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Chronicles: Death Shall Have No Dominion

White Horse Tavern“Once upon a time there was a tavern
Where we used to raise a glass or two
Remember how we laughed away the hours
And dreamed of all the great things we would do”
And so begins Gene Raskin’s song, “Those were the Days,” written in the early 1960s as a lament for the passing of the golden folk days of Dylan, Paxton, Ochs, and The Clancy Brothers & Tommy Makem. The tavern mentioned in the first line is the White Horse Tavern. Located on the on the corner of Hudson and W 11th St. in New York City, the unassuming White Horse Tavern is steeped in more legend and lore than the casually passing tourist is apt to ever comprehend.
Opening in 1880 as a bar primarily for longshoremen working at the nearby docks, the White Horse Tavern didn’t reach its peak of fame until the 1950s when the leaders of the Beat generation in New York decided to call it home. With the frequenting of Dylan Thomas, Norman Mailer, Hunter S. Thompson and Jack Kerouac (whom was thrown out several times), the bar soon became known as a literary center, a place where writers and artists gathered to exchange ideas and shots of whisky. The White Horse Tavern is also the spot where the idea for The Village Voice was first discussed, the offices of which soon moved a few blocks away and whose editors would come to the tavern to discuss story ideas.

The legend that in 1953, Dylan Thomas consumed 18 shots of whisky a the tavern that caused his death are only slightly exaggerated. Thomas did imbibe a large amount of whisky, he claimed 18 shots but the bar owner said it was not half that, then a few days later he did take seriously ill and die at St. Vincent’s hospital. His cause of death though was severe bronchitis, which unrelated to his serious drinking was in no doubt exacerbated by it. It is said that the ghost of Dylan Thomas can often be seen sitting at his favorite corner table before vanishing into thin air.
White Horse Tavern
567 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014-2460 – (212) 989-3956‎

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