New York Herald Tribune, December 12, 1965 – Bob picked himself up from the revolving turntable, staggered into an armchair, waved his above his head and sat down to watch the tube. On it, Soupy Sales was grinning from a mask of cream pie.
“Mmmmm“, said Dylan. “What a horrible, terrible, obnoxious way to make a living!”
Behind him, a double exposure of Elvis Presley fired two six guns into the room from a well silvered Andy Warhol canvas covered cellophane.
Photo credit: Jack Robinson/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
“I hate it…” Dylan said. “I’m going to cut a hole in its abdomen and put a water hose through it.” He got up and walked with cowboy bowlegs into the kitchen and asked someone to make him tea. The reflection of Soupy Sales still grinned from his gray-colored Shades.
It wasn’t Dylan’s pad; he borrowed from someone or other. On the floor, a mink rug played tablecloth for cups and saucers, ashes and the ash trays had been intended for. On a couch opposite Dylan’s armchair sat Robbie Robertson, whom Dylan refers to as “the only mathematical guitar genius I’ve ever run into who does not offend my intestinal nervousness with his rearguard sound.”
Robertson, who plays lead guitar in Dylan’s band, was strumming an autoharp. Several other people wandered about the room, some of them while sitting in their chairs.
“I want to hear that record again,” said Dylan, clattering back into the room on the high heels of his suede shoes with laces untied. The record was “Since I Lost My Baby” by The Temptations and Dylan had played it several times during the day.
“Do you think it’s as good as the Beethoven Quartets?” someone asked.
“I think it’s certainly as good as “Tracks of My Tears”,” Dylan answered.
The doorbell rang. It was Brian Jones of The Rolling Stones with a limousine waiting outside. Dylan wiped Soupy Sales’ face off the TV tube, Robbie Robertson wiped the autoharp off his lap and everybody split. Dylan was the last leave. He took the Temptations’ record off the turntable, hid it under his double breasted corduroy jacket and winked at a light bulb. His tea, unsipped, was left cool in its cup.
In the limousine, Charlie, the chauffeur, asked if the group was going downtown.
“I’m getting off at the next block,” said Dylan. “These other people’re going downtown,”
“Thank you sir,” said Charlie.
“No, we’re not going downtown,” said Milly, a friend of Brian’s.
“Shut up!” said Dylan, “shut up and quit making that racket or else you’ll be thrown in the fire inspectors… and they’re very hungry.”
“What?” yelled Milly. The car stopped at the corner and Milly, one way or another, was thrown out…
“Watch the fire inspectors!” yelled Brian.
“Nonsense,” said Dylan, “I’m just fooling. We really don’t have them over in America.” The limousine eventually stopped at a bar in the Eighth Avenue district. After everyone in the party had entered, a very muscular woman ran up and very surprisingly hugged Dylan.
“You’re not supposed to do that without an eyepatch!” he jolted. “Hug my friend there, Brian, he looks more like me!”
“You can write on the walls here,” said Dylan later at the table. “This is the only bar I know of where you can write on the walls and nobody calls you a poet.”
Sailors began wandering over towards the table and eventually everyone decided to leave.
“Where’s Harold the driver?” asked Bob Neuwirth, a third cousin of Bob Dylan’s.
“That’s not Harold,” said Dylan, “that’s Mr. Egg, and there but for fortune go you or I.”
“Ahhhhhhhhh,” said Bob Neuwirth.
“You must give me two points!” said Dylan. “And anyway, how do you know that his name ain’t Egg?”
“Where are we going?” said someone everybody called Hare-up.
“We’re going to the zoo.”
“You Americans must all be soft,” said Brian Jones. “Do you have any coyotes?”
A sailor leaped on the table, grinning at Brian, who snarled back. “l like your hair,” the sailor said.
“What about hair?” Dylan said.
“l thought we were going to the zoo,” said Bob Neuwirth.
“That’s what we need,” said Brian, “some coyotes.”
“Are you sure you mean coyotes?” said Dylan.
“Are you sure we’re going to the zoo?” said Brian Jones.
“Be yourself,” said Dylan.
Everybody walked towards the door with the sailor leaping off the table and following them.
“We’re not really going to the zoo, are we?” said a girl named Johanna, a mutual acquaintance of everybody.
“We’re not going anyplace,” said Bob Neuwirth.
Dylan leaned on Brian Jones and asked “Tell me, Brian, why is it that your lead singer does not have a little, pencil-thin moustache?”
Back in the limousine, someone directed the driver to an underground movie house on Lafayette Street. Later on, when questioned about it, Dylan said they were all blindfolded and taken there at gunpoint. On the stage inside, there was no movie, but instead a group of green painted musicians were presenting a spontaneous ritual which had taken them three months to prepare. Timothy Cain, a friend of Dylan’s, whom they had run into under the marquee, grabbed the seat next to Dylan.
“Can you smoke here?” he asked Dylan.
“Of course you can smoke here,” replied Dylan.
“Put out that cigarette!” said a long-haired flowery girl, who turned out to be an usherette. Timothy ignored her. The usherette left in a huff, returning moments later with a chubby man who wore a handle-bar moustache and slippers.
“Put out that cigarette!” the chubby man said.
“I’m not an art fanatic,” said Timothy,
“I’m a cigarette smoker. I like you,” said Dylan. “l wish we were both alive during Napoleon’s time.”
After several stops, which included a pinball arcade on 42nd Street, the backroom of a fortune teller in the Chelsea district, the Phonebooth, a discotheque, and St. Paul’s Cathedral the limousine wound up in front of a bar in Greenwich Village. Four people remained in the group, the others having been left behind by accident.
“Plenty more people inside,” said the chauffeur.
“Watch your tongue,” said Dylan.
The group got out to go inside the bar but it was already closed.
“Back to the pad,” said Dylan. There was a small number of people gathered around the mink rug when they returned. Dylan took the Temptations’ record out from beneath his double-breasted corduroy jacket and put it on the record player. Then he went into another room and closed the door.
There was a W.C. Fields movie on the TV set. Dylan walked into the kitchen to get a bandage. “I think Marlon Brando should play the life of W. C. Fields,” he mumbled. He fiddled around the in the kitchen. “l also think that Warren Beatty should play the life of Johnny Weissmuller.”
Wrapping the bandage round his finger, Dylan returned to his room, stopping to say, “As for me, I plan to play the life story of Victor Mature.”
“Is he serious?” said the mild-mannered, petite colored girl who was sitting cross-legged on the floor. She was immediately thrown out.
Postscript – I remembered reading this article 50 years ago but not exactly where. I was published in the New York Herald Tribune on December 12, 1965. Did my father get the Tribune at work and bring it home? Or was I in Easton, PA visiting my girlfriend Mary Jane at the time? Thanks to readers of Expecting Rain who knew and gave me the source.
This article originally appeared in the YORK HERALD TRIBUNE with a subheading “Photographic portfolio by Daniel Kramer.
The previous day, the had Herald Tribune had promised that its Sunday YORK MAGAZINE would “devote 11 full pages to the amazing Bob Dylan.”
After describing Dylan as “the personification anger and loneliness” they went on to that “this phenomenon is examined in depth in Sundays New York Magazine. Dylan’s talent is interpreted by critic William Bender. Plus a folio of photographs of the hero on a long night’s prowl around the city, with a commentary mostly in Dylan’s words. Plus a cover portrait.”
Quoted from “Every Polluting Mind” the utterances of Bob Dylan, edited by Artur Jorosinski. Google it. It’s posted as both HTML and a PDF file.
By Stephen Pate, NJN Network