Tag Archives: New York City




On the Road – Jack Kerouac

By Shubhajit Lahiri on 17 November 2008

“What’s your road, man? — holyboy road, madman road, rainbow road, guppy road, any road. It’s an anywhere road for anybody anyhow.”

That’s not the kind of question that an everyday Joe would ask; that’s not an inquiry that would lurk in the mind of a 9-to-5 desk clerk. Hell, that’s not the kind of thought that someone scrubbing for a mere existence in a drab world, living just another static life, in his routine environment, and doing stuff that is decided through rote and careful rationalization, would even dare let his perfectly chiselled mind waver to.

That’s precisely the kind of belief one would be enticed by who adheres to the maxim, “Road is where life is.” And On the Road, for those crazy venture-addicts, is the greatest bible that there ever was. It is a novel that would make the most cocooned of creatures to be hit by the road bug and actually start ‘living’ life.

Written in 1951, by Jack Kerouc – the original King of the Road, was a novel that eulogized the free-spirited life where boundaries, confines and borders cease to exist. And in the process it kick-started Beat Generation – one of the most fascinating American movements where life is equated with jazz (viz. Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Louis Armstrong et al), hallucinatory drugs, free sex, smoke-filled cars, and above all, life on the road. For them there’s just one answer to the rhetoric question, “Whither goest thou, America, in thy shiny car in the night?”, and that being Heaven.

Though On the Road is considered the greatest book of this movement and Kerouac its unofficial spokesperson – which has been duly acknowledged by the venerated TIME magazine by including the book in its list of Greatest Novels of the 20th Century – Kerouac essentially formed a part of a hallowed trio also comprising of Allen Ginsberg and William H. Burroughs, the co-pioneers of the Beat Movement. And this semi-autobiographical novel chronicles Kerouac’s experiences on the road. Hence they are all there in the novel, with their names altered. However, it is someone called Neal Cassidy, a common friend of the enlightened troika, who formed the basis for the book’s most celebrated character – Dean Moriarty.

Narrated by Salvatore ‘Sal’ Paradise, an Italian-American resident of New Jersey, a writer by profession, and Kerouac’s terrific literary alter-ego, On the Road is a mesmerizing and one-of-its-kind travel-diary of the narrator, and its apotheosis is his unforgettable friendship with Dean, one of the craziest and alive characters one can ever hope to come across. It tells the tales of his journeys back and forth across America. It is a tale of New York, San Francisco, Denver, Detroit, New Orleans, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Mexico City. It is a free-flowing account of ‘nowness’ – a word that defined the willingness to reside in present without a worry for the future or attachment to the past. It is a madcap poetry to the Beat life, where all you need to survive is a car that does its 90 mph, beer cans, an uninterrupted supply of cigarettes, friends with whom you can talk all through the night and into the dawn, a few Benzedrine tablets to give you the kicks, and the singular beauty of hitch-hiking.

The novel is peppered with some of the most atypical characters – Carlo Marx, Chad King, Old Bull Lee, Ed Dunkel, Remi Boncoeur, with each representing the various constituents of the Beatific and the free spirits of the world. But the two protagonists – Sal and Dean, are the ones who really draw the readers out with their contrasting lives and yet their common passion. Where Sal is a home-grown, serious, sensitive, college educated intellectual with a steady income – an otherwise regular guy who one can relate to and be in sync with, Dean is an impulsive, irreverent, wildly unpredictable, rebellious, thoroughly alienated soul with an infectious method to his madness. As Sal so brilliantly states in one of his many explanations of who Dean really is, “He was simply a youth tremendously excited with life, and though he was a con-man, he was only conning because he wanted so much to live and to get involved with people who would otherwise pay no attention to him.”

On The Road wasn’t just anti-establishmentarian in its outlook, it was also non-conformist in its style and composition. Legend has it that Kerouac wrote it in an uninterrupted and truly inspired Benzedrine-fuelled three weeks’ session on a manual typewriter in his New York City loft, on a long scroll over 100 feet long. The book is devoid of crisp, literary sentences. It is instead based on improvised, absolutely free-flowing, stream-of-consciousness style of writing, where the words form a direct representation of the writer’s unedited and unadulterated thought processes. It was a memorable kick in the belly for the purists and conservatives. In fact Truman Capote once infamously remarked about the prose, “That’s not writing, that’s typing.” The book was a glorious tableau of a truly liberated form and style of narration.

The enormous impact of the book is as relevant today as it was groundbreaking then. Its tale of lost souls who dared to be free is timeless. Through its fascinating depictions of friendship, experiences on the road and the longing for ‘It’ – an expression that could signify anything from cigarettes and drugs to frenzy and exhilaration to salvation and bliss, the novel was way ahead of its time in its effortless and spontaneous jab at such bogus parameters like morality and preordained requisites for the so-called good and happy life sans adventure and enlightenment.

Some of the most iconoclastic stalwarts like Bob Dylan, John Lennon, and Jim Morrison have been enormously influenced by the novel. Dylan once remarked about the book, “It changed my life like it changed everyone else’s.” Lennon ushered a memorable tribute to the Beat legacy by including the word ‘Beat’ in the name of arguably the world’s greatest boy-band The Beatles, through a subtle change in its spelling. The book may also count such outstanding and legendary movies like Easy Rider, Paris Texas, Five Easy Pieces and Stranger than Paradise as part of its famous legacy. Indeed, the novel’s place in popular culture as well as among the pantheon of great literary works has been preserved for posterity.

“Somewhere along the line I knew there’d be girls, visions, everything; somewhere along the line the pearl would be handed to me.” That sort of encapsulates the spirit and the essence of the book. I really feel a huge impulse to say to every bibliophile and lost souls and free people of this world regarding On the Road, “Dig it! Dig it!” And I’m sure, if Dean had been here with in my living room, he would have excitedly affirmed in his inimitable style, “Yass! Yass!”.


A man and his cello.
April 9, 1961: The day the music died in Washington Square.

After the city banned music in Washington Square in the spring of 1961, Israel Young — the owner of The Folklore Center on MacDougal Street — organized a peaceful protest. Filmmaker Dan Drasin, then 18, vividly captured the day’s events in his film, Sunday. Fifty years later, Drasin, in town for a screening sponsored by the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation recalled how 3000 music-loving people were beat back by police.




New York City Minute


~ Big Apple Moments

New York City Minute

The Birth of the Beat Generation

07FridayOct 2011

Kerouac, Ginsberg, Burroughs first meet.
The Holy Trinity of the Beat Generation first met at 421 W118th St.

Before there was Talk Like a Beat Day, before the first reading of Howl — on this day in 1955 — before On the Road and Naked Lunch there was 421 W118th St. This unassuming address in Morningside Heights is where Jack Kerouac lived with Edie Parker in the early 1940s. Here, at 421 W118th St., is where Kerouac was first introduced to Allen Ginsberg and William S. Burroughs. And the Beat went on from there.








This is Willets Point, a sprawling center for automobile salvage located just west of Flushing Meadows Park in New York City, a place of amazing squalid beauty. CitiField, where the Mets play baseball, is visible just beyond the scrap yards. Willets Point, one of the last remaining vestiges of the Great Gatsby’s Valley of Ashes, that glorious Danteesque wasteland, is about to disappear forever. It will be replaced by a gleaming mixed-use development project encompassing “retail and entertainment amenities, a hotel and convention center, mixed-income housing, public open space, and community uses”.Willets Point was not the whole of the gigantic Valley of Ashes, which is now covered by the main area of Flushing Meadows Park (still and alwaysmy favorite park in New York City). CitiField, the US Open Tennis Center and the bygone Shea Stadium and Worlds Fair grounds were built directly on top of the original burning trashworks. And, once Willets Point is replaced by shiny new buildings, we will still keep some remainders of the desolate vision that inspired F. Scott Fitzgerald, because the asphalt and gravel factories on the east bank of Flushing Creek will continue to operate under the shadow of the Van Wyck Expressway overpass. Maybe the Valley of Ashes will never completely disappear.The art directors for the Baz Luhrmann Great Gatsby film that premiered earlier this year must have scouted out the Queens location carefully, because they did a great job of capturing the ambience, as seen in film stills like this one. The similarity to my photo at the top of the page seems quite remarkable:

Back in the 1920s, here’s how the whole vista appeared to Francis Cugat, who produced this sketch as one possible idea for the book’s cover:

When the Willets Point development project was announced last year, NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg even talked about the Fitzgerald connection (this article quoting Bloomberg also shows the original Litkicks graphic image of the old Valley of Ashes, cited here as a WikiCommons image, which I guess is close enough). Bloomberg is correct that Willets Point was part of the original trash burning operation, although I wish he had clarified that the specific spot by the train tracks described in Gatsby is many blocks south of Willets Point, and on the other side of Flushing Creek. The actual block where Myrtle Wilson was hit by a yellow car (on Sanford Avenue between College Point and DeLong) is also being “developed” all too quickly right now. The sign manufacturing center that once produced Dr. Eckleberg’s famous sign has just been closed, and the humble Home Depot that once anchored this desolate industrial neighborhood under the Van Wyck Expressway has now been joined by a Target, a Best Buy, a BJs and a Marshall.

The summer of 2013 felt like a Great Gatsby summer to me. Not only because of the Baz Lurhmann movie, which I loved, but also because something of the panicky, desperately beautiful emotion of the book seemed recently to be in the air. I know ‘Blurred Lines‘ is the song of the summer, but F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel feels like the literary classic of the summer of 2013, at least to me.

