Tag Archives: New York City




TO SET THE MOOD -Bryan Adams – Summer Of 69 Live



Amazing Photographs Of The Summer Of 1969 In New York

Andy Warhol and Edie Sedgwick

David McCabe, Andy Warhol & Edie Sedgwick with Empire State Building New York, 1964. C-print. 47.5 x 33.5 cm.


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By Sonja Sharp

On the sweaty September morning I went to visit Doris Torres and Angel Juarbe, the weather was warm and the skies as eerily clear and blue as the day they were killed. Except it’s Sunday, not Tuesday, and this is not Manhattan but the Bronx. At the corner of Doris Torres Way and Angel Luis Juarbe, Jr. Avenue in the Melrose section of the South Bronx, mostly everyone appeared already drunk.

Like many of New York’s sacred dead, Angel Luis Juarbe, Jr. was a firefighter. Doris Torres was an office worker. Both died 13 years ago this week, in the aftermath of the terror attacks of September 11, 2001. Both names haunt New York City’s urban landscape in quasi-official limbo, on the city’s records but not its maps, sometimes on its street signs, clinging to the periphery of its collective memory. Not quite forgotten—to forget them would be blasphemous—but not really remembered either.

By all rights, the opposite should be true: Juarbe and Torres number among more than 400 of the nearly 3000 9/11 dead whose names are not only on carved on the popular Downtown Manhattan site where their lives were cut short, but cemented onto honorary stretches of concrete where those lives were once conducted, ghost streets like theirs scattered across the five boroughs. Most are forlorn byways on forgotten edges of the city where no tourist has ever intentionally stopped to pay respects.

Staten Island alone is home to almost 200 of them.

Salman Hamdani Way EMT, NYPD Cadet 9-11-01 is a random, lonely corner of a brick-and-leaf lined maze of residential streets in deepest Flushing. 9/11/01 Hero – Abe (Averemel) Zelmanowitz Way is the western edge of an overgrown traffic circle on Kings Highway, rededicated in 2007 with someone else’s name on the plaque. A few people remember the story of how he sacrificed his life to stay by the side of his paraplegic colleague. His family must live right here, they muse.

“I remember reading about him,” said former neighbor Elise Matis, who stopped in the turnabout to chat with a friend early Sunday. “It’s tragic,” she conceded, but that was then. “Everybody’s involved in their own lives now.”

A group of 14 year olds folding their underwear together inside the laundromat at 147th Street and Wales Avenue in the Bronx agrees, it was sad. Very sad. Lots of people died or whatever. We were born, they say, and wave their boxer-briefs like handkerchiefs against the window on Doris Torres Way toward the murals of Firefighter Angel Luis Juarbe, Jr.

“I think about it every day,“ said 25-year-old Zev between long, slow sips from a bottle of beer, one hand on the stroller where her three-year-old son naped while the clothes spun in the wash. “I remember I was in class [at a vocational school on Wall Street] and I saw people running away covered in ash. Human ash,“ she added, as an afterthought.

She’d never heard of Doris Torres, and only knew Angel Juarbe from his mural.

Rosie Perez, 43, knew Angel better, and wanted her picture taken with the neighborhood’s fallen hero, of whom there are two adjacent murals. In one, a square-jawed firefighter backed by the statue of liberty and a translucent American flag overlooks a fire engine careening down a suburban street toward the smouldering World Trade Center, a billboard for the musical Stomp further orienting us to the New York of the early aughts. In the other, a baby-faced young man smiles from beneath a black firefighter’s helmet like the one he undoubtedly wore when he charged into the wreckage 13 years ago.

Rosie’s sweat smelled like gin. She posed: chin down, hip out. I asked whether she also knew Doris Torres, who also died heroically in the aftermath of 9/11, on whose honorary street we were technically standing. She ran back to her floor to help her coworkers and later succumbed to severe burns. Rosie stared at me blankly. I pointed to the street sign.

“Angel and I even have the same birthday,” she replied, pulling me back toward the mural. “We grew up together.”

seeing the subway

seeing the subway



Faith of Graffiti






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Subway-01.jpgByron Company, “Queensboro Tunnel” (1918 ), from the the Museum of the City of New York.


