Off Bleecker Street


Bleecker Street!  Made famous by all the great writers, artists, and musicians who passed this way over the years.  Like Bob Dylan on the cover of his second album, just walking along with a ‘soulful chick’ grasping his arm, that’s right, right off Bleecker Street.  This is where I have spent seven days and nights during my USA pilgrimage this month.  I have been holed up in a tiny 2nd floor walkup apartment on the corner of Bleecker and Morton in the West Village (Greenwich Village).  Although there is not much here that is green… well except for Washington Square Park.  They saved a little green there.

I have been much like a hermit artist, a possessed writer, typing away on his notebook computer in the midst of this history, this nightly frivolity, this happening place, with all the locals and tourists mingling at the bars, cafes, pizza joints and those ice cream shops… particularly welcome sights on 100+ degree (heat indexed) days and nights, even if the cones or cups of iced delight are almost $5 each.  The heat wave continues, and Bleecker Street continues to be busy, bouncy and buoyant.

It is an odd feeling to be lying here in this bed in someone’s mini-studio apartment rented out to me for two, then three, then two more nights, as I made my nomadic flights out and back across this great country of ours.  It’s been inspiring to reflect on how much alternative culture and art emerged and found a home here.


Go On!! Click My Image!!

Who knows whether the muse of Dylan or any of the others will pass along to my writing. It was, after all, a generation’s home to America’s Bohemian culture, its Beat writers, folk musicians, and offbeat comedians.  I did compose an additional hundred pages of my new novel while nesting here.  But we shall see what that amounts to in the end. What the muse has provided me, if anything at all.

But, the times they are a’changin’! As with all else in this nation, Bleecker Street is a modern shopping mecca now.  Stylish clothing stores and gadget shops, side by side with the those selling sex toys, marijuana bongs, and other novelty shops, lining all the side streets of the West Village, interspersed with old favorites, like John’s Pizzeria, established in 1929, so says the sign on the awning overhead, or Matt Uvanov Guitars. And those classic “axes” ain’t cheap!  No siree Mr. Bojangles!  But, there ain’t no need to be knockin on heaven’s door, because we got us a piece of heaven right here in Amerika, just waiting on some more blowback from mother nature, and after this heatwave it’ll be a hard rains a’ gonna fall!


Have a listen, won’t ya?

32 Responses to Off Bleecker Street

  1. the Heretick says:

    of course it was but a year later that Bob departed from the true faith, and performed the great heresy of playing with of all things, electric instruments!!!!!!!!!
    now, of course we all know Bob was not the greatest singer, or player, he is however our country’s poet laureate par excellence, i don’t care what anybody says.
    all you have to do is look at how many people have covered his songs.

  2. Disaffected says:

    Right place, right time, for the most part me thinks. Not that I didn’t/don’t appreciate his lyrics, but I think that someone living at that time was going to come up with them regardless. It was a great time to be alive nonetheless, even though I barely remember it now. But yes, Dylan was indeed foundational to all that followed, flawed singing and all.

    • kulturcritic says:

      Funny how people emerge just as they are needed!

    • the Heretick says:

      Bob is just the Man, that’s all there is to it, the foundation and what followed. here’s something off of his New Morning album the theme of which seems apropos to this blog here.

      imho New Morning is his best overall album, everybody has their favorite.

    • Disaffected says:

      Not to be too harsh on Dylan. I’ve heard many people say the same thing about the Beatles, who definitely had a lot of fortuitous breaks on their way to mega-stardom as well. Not the least of which was meeting up with George Martin, their producer at Capitol Records, who was instrumental in producing their trademark experimental sound after 1965. By many accounts, their basic musicianship was pretty piss poor at the time. But you do have to give them credit. They did have the basic creative impulse and drive, and they were simply not to be denied. And the rest, as they say, is history. Could someone else have filled the void if they hadn’t? Hard to say for sure, and it definitely wouldn’t have been the same, but the 60’s were no doubt an historically fertile artistic breeding ground, and I suspect that someone definitely would have.

      • the Heretick says:

        well, the Beatles were mainly a vocal group weren’t they? once again, all the emphasis is put on being some kind of a virtuoso, when really, there gig was the songwritng, the composition, the lyrics, and the meaning. i could never play like them in a 1,000 years, but here have always been people that could play circles around any one of them.
        it’s not how well you play, it’s what you play; that was the Beatles, and Dylans appeal. you are def right about George Martin, 5th Beatle.

  3. the Heretick says:

    Bleecker Street was also the title of a Simon and Garfunkel song, bit light for me, but you can’t deny they could sing.
    on to business, i realize this is a light post, however………
    Methane meltdown: The Arctic timebomb that could cost us $60trn
    no mention that it could very well cost us our lives. typical.

    • the Heretick says:

      let me amend my remarks, they do mention the downside, but once again it is framed in terms of an economic model.

    • kulturcritic says:

      Amazing how these folks writing the piece can miss the important message

      • the Heretick says:

        articles like this show the problems are getting too big to ignore.

      • Phlogiston Água de Beber says:

        I think it’s not so much miss as misrepresent the message. They seem to be implying that much money will have to be ginned up to repair the damage. The more reasonable conclusion is the damage will not be repaired and that much money-denominated activity will cease. A circuitous way of saying that most of the homo economicus class is dead or dying. The main misrepresentation is that would only represent the beginning, not the end of the trouble.

        Another misrepresentation was the reference to heat retention of methane vs CO2. They get a figure of ~20:1 by calculating the difference over a 100 year period. For about 90% of that time the methane has actually broken down into CO2 and water vapor. While it is methane, it is at least 100 times an equivalent amount of CO2. When enough of it is released in a hurry, things will warm up fast. Currently, places in the arctic are measuring methane concentrations of as much as 2000 ppb, which is 2 ppm to simplify its addition to CO2, which is currently at 400 ppm and rising. Methane at 100 x 2 adds the equivalent of 200 ppm of CO2 over those areas. That’s about double the historical average for recent geologic history. The methane has hardly begun to emerge. Then there is potential for a third leg of doom (curiously the number of legs on Species 8472) as described in this video.

        Sandy, you have serendipitously named this topic well. The situation just seems to get bleaker and bleaker. I don’t think we will be extinct by 2030, but I entertain no hope that we will still be here when the real Borg show up. Siberian Traps, bah! We’ll show momma nature that we too know how to spin up a mass extinction. We’re No. 1!!! And we’re about to fall into the No. 2, scatologically speaking.

  4. Hines says:

    What about Dylan the sellout doing a Cadillac commercial?

    • kulturcritic says:

      And you wouldn’t have done it, Hines? You need to live in this world in order to stay alive to criticize it. No one is perfect… are you?

    • the Heretick says:

      just the other day i saw a deadhead sticker on a Cadillac. we should never kid ourselves, artists are in it for the money, at least if they are serious; how many people will hear your message if you don’t get airtime?
      there is the view that art should be done for it’s own sake, people can do what they want, i made my living as an artist for 10 years, hardest job i ever had.

    • Disaffected says:

      I thought it was pretty ironic too when Dylan showed up in a Cadillac commercial of all things. Sixties counterculture icon shows up shilling for corporate automobile’s iconic brand. Definitely a contrasting message there. But I see what corporate advertising was after there. Cadillac’s messaging has always been “you’ve arrived,” and for aging baby boomers, who better to convey that message than one of the icons of their youth. And Heretick’s right, Dylan has always been about thumbing his nose at his fans and critics alike. Almost like he never enjoyed being a public figure in the first place and wants to make that painfully clear to everyone at every chance. Not sure he’s all that wealthy anymore either. Many long term celebrities aren’t.

  5. Reid Kirschenman says:

    “When I die, please bury me deep,
    down at the end of Bleeker Street
    So I can hear old number 9
    As she comes rolling by.”
    Maybe Dylan did a Cadillas commercial just for fun. Anyone who knows Dylan knows he doesn’t feel obligated to live up to anyone’s expectations.

  6. kulturcritic says:

    Sorry to be off track… but it just occurred to me that Russians would really do well tailgating at American football games. They just love hanging out in their vehicles – doors, trunks and tailgates open – eating, drinking, laughing, talking and playing around their cars. Just an observation.

  7. Disaffected says:

    I think this guy might have assumed the mantle with stuff like this:

  8. bmiller says:

    Better to channel the Wobblies and the anarchists of Bleecker Street than a poser like Dylan. The best that can be said of Dylan is that the kid on the corner points at him and accurately says that the Emperor has no clothes. But snarky comments aside glad you made it back across the pond. Hope the book tour/flogging is going well.

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