Since I’ve written so much about the Valley of Ashes on this blog, I thought it’d be a good idea to finally complete the journey and take you all to West Egg — that is, to Great Neck, the fashionable town on Long Island’s north shore where F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald briefly lived while he thought up the idea for Gatsby. The “Gatsby house” can be found at 6 Gateway Drive, in the southern inland section of town right near Middle Neck Road. It can be a little confusing to find, because this section of Gateway Drive appears to be a section of Deepdale Drive. To start, look for this intersection:

And then turn to see a beige house on the triangular corner, unmarked by any literary sign. It’s a fairly large residence, glamorous but not particularly unique in this neighborhood. The fanciest houses in Great Neck, of course, were and still are by the water, which this one is not.


Weirdly, there is a painted plaster cow on the lawn of this house!

This section of Great Neck seems both arty and otherworldly, since many Orthodox Jews now appear to live in this exact neighborhood — making it more likely that the descendants of Meyer Wolfsheim now reside in any of the homes on Deepdale or Gateway Drive than the descendants of Tom and Daisy Buchanan.

I didn’t find my stroll through Fitzgerald’s mythical West Egg nearly as thrilling as any of my regular strolls through Flushing Meadows Park ever are. It seems odd that the “Gatsby house” is just a private residence, with nothing to mark its special provenance. As I walked by, a young man left the house and got into a black pickup truck. I bet he knew why I was standing there taking pictures with my iPhone, but I doubt that many of his neighbors are aware.

The feeling of ironic detachment doubled back on me after I stepped onto Middle Neck Road, the shopping street just east of Gateway Drive, and saw this marquis on the local movie theater, listing a film called simplyThe Gatsby as one of several features in rotation:

Are people actually seeing the new Great Gatsby movie just one blockfrom where the novel was written, without knowing about the literary holy ground they are standing on? It seems incredible to me. I stood at this spot for a few minutes, allowing my mind to simply boggle. I didn’t see a yellow car anywhere around.

by Liz on Wednesday, August 21, 2013 12:01 pm

I grew up in Great Neck, and it’s just about impossible to live in ignorance of the Gatsby connection. The film didn’t cause a revival of interest in the area’s literary history – it put it into overdrive! The awning to the right of the theater – that’s for the Great Neck Arts Center, which hosts a film festival and series. They hosted a screening of the film two days before its premiere, with Luhrmann as a special guest speaker.

You might be interested in pictures of Lands End, believed to be the inspiration for the Buchanan’s house (who, by the by, were across the water in East Egg/Sands Point, Port Washington – not West Egg/Great Neck!). There is a great photo gallery here:http://www.chrisbain.com/album/gallery.html#folder=Lands%20End. Haven’t been there myself, but seems like another example of the film’s stunning visual accuracy.

The house you scouted in Great Neck was Fitzgerald’s residence, but not the novel’s setting or inspiration. “West Egg” refers more specifically to Kings Point, the northernmost village in Great Neck. If you had made it as far north as the subtly-named Gatsby Lane, you may have found the setting more to your liking. That’s where you’ll find a large estate covering the tip of the peninsula, the closest to an actual “Gatsby House” I can imagine. It’s large and grandiose, and previously owned by Richard Church, who threw the wild parties. My younger brother went to school with a girl who lived there, whose parents both died on the property of uncertain causes. Tragically, she was the one to find her mother, in the pool no less. Much earlier, her maternal grandmother died after crashing into a tree on the same property. They have since sold the property.




The American public was OK with surveilling Muslim citizens in 2006, and

liberal New Yorkers were fine with it in 2012. Now they’re

complaining.posted on June 6, 2013 at 4:11pm EDT

Ben SmithBuzzFeed Staff

New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly. Louis Lanzano, File / AP

The last detailed new revelation of a domestic surveillance program came on December 16, 2005, when the New York Times published an article it had held, at the Bush Administration’s request, for months: “Bush Lets U.S. Spy on Callers Without Courts.”

The public reacted with a shrug: It was the age of terror, and the program was directed at monitoring specific terror suspects. “Americans Taking Abramoff, Alito and Domestic Spying in Stride,” was the headline on the Pew Poll in January of 2006.

There was good reason to think even then — as Glenn Greenwald conclusively reported Wednesday, more than seven years later — that the National Security Agency is scooping up pretty much all of our phone calls. And there was good political reason that the government has fought so hard to keep that program — widely enough known that one imagines professional terrorists are on to it — secret. That same Pew Poll that found Americans blase about investigations without warrants also found:

As has been the case since shortly after the 9/11 attacks, Americans overwhelmingly reject the idea of the government monitoring their phone calls, emails and credit card purchases. By about three-to-one (73%-24%) the public opposes allowing government surveillance of their personal phone calls and emails. This measure has changed very little since September 2001, just after the attacks, when 70% opposed government monitoring of private communications.

