Greenwich Village in WNYC's History

Monday, July 07, 2014

stonewall4.jpg Stonewall Inn, 1969, Diana Davies, NYPL

As part of WNYC's 90th anniversary, historian John Strausbaugh offers context for some archival sound focused on Greenwich Village. He's the author of The Village: 400 Years of Beats and Bohemians, Radicals and Rogues: a History of Greenwich Village (Ecco, 2013).


John Strausbaugh

Comments [32]

Daddy O from Like, Way Way Out, Man

Centuries? There were hipster Native Americans?

Jul. 07 2014 12:49 PM
jgarbuz from Queens

I don't ask to be "boohooed" nor do I give advice, so don't give me any either. I was just giving my opinions, not my advice.

Jul. 07 2014 12:21 PM
Boohoo, jgarbuz

Sheldon, I had my fair share of "shiksas" too. Unfortunately, I was stupid and married Jewish girls. Big mistake I'm still paying for.>

Smart, but a know-it-all -- don't be a shmuck. Stop with the judging and take positive control of your life.

Jul. 07 2014 12:17 PM
Gene from NYC

Once in a great while the Voice has had an important article.

But for the most part, for as long as I've been in NYC, it's just dreck.

I remember arriving in 1968, when the Voice was full of pompous poseurs scribbling away--like Jill Johnston channeling Kerouac in lower case--just like ee cummings or something! And I thought, "Well, it must have been good before I got here."

And almost like clockwork, time after time, at least every 10 years since, I'd run into newbies saying, "Well, it must have been good before I got here."

Jul. 07 2014 12:15 PM
Steven from Brooklyn

....our ordinary Friday nights on Kings Highway.... front of Dubrow's with Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Jul. 07 2014 12:13 PM
Paula Beckenstein from Chappaqua NY

CORRECTION TO MY PREVIOUS COMMENT. i used the word "beatnik' when the correct term is BOHEMIAN!

Jul. 07 2014 12:06 PM
Paula Beckenstein from Chappaqua NY

I used to go to the village with my friends in the late 50's and we went to a club called The Ace of Clubs. The main attraction was musical performances by a troup of transvestites. They were men in drag, provocatively dressed, and were black mostly but not exclusively. WE tried to look like beatniks but were preppy white Jewish girls from James Madison High School in Brookyn. We dressed in black and wore makeup which we did not otherwise.
Friday nights going to village to the Ace of Clubs became the most exotic experience in our otherwise ordinary Friday nights on Kings Highway.

Jul. 07 2014 11:50 AM
jgarbuz from Queens


People get what they get because of the choices they make, and not "what they deserve." Some people who deserve nothing other than to be put into an early grave often get way too much. They got what they could grab and get away with.

Jul. 07 2014 11:46 AM

Sorry, I meant the second comment below (from A.M.). The first one connects as well, though in a different sense...

Jul. 07 2014 11:44 AM

I believe the first comment below (A.M.) gets at the heart of the subtle phenomenon of bigotry, which is so much more complex than any of us want to admit. Usually, there's a defensive urge to make bigotry a "black and white" or binary issue, so that the speaker is firmly on the "correct" side of it. It's hard to be at home in the muddy waters.

Jul. 07 2014 11:41 AM
Jessie Henshaw from Way Uptown

Brian, for a "culture maven" you certainly seem to be culturally clueless some times... You cut people off whenever they don't echo your assumptions you know.

Jul. 07 2014 11:39 AM

jgarbuz, sounds like you got what you deserved... and don't we all.

Jul. 07 2014 11:38 AM
TC Davis Jr from Bayside

Regarding the clip of the poet that went un-named: I have a audio book, probably one of the first, by Jack Keroac and when the clip started I thought they were going to name him as the speaker. I would swear it was him.
Personally, I came to the Village from south Jersey in 1969, just after Hendrix moved out of his St.Marx Place apartment that later became The Electric Circus - ah, but this is the next era.
Love this show Brian.

Jul. 07 2014 11:37 AM
fuva from harlemworld

Were white men with black women less controversial because it wasn't new? Obviously, the history of white men plundering black female bodies was long and ongoing. At about the same time, the very long political career of a white male predator who had impregnated his black teenage house maid gaining momentum.

Jul. 07 2014 11:36 AM
jgarbuz from Queens


I had my fair share of "shiksas" too. Unfortunately, I was stupid and married Jewish girls. Big mistake I'm still paying for.