Seeing the Subway
Posted by Jessie Wender

Looking on Instagram, it’s hard not to see at least a picture a day from the New York City subway. Photographers armed with iPhones shoot from the hip, casually glancing at the screen of their phone or pushing in front of fellow-passengers to capture dancers on a moving train. The subway has long been a subject for photographers, from early anonymous photographs of its construction to images of passengers in repose, beautiful graffiti, homeless dwellers, the casual rider, and its majestic architecture. This week, we’re taking a look at pictures of the New York subway, often by artists with bodies of work devoted to the subject. Next week, we’ll look at underground systems around the world.
“Between 1938 and 1941 Evans photographed passengers in the New York City Subway with a camera cleverly hidden inside his coat,” according to the Metropolitan’s Web site. “With the focus and exposure of his 35mm Contax predetermined, Evans was completely free to attend to the transient expressions and conduct of his fellow passengers.” Evans said of photographing on the train: “These anonymous people who come and go in the cities and who move on the land; it is on what they look like now; what is in their faces and in the windows and the streets beside and around them, what they are wearing and what they are riding in, and how they are gesturing that we need to concentrate, consciously, with the camera.”
Subway-03.jpgStanley Kubrick, “Life and Love on the New York City Subway (Couple Sleeping on a Subway)” (1946)/Courtesy collections of the Museum of the City of New York.
“Stanley took thousands of images for Look Magazine between 1945 and 1950,” Phil Grosz, from SK Film Archives, told me. “He sold the first image at age sixteen.” The Museum of the City of New York writes, “Many of the shots are candid portraits of people seemingly unaware of any camera, perhaps indicating the use of some sort of spy or buttonhole camera.”
Subway-04.jpegEnrico Natali, from the book “New York Subway, 1960” published in by Nazraeli Press in association with the Santa Barbara Museum of Art.
“This photograph is from a series taken in the New York subway during a four-month period in 1960,” Natali told me. “At the time, although I worked professionally as a photographer, I didn’t take it seriously as a profession. I did it because it was fun. I had worked for Antron Bruehl, a high-end commercial photographer, where we did top-of-the-line advertising photographs. It was interesting, but, quite truthfully, I despised advertising and most of the people associated with it, most particularly the art directors. So I thought maybe photojournalism would be more to my taste, and decided to shoot a few stories and learn how to do it. Since I lived in the depths of Brooklyn and rode the subway to where I worked in Manhattan, it seemed reasonable to make the subway my first project. I became so involved in the work that for a time I all but lived in the subway. One night, looking over the photographs, I had the realization that they were larger than I was, that photography was my vocation, and America my subject.”
Subway-05.jpgJon Naar, “Times Square Shuttle” (1973), from the book “The Birth of Graffiti.”
“In the winter of 1972, I was assigned by Pentagram Design London to photograph a brochure on N.Y.C.,” Naar told me. “The hot topic was the spray-can-graffiti phenomenon, and I became the first professional photographer to document it. My ten-day shoot resulted in in the iconic book ‘The Faith of Graffiti,’ with an introduction by Norman Mailer.”
Subway-06.jpgMartha Cooper
“In the late seventies, I was working on a personal photo project documenting kids on the Lower East Side playing with toys they made from trash,” Cooper told me. “One boy showed me sketches in his notebook, and explained that he was practicing his nickname to paint on a wall. When I expressed interest, he offered to introduce me to a ‘king.’ The king turned out to be Dondi, and I became obsessed with graffiti. From Dondi and his crew, I heard many stories about the exploits of subway writers. Finally, in 1980, I accompanied them on a mission to the New Lots yards, in Brooklyn. In this photo, Dondi is completing a top-to-bottom car he titled ‘Children of the Grave Part 3,’ because there had been two previous versions. This shot was taken at sunrise, following a night of spray painting. Because the subway cars were parked in parallel rows, the writers could brace themselves between them and reach the top. This was probably the most exciting night of my life, and this is my all-time favorite photo.”
Subway-07.jpgBruce Davidson (1980)/Courtesy Magnum.
“The subway has even more meaning today than in the past, for we live in turbulent and tense times, where humanity can be both amazing and horrific,” Bruce Davidson writes in “Notes on the Subway,” the 2003 rerelease of his book “Subway.” “Although nearly 25 years have passed and the subway itself has changed and improved, we are not always aware of our past, what awaits us, or the passage of time. I explored the six hundred miles of subway tracks, uncovering layers of live in a bestial and beautiful subterranean world. Today the world is riding the rails on a subway to unknown destinations, where social strife and suicidal sadism are trapped in the same train with ordinary people trying best to live their lives. The gruesome biological, chemical and nuclear weapons of mass destruction ride along with us. The train has long left the station and again, we find ourselves hanging on together.”
Subway-08.jpgMargaret Morton, “Bernard, the Tunnel” (1993).
“Between 1991 and 1996, I photographed the homeless individuals who lived in the tunnel that stretches for two and a half miles beneath Riverside Park,” Morton told me. “Bernard Isaac, who made his home in the tunnel for eleven years, was known by many of the forty-five members of this underground community as Lord of the Tunnel. ‘The Tunnel’ is a book of my photographs and oral histories of the residents and the homes that they created for themselves underground.”




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Lawrence Ferlinghetti wanted to document the 1965 Beat scene in San Francisco in the spirit of the early 20th century classic photographs of the Bohemian artists & writers in Paris.The Beats, front row L to R: Robert LaVigne, Shig Murao, Larry Fagin, Leland Meyezove (lying down), Lew Welch, Peter Orlovsky.

Second row: David Meltzer, Michael McClure, Allen Ginsberg, Daniel Langton, Steve (friend of Ginsberg), Richard Brautigan, Gary Goodrow, Nemi Frost.

Back row: Stella Levy, Lawrence Ferlinghetti. Because this is a vertical image about half of the Beats attending are not shown.

Allen Ginsberg, Bob Donlon (Rob Donnelly, Kerouac’s Desolation Angels), Neal Cassady, myself in black corduroy jacket, Bay Area poets’ “Court Painter” Robert La Vigne & poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti in front of his City Lights Books shop, Broadway & Columbus Avenue North Beach. Donlon worked seasonally as Las Vegas waiter & oft drank with Jack K., Neal looks good in tee shirt, Howl first printing hadn’t arrived from England yet (500 copies), we were just hanging around, Peter Orlovsky stepped back off curb & snapped shot, San Francisco spring 1956, 1956, gelatin silver print, printed 1984–97, 11 1/8 x 16 3/4 in. (28.3 x 42.6 cm), National Gallery of Art, Gift of Gary S. Davis. © 2012 The Allen Ginsberg LLC. All rights reserved.