Last March, after the 9/11 moment had passed, the Associated Pressturned up a different domestic spying program: The New York Police Department had been infiltrating the homes, businesses, and communities of New Yorkers of Muslim descent without, it appeared, any specific cause. The NYPD denials, and subsequent leaked documents, made the story worse.

And the New York story, too, sank like a stone, even in one of America’s most liberal cities: There was little public pressure on Mayor Michael Bloomberg to roll back the secret program. Even a Pulitzer Prize for his critics didn’t dislodge Police Commissioner Ray Kelly from his place as one of the city’s most popular leaders, now the subject of a last minute draft effort for mayor.

You could make the case that these two episodes, in Washington and New York, showed two things: First, the government can spy on Muslim citizens — or any specific person or group it says is associated with terrorism — without fear of broader public disapproval. Second, the government felt it had reason to fear a public backlash over spying indiscriminately on the broad public, even in the course of looking for terrorists.

So there are reasons, good and bad, to think the evidence of a vast, and secret, spying program that picked up phone calls between every American citizen and his or her parents, boyfriends, or co-workers will be different. The immediate reaction to the Guardian story is one of them, a combination of a national mood and new partisan dynamics in which members of both parties are openly denouncing a program that many of them knew existed. The moment in which the word “terrorism” could justify almost any domestic policy is long past.

This moment is, most of all, a test of that aphorism politicians will quote to almost any end, the one that begins (at least in one version) “First they came for the Communists, and I said nothing.” The tolerance of widespread surveillance of Muslims helped build a government apparatus, and the legal underpinnings of it, are now used much more widely than many Americans are comfortable with. The political path to rolling it back isn’t clear.








Dave and I moved to New Hope in the late 90’s. We were married on our porch by the mayor.

Written about in the tourist guide we often had unexpected visitors of the poetry persuasion wanting to hang out and have Dave and I spend time with them. We were well know in the underground press, And I gained notoriety after a poetry reading at Karla’s restaurant when I read a poem about New Hope’s cops. We were hounded by them and a few years later we were raided by “SUPER” Alllentown cops. They spent 4 hours in our apartment, grabbing pictures,questioning why we were in the small town, and video taping the posters on our walls. They grabbed some pot and pain pills I take for a bad back. It was a  humiliating time that we never got over.

Bad floods swept the Delaware through our house twice, and with the final flood the house was condemned and we were forced to move. I lost 20 books of poetry and Dave who was the publisher of “Alpha Beat Press” lost many manuscripts.

We missed our home and familiar surroundings when we had nowhere to live and had to live in a transient drug ridden motel for 4 months.

We finally got an apartment 50 miles away, but often drove back to the small town that we loved so much.

Ana Christy.

A Brief History of New Hope, Pennsylvania

Nearly ten thousand years ago the Lenni-Lenape Native Americans carved their way from the Delaware River in what is now Philadelphia through richly wooded forests seeking land for planting, forests for hunting and water for fishing. Many of them settled on about 1,000 acres in what is now New Hope, Pennsylvania.

In the early part of the eighteenth century William Penn authorized a sale of land to Robert Heath for the purpose of building a mill and establishing a community.  Hence, New Hope was born. During the American Revolutionary War General George Washington marched through New Hope on four documented occasions and the town played a vital role in the preparations for the Battles of Trenton and Monmouth.

New Hope’s strategic location on the Delaware River has made it an important transportation hub over the past three centuries.  Stage coaches, canal boats, trains, trolleys and automobiles all made their way to New Hope–the half-way point from Philadelphia to New York City and the midpoint of the Delaware Canal between Easton and Bristol.

The sheer natural beauty of the area that was first seen and appreciated by the Lenni-Lenape people so many thousands of years ago attracted the great Pennsylvania Impressionist school of artists like Daniel Garber and Edwin Redfield in the early part of the twentieth century.  Broadway summer stock theater followed shortly after them featuring such great actors as Helen Hayes, George C. Scott and Robert Redfield at the Bucks County Playhouse which still thrills audiences seven decades later.

The drive for liberty and independence that brought George Washington’s army in the eighteenth century and the Underground Railroad in the nineteenth century continued in 2002 when New Hope became the first borough in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to pass a comprehensive ordinance banning discrimination in employment, public housing and public accommodations on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. Today, many thousands of visitors each week make New Hope the number one tourist attraction in Bucks County, Pennsylvania.

New Hope is home to dozens of art galleries, fine antique shops, museums, more than one hundred historic buildings, and nationally acclaimed craft shops and restaurants.  The Delaware Canal runs through the center of town, crisscrossed by a half dozen streams and creeks that flow into the historic Delaware River providing the natural beauty that continues to thrill all who come to New Hope, Pennsylvania.





