recently portrayed in the Coen brothers’ film Inside Llewyn Davis, out on 24 January – still exist. The inspiration for the movie’s fictional anti-hero, Davis, was Brooklyn-born Dave Van Ronk, a real- life blues and folk singer with no small talent, who worked with performers such as Pete Seeger and Bob Dylan, but remained rooted in the village until he died in 2002, declining to leave it for any length of time and refusing to fly for many years. Van Ronk’s posthumously published memoir, the Mayor of MacDougal Street, takes its name from the street that was home to the Gaslight Cafe, and other early 60s folk clubs.

The Village stretches from the Hudson River Park east as far as Broadway, and from West Houston Street in the south up to West 14th Street. Its small scale makes it easy to explore on foot and perfect for a musical pilgrimage, but the arrival last summer of New York’s bike-sharing scheme, Citibike, makes for a more adventurous experience.

CitiBikers in Greenwich Village
CitiBikers in Greenwich Village. Photograph: Alamy
I picked up a bike outside Franklin Street subway station, south of the Village in Tribeca, and headed out to the river, at Pier 45. Looking south you can see One World Trade Center: at 541m, it’s now the tallest building in the western hemisphere. Cycle or walk to the end of the boardwalk that juts out into the Hudson, facing Hoboken, New Jersey, and look to your left and you can see the Statue of Liberty. From there, it’s a short cycle along Christopher Street, up Hudson and along West 10th, to Bleecker Street, where designer boutiques such as Marc Jacobs, Michael Kors and Lulu Guinness mark the area’s steep gentrification.

On MacDougal Street, a jumble of comedy cellars, theatres and cheap eateries have mostly replaced the old, liquorless cafes and basement bars of the folk scene. It is the hub of New York University’s campus and many of the bars, falafel joints and pizza houses are priced for students, with $2 beers thrown in.

But several older venues still exist, including the Bitter End, which staged folk “hootenannies” every Tuesday and now calls itself New York’s oldest rock club”. The White Horse Tavern, built in 1880, still stands on the corner of Hudson Street and 11th. It was used by New York’s literary community in the 1950s – most notably Welsh bard Dylan Thomas. It was here, myth has it, that the writer had been drinking in November 1953, before he was rushed to hospital from his room at the Chelsea Hotel, and died a few days later.

Dave Van Ronk
Folk singer Dave Van Ronk, the inspiration for the Llewyn Davis character. Photograph: Kai Shuman/Getty Images
The original Cafe Wha? remains at 115 MacDougal Street, on the corner of Minetta Lane. In the bitter winter of 1961, when the Coen brothers movie is set, cash-strapped artists similar to Davis would take their chances at the open mic. It was here that Bob Dylan made his New York debut, and Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac performed. Cafe Wha? continued to attract artists and musicians long after the Village folk scene gave way to rock’n’roll. A notice on the door catalogues a few of the famous names who played here: Jimi Hendrix, Ritchie Havens, Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard and the Velvet Underground. It is still a popular music venue, with a house band playing five nights a week.

The real centre of the folk scene back then, however, was Washington Square, where musicians would gather on Sundays to swap ideas, learn new material and play. According to folk singer and historian Elijah Wald, the ballad and blues singers who sat around the fountain in the park created sounds that would influence artists from Joni Mitchell and Joan Baez to folk-rock groups the Lovin’ Spoonful, the Byrds and the Mamas and the Papas. The hero of the Coens’ film is not Van Ronk, according to Wald, but he does sing some Van Ronk songs and shares his working-class background.

When I visited on a sunny but cold December day, there was only one musician, a saxophonist, playing under Washington Square’s stone arch, but at weekends the park fills with rap and jazz musicians playing to tourists and students. Bikes are not officially allowed inside the square, but there are Citibike stations around it, so it’s easy to park and walk around.

A block north of the park, on West 8th Street, is a historic 107-room property once known as Marlton House and home to many writers and poets, who were attracted by relatively cheap rates and the bohemian neighbourhood. Jack Kerouac wrote The Subterraneans and Tristessa while living here and, in a darker episode, Valerie Solanas was staying in room 214 in 1968, when she became infamous for stalking and then shooting Andy Warhol.

The Marlton Hotel
The new Marlton Hotel
Sean MacPherson, who owns the stylish Bowery and Jane hotels nearby, has just reopened the building as the Parisian-inspired Marlton Hotel (marltonhotel.com). I popped in to its very comfortable lobby for coffee and a flick through its copy of John Strausbaugh’s The Village: 400 years of Beats and Bohemians, Radicals and Rogues. And I caught up with Strausbaugh later, to ask him about the village in the early 1960s, when young idealists were living hand to mouth and sleeping on friends’ couches.


“In 1961, if you were in any way an artistic person in America, in that vast American landscape, you were a lonely figure,” said Strausbaugh. “You heard about San Francisco, you heard about Greenwich Village, and you went there. You didn’t play there to make money; you went there to be heard. Like Dylan, who played at the Cafe Wha?, then got another entry-level gig, then began playing at the biggest places.”

There were others, Strausbaugh said, like Van Ronk, who were talented, but whose ambitions were more modest than those of Dylan and Baez. The unique thing about the Village, he added, is that it survived so long as a bohemian enclave, from the early 1850s, when it attracted poets such as Walt Whitman, to the beatniks and folk revivalists of the 1950s and later.

“The left bank [in Paris] did not last 100 years, but the Village did,” he said.

Many of the buildings and sometimes entire streets in the Village have been preserved and are now home to some of the most expensive real estate in Manhattan and sought-after for their distinctive, old Greenwich Village look. A struggling folk artist might find a cheap meal in one of the student cafes around MacDougal Street, but they would never be able to afford to live in the area – or anywhere in Manhattan, realistically.

“It has not been completely finished off,” said Strausbaugh. “There are still a lot of theatres. But the people who make the music have not been able to live there for 20 or 30 years.”

Greenwich Village: Music That Defined a Generation Q&A at DOC NYC 2012


Bleecker Street: Greenwich Village in the ’60s traces and tributes the bohemian Mecca’s part in the emergence of singer/songwriters and the folk revival during the ’60s. The initial passion and sense of discovery in this music remains undimmed, as politically and emotionally conscious songs by Bob Dylan, Phil Ochs, Tom Paxton, Tim Buckley, Judy Collins, and Paul Simon are reinterpreted by contemporary artists like Chrissie Hynde, Ron Sexsmith, Beth Nielsen Chapman, and many others.

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U.K. farmer breeds the tears out of an onion


U.K. farmer breeds the tears out of an onion


The Sweet Red has just hit grocery shelves, promising fewer tears and sweeter-smelling breath.

It’s hard to chop an onion when you have tears in your eyes. (Photo: Sean Locke Photography/Shutterstock)

One of the most frequently used items in my kitchen is a pair of onion goggles. I need them because I’m incredibly susceptible to the sulfur that’s released when an onion is sliced. Within half a minute, my eyes burn and tear up, making it very difficult to chop an onion without harming myself with my chef’s knife.
A farmer in England may be on his way to making my onion goggles obsolete, at least when I’m chopping a red onion for dishes like Sourdough Panzanella or Guacamole. For 20 years, Alastair Findlay of Bedfordshire Growers has worked on creating a new type of onion, one he calls a Sweet Red, according to Yahoo.
Sweet Reds have a flavor that’s milder than other red onions. They also don’t leave your breath smelling as onion-y, and they don’t give off as much tear-producing sulfur.
I assume the Sweet Red is a hybrid vegetable. The hybrid process crossbreeds two different types or varieties of vegetables or fruits, creating a new, natural variety. This is different from genetically modifying foods, by the way.
Findlay isn’t done tweaking the onions. He’s working on improving the flavor of his Sweet Red even further.
For now, the first harvest of Sweet Reds is available only at the U.K. grocery chain Asda, so I suppose I’ll need my onion goggles for a while longer. I’d love to get my hands on one, though, and test the no-more-tears promise of the Sweet Red.

Read more: http://www.mnn.com/food/healthy-eating/blogs/uk-farmer-breeds-the-tears-out-of-an-onion#ixzz3S227VMer



What Happened at the OK Corral?//

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 O.K. Corral Shooting – Tombstone Arizona (Western Song)


On Oct. 26, 1881, four men met at the corner of Fifth and Allen Streets in the bustling silver mining town of Tombstone, Arizona. They walked north on Fifth, turned left on Fremont Street and headed toward a vacant lot next to the OK Corral.

Minutes later, three men would be dead, and the four men who had walked to the corral and killed them – Tombstone marshal Virgil Earp, his brothers Wyatt and Morgan, and Wyatt’s friendDoc Holliday – had unknowingly secured their places in history.

The Gunfight at the OK Corral is arguably the single most famous incident in the Old West. But what was it about? And why has it, above all the many other gunfights that took place in the era of frontier justice, achieved such infamy?

To understand the gunfight, you have to first understand the town. Tombstone in 1881 was a thriving, bustling silver mining community.

“There’s a huge misconception about Tombstone in the 1880s: that it was a violent, dangerous place,” says local author and historian Don Taylor. “It was extremely sophisticated and massively wealthy. Thirty-seven million dollars in 1880s dollars of silver was mined here; that’s $8.25 billion today. They had everything.

“They had fresh seafood every day. They would catch it in Baja California; pack it in barrels of salt, ice and seaweed at dusk; freight it by train to Benson or Contention City, immediately pack it on to wagons and bring it here by dawn every day. It was a very opulent town. But again, people don’t understand – especially if they come today – Tombstone was open 24 hours a day.

The miners worked rotating 10 hour shifts; everything had to be open when they got off, including banks. They were also pumping 2.5 million gallons of water out of the mines every day to keep them dry; so you had all the mining activity, all the milling activity, all the water rushing down Toughnut Street, and the town open 24 hours a day. It must have been noisy as hell.”

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As the mines thrived, so did all manner of supporting businesses: banks, bars, restaurants, hotels – and prostitutes, many of whom worked out of small ‘cribs’ that lined Sixth Street. The riches to be, had attracted plenty of would-be entrepreneurs — among them Wyatt, Virgil, Morgan, James and Warren Earp, and Doc Holliday.

Both Virgil and Wyatt had been lawmen; Virgil had recently been appointed deputy marshal for the part of the Arizona Territory that included Tombstone, and although some record-keeping at the time was poor, it is possible that Wyatt may have been a deputy marshal as well.

Certainly, it appears as if all the brothers were anxious to join the list of those profiting from Tombstone’s booming business: they invested in one of the mines, James tended bar, Wyatt rode as a stagecoach guard and dealt faro – the popular card game of the time – in a local saloon.

But Tombstone’s growth and growing sophistication grated with one segment of society: the ‘cowboys’, a loose confederation of ranchers and cattle rustlers. The cowboys – who were predominantly rural, southern Confederates – eyed the primarily Yankee mercantile class that was dominating Tombstone, and which the Earps typified, with suspicion. And the feeling was mutual.

It didn’t take long after the Earps’ arrival in late 1879 for tensions between them and the cowboys to develop, particularly with Virgil and Wyatt spending time in law enforcement positions. That tension reached boiling point when Wyatt helped in the identification and arrest of some cowboy members in a pair of stagecoach robberies, and the cowboys in turn asserted that Wyatt and Holliday had in fact been the ones responsible for the holdups.

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On the night of Oct. 25, 1881, one of the cowboy leaders, Ike Clanton, got into a heated, drunken argument with Holliday, and the next morning he wandered drunkenly up and down Allen Street, threatening to kill him and the Earps. A series of confrontations steadily escalated until Virgil was informed that a group of armed cowboys had gathered outside Fly’s Boarding House – where Holliday was living – in a vacant lot close to the OK Corral.

Carrying guns inside city limits was a violation of a town ordinance, and it provided Virgil, who was now town marshal, with an opportunity to arrest the cowboys. But there may also have been other considerations at play.

As the self-identified Dr. Jay, who leads historical tours of Tombstone, explains: “Ike Clanton had openly threatened to kill the Earps. And why are they in that alley? Because it’s right outside Fly’s Boarding House. So if you’re Doc Holliday, you show up and here’s a bunch of guys with guns outside your house. You might want to think about, ‘Are they going to get me tomorrow if I don’t get them today?’”

Virgil deputized his brothers and Holliday and they set off for the vacant lot.

“Throw up your hands,” shouted Virgil as they reached the alleyway’s entrance. “I mean to disarm you.”

There was a pause, and the click-click of a gun – or guns – being cocked.

“Hold on, I don’t want that!” shouted Virgil, but it was too late.

There were two shots fired simultaneously – it is uncertain by whom – and then, as Wyatt later testified, “the fight then became general.”

Ironically, Ike Clanton, who had instigated the confrontation, fled the scene, grabbing Wyatt and screaming that he was unarmed.

“The fight has commenced,” snarled Earp. “Get to fighting or get away.” Clanton promptly took off, as did another cowboy, Billy Claiborne.

Within seconds, two of the cowboys – Tom McLaury and Billy Clanton – lay mortally wounded, Virgil Earp had been shot in the calf, and Morgan Earp shot through the shoulder blades. A third cowboy, Frank McLaury, shot in the stomach, staggered into Fremont Street and leveled his gun at Holliday.

“I’ve got you now,” he said, mistakenly believing Holliday was out of ammo.

“Blaze away,” taunted Holliday. “You’re a daisy if you do.”

At that point both Holliday and Morgan Earp fired almost simultaneously; bullets from one or both of their guns struck McLaury in the head, killing him.

The entire gunfight lasted approximately 30 seconds.

The following day, the headline in the ‘Tombstone Epitaph’ newspaper read, “Three Men Hurled into Eternity in the Duration of a Moment.” The cowboys’ supporters insisted their men had been killed in cold blood. The Earps and Holliday stood trial for murder,but were cleared.

A hundred and thirty years later, the gunfight has been the focus of numerous motion pictures, and a part of many more – and was even pivotal to an episode in the original series of Star Trek. So we ask again: why has the slaying of three men on a misdemeanor firearms violation endured through history?

Don Taylor offers one explanation.

“In January 1881, (Tombstone mayor) John Clum joined the brand new Associated Press,” he explains. “So everything he wrote went to San Francisco, Chicago, New York. Everybody knew what was going on here.”

There was also, explains Tim Fattig, who works as a tourist guide at the OK Corral and has written a voluminous biography of Wyatt Earp, another factor: the fact that the gunfight did not mark the end of the Earp-cowboy feud.

On Dec. 28, 1881, Virgil Earp survived an assassination attempt, but lost the use of his left arm. The following March, Morgan was gunned down and killed while playing billiards.

In revenge, Wyatt, Warren Earp, Holliday and others set out on a “vendetta ride” for justice, in which they killed at least three cowboys, including the faction’s de facto leader, Curly Bill Brocius.

“It was the vendetta ride that truly elevated the gunfight in public perception,” Fattig says. “The idea of a brother gaining revenge for one brother’s murder and another being wounded is compelling.”

That’s one reason why Wyatt Earp dominates the history books and the mythology at his brothers’ expense: he was the one who led the ride for vengeance. There is also another reason: In 1931, two years after Earp’s death, author Stuart Lake published Wyatt Earp: Frontier Marshal, a hagiographic account he had produced with Earp’s collaboration. After that came the movies – My Darling Clementine, Gunfight at the OK Corral and more – and the TV series, including The Life and Times of Wyatt Earp.

Wyatt is lionized above the others, in other words, because he outlived them all, and got to tell his story. The rest, as they say, is history.

Top Photograph: The purported grave site of the men who were killed in the Gunfight at the OK Corral. Middle: A display at the site of the gunfight shows how close the combatants were to each other when the fight commenced. Bottom: A tourist poses with reenactors playing the roles of Doc Holliday and the Earp brothers in modern-day Tombstone. Photos by Kieran Mulvaney





To celebrate the 50th anniversary of Grateful Dead, Mickey Hart, Bill Kreutzmann, Phil Lesh, and Bob Weir will reunite at Chicago’s Soldier Field, nearly 20 years to the day from the last Grateful Dead concert, which took place at the same venue. “Fare Thee Well: Celebrating 50 Years of Grateful Dead” will occur over three nights on July 3, 4, and 5, 2015, marking the original members’ last-ever performance together. The band will be joined by Trey Anastasio (guitar), Jeff Chimenti (keyboards), and Bruce Hornsby (piano). The group will perform two sets of music each night. In the tradition of the original Grateful Dead Ticketing Mail Order, tickets will first be made available via a first-come, first-served mail order system. All additional ticketing information is available at http://www.Dead50.net.



At first I was angry because it was the wrong direction, but then I continued scrolling!

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Is this the longest graffiti ever?

This is the art by a French artist called BLUBLU. Check him out on youtube, he does stop-motion animation graffiti and it’s incredible.

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COOL PEOPLE – Watch Willie Nelson Tell the Story of His Legendary Guitar, Trigger



Watch Willie Nelson Tell the Story of His Legendary Guitar, Trigger

An exclusive documentary on how the country icon changed music history with his beat-up Martin acoustic

 BY | February 11, 2015

Trigger, a beat-up, autograph-covered Martin N-20 acoustic, is just as recognizable as Nelson himself. And in the debut documentary in our “Mastering the Craft” series by Rolling Stone Films presented by Patrón, MaggieVision Productions and director David Chamberlin interview Nelson, his band and crew — plus friends including Jerry Jeff Walker and biographer Joe Nick Patoski, and fans like Woody Harrelson, who provides the documentary’s voiceover — to tell the story of how this instrument helped change music history.

Nelson discovered Trigger at a crossroads in his career. By 1969, he had spent nearly a decade trying to become a clean-cut solo success in Nashville. After a drunk destroyed his Guild acoustic, he decided to look for a new guitar with a sound similar to his gypsy-jazz hero Django Reinhardt (“I think he was the best guitar player ever,” Nelson says). His buddy Shot Jackson suggested the Martin classical “gut-string” guitar; Nelson bought it sight-unseen and gave it a name. “I named my guitar Trigger because it’s kind of my horse,” he explains. “Roy Rogers had a horse called Trigger.”

Later that year, Nelson’s house caught fire, and he raced inside to rescue Trigger and a pound of weed. He took the blaze as a sign it was time to relocate, returning to Texas to play the honky-tonk clubs he grew up around. The scene in Texas was more eclectic and wild, and Nelson began to thrive, pushing the boundaries of what everyone expected from an acoustic player. “No acoustic guitar at that time had been successfully amplified with a pickup,” Patoski says. Willie had a sound literally nobody else was getting.

Trigger has stayed by his side ever since, through the famous Fourth of July Picnics he started hosting in Texas in 1972, his experimental Number One breakthrough Red Headed Stranger, and all the rough times; when the IRS seized his possessions in the early Nineties, Willie sent his daughter, Lana, to hide the guitar in Hawaii. He’s had Trigger for so long and played it so hard and so much that his pick wore a sizable hole through its front. “My God! How do they keep that thing together?!” Patoski exclaims in the film. “I mean, it shouldn’t be playable.” Willie’s response? “I don’t want to put a guard over it,” he smiles. “I need a place to put my fingers.”

After five decades with his trusty companion, Nelson is still going strong. “I figure we’ll give out about the same time,” he says of the well-worn acoustic. “We’re both pretty old, got a few scars here and there, but we still manage to make a sound every now and then.”

Read more: http://www.rollingstone.com/music/videos/willie-nelson-rs-films-mastering-the-craft-trigger-20150211#ixzz3RUFskTXz
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