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Bob Simmons on Timothy Leary and the Raid on Millbrook

Screen shot 2012-02-18 at 11.36.42 AM

The only time I really ever wrote anything for EVO was when Walter Bowart, high on something, called me up and said, “Bob, you are the only straight-looking guy we have around the office. We have to do something for Leary. He just got busted up in Millbrook.” Hmm. So Walter and I cooked up this scheme. I would call up the sheriff of Dutchess County, one Lawrence Quinlan, and I would put on my regular work suit and drive up to Poughkeepsie to interview him.

Of course we knew that the sheriff wasn’t interested in talking to anyone from a hippie rag like EVO. So what did I do?  I called up the sheriff and told him my name was Bob Simmons, a stringer for Look magazine, and that my editor asked me if there was a chance I could come and do a short interview for the magazine about the arrest of Dr. Leary. You would think God had called for an audition. “Certainly,” came the reply. “Sheriff Quinlan would be happy to talk with you.”

So, there on a weekend in the spring of 1966, Walter Bowart, Timothy Leary, and Bob Simmons crammed into my Karmann Ghia VW and buzzed up to Poughkeepsie to the headquarters of the Castalia FoundationRead more…

Bob Simmons on Bill Beckman and EVO’s Own Touch of Evil

Screen shot 2012-02-10 at 8.17.25 PM Detail from an illustration by Bill Beckman.

I came to EVO in late 1965. I think the paper was about three issues old. Walter Bowart had quit his job as a bartender at the Dom on St. Marks Place (Ed Sanders says it was Stanley’s, maybe it was both) and had raised some money to publish what he was soon to become fond of calling “a hippie National Inquirer.” (“Hippies don’t like to read. They like pictures and big headlines.”) I had just come to New York City from Texas. At the time I wasn’t sure if I wanted to make it uptown or downtown. All that was certain was that I needed to get some kind of employment.

I was living in the basement of Bill and Debbie Beckman’s apartment on East Ninth Street between Avenues C and D. At the time, this was decidedly a sketchy neighborhood, populated by young Puerto Rican street entrepreneurs who would have duels with ripped-off car antennae, whipping each other viciously over turf or girlfriends or whatever. The old mittel Europeans, Ukrainians, and refugees who lived in the ratty tenements would scurry to get out of their way as they crossed Houston to get a knish. It would have been maybe December of 1965 when I arrived. It was shaping up as a very cold winter, with an incredible blizzard that happened just a few weeks after my arrival. Being a naive Texan, I had innocently driven my car and tried to keep it on the streets. I lost it for almost 10 days under the snow. It was all very new to me. Snow. Hippies. The East Village Other. Read more…

Suze Rotolo and Edie Sedgwick, Slum Goddesses


In its early issues, The East Village Other began featuring a “Slum Goddess,” a title that was taken from a Fugs song:

When I see her coming down the street,
I’m as happy as I can be,
My beautiful Slum Goddess from Avenue D.

Among the first to be featured was Suze Rotolo, the artist who had been Bob Dylan’s girlfriend. In her memoir, “Freewheelin’ Time: A Memoir of Greenwich Village in the Sixties,” Ms. Rotolo, who died a year ago, of cancer at age 67, tells of the time Walter Bredel photographed her for the feature.

A few weeks later a reporter from the East Village Other, a new local biweekly claiming to be hipper than the Village Voice, asked me to be part of a feature the paper was starting up called “Slum Goddess,” inspired by a song by the Fugs, “Slum Goddess of the Lower East Side.” The feature would be the counterculture’s answer to the Miss America aesthetic of overly made-up and girdled women with beehive hairdos. I thought it was a fine idea and said yes. I was to be the Slum Goddess for December 1965. Read more…