Artist Biography by Stephen Thomas Erlewine

Bob Dylan‘s influence on popular music is incalculable. As a songwriter, he pioneered several different schools of pop songwriting, from confessional singer/songwriter to winding, hallucinatory, stream-of-consciousness narratives. As a vocalist, he broke down the notion that a singer must have a conventionally good voice in order to perform, thereby redefining the vocalist’s role in popular music. As a musician, he sparked several genres of pop music, including electrified folk-rock and country-rock. And that just touches on the tip of his achievements. Dylan‘s force was evident during his height of popularity in the ’60s — the Beatles‘ shift toward introspective songwriting in the mid-’60s never would have happened without him — but his influence echoed throughout several subsequent generations, as many of his songs became popular standards and his best albums became undisputed classics of the rock & roll canon. Dylan‘s influence throughout folk music was equally powerful, and he marks a pivotal turning point in its 20th century evolution, signifying when the genre moved away from traditional songs and toward personal songwriting. Even when his sales declined in the ’80s and ’90s, Dylan‘s presence rarely lagged, and his commercial revival in the 2000s proved his staying power.

For a figure of such substantial influence, Dylan came from humble beginnings. Born in Duluth, Minnesota, Bob Dylan (b. Robert Allen Zimmerman, May 24, 1941) was raised in Hibbing, Minnesota, from the age of six. As a child he learned how to play guitar and harmonica, forming a rock & roll band called the Golden Chords when he was in high school. Following his graduation in 1959, he began studying art at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. While at college, he began performing folk songs at coffeehouses under the name Bob Dylan, taking his last name from the poet Dylan Thomas. Already inspired by Hank Williams and Woody GuthrieDylan began listening to blues while at college, and the genre wove its way into his music. He spent the summer of 1960 in Denver, where he met bluesman Jesse Fuller, the inspiration behind the songwriter’s signature harmonica rack and guitar. By the time he returned to Minneapolis in the fall, he had grown substantially as a performer and was determined to become a professional musician.

Dylan made his way to New York City in January of 1961, immediately making a substantial impression on the folk community of Greenwich Village. He began visiting his idolGuthrie in the hospital, where he was slowly dying from Huntington’s chorea. Dylan also began performing in coffeehouses, and his rough charisma won him a significant following. In April, he opened for John Lee Hooker at Gerde’s Folk City. Five months later, Dylan performed another concert at the venue, which was reviewed positively by Robert Shelton in The New York Times. Columbia A&R man John Hammond sought out Dylan on the strength of the review, and signed the songwriter in the fall of 1961. Hammond produced Dylan‘s eponymous debut album (released in March 1962), a collection of folk and blues standards that boasted only two original songs. Over the course of 1962, Dylan began to write a large batch of original songs, many of which were political protest songs in the vein of his Greenwich contemporaries. These songs were showcased on his second album, The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan. Before its release, Freewheelin’ went through several incarnations. Dylan had recorded a rock & roll single, “Mixed Up Confusion,” at the end of 1962, but his manager, Albert Grossman, made sure the record was deleted because he wanted to presentDylan as an acoustic folkie. Similarly, several tracks with a full backing band that were recorded forFreewheelin’ were scrapped before the album’s release. Furthermore, several tracks recorded for the album — including “Talking John Birch Society Blues” — were eliminated from the album before its release.

Comprised entirely of original songs, The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan made a huge impact in the U.S. folk community, and many performers began covering songs from the album. Of these, the most significant were Peter, Paul and Mary, who made “Blowin’ in the Wind” into a huge pop hit in the summer of 1963 and thereby made Bob Dylan into a recognizable household name. On the strength of Peter, Paul and Mary‘s cover and his opening gigs for popular folkie Joan BaezFreewheelin’ became a hit in the fall of 1963, climbing to number 23 on the charts. By that point, Baez and Dylan had become romantically involved, and she was beginning to record his songs frequently. Dylan was writing just as fast.

By the time The Times They Are A-Changin’ was released in early 1964, Dylan‘s songwriting had developed far beyond that of his New York peers. Heavily inspired by poets likeArthur Rimbaud and John Keats, his writing took on a more literate and evocative quality. Around the same time, he began to expand his musical boundaries, adding more blues and R&B influences to his songs. Released in the summer of 1964, Another Side of Bob Dylan made these changes evident. However, Dylan was moving faster than his records could indicate. By the end of 1964, he had ended his romantic relationship with Baez and had begun dating a former model named Sara Lowndes, whom he subsequently married. Simultaneously, he gave the Byrds “Mr. Tambourine Man” to record for their debut album. the Byrds gave the song a ringing, electric arrangement, but by the time the single became a hit, Dylan was already exploring his own brand of folk-rock.

