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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…