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“He looked by that time like his father, red-faced corpulent W.C. Fields shuddering with mortal horror…” Thus reads the inscription of a photo depicting American icon Jack Kerouac and taken by Allen Ginsberg in 1964 — just a few years before the former’s death. Far from the exuberant youth depicted in earlier photos, this portrait offers an entirely different image of Kerouac: that of the aging alcoholic, slumped dejectedly in a battered armchair.

Beat Memories presents an in-depth look at the Beat Generation  as seen through the lens of Allen Ginsberg (1926–1997). Although well known for his poetry, Ginsberg was also an avid photo- grapher, capturing the people and places around him in spontaneous, often intimate snapshots. His black-and-white photographs include portraits of William S. Burroughs, Neal Cassady, Gregory Corso, Jack Kerouac, and others, along with self-portraits. The images not only are revealing portrayals of celebrated personalities, but also convey the unique lifestyle and spirit of the Beats

The Beat movement, also called Beat Generation, American social and literary movement originating in the 1950s and centred in the bohemian artist communities of San Francisco’s North Beach, Los Angeles’ Venice West, and New York City’s Greenwich Village. Its adherents, self-styled as “beat” (originally meaning “weary,” but later also connoting a musical sense, a “beatific” spirituality, and other meanings) and derisively called “beatniks,” expressed their alienation from conventional, or “square,” society by adopting an almost uniform style of seedy dress, manners, and “hip” vocabulary borrowed from jazz musicians. Generally apolitical and indifferent to social problems, they advocated personal release, purification, and illumination through the heightened sensory awareness that might be induced by drugs, jazz, sex, or the disciplines of Zen Buddhism. Apologists for the Beats, among them Paul Goodman, found the joylessness and purposelessness of modern society sufficient justification for both withdrawal and protest.

Beat poets sought to liberate poetry from academic preciosity and bring it “back to the streets.” They read their poetry, sometimes to the accompaniment of progressive jazz, in such Beat strongholds as the Coexistence Bagel Shop and Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s City Lights bookstore in San Francisco. The verse was frequently chaotic and liberally sprinkled with obscenities but was sometimes, as in the case of Allen Ginsberg’s Howl (1956), ruggedly powerful and moving. Ginsberg and other major figures of the movement, such as the novelist Jack Kerouac, advocated a kind of free, unstructured composition in which the writer put down his thoughts and feelings without plan or revision—to convey the immediacy of experience—an approach that led to the production of much undisciplined and incoherent verbiage on the part of their imitators. By about 1960, when the faddish notoriety of the movement had begun to fade, it had produced a number of interesting and promising writers, including Ferlinghetti, Gregory Corso, Philip Whalen, and Gary Snyder, and had paved the way for acceptance of other unorthodox and previously ignored writers, such as the Black Mountain poets and the novelist William Burroughs.



Cop Allegedly Knocks Woman Off Bicycle To Give Her A Ticket

082013bikecop.jpg (Via Daniel Flanzig)

Thanks to the arrival of Citi Bike, there’s been an appreciable increase in cops ticketing cyclists. What cops are still figuring out, apparently, is how to get the cyclists stop without knocking them off their bicycles into traffic!

25-year-old Emily Dalton alleges an officer did just that as she was pedaling her bike to work the morning of July 11. Dalton was riding along 8th Avenue in Chelsea when she glided through a light—she’s uncertain whether it was red or green. But according to at least one nearby officer, it was red—and she’d just ridden through it. His method of detaining her? The officer grabbed her handlebar as she passed, jolting Dalton from her bike and sending her sailing into the road.

082013scrape.jpeg (Via Daniel Flanzig)

Dalton, stunned and bloodied—though not seriously harmed—said she spent several minutes shouting at the officer, unable to understand why someone whose job it is to keep her safe was the reason she’d nearly been smashed by a car in the middle of 8th Avenue. “I was terrified,” she said. “I was in the middle of a New York street!”

The officer, she said, was unfazed neither by Dalton’s scraped elbows and knees, nor the fact that the severity of the crash managed to bend her bike tire and cause the chain to fall from the drive train. His only concern, Dalton said, was getting her ID, which at the time she didn’t think she had.

Shaken, Dalton retreated to a nearby bench. Another officer on the scene called an ambulance, despite the fact that Dalton said repeatedly that she didn’t need one.

“I kept saying ‘I just want to go, I’m fine, let me go, let me go,'” she said. “I was just so frustrated, and I was scared, and all I wanted to do was get out of there.”

The officer who made the grab continued to ask Dalton for her ID, which she finally found in her bag after emptying its contents on the ground. She ended up with two tickets—one for running a red light, and another for “failure to comply,” a charge which Dalton said was never explained to her.

The ambulance eventually arrived and iced her wounds—luckily, Dalton said, she was wearing a helmet, so her only injuries were scrapes. After more than an hour, Dalton was allowed to go to work. She never got an apology from the officer.