Inspired by the British Invasion, particularly the Animals‘ version of “House of the Rising Sun,” Dylan recorded a set of original songs backed by a loud rock & roll band for his next album. While Bringing It All Back Home (March 1965) still had a side of acoustic material, it made clear that Dylan had turned his back on folk music. For the folk audience, the true breaking point arrived a few months after the album’s release, when he played the Newport Folk Festival supported by the Paul Butterfield Blues Band. The audience greeted him with vicious derision, but he had already been accepted by the growing rock & roll community. Dylan‘s spring tour of Britain was the basis for D.A. Pennebaker‘s documentary Don’t Look Back, a film that captures the songwriter’s edgy charisma and char

Dylan made his breakthrough to the pop audience in the summer of 1965, when “Like a Rolling Stone” became a number two hit. Driven by a circular organ riff and a steady beat, the six-minute single broke the barrier of the three-minute pop single. Dylan became the subject of innumerable articles, and his lyrics became the subject of literary analyses across the U.S. and U.K. Well over 100 artists covered his songs between 1964 and 1966; the Byrds and the Turtles, in particular, had big hits with his compositions. Highway 61 Revisited, his first full-fledged rock & roll album, became a Top Ten hit shortly after its summer 1965 release. “Positively 4th Street” and “Rainy Day Women #12 & 35” became Top Ten hits in the fall of 1965 and spring of 1966, respectively. Following the May 1966 release of the double album Blonde on Blonde, he had sold over ten million records around the world.

During the fall of 1965, Dylan hired the Hawks, formerly Ronnie Hawkins‘ backing group, as his touring band. the Hawks, who changed their name to the Band in 1968, would become Dylan‘s most famous backing band, primarily because of their intuitive chemistry and “wild, thin mercury sound,” but also because of their British tour in the spring of 1966. The tour was the first time the British had heard the electric Dylan, and their reaction was disagreeable and violent. At the Manchester concert (long mistakenly identified as the show from London’s Royal Albert Hall), an audience member called Dylan“Judas,” inspiring a positively vicious version of “Like a Rolling Stone” from Dylan and the band. The performance was immortalized on countless bootleg albums (an official release finally surfaced in 1998), and it indicates the intensity of Dylan in the middle of 1966. He had assumed control of Pennebaker‘s second Dylan documentary, Eat the Document, and was under deadline to complete his bookTarantula, as well as record a new record. Following the British tour, he returned to America.

The Basement Tapes

On July 29, 1966, he was injured in a motorcycle accident outside of his home in Woodstock, New York, suffering injuries to his neck vertebrae and a concussion. Details of the accident remain elusive — he was reportedly in critical condition for a week and had amnesia — and some biographers have questioned its severity, but the event was a pivotal turning point in his career. After the accident, Dylanbecame a recluse, disappearing into his home in Woodstock and raising his family with his wife, Sara. After a few months, he retreated with the Band to a rented house, subsequently dubbed Big Pink, in West Saugerties to record a number of demos. For several months, Dylan and the Band recorded an enormous amount of material, ranging from old folk, country, and blues songs to newly written originals. The songs indicated that Dylan‘s songwriting had undergone a metamorphosis, becoming streamlined and more direct. Similarly, his music had changed, owing less to traditional rock & roll, and demonstrating heavy country, blues, and traditional folk influences. None of the Big Pink recordings was intended to be released, but tapes from the sessions were circulated by Dylan‘s music publisher with the intent of generating cover versions. Copies of these tapes, as well as other songs, were available on illegal bootleg albums by the end of the ’60s; it was the first time that bootleg copies of unreleased recordings became widely circulated. Portions of the tapes were officially released in 1975 as the double album The Basement Tapes.

John Wesley Harding

While Dylan was in seclusion, rock & roll had become heavier and artier in the wake of the psychedelic revolution. WhenDylan returned with John Wesley Harding in December of 1967, its quiet, country ambience was a surprise to the general public, but it was a significant hit, peaking at number two in the U.S. and number one in the U.K. Furthermore, the record arguably became the first significant country-rock record to be released, setting the stage for efforts by the Byrds and the Flying Burrito Brothers later in 1969.

Nashville Skyline

Dylan followed his country inclinations on his next album, 1969’s Nashville Skyline, which was recorded in Nashville with several of the country industry’s top session men. While the album was a hit, spawning the Top Ten single “Lay Lady Lay,” it was criticized in some quarters for uneven material. The mixed reception was the beginning of a full-blown backlash that arrived with the double-album Self Portrait. Released early in June of 1970, the album was a hodgepodge of covers, live tracks, re-interpretations, and new songs greeted with negative reviews from all quarters of the press. Dylan followed the album quickly with New Morning, which was hailed as a comeback.

Dylan [1973]

Following the release of New MorningDylan began to wander restlessly. He moved back to Greenwich Village, he finally published Tarantula in November of 1970, and he performed at the Concert for Bangladesh in August 1971. During 1972, he began his acting career by playing Alias in Sam Peckinpah’s Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid, which was released in 1973. He also wrote the soundtrack for the film, which featured “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door,” his biggest hit since “Lay Lady Lay.” The Pat Garrett soundtrack was the final record released under his Columbia contract before he moved to David Geffen‘s fledgling Asylum Records. As retaliation, Columbia assembled Dylan, a collection of Self Portrait outtakes, for release at the end of 1973. Dylan only recorded two albums — including 1974’s Planet Waves, coincidentally his first number one album — before he moved back to Columbia. the Band supported Dylan on Planet Wavesand its accompanying tour, which became the most successful tour in rock & roll history; it was captured on 1974’s double live album Before the Flood.

Dylan‘s 1974 tour was the beginning of a comeback culminating with 1975’s Blood on the Tracks. Largely inspired by the disintegration of his marriage, Blood on the Tracks was hailed as a return to form by critics and it became his second number one album. After jamming with folkies in Greenwich Village, Dylan decided to launch a gigantic tour, loosely based on traveling medicine shows. Lining up an extensive list of supporting musicians — including Joan BaezJoni MitchellRamblin’ Jack Elliott,Arlo GuthrieMick RonsonRoger McGuinn, and poetAllen Ginsberg — Dylan dubbed the tour the Rolling Thunder Revue and set out on the road in the fall of 1975. For the next year, the Rolling Thunder Revue toured on and off, with Dylan filming many of the concerts for a future film. During the tour,Desire was released to considerable acclaim and success, spending five weeks on the top of the charts. Throughout the Rolling Thunder RevueDylan showcased “Hurricane,” a protest song he had written about boxer Rubin Carter, who had been unjustly imprisoned for murder. The live album Hard Rain was released at the end of the tour. Dylan released Renaldo and Clara, a four-hour film based on the Rolling Thunder tour, to poor reviews in early 1978.

Early in 1978, Dylan set out on another extensive tour, this time backed by a band that resembled a Las Vegas lounge act. The group was featured on the 1978 album Street Legaland the 1979 live album At Budokan. At the conclusion of the tour in late 1978, Dylan announced that he was a born-again Christian, and he launched a series of Christian albums that following summer with Slow Train Coming. Though the reviews were mixed, the album was a success, peaking at number three and going platinum. His supporting tour forSlow Train Coming featured only his new religious material, much to the bafflement of his long-term fans. Two other religious albums — Saved (1980) and Shot of Love (1981) — followed, both to poor reviews. In 1982,Dylan traveled to Israel, sparking rumors that his conversion to Christianity was short-lived. He returned to secular recording with 1983’s Infidels, which was greeted with favorable reviews.

Dylan returned to performing in 1984, releasing the live albumReal Live at the end of the year. Empire Burlesque followed in 1985, but its odd mix of dance tracks and rock & roll won few fans. However, the five-album/triple-disc retrospective box set Biograph appeared that same year to great acclaim. In 1986, Dylan hit the road with Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers for a successful and acclaimed tour, but his album that year, Knocked Out Loaded, was received poorly. The following year, he toured with the Grateful Dead as his backing band; two years later, the souvenir album Dylan & the Dead appeared.

In 1988, Dylan embarked on what became known as “the Never-Ending Tour” — a constant stream of shows that ran on and off into the late ’90s. That same year, he appeared onThe Traveling Wilburys, Vol. 1 — by the supergroup also featuring George HarrisonRoy OrbisonTom Petty, andJeff Lynne — and released his own Down in the Groove, an album largely comprised of covers. The Never-Ending Tour received far stronger reviews than Down in the Groove (theTraveling Wilburys album fared much better), but 1989’s Oh Mercy was his most acclaimed album since 1975’s Blood on the Tracks, due in part to Daniel Lanois‘ strong production. However, Dylan‘s 1990 follow-up, Under the Red Sky (issued the same year as the second album bythe Traveling Wilburys, now a quartet following the death of Roy Orbison shortly after the release ofthe Wilburys‘ first long-player in 1988), was received poorly, especially when compared to the enthusiastic reception for the 1991 box set The Bootleg Series, Vols. 1-3 (Rare & Unreleased), a collection of previously unreleased outtakes and rarities.

Good as I Been to You

For the remainder of the ’90s, Dylan divided his time between live concerts, painting, and studio projects. He returned to recording in 1992 with Good as I Been to You, an acoustic collection of traditional folk songs. It was followed in 1993 by another folk record, World Gone Wrong, which won the Grammy for Best Traditional Folk Album. After the release ofWorld Gone WrongDylan released a greatest-hits album and a live record.

Time Out of Mind

Dylan releasedTime Out of Mind, his first album of original material in seven years, in the fall of 1997. Time Out of Mind received his strongest reviews in years and unexpectedly debuted in the Top Ten, eventually climbing to platinum certification. Such success sparked a revival of interest in Dylan, who appeared on the cover of Newsweek and began selling out concerts once again. Early in 1998,Time Out of Mind received three Grammy Awards — Album of the Year, Best Contemporary Folk Album, and Best Male Rock Vocal.

Love and Theft

Another album of original material, Love and Theft, followed in 2001 and went gold. Soon after its release, Dylanannounced that he was making his own film, to star Jeff BridgesPenelope CruzJohn GoodmanVal Kilmer, and many more. The accompanying soundtrack, Masked and Anonymous, was released in July 2003. Dylan opted to self-produce his new studio album, Modern Times, which topped the Billboard charts and went platinum in both America and the U.K. It was Dylan‘s third consecutive album to receive praise from critics and support from consumers, and it was followed three years later in 2009 by Together Through Life, another self-produced effort (as Jack Frost) that also featured contributions from David Hidalgo of Los Lobos and Mike Campbell of Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers. He capped off the year with an old-fashioned holiday effort, Christmas in the Heart. Proceeds from the album were donated to various charities around the world. Dylan released the self-produced (again as Jack FrostTempest on September 11, 2012.












Expat Aussie In NJ

 A slice of American life – the US Diner


EXPAT LIFE: What’s as American as apple pie?

How about the American diner?

This may be an icon in the US but even people outside of America have been absorbing diner culture since the advent of ‘Happy Days’ and the Fonz, into our living rooms, way back when.

Since the late sixties, countless movies and TV series have catalogued a bevy of onscreen imagery that includes cozy booths, counter top breakfasts, waitresses with attitude, and lots of “caw-fee”, all in a familiar rectangular-shaped building.

American diners are so iconic that at least two have been purchased and shipped to the UK and Germany, where, no doubt, they provide a very different alternative to local eateries. At home in the USA, their cultural value is so esteemed that some have even been added to the US National Register of Historic Places.

Diners occur throughout the USA but are much more concentrated in the northeast, including New Jersey and New York. New Jersey may be small but it is chock full of diners, with an estimated 526 throughout the state – the largest number in the US. This is almost one diner for every township. It’s no wonder that the humble diner is part of everyday life in Jersey.


Where did Diners begin?

The first true diner was a food wagon with walk up windows around the sides, introduced in 1872 in Rhode Island. This concept evolved into the Worcester Lunch Car Company which added seating to the wagon diner idea and sold their food in busy downtown areas.

It was in New Jersey where diners took off big time. Mass production of prefabricated diners was started by the Jerry O’Mahony Diner Company of Elizabeth. The concept of the modern diner was born. Shaped like a railway carriage with those shiny chrome and flashy looks that diners are known for. Amazingly, one of these original diners still operates today in Summit, New Jersey.


Since 1872, diners have attained a nationally acknowledged level of cultural significance. Michelin star material, they may not be. But diners are recognized more for their appeal as a place where people from all walks of life, can congregate to get a meal or coffee at almost any time of the day or night.

What are diners like today?

Early diners needed to be mobile so they could be moved around to set up for business in different places. The earliest modern diner designs maintained this ‘rail carriage’ look. The interiors were furnished with a counter bench with seats for patrons to sit at while eating, with waitresses behind the counter serving or preparing food. Booths were provided around the window-lined sides of the diner.

Since these early days, diner designs have diversified to include the addition of more showy interiors including chandeliers and candelabras. Designs of diner exteriors moved away from the traditional carriage look.


Older diners were renovated to add on modern areas. Additionally, newer diners were built from scratch using a variety of different formats. The influx of new multicultural owners into the diner business helped diversify the ‘diner’ image.



Even though diner designs are far more varied than they were originally, retro-style diners, sometimes classified as Art Deco, with their shiny metallic exteriors, are still very popular.










What sort of food do they serve?

Being classified as a diner today is more about the type of food and service offered than just appearance. They can offer almost any type of food with menus that often have multiple pages listing huge ranges of dishes.



While some specialize in certain cuisines, the typical diner offers casual American food, usually in big proportions and at a lower price than many formal restaurants provide.


Most dishes have a home-cooked style that appeals to the wider general public. Simple meals like breakfasts, burgers, fries and club sandwiches are common fare, served with “caw-fee”, of course! Diners have also been influenced by the influx of immigrants and different cultures. Menus now offer Greek, Jewish and Spanish (Tex-Mex) meals much more commonly than in the past.


And if you still have room after one of these sumptuous main meals, there is often a glass display case full of desserts to choose from.



No-one ever leaves a diner feeling hungry.

Highly Rated Diners in New Jersey

Here are some well-rated New Jersey diners, each with a very different style and offering:

  1. White Mana – Hackensack
  2. Tick Tock Diner – Clifton
  3. Summit Diner – Summit
  4. Skylark Diner – Edison
  5. Silver Diner – Cherry Hill
  6. Americana Diner – Shrewsbury
  7. Barnegat Diner – Barnegat
  8. Garden State Diner – Newark
  9. Tops Diner – East New Newark