From an olden church and (otherwise vacant) cenotaph at Fort Cochin, Kerala, India, Dave O – acknowledging an extended medical and death related hiatus – discusses the local history of colonization by Portuguese explorers, Dutch traders, then British Raj in the context of the colonization leading to exploitation, conscription and war with no meaning to local populace.
Plus the meaning of reparations and the conflict of peaceful resistance – evidenced my Mahatma Gandhi beach a stone’s throw away – contrasted with continued wars throughout the world, shadowed by disposable tourism, economic and racial caste systems.
Recorded Nov. 11, 2016, Released 11:11 Nov. 11, 2017
Vasco da Gama’s bones, black knee-high socks, French generational losses, siege of Leningrad, Churchill’s mishaps, lost human potential of engineers, poets and lovers, MacArthur’s folly, Australia’s vulnerability, the emergence of regions over nation-states, Brexit for British Columbia + Cascadia, Catalonia and Scottish successions, work of raising a child, trappings of hubris, death by disease and guns, aggressive use of intelligence, forethought and diplomacy, and unfiltered view of sacrifice and life.
Cover art photo: By Dave Olson at Fort Cochin, taken by Lomo Sardine can camera with expired B&W film.
In June of 1889 the budding young writer at age 23 visited Vancouver for the first time, the following is taken from a passage in From Sea to Sea:
“A great sleepiness lies on Vancouver as compared with an American town: men don’t fly up and down the street telling lies, and the spittoons in the delightfully comfortable hotel are unused; the baths are free and their doors are unlocked. You do not have to dig up the hotel clerk when you want to bathe, which shows the inferiority of Vancouver. An American bade me notice the absence of bustle, and was alarmed when in a loud and audible voice I thanked God for it …
“Except for certain currents which are not much mentioned, but which make the entrance rather unpleasant for sailing-boats, Vancouver possesses an almost perfect harbor. The town is built all round and about the harbor, and young as it is, its streets are better than those of western America. Moreover, the old flag waves over some of the buildings, and this is cheering to the soul. The place is full of Englishmen who speak the English tongue correctly and with clearness, avoiding more blasphemy than is necessary, and taking a respectable length of time to getting outside their drinks.
“These advantages and others that I have heard about, such as the construction of elaborate workshops and the like by the Canadian Pacific in the near future, moved me to invest in real estate.” 1
I am headed to NYC next month for a biz-ness trip (staying a fancy mid-town hotel shockingly enough) and my amigo out there pointed me to the private stash of all bars boasting a history of runaway slaves, literary heroes, illicit alcohol and haunting poltergeists. I am totally going.
The bar is up for sale (3.75 million USD in case you are wondering) and the place doesn’t necessarily have a name. ‘Chumley’s‘ or ’86 Bedford’ seem to be the parlance of choice.
Anyhow, here is a snippet from the article 86 Bedford Street in NY Resident magazine by Rachel B. Doyle filling in the pieces of the stories,
Despite the building going on the block, Chumley’s isn’t going anywhere since its lease isn’t up until 2085. Touted as “the oldest speakeasy in the country to retain its original ambiance,” Chumley’s has been around since 1926 —when it was purchased by Leland Stanford Chumley, who remodeled the front of the former blacksmith’s shop with innocuous garage-like doors.
Behind this obscure facade, lay the favorite illicit watering hole of literary luminaries such as F. Scott Fitzgerald, William Faulkner, Jack Kerouac, Norman Mailer, AnaïsNin, Simone de Beauvoir and J.D. Salinger (before he became a recluse). The original incarnation contained kitchen entrances disguised as bookshelves, two trapdoors to conceal spirits, and a trick staircase designed to foil the police.
“It’s supposed to give the illusion that we’re in a basement, when in reality we’re on street level. It allowed the bartenders some time to clear away alcohol during Prohibition,” said John Lefebvre, a waiter at Chumley’s.
The entrance remains the same as it was in the ‘20s: unmarked and only accessible by a clandestine rear passageway leading from Barrow Street. And Chumley’s will likely never have a sign, as landmark designation restricts anything having to do with physical changes.
A little known fact about 86 Bedford St. is that its seditious reputation actually precedes Prohibition. According to legend, the building was also a refuge for runaway slaves – due in part to it’s proximity to Gay Street, which had a large pre-Civil War era free black community.
“In the floor of the bar there is a trapdoor that lifts up. These same tunnels that may have been used to transport slaves were later used to transport the alcohol into the restaurant during Prohibition,” said Lefebvre, who also just completed a documentary about Chumley’s. “I’m looking right at it.”
While some reviews speak disparagingly about the Chumley’smicro brews (flat and lifeless) and the meat heads (read fratboys) who have found the enclave (to high five in) while others mention the proximity to a firehall which suffered major casualties during the WTC incident or the discussion if this is where the term “getting 86’ed” originated and yet one more talks about the dog patrons – (geez i though it was just Oly’sEastside Club which allowed dogs) – in a post What’s up with the dogs at Chumley’s?