“He told me to follow the road signs, but he never once said he was sorry in any way, shape or form,” she said. “He never asked if I was OK.”

Daniel Flanzig, Dalton’s lawyer, said the problem isn’t just a rogue bad—or possibly just impolite—police officer. The problem is the fact that there’s no established system for pulling over a cyclist, in spite of the increasing need to do so.

“There’s no post-academy training on how to deal with this new culture,” he said. “There are bad cyclists, there are bad cops, and everyone has to learn how to get along.” He said that despite the existence of a voluminous code of conduct for a vehicular traffic stops, there appears to be no established protocol for stopping a cyclist.

“If she ran a red light and he pulled her out of the car, it would be crazy,” he said. “Why, if she was on a bike, would it be any different?”

Contact the author of this article or email tips@gothamist.com with further questions, comments or tips.



6 Bizarre Items Mailed Through the U.S. Postal System

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Today, the familiar phrase from Herodotus’ work is engraved on the outside of the James A. Farley Post Office building in New York City: “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.” But whenHerodotus originally wrote the phrase in 500 B.C., he undoubtedly didn’t anticipate that an entire country of Americans would put that slogan to the test. In fact, since the beginning of the U.S. Postal Service in 1775, mischievous citizens have constantly pushed the envelope when it came to challenging their local mailmen. Here are a few strange things that have been sent through the mail.


One of the earliest tales of beating the mail system occurred in 1849 with the escape of Virginia slave Henry “Box” Brown. One night, Brown had a dream to “mail [himself] to a place where there are no slaves.” With $86 in hand, Brown enlisted the help of a local storekeeper to box him up with water and biscuits and send him north to freedom. James Miller McKim, a Philadelphia abolitionist, agreed to receive the box. The trip began on March 23. While the journey only lasted 27 hours, Brown’s box was passed from wagon to railroad to steamboat and back again. The box often ended up upside down, but Brown remained quiet enough to avoid discovery. On March 24, Brown arrived in Philadelphia and was released as a free man.

That wasn’t the only case of shipping people by mail. In 1914, 5-year-old May Pierstorff was sent from Grangeville, Idaho to visit her grandmother in Lewiston, Idaho. When it came time to buy tickets, Pierstorff’s parents discovered that sending their daughter through parcel post was cheaper than buying fare. Pierstorff, who weighed less than the 50-pound weight limit, was sent through the mail at the chicken rate. Before Pierstorff boarded the train, her parents clipped 53 cents to her coat and sent her on her way. Upon arrival in Lewiston, the postmaster personally delivered the young girl to her grandmother’s house. Six years later, the practice of shipping humans through parcel post became illegal.


In the August 7, 1895 issue of The New York Times, Miss Daisy James from the New York Post Office noted that dead birds and other small animals were sent to taxidermists throughout the country. She also handled various strains of smallpox, diphtheria, and scarlet fever that were shipped by physicians to the national Health Board.


The largest thing to be sent through the mail was a building. In 1916, a young businessman by the name of William H. Coltharp decided to construct a new bank on the corner of a street in Vernal, Utah. Of course, Coltharp couldn’t send a completed building through the mail, wall by wall. But Coltharp wanted the best bricks in the area and decided to have those bricks sent from the Salt Lake Pressed Brick Company—all 80,000 of them. He reasoned that parcel post was the most inexpensive way to ship the bricks for construction, and he carefully packaged the bricks in separate crates weighing less than the 50-pound weight limit. Somewhere around 40 crates were shipped each time, and each shipment weighed roughly one ton collectively. It was Coltharp’s infamous scheme that prompted the U.S. Postal Service to change their rules so that a customer could only send 200 pounds of goods per day. Their reasoning? “It is not the intent of the U.S. Postal Service that buildings be shipped through the mail.”


Some patrons have resorted to sending their beloved pets through the postal system. In December 1954, a man named David from Fostoria, Ohio decided to send his pet chameleon through the mail to the much warmer Orlando, Florida. On December 7, David received the following note from Orlando’s postmaster: “Dear David, I received your chameleon yesterday and he was immediately released on the post office grounds. Best wishes for a merry Christmas!”


By far, the most expensive item to be shipped through the mail was the allegedly cursed Hope Diamond. In November 1958, Harry Winston donated the diamond to the Smithsonian Institution for the National Jewel Collection. Valued at over $1 million at the time, the diamond was shipped to the museum for only $145.29, which was mostly package insurance for the precious gem.


Even today, individuals still test the limits of our country’s postal service. In 2000, a team of social scientists from the science-humor magazine Improbable Research conducted a studyto see what bizarre items they could sneak through the post office. The team broke the proposed items into six categories: valuable items, sentimental items, unwieldy items, pointless items, suspicious items, and disgusting items.

Among the valuable items was a pair of “new, expensive tennis shoes” that were bound together by duct tape. The shoes took only seven days to reach their destination, and a mail clerk along the way tightly tied the laces together in a knot. For one of the sentimental items, the researchers sent a molar tooth to themselves in a clear plastic box. After 14 days, the tooth was delivered in a repackaged mailer and accompanied with a note: “Please be advised that human remains may not be transported through the mail, but we assumed this to be of sentimental value, and made an exception in your case.”

