Monday, July 03, 2006

How do you start a commune?

I had no idea, really. Just a few notions from seeing
Easy Rider three times. So, I needed to find a location, a concrete place where I could imagine this commune into being. I told a few friends including those kindred souls I met along the way through my bookstore at Broadway and 72nd Street on Manhattan's West Side. All kinds of interesting people (John Lennon and Yoko, Joseph Heller, Issac Asimov and a lot of lesser known authors, actors and artists) lived in that neighborhood in 1971 when we arrived with our eclectic and homey bookstore. Many of them found their way to our doorstep. Among them was Virginia, a Jewish girl from Greenwich Village. Her father was a successful art dealer, and she dripped of old world culture. At the same time, Virginia was an avid explorer of the New Age revolution.

I have always loved Greenwich Village but was still a little green and underage when I first roamed it's streets in 1959. Virginia took me to Chumley's (the speak-easy on Bedford Street), with it's secret entrance and other fanciful places. One night, in her apartment on Washington Square, she told me of an orgy she had attended in a house in Brooklyn. Her story emphasized this magnificent old house, where she witnessed a light show in a large room on the third floor. She said the room had a full-sized orange parachute covering the ceiling and was down the hall from a bathroom featuring a claw-footed tub from where she was "attended" under a mylar ceiling and flashing lights. She also told me this house might be available to rent.

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