Dec 20 2016

You may have been to Bob's Bar at the Grand Lodge, named for Mike and Brian's dad. And now we have added another Bob into the mix - you can never have too many Bobs.

Below is the original artwork by Jonathan Case, accompanied by the excerpt from the freshly minted Nobel Prize-winner Bob Dylan's book Chronicles, now the name of one of the new guest rooms created as part of the renovation of the building's remarkable (and formerly unfinished) attic space.

Chronicles
By Bob Dylan

Not having a place of my own now was beginning to affect my super-supersensitive nature, so after being in town close to a year, I rented a third floor walk-up apartment at 161 West 4th Street at sixty dollars a month. It wasn't much, just two rooms above Bruno's spaghetti parlor, next door to the local record store and a furniture supply shop on the other side. The apartment had a tiny bedroom, more like a large closet, and a kitchenette, a living room with a fireplace and two windows that looked out over fire escapes and small courtyards. There was barely room enough for one person and the heat went off after dark and the place had to be heated by keeping both gas burners up full blast. It came empty. Quickly after moving in I built some furniture for the place. With some borrowed tools, I made a couple of tables, one which doubled as a desk. I also put together a cabinet and a bed frame. All the wood pieces had come from the store downstairs, and I fastened everything together with the accompanying hardware - galvanized nails, knockers and hinge plates, 3/8-inch square pieces of wrought iron, brass and copper, round headed wood screws. I didn't have to go far to get that stuff, it was all downstairs. I put it all together with hacksaws, cold chisels and screwdrivers - even made a couple of mirrors using an old technique I learned in a high school shop woodworking class using plates of glass, mercury and tin foil.

Besides playing music, I liked doing those kinds of things. I purchased a used TV, stuck it on top of one of the cabinets, bought a mattress and got a rug that I spread across the hardwood floor. I got a record player at Woolworth's and put it on one of the tables. The small room seemed immaculate to me and I felt that for the first time I had a place of my own.

Suze and I were spending more and more time together, and I began to broaden my horizons, see a lot of what her world was like, especially the Off-Broadway scene . . . a lot of LeRoi Jones's stuff, Dutchman, The Baptism. I also saw Gelber's junkie play, The Connection, the Living Theater's The Brig, and other remarkable plays. I went with her to where the artists and painters hung out, like Caffe Cino, Camino Gallery, Aegis Gallery. We went to see Comedia Del'Arte, a storefront on the Lower East Side that was built into a small theater with enormous puppets as big as people that jiggled and swung. I saw a couple of plays, one where a soldier, a prostitute, a judge, and a lawyer were all the same puppet. The puppets, because of their size and the small, confining space, were odd, unsettling and confronting . . . nothing like the funny wooden dummy, the tuxedoed Charlie McCarthy, the Edgar Bergen puppet who we all knew and loved so well. A new world of art was opening up my mind. Sometimes early in the day we'd go uptown to the city museums, see giant oil-painted canvases by artists like Velazquez, Goya, Delacroix, Rubens, El Greco. Also, twentieth-century stuff - Picasso, Braque, Kandinsky, Rouault, Bonnard.

Suze's favorite current modernist artist was Red Grooms, and he became mine, too. I loved the way everything he did crushed itself into some fragile world, the rickety clusters of parts all packed together and then, standing back, you could see the complex whole of it all. Grooms' stuff spoke volumes to me. He was the artist I checked out most often. Red's stuff was extravagant, his work cut like it was done by acid. All of his mediums - crayons, watercolor, gouache, sculpture or mixed media - collage tableaus - I liked the way he put the stuff together. It was bold, announced its presence in glaring details. There was a connection in Red's work to a lot of the folk songs I sang. It seemed to be on the same stage. What the folk songs were lyrically, Red's songs were visually - all the bums and cops, the lunatic bustle, the claustrophobic alleys - all the carnie vitality. Red was the Uncle Dave Macon of the art world. He incorporated every living thing into something and made it scream - everything side by side created equal - old tennis shoes, vending machines, alligators that crawled through sewers, dueling pistols, the Staten Island Ferry and Trinity Church, 42nd Street, profiles of sky-scrapers. Brahman bulls, cowgirls, rodeo queens and Mickey Mouse heads, castle turrets and Mrs. O'Leary's cow, creeps and greasers and weirdos and grinning, bejeweled nude models, faces with melancholy looks, blurs of sorrow - everything hilarious but not jokey. Familiar figures from history, too - Lincoln, Hugo, Baudelaire, Rembrandt - all done with graphic finesse, burned out as powerful as possible. I loved the way Grooms used laughter as a diabolical weapon. Subconsciously, I was wondering if it was possible to write songs like that.

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