The researchers continued their study with the “unwieldy items” category by sending a ski through the mail. After affixing a large amount of postage to the single ski, the researchers distracted the local mailman and stuffed the ski into a bin of postage being loaded in the truck. Eleven days later, the ski was delivered. “Pointless items” were packages that appeared to be a prank. Researchers sent one fresh, green coconut from Hawaii to their office. It arrived in only 10 days, completely intact. The team also sent a street sign—which could have easily been a stolen item possessed illegally—to themselves. This item, part of the “suspicious items” category, made it to the local post office in nine days.

Finally, the individuals finished their study by sending items from the “disgusting” category on their list. In all, the team sent a deer tibia, a large wheel of rancid cheese, and dead fish through the mail. All of the items were delivered within nine days, although the postal clerks were especially concerned with the team’s motives. They asked the group if they were part of a cult and warned them against being fined for mail service abuse.

October 29, 2013 – 9:23pm

Read the full text here: http://mentalfloss.com/article/53334/6-bizarre-items-mailed-through-us-postal-system#ixzz2lrthXEW0
–brought to you by mental_floss!



Wavy Gravy, Hugh Romney, who is fast approaching official geezerhood, is more active and more effective in the world then he was decades ago. Back then when still known as Hugh Romney he stood on the stage of the original Woodstock concert and announced….” What we have in mind is breakfast in bed for 400,000!” He was at Woodstock as a member of an entertainment/activist commune known as the Hog Farm. Today, the Hog Farm still exists, collectively owning and operating the 700-acre Black Oak Ranch and hosting the annual Pig-Nic. And Wavy lives a third of the year in a Berkeley Hog Farm urban outpost, a big communal house he refers to as “hippie Hyannisport” But Mr. Gravy (as he’s known to readers of the New York Times) has expanded his activities over the past two-and-a-half decades to include codirectorship (with his wife, Jahanara) of Camp Winnarainbow, a performing arts program for children which takes over the Hog Farm for 10 weeks every summer, and the organization of all-star rock concerts to raise money for a variety of environmental, progressive, political, and charitable causes, most notably Seva, a foundation he cofounded in 1978, initially to combat preventable and curable blindness in the Third World.He may be best known to millions as a cosmic cut-up and the inspiration for a Ben & Jerry’s ice cream flavor – “I am an activist clown and former frozen dessert,” he says – but it is because of his good work on behalf of the planet and its least fortunate residents that Wavy Gravy has achieved his own brand of sainthood. His friend and satirist Paul Krassner has called him “the illegitimate son of Harpo Marx and Mother Teresa.” Wavy says, “Some people tell me I’m a saint, I tell them I’m Saint Misbehavin’.”

“I’m sure that some people could regard Wavy Gravy as a leftover from the ’60s crowd,” says James O’Dea, executive director of Seva, upon whose board of directors Wavy sits along with a host of MDs and PhDs. “After all, here is this guy who is still hanging out with tie-dyes and seems lost in the ’60s. But he really took the ’60s idealism and made it his life, and practiced it. We live in a time when, in some ways, there has been a certain unscrupulous use of morality and family values and official religion and righteousness in the public domain. What a remarkable contrast to somebody who spends the summer with inner city kids and the kids of homeless people, teaching them circus performing arts. He is your board member who is always there, who comes to every event, and who is helping you raise money for the ‘eyeballs’ in India, as he says. He is clearly a person who does his own inner spiritual work in a very persistent way and then matches it with his walk in the world.”

Indeed, when you spend any stretch of time with Wavy Gravy, strolling around the Hog Farm during the Pig-Nic, hanging out with him at his “hippie Hyannisport” in Berkeley, observing him in action at a public function – you quickly discover that the man with the rubbery face and ever-changing costume is a walking public service announcement for positive social change and compassion. During an exploration of the Pig-Nic’s “backstage” area, which encompasses a meadow with a labyrinth based on an ancient pagan model, a lovely wooded creek, and the magnificent oak grove where the Camp Winnarainbow teepees are pitched, the Balinese gongs of Berkeley’s Gamelan Sekar Jaya are ringing through the trees. How many people does he think have migrated to Laytonville for the weekend? “I don’t know, count the legs and divide by two,” he says. Countless campers, coworkers, and admirers shout Wavy’s name or greet him with “Hi, Boss,” a title Wavy just as quickly bestows on others.

As Wavy carries a bucket of water from the creek to quench the thirst of the flowers in the labyrinth, it is boggling to imagine the paths he has trodden in his six decades on the planet: As a child growing up in Princeton, New Jersey (he was born in East Greenbush, New York), he took walks around the block with Albert Einstein; when he was poetry director at the Gaslight Cafe on MacDougal Street in New York City during the early 1960s, introducing “jazz and poetry” to Greenwich Village, Marlene Dietrich gave him a book of Rilke poems, and Bob Dylan shared his room upstairs, writing the first draft of “A Hard Rain Is Gonna Fall” on his typewriter; when, still as Hugh Romney, he became a traveling monologist, “talking about weird stuff that had happened to me,” he opened shows for John Coltrane, Thelonious Monk, Peter, Paul & Mary, and Ian & Sylvia, and organized the Phantom Cabaret with Tiny Tim and Moondog; when Lenny Bruce was his manager, the infamous stand-up comic gave the then Al Dente and future Wavy Gravy a yarmulke to sew inside a cowboy hat that had belonged to Hollywood western star Tom Mix – “So I could say ‘Howdy Goyim!” He also earned a part in the San Francisco improvisational group The Committee and later taught improvisation to neurologically handicapped kids in Pasadena.