Jul. 07 2014 11:36 AM

Around 1967, there was a brutal murder of two kids, found in a store basement; it was sort of an early "dark-side" emerging - NY's Haight-Ashbury, that shocked then with the back-story of the kids. Please comment.

Jul. 07 2014 11:36 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

Beatniks, hippies, hipsters, it's all the same. Just the idiosyncratic tendencies of non-conformist youths between the ages of 18 and 38.

Jul. 07 2014 11:34 AM
Sheldon from Brooklyn

@jg, Jewish "sluts" ? really? Are you frustrated because you never stood a chance?

Jul. 07 2014 11:32 AM
Coogan from NYC

Wow this is a very cool segment.... the overlap between "syndicate bars" ei Mob run, whether gay or straight and that shake down and their greed leading to the gay backlash that became the famous Stonewall Riots.

And racially speaking seems you've pinpointed the (modern) Village history nexus of straight White girls, Black guys, Gays and Italian teens and Mobsters. The Village was always bohemian back to the 20's, but the second wave in the late 50's and early 60's is what stuck in a big way. Complicated and fascinating relationship!

Jul. 07 2014 11:27 AM
Judy Biener from Brooklyn

I am reading James Baldwin's 1960 novel, Another Country, which is about the self-hatred of the black male character who is with a white woman. So sad and so like what I'm hearing.

Jul. 07 2014 11:27 AM
Amy from Manhattan

The difference is that Mr. Jones was referring to his *own* attitude when he called a white woman an "accoutrement" & the interviewee was *attributing* an attitude to white women who dated black men. I didn't hear anyone ask a white woman what her attitude about it was.

It's always strange to listen to quotes or clips from those times & hear references to "the Negro" & use of "men" & "he" to refer to both sexes.

Jul. 07 2014 11:25 AM
Steve from NYC

Regarding interracial dating, it's worth noting that in 1958 Jack Kerouac, who was then at the height of his fame as king of the beats, published "The Subterraneans" which detailed his romance with a black woman in the Village. This may provide some context as to the belief that beatniks were coming to it to seek such relationships. (The movie version made the girl white and the setting San Francisco).

There is one especially interesting topic that the 1959 radio show brought up: heroin use. As an earlier segment of the Brian's show reported, this is still an ongoing problem. It is both an indication of how difficult addiction is to treat and how little society has focused on trying to improve treatment for it or even caring about most of those with drug addictions that of all those problems from 1959 the only that continues to plague us today is the heroin use.

Jul. 07 2014 11:23 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

Wow. Jewish sluts enjoying the competition between Blacks and Italians to get at their easy "knishes." :)

Jul. 07 2014 11:22 AM
john from office

Wow, what an uncomfortable segment. "sexual prowess"

Jul. 07 2014 11:22 AM
Erica Miles from nyc

Read about the struggles of a mixed-race couple and the thirst for art in the 60's in my book, Dazzled by Darkness. -- Erica Miles

Jul. 07 2014 11:19 AM
Bob from Westchester

Perhaps the NYU student journalists were from University Heights campus in the Bronx, which in 1959 was larger than the Village campus - which would explain their "down there" comments.

Jul. 07 2014 11:18 AM
Jane from nyc

Check the dates. NYU was in the Bronx and the Village was way downtown.

Jul. 07 2014 11:15 AM

Note how that much of NYU was uptown until 1973, apparently::

So the village was 'down there' to them.

Jul. 07 2014 11:14 AM
pliny from soho

wasnt NYU still in the Bronx then

Jul. 07 2014 11:14 AM

While married to Hetty Jones, he had a baby with Diane De Prima, so that set his path on a course beyond The Village... although there are bohemian traits in having more than one partner.

Jul. 07 2014 11:14 AM
A.M. from Greenpoint

BRIAN: Longtime fan here, but please consider the following. Your comment about bigotry was itself bigoted! To zero in on the categories "middle-aged white woman"--your words--is to link the person's age, race, and gender with the bigotry that you (correctly) impute to her. How striking that the subject of the conversation is the way in which a given time fosters and creates bigotry that the time cannot very readily know as such--yet you yourself embody this very mechanism by making the above remark.

Jul. 07 2014 11:11 AM
john from office

Little Italy, too close to Africa.

Interesting how the word Negro, hurts the ears.

Jul. 07 2014 11:10 AM

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