Why this Blