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John Lennon Walking Tour

Al Rizo, the man who was my co-pilot on the 365 Bars blog, gave me an idea about doing a post of going to John Lennon places in New York, back when I was doing MAD. I already had the idea for this blog when he told me, so I told him it would be better suited for this blog, since I could do it in the afternoon, as well as evening. And today’s the day. Here we go off on a John Lennon walking tour of New York City. Can you imagine?

Here's the apartment that John and Yoko first moved into when they first moved here in 1971, 105 Bank Street in Greenwich Village. This is when he was at the most political phase of his life and his neighbors on the block included Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin.

321 W. 44th Street is where John Lennon recorded many tunes when it was the Record Plant. Now it's the office for the New York Observer. They wrote about me back in my pre-blogging days.

Smith's Bar is down at the end of the block and I've read that John Lennon would come in here for a burger and a beer during a break in recording. I only eat a burger on Saturdays, but I could stand to take a beer break, so let's go inside.

Smith's used to be a pretty rough dive bar, but it's been cleaned up just like the rest of Times Square.

John Lennon, this Bud's for you! And thanks to the New York Observer for the free paper from the lobby.

I'm heading to the Upper West Side and believe it or not, this guy is singing a John Lennon song in the subway. Well, actually it's a Beatles song, but one that Lennon wrote, "In My Life." This deserves a tip!

And when I go to throw a couple bucks in his case, look who's staring back at me! Crazy!

At first glance, this looks like a normal drug store, why would this be on a John Lennon Walking Tour, you wonder?

Because this photo is in the corner of the front window.

Along with this message and tribute to John Lennon.

Inside the pharmacy, there's a collage of some of the famous faces who have shopped and stopped in here.

In the center of it all, is a classic photo of John Lennon shot by photographer Bob Gruen.

This is the owner of the West Side Pharmacy, Dr. Said Saber. John Lennon lived a few blocks away at the Dakota and stopped in here frequently and the two of them became good friends. You can see Said talk about this below, in the "Further Reading and Viewing" section. Note the photo to the right of Said, it's him with another famous singer, James Taylor.

Here's Strawberry Fields in Central Park, an area in the park dedicated to John Lennon. Let me take you down...

Usually there's some yahoo massacring a Beatles and/or John Lennon tune in here, but there's not that many people here today, so thankfully it's yahoo free. Yahoo!

Here's the centerpiece in Strawberry Fields, a mosaic "Imagine" art piece. This guy is placing some flowers on it.

Adding the apple was a nice touch, especially if a homeless person wanders by. Free lunch!

As you walk out of Strawberry Fields, you can see the massive Dakota building, where John Lennon lived for his last seven years in New York City. This is also the building they shot the movie, Rosemary's Baby in.

Here's the front gates to the building...

And here's the spot where John Lennon was murdered by Mark David Chapman. Okay, this is getting a little depressing, time for a drink!

Malchy's is a great neighborhood bar that's been on the block forever. I came here on my 365 Bars tour and I think it's time to check it out again!

It's still the same. This is one of those joints that time never seems to touch!

I was hoping to see bartender/author, Dorian Yeager, who we met on the 365 bar crawl, but it turns out she only works weekends. I'll have to revisit this place for a Saturday Night Cheeseburger soon! Working the bar today was Anna and Billy, two fine and friendly people! I had heard that John Lennon used to stop in here occasionally and Billy said in addition to him, Ray Davies of the Kinks used to be a regular when he lived on this block and whenever he plays in town, he stops here afterwards. I'll have to come here next time he's in town!

Just like Rudy's, vintage lamps swing over and illuminate the bar in here.

There's photos and posters on the wall opposite the bar, hey, what's that...

It's the Fabulous Four on the wall! Okay, that seems to be the appropriate place to end this tour and settle in at the bar for a few beers.

And as I leave, night has fallen on the Upper West Side. I love it when that happens!

Further Reading and Viewing: CBS New York, New York Magazine and YouTube.

Up come a man with a guitar in his hand,
Singing, have a marijuana if you can,
His name was David Peel,
And we found that he was real.

Surprise link, click on it...I dare you!

Thanks to Al Rizo, for suggesting this idea, it was a ton of fun!

Al illustration by "Boris."

Bonus David Peel Photo!
Here’s a photo of David Peel, the longtime Lower East Side resident immortalized in John Lennon’s song, “New York City," flanked by Shawn Chittle and Yours Fooly from last summer. I was going out to Coney Island with my friend Shawn and Shawn saw him in the subway station at Coney Island. We met and snapped some photos of him. and with him. A very cool moment in time!

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Reader Comments (51)

This was BAD ASS. Great work Marty! KEEP ON ROCKIN!

MARTY RULES. AL CZERVIX is kind of a jerk ;)

February 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterReggie Thistleton

Probably the most anticipated story since I've been following 365, MAD, and now TWM. At least for me. I have been a huge Beatles fan since I can remember, huge Lennon fan and totally into this part of town. The picture of where the killing took place just blew me away. Took me right back. To see the picture of James Taylor with Mr. Saber also brought back the story Taylor shared about Mark Chapman, running into him on Dec 7th 1980 at the subway entrance on W 72 St. The guy was sweating and talking a bunch of crazy shit, Taylor took off, he lived in the building next door to Dakota. Going into Malachy's was the icing on the cake, a great old bar where Lennon would get his pint (whenever he could sneak away from Yoko). Thank you so much for this today.

February 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAl

@Reggie Thistleton: Thanks, glad you enjoyed the tour! But quit picking on Al Czervix!

@Al: Thank you for the idea to do this! It was a blast documenting it! I've never heard that story about James Taylor, really crazy stuff!

February 14, 2012 | Registered CommenterTripping With Marty

Malchy's is just the kind of place to lift someone up, and drinking a depressant to get out of feeling depressed is just one of life's little ways that tell you that two wrongs can make a right. Also, damn Marty, did you know that you have a ? Looks like it needs some cleaning up, but at least you're in the category of "Living People"! Also, Reggie... why the hate?!

February 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAl Czervik

So odd the "a href" tag didn't close and I double posted and I was made fun of. I get an F today on internet use.

February 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAl Czervik

Excellent post, even though I'm a Stones fan. As always, Marty you are a touch of class.

February 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDaveW

@Al Czervik: No worries, I fixed the double post and the link works! Yeah, I've seen the Wikipedia thingy, but thanks for asking. And I'm assuming you and Reggie know each other? I've just upgraded you're F grade to an A!

@DaveW: Thanks, I'm a Stones fan too and thanks for the nice words!

February 14, 2012 | Registered CommenterTripping With Marty

Next time Ray Davies is playing, remind me, cuz I want to join ya at Malachy's (and the show!). He's one of my still living heroes I've never seen play live. Thanks for the Lennon tribute. He will always be missed.

February 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSpike

Nice post, Marty

For most of my adult life I lived at 116 Perry Street. In 72 or 73, I saw Yoko on a bicycle; I waved and she smiled and waved back. I used to see Saw Abby and Jerry all the time. Also in the early 70’s I was having major hassle with The Columbia Record Club so I followed Abby’s advice from “Steal This Book”, and got a hold of a cinder block put it in a box and taped the "NO POSTAGE NECESSARY IF MAILED IN THE UNITED STATES" card on it, and sent it back to those Schmendricks.

Wow, they really did clean up Smiths!

OK two things that are weirding me out:
1. Last week I bought a speaker dock for my ipod so I can listen to music while I fish, without earphones. I put the ipod on shuffle and one of the songs was “New York City” and I wondered what ever happened to David Peel

2. I was in Rudy’s Bar and Grill watching football when I heard John had been shot.

I’m expecting Rod Serling to walk in at any second……

Que pasa, New York?
Que pasa, New York?

February 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMartin

@Spike: Let's plan on the Ray Davies night for sure! I think he usually plays here at least once a year, I'll keep my eyes open!

@Martin: One of my first celebrity sightings in New York was Yoko, I was just walking towards Strawberry Fields and she was walking out wearing those huge sunglasses and she was with another woman. That cinder block story is hilarious! Crazy coincidences and I was watching Twilight Zone shows on Netflix last night! Cue the Twilight theme music!

February 14, 2012 | Registered CommenterTripping With Marty

Loved the Lennon post Marty.Big Beatles fan.It's always nice to see Strawberry Fields.Specially without the yahoo!

February 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAlan Simpson

@ Marty and Martin

There is a fifth dimension, beyond that which is known to man. It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of man's fears and the summit of his knowledge. This is the dimension of imagination. It is an area which we call The Twilight Zone.

February 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRod Serling

Great post !

I love Malachy's ... I had a great time there last month with Dorian - and watching the Giants in the playoffs. One of the top 5 or 10 bars in the city !

February 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGENE

@Alan Simpson: Glad you enjoyed this yahoo-free post!

@Rod Serling: And all this time I thought the Fifth Dimension was a singing group! Thanks for clearing that up!

@GENE: Thanks! Malachy's is great and I'm glad you got to meet Dorian! One of the best and funniest bartenders in the city!

February 14, 2012 | Registered CommenterTripping With Marty

well golly gee
If Rod is here does that mean Willoughby is real?

this was an awesome post today.. you have outdone yourself!
i am having just as much fun reading the comments as the post itself..
and a little bird told me you had some awesome music to listen to this morning while you wrote....

February 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGidget

I love your walking tours, not just for the sights and imagined sounds (and smells) but for the people that you (and therefore, we) meet along the way! It's good to see that, while some things change, some remain the same. Looking forward to meeting Malachy's soon. And hooray for not witnessing yahoos in the park! Hey, motherfuckers! You can't sing!

February 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBiff

Oh it's very real....................

@ Willoughby & Son Funeral Home: You guys suck!

February 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGart Williams

@Gidget: Maybe Willoughby does exist, only Rod knows for sure! Glad you liked the post, I want to thank Al again for having the idea to do it! And I'm guessing that little birdy must've been flying near here.

@Biff: Glad you liked this and it's cool to meet the different people along the way! And you're right, those motherfuckers cannot sing!

February 14, 2012 | Registered CommenterTripping With Marty

Great Post Marty, Big fan of John Lennon. The Dakota & the fact that they filmed Rosemary's Baby there, got me thinking. How about a going on a Haunted places of New York or a haunted Pub crawl.

February 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDanny the Freelancer

This post is the biggest reason (so far) why Tripping was worth the wait! Great, Marty, thanks!

John used to take Sean to Tavern on the Green, too, but that's gone. There's a little Italian cafe John used to like up that way, too, I was there some years back but forget the name. No alcohol, though, as I remember, so you might want to skip that one...lol

February 14, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterdark1p

@Danny: Rosemary's Baby is one of my favorite movies! I don't know about the haunted thing, I'm scared of ghosts!

@dark1p: Thank you so much, really glad you liked this. I think that Italian cafe is closed, but, as you say, since it's alcohol free, I'll continue going to Malachy's!

February 14, 2012 | Registered CommenterTripping With Marty

Ozzy - "How?"

This video goes well with this post .......

February 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGENE

Marty, I always enjoy your trips, especially when you show me something new to me in New York City. But I have to admit, I do not know who this John Lennon character is or why you are following around in his footsteps. Is he a famous New Yorker? Why? What did he do?
Then again, I am so wrapped up in my Japanese Avant-Garde music, maybe it slipped by me.
Also I'm a woman.
Also I can't sing.
Also my Brazilian cousin married Tom Brady.

February 14, 2012 | Unregistered Commentercsp

@GENE: I've never seen or heard Ozzy's version of that JL song! Thanks for the linkage!

@csp: Ha! You need a Yoko excorsism quickly! I'll call Harry Nilsson...oh shit, he's dead.

February 14, 2012 | Registered CommenterTripping With Marty

In the 1970s I knew a girl who lived across the street from John Lennon when he lived on Bank St with Yoko Ono. The girl even had binoculars and tried to see him through the window. I was only up there to have sex with the girl but she was always at the window. I don’t know who I saw when she squealed, “That’s John!” Maybe it was but all I saw was some guy in blue jeans. I never really got into Beatlemania anyway, the girl’s sexual passion kind of faded after that. "Yeah, yeah, yeah!"

February 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMykola Mick Dementiuk

@Mykola: You could say she couldn't get enough of the Walrus.

February 14, 2012 | Unregistered Commentercsp

@TWM .... I thought I had posted that video on MAD before ? .... but I guess I didn't ! I love it. I like Ozzy - and I think it's a real cool video - and I think it's an awesome tribute to John Lennon .......

February 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGENE

You might have to call that nice Willoughby and his son...i'm dying here.. of laughter..
Gart i'll meet ya there.. oops too late you jumped too soon.

OK once i was sitting at the bus stop in SF
and the dude next to me looked real familiar.. when i realized who it was i kinded wanted to sit closer
yet at the same time i was kinda well eww yuck no he is bad juju..
specially since i was like out to there pregnant with Maia
he rode the bus with me a few more times..
each time i knew it was him.
he was actually a sweet old dude.
saw him on "Roseanne" after maia was born..
then he died
i felt like I lost a friend..

February 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGidget

@Mykola Mick Dementiuk: "Yeah, yeah, yeah!" Ha ha ha! Great story!

@GENE: I can't remember, maybe I was drunk when you first posted it! Either way, a great version of that song!

@Gidget: Holy shitballs! You sat next to Phil Leeds! He was in Rosemary's Baby and tons of TV shows! I love all the great stories that are popping up here! Thanks for writing and sharing that!

February 14, 2012 | Registered CommenterTripping With Marty

My neighborhood in SF was crawling with famous people.
the ballet studio 2 blocks down taught the big fat Chinese dude from big trouble in little china's daughter.
he was really nice
and sometimes I'd see that James Hong i think was his name around. He was the farting master in revenge of the nerds 2. and a million other films.
and the hot chick in Valley Girl had a flat on my block. She wasn't as nice as them.
I was in line at arby's once with Terri Nunn.. and she was shorter than me.. I didnt think that was possible.
and the best neighborhood neighbor was that chick from Clueless.
Worst neighbor though ...
nah not even gonna mention the comedian who steals his act from other local comedians..
ork sent him here for a reason.
but Phil Leeds was my fave.Never let him touch my preggie belly though.

February 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGidget

John Lennon and The Beatles, I recognize. But who is Paul McCartney

February 14, 2012 | Unregistered Commenteresquared

@Gidget: Wow, that's quite a list! And I think I can figure out that comedian, he's notorious for that! But you're right, Phil Leeds rules!

@esquared: Ha ha ha! Loved the linkage! Don't those fools know that he's Stella's father?

February 14, 2012 | Registered CommenterTripping With Marty

Nice one! Not a big Lennon fan, beyond the early Beatle years, when I was a little kid & would go with the family to Liverpool quite often. Liverpool is one of the very best cities. I am a huge Ray Davies fan though - let me know when he's in town.
You're hitting your stride again, Marty! Looking forward to checking in from England.

February 14, 2012 | Unregistered Commenteronemorefoldedsunset

"Oooooh Maaaaartie......BOO! Mouahahahahahaaaa!" - Ruth Gordon's Ghost, just outside the Dakota.

February 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJaws the Cabbie

@onemorefoldedsunset: Thanks! You'll definitely have to join Spike and I when Ray comes to town! I hope you're all set for your trip to England!

@Jaws: Aaaaahhhh! Ruth Gordon was the scariest thing in that whole movie!

February 14, 2012 | Registered CommenterTripping With Marty

Love it, of course! Tom and I got married on John's birthday and when we celebrated our first anniversary on the East coast we made sure to take a trip to the city and stop by the Imagine mosaic. Amazing how he still inspires today!

February 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBritta

@Britta: I knew you'd like this post! I didn't know you got married on his birthday, very cool!

February 14, 2012 | Registered CommenterTripping With Marty

yes yes great post...damn TWM is getting really trippy and taken on it's own life...i've led such a sheltered life 'bout the only thing i can add is i did shake hands with dick clark and lou christe (lou had only one face though) and i kicked around a ball with brother Bob...actually shared a few laughs w/ Capt. Beefhart...ah faded memories...

To keep the record straight, it wasn't always John and Yoko. We've all accused one another of various business things; we tend to be pretty paranoid by now, as you can imagine. There's a lot of money involved.
~Paul McCartney

February 14, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterraginrr

@rr: If you want to expand on the Dick Clark, Lou Christie and especially the Capt. Beefheart, we're all ears! The brother Bob goes over my head? Great Paul McCartney quote, as Bob Dylan once said, "Money doesn't talk, it swears!"

February 14, 2012 | Registered CommenterTripping With Marty

brother Bob Marley...


February 14, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterraginrr

@rr: Holy shitballs, you knew Bob Marley? If you care to expound on that, feel free, if not, I understand!

February 14, 2012 | Registered CommenterTripping With Marty

I love this! John Lennon's music is so much a part of my life- I love him SO much. And this is definitely a tour I am going to take next time I go to NYC,

February 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAnna

@Anna: So glad you enjoued the post! Glad you plan on taking the tour!

February 14, 2012 | Registered CommenterTripping With Marty

Totally-Super-Awesome! Thanks for the John Lennon tour!

February 15, 2012 | Unregistered Commentermeleah rebeccah

Keep on, keepin' on Marty. Great stuff and comments to boot. Thanks for the magical mystery tour.
I believe that the cafe was Cafe La Fortuna on W. 71st St which closed a few years back. The woman who ran it was into opera and the place was filled with photos. I asked her about the autographed Lennon photo and she told me that he used to come in for the occasional espresso. No booze, but good coffee and pastries.

February 15, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMarco

@Meleah: You're welcome! Glad you enjoyed it!

@Marco, Thanks, happy you liked the tour! You're right about the Cafe La Fortuna! I remember that place when I used to live on the Upper West Side! Thanks for the update!

February 15, 2012 | Registered CommenterTripping With Marty

Here's a link to Cafe La Fortuna's closing:

February 15, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMarco

@Marco: Thanks for that link, Lost City is a great blog, but I missed that post! Very cool!

February 15, 2012 | Registered CommenterTripping With Marty

what was the café Lennon used to visit near the Dakota?

December 2, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterstriderfarley

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