In 1965, when he and his wife (then known as Bonnie Jean) were living in a one-room cabin in Sunland, California outside Los Angeles, they and 40 of their closest friends in the Grateful Dead and the Merry Pranksters (Kesey was on the lam in Mexico at the time) posed for a photograph for a Life magazine cover. “The landlord went ballistic,” Wavy recalls, “and we were bummed for about an hour and a half until a neighbor came by and said, ‘Old Saul up on that mountain had a stroke and they need somebody to slop them hogs!’ So we were given a mountain top rent-free for slopping 45 hogs.” Thus was born the Hog Farm, soon to hit the road in buses purchased with money earned as extras in Otto Preminger’s Skidoo, presenting the free “Hog Farm and Friends in Open Celebration” show all over the country.

And all that took place before Woodstock made Wavy’s raspy voice recognizable to millions; well before he wrote two books:The Hog Farm and Friends (1974) and Something Good For A Change: Random Notes On Peace Thru Living (1992); before he started campaigning on behalf of Nobody for President (“Nobody’s Perfect, Nobody Keeps All Promises, Nobody Should Have That Much Power”); and before Gravy splashed all over the rock-and-roll milieu, becoming bosom buddies with everyone from veterans Jackson Browne and Crosby, Stills & Nash to neo-punksters Green Day (after acting as an emcee at Woodstock 2).

But celebrity, while crucial to his fund-raising efforts, seems tangential to the essence of Wavy’s work. Back in Berkeley, on a hot September morning, he waddles up to his corner bedroom, a psychedelic cave in which every inch of wall space is festooned with posters, photographs, mandalas, banners, and bumper stickers. Every shelf, nook, and cranny is crowded with books, beads, videotapes, Buddha figures, crystals, tetrahedrons, incense, Mickey Mouse and Goofy figurines, antlers, wind-up teeth, and empty soda pop cans. A pair of oversized clown shoes appear to be crawling out of one of the canvas bags on the floor. Wavy’s lair feels like a cross between a tree house and a New Age/kitsch shrine to the bard of Woodstock himself.

Wearing shorts and athletic shoes, Wavy settles back on his bed for a two-hour conversation. His short-sleeved shirt is unbuttoned and he dreamily strokes his ample belly as he talks. He looks like nothing less than a reclining Buddha disguised as a counterculture tourist as he waxes rhapsodically through stream-of-consciousness segues about his life’s work. Topic number one, dearest to his heart and freshest in his memory because he has just returned from his annual summer sojourn at the Black Oak Ranch, is Camp Winnarainbow.

“We just finished our 24th year,” he begins. “It originally started as day care for Sufi kids. I thought it unjust that parents should be penalized spiritually, not being able to meditate and stuff, because they had kids. So I said ‘Give me all your kids,’ and we concocted this little circus arts day care. We discovered that perhaps the kids would be better off without the parents and the parents would be better off without the kids, so we rented the next camp down the road, which was maybe two miles away, and turned it into an overnight camp.” A decade or so ago, the Hog Farm acquired its permanent country land outside Laytonville. “I knew instantly it was ideal for our camp,” Wavy says. In addition to the oak grove for camping, the Farm boasts its own lake (Lake Veronica with a raft named George) and a 350-foot water slide from Marine World.

Each summer, Camp Winnarainbow conducts four two-week sessions for kids, a one-week introductory session for seven-year-old novices, and a one-week session for grownups. Volunteer teachers share such skills as juggling, unicycling, tightrope walking, and trapeze, as well as music and art. “Grownup camp is just like kids’ camp,” Wavy explains, “except you get to stay up late and you don’t have to brush your teeth. We’re not trying to turn out little professional actors or circus stars, although it does happen. What we’re really into is producing universal human beings who can deal with anything that comes down the pike with some style and grace. We’ve been pretty darn successful at that. A lot of the kids who are running the camp now started as campers when they were seven.They can usually do it on a unicycle while juggling three balls. We curry both hemispheres of the E brain. In school, kids learn numbers and letters; we teach timing and balance, which I think is equally important – without competition, except with yourself.”

Camp Winnarainbow’s concept of practice embraces so much more than physical skills. Mornings begin with Wavy reading from something like the Tao Te Ching orEverything I Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten, and then the kids choose between high-intensity aerobics or yoga for their warm-ups. “I’ve also in the last five years discovered that kids will do anything if they can stay up later than other kids, even sit with a straight back and watch their breath. So we instituted WISE Gaias. WISE is Winnarainbow Inner Space Exploration. Three or four years ago we created a labyrinth for Jose Arguelles’s Dreamspell ceremony. They leave their problems at the center of the labyrinth and come out pretty clean.”

Thanks to royalties from the Ben & Jerry’s Wavy Gravy ice cream flavor and grants from the Grateful Dead’s Rex Foundation, Winnarainbow is able to provide camp scholarships for homeless children from the Bay Area and Native American kids from a reservation in South Dakota. That assures what Wavy calls “a little diverse miniworld.”

