|BEHIND THE GREEN DOOR|
|STORY BY DAVID McBRIDE
PHOTOGRAPHY BY DAVID McBRIDE AND CHRIS POH
|I don’t have the memory of my childhood that I wish I
had. My wife can remember every small detail, her 2nd grade
teacher’s name, what she got for Christmas when she was seven, and so
on. That’s not me. But December 8, 1980 is a date that will
never leave me. That’s the day John Lennon was killed outside his
home in Manhattan.
I will never forget, even as a child, how much his death crushed my mother and her sister. They were crying for someone they never met, but it was tears of pain and love. Why were they so moved by this man’s murder? I knew who he was, but I never really understood what he meant. From that moment on my curiosity for John Lennon took over. A reverence soon grew and it remains today. He is a major reason why I became a musician, and 27 years later, even in adulthood, I look to his music and words as a source of inspiration or comfort.
So when someone told me the EAR INN in Manhattan’s SoHo was once a favorite hangout of my hero, I had to go there. I had to sit at the bar he sat and walk on the floor he once stood. I can’t say I expected to have some epiphany or even experience some insight into Lennon’s motivations. I just had to say I was there.
I’m not sure what I expected to find when I reached this place. My mind was more focused on seeing what it is Lennon would have liked. I thought of all the times I saw him with a drink. I’ve never seen a beer in his hands, so this must not be a shot and beer joint. Was it a typical upscale Manhattan martini bar? Is this the type of place you needed to dress well to get in? Some place where the bouncer only lets the “in” folks through the door?
But like nearly everything in New York, the EAR INN was full of surprises. When you see the pub from a block away, you can tell this is an unusually old building for this part of town. From the plaque outside, you are told this building is called the James Brown House and that it was built in 1817. It also sits on what once was the Hudson River shore, another fact marked outside, but the river is now a couple of blocks away. Surprisingly in almost 200 years neither the river nor the city’s development seems to have scarred it in the least.
James Brown was supposedly an African-American Revolutionary War veteran and an aide to George Washington. According to legend, he is he pictured on the famous Emanuel Leutze painting of the Delaware River crossing, but no one can say for sure. How this man’s house, a man who has all but slipped out of the history books, has survived nearly centuries of development in Manhattan is a wonder
WASHINGTON CROSSING THE DELAWARE BY EMANUEL LEUTZ
When I walked in every expectation was crumpled up and thrown onto Spring Street. It is neither the chic
The plaque outside was perhaps the only thing that made us feel we were in some historic landmark. From the bar, it is simply a bar. It is totally devoid of anything resembling cliché and looks nothing like a museum or re-creation. But it seems to represent its history as a speakeasy and dockside retreat by keeping that same feeling alive. The ceilings are low and the light is dim. It is the perfect place for someone like Lennon to sink out of the spotlight and blend in with a crowd that probably has more to think about than him
PLAQUE MARKING THE HUDSON'S FILLED-INBelieve it or not, I never actually verified if this was indeed a favorite hangout of John Lennon. The place was so unassuming and haunting that it didn’t seem to matter anymore. The EAR INN has a character all its own. It doesn’t need to stand on the backs of those who loved it to make others love it as well, and it doesn’t need to advertise its sorted history to get anyone’s attention. Its own blend of history, ambience and uniquely
SHORELINE WHERE THE EAR NOW STANDS
THE EAR INN
THE BAR AT THE EAR INN
HISTORY ABOUNDS IN THIS BAR ROOM AS DO RUMORS OF GHOSTS
ANCIENT BOTTLES DUG UP DURING A BASEMENT EXCAVATION
326 SPRING STREET
NEW YORK, NEW YORK 10013