Not long after the founding of Camp Winnarainbow, Wavy found another way of working with kids. Rather, it found him. Some doctors at Children’s Hospital in Oakland had read about all this hippie do-gooder work in the Oakland Tribune, and they stopped by my house and asked if I would come entertain the kids.” Still in deep pain from his third spinal surgery and “bouncing on the bottom,” as he puts it, Wavy figured he had nothing to lose. “On my way out the door, somebody handed me a rubber nose. Without it I could have struck out completely. With it I was able to move outside my own bummer and make little kids laugh. I thought I had troubles ’til I eyeballed some of those kids!”

Wavy continued to visit kids at the hospital on almost a daily basis for seven years. “Then I went on a tour and came back and they wouldn’t let me in anymore. It was quite a blow. I still don’t know why, and nobody has been able to find out, but I guess somebody on the board didn’t want this hippie freak coming in there.” Wavy simply transferred his efforts to the Children’s Cancer Research Institute in San Francisco. In his bookSomething Good for a Change, he tells the story of 11-year-old Billy, who had lost his hair to chemotherapy. Wavy had covered Billy’s head with white clown makeup when Billy’s little sister came up with the idea of showing a movie on Billy’s smooth pate. “Could we, Wavy Gravy?” Billy asked. “Could we please show Godzilla on my head?”

“There was no way I could deny such a bizarre and heartfelt request,” Wavy concludes. “So there we all were, sitting around eating popcorn and watching Godzilla on Billy’s head.”

Of course, Wavy learned many of his strategies, which combine fun and survival, at Woodstock.. The Hog Farm, the “mobile, hallucination-extended family,” was on the road on the East Coast in ’68 and ’69, and was holed up in a big loft on New York’s East Side, when Woodstock Ventures made a proposition. “One day this guy showed up looking like Allen Ginsberg on a Dick Gregory diet with an attaché case,” Wavy recalls, “and he asked us ‘How would you like to do this music festival in New York state?’ The Hog Farm had just rented land in Llano near Black Mesa, New Mexico, and the commune was just about to split the New York scene and settle in Llano. He said, ‘We’ll fly you in on an Astrojet.’ We just figured he was one toke over the line, went back to New Mexico, and thought nothing of it. So we’re celebrating the summer solstice in Llano, and this guy shows up with one of those aluminum rock-and-roll valises full of ‘linear overlay,’ and an Astrojet with room for 85 hippies and 15 Indians.”

Recruited to build fire pits and fire trails around the festival grounds, the Hog Farm convinced the promoter! to let them set up a free kitchen, as well. When they stepped off the plane at Kennedy Airport, the Hog Farmers were met by the world press and told that they had been assigned the task of doing security at Woodstock, too. “I said, ‘My god, they made us the cops,”‘ Wavy recalls. “And I said, ‘Well, do you feel secure?’ The guy said, ‘Yeah.’ I said, ‘See, it’s working already.’ That’s when he said. What are you going to use for crowd control?’ I said, ‘Cream pies and seltzer bottles,’ and they all wrote it down and I thought, ‘The power of manipulating the media, ah ha!”‘

The Hog Farmers’ finest hour came with the rains that swamped Max Yasgur’s farm and threatened to turn the hippie dream into a National Guard nightmare. “The weather turned Woodstock into a national disaster area,” Wavy continues, “and we had a chance to show the world how it would be if we ran the show, so we pulled ourselves up by our collective bootstraps and were amazing – by surrendering ourselves to this interesting energy that enabled us to work days without sleep and intuitively pull off stuff that we couldn’t have thought about in our wildest dreams. And the minute we thought that it was us doing it, we’d fall on our butt in the mud. So I think that the universe was acting out these archetypes. I’ve puzzled over it for decades, and that’s the best I can come up with, that there was this amazing energy that you could surrender to, and it would move you.”

Shortly after Woodstock, the Hog Farmers helped keep the peace between the cowboys and the hippies at the Texas Pop Festival, where blues giant B. B. King gave Wavy Gravy his name. “It’s worked pretty well through my life,” he says, “except with telephone operators – I have to say ‘Gravy, first initial W.”

Another great Hog Farm adventure set the stage for Wavy’s participation in the founding of Seva. Recruited by San Francisco underground radio pioneer Tom Donahue and Warner Brothers Records to travel around the country and be filmed for a movie called Cruising for Burgers, later renamed Medicine Ball Caravan, the Farmers bused themselves across America, setting up stages for mainstream rock and rollers. After one last concert with Pink Floyd in Bishopsbourne, England, the Farmers pooled their movie pay and some funds raised for them from a benefit staged by a London commune and continued their trek across Europe. “It was around the time of the great Pakistani flood,” Wavy remembers, “and relief was pouring in so very, very slow. There was a line of Gandhi’s that hit me at that time, it was something like, ‘If God should appear to starving people, God would not dare to appear in any form other than food.’ We’d had so much attention from that free kitchen at Woodstock, we thought if we were in Pakistan with any kind of food, we could embarrass the large governments, and they would speed up the food relief. Then the Indo-Pakistani war broke out, and we hung a left into K-K-K-Kathmandu, distributing food and medical supplies to Tibetan refugee camps as we traveled. We fixed leaky roofs with rolls of plastic and built a playground in Kathmandu for impoverished kids. We also saw a tremendous number of blind people in Nepal.”

With locally run sight programs in India, Nepal, and Tibet, Seva provides more than 80,000 eye surgeries a year. It also establishes partnership in Native American communities to tackle the rising epidemic of diabetes, supports work for sustainable agriculture in Chiapas, Mexico, and monitors violence against refugees of the Guatemalan civil war. “What we do is find someone who is a blazing, shining example of doing a particular piece of service, and we just back them hook, line, and sinker,” Wavy says of Seva’s strategy, “sometimes providing the flashlight to help them find the light switch.

According to Wavy, his commitment to the kind of work he does was indeed a product of the ‘60s. “That’s when I knew this thing was real,” he says, “that it was the only game in town and I wanted to go to work for it, whatever it was. There is a wonderful chapter in The Wind In The Willows, where the mole and the rat rescue this little baby otter who was actually being protected at the moment by the god Pan. Of course the otter’s parents were beside themselves and all, and they saw Pan and they worshipped him, and he gave them the best gift of the gods, which was to sprinkle forgetfulness upon them so they wouldn’t be tortured with the memory of that amazement. I could have used a little of that, because I’m always looking for that mega-, ultra-divine lick. It’s like the cosmic carrot that keeps me in the movie. I began my study of comparative religion and service out of lust for that stuff. It’s another kind of greed. Once you realize the interconnectedness of all stuff, there’s no going back. I have an old Gravy line, ‘We are all the same person trying to shake hands with our self.’ Remember that the next time you say, ‘pass the gravy.’”

A full length documentary film on the life of Wavy Gravy is  currently in production. The film will feature interviews by many of his friends including Bonnie Raitt, Jackson Browne, Bob Weir, Steve Earle and many others





                                                                                                                                                                JAN KEROUAC
07:43 amTopics:
Jan Kerouac
Bibbe Hansen
The Whippets

Bibbe and friend

Love him or hate him, Beck Hansen’s family tree is jaw-droppingly cool. Not only was his maternal grandfather Fluxus artist Al Hansen, his grandmother was actress and poet Audrey Ostlin Hansen, and his mother Bibbe Hansen was, among her many incarnations, one of Warhol’s youngest Factory “Superstars” as well as an artist, actress, and musician in her own right.

Not long before she appeared in Warhol’s 1965 films Prison and Restaurant at the age of thirteen, Bibbe was in a short-lived girl pop group with Jack Kerouac’s only child, Jan Kerouac, called The Whippets.

Bibbe and Jan were twelve years-old in 1964 when they formed The Whippets in New York City with their friend Charlotte Rosenthal, using Whippet as their collective surname. The group formed when they met songwriter Neil Levinson one day while trying to panhandle for bus fare. The Whippets made one recording for Laurie Records, the Beatle-themed novelty single “I Want To Talk To You,” written by Levinson with the B-side “Go Go Go With Ringo,” written by Beatles zealot DJ Murray the K’s mother, Jean Kauffman. The song sold well enough in Canada to reach the pop charts. Any prospects of an ongoing music career were cut short soon after the recording session when Bibbe found herself in a state juvenile detention center.

Bibbe told Scram magazine the story of the group’s formation and brief life in 2005:

Charlotte Rosenthal, Janet Kerouac and I were all downtown street kids in 1964 New York City. While panhandling, we three met songwriter Neil Levinson (“Oh, Denise”) and hustled busfare from him. On the bus ride we fell to chatting. The Beatles had just come out big in the US and Neil had written a girl-song response to “I Want To Hold Your Hand.” Would we be interested in hearing it? We met him later that day at Steinway Studios on 57th Street and together finished the lyrics and music for “I Want To Talk With You.” It was a classic girl group riff and we dug it. That same day we went to a half dozen record companies auditioning the song without any takers. As a last resort, Neil called Colpix label’s Don Rubin from a payphone. When Don said he would see us we ran all the way over to the audition. We sang the song and within the next couple days we were signed to Colpix and to DuLev Productions. DuLev was Levinson’s company with his partner, Steve Duboff. For the B-side Neil brought in pal Jean Murray (Jean Kauffman) who had co-written the Darin hit “Splish Splash” with Darin and her son, DJ Murray the K. Oh, that she only wrote us another “Splish Splash!” Instead it was the rather silly and insipid “Go Go Go With Ringo.” We loved the A-side but weren’t too wild about the Ringo song. Over the next few weeks we rehearsed daily, shopped for matching outfits and had 8×10 glossy promo pictures taken. At one point we were introduced to the group The Tokens who apparently were now 1/3 owners of our act along with Dulev (1/3) and Jean Murray (1/3). Our percentage was apparently not accounted for under this bookkeeping arrangement. Similarly, I have no idea how Don Rubin and Colpix were supposed to get their cut.

Within a few weeks we were recording. The record was pressed—at least dj copies. We got a box of these records to split between us. I believe it was released however briefly but nothing much happened with it. I heard our masters were sold to Laurie Records at one point. Later I heard we’d charted somewhere in Canada. Shortly before she died, Janet Kerouac told me her Rhino Records lawyers were looking into that and had found that we were owed a little bit of money. Apparently not enough to bother collecting from what I can tell.

The Whippets, “I Want To Talk To You,” 1964:


Posted by Kimberly J. Bright

unique and compelling photos from our past



unpacking the head of the Statue of Liberty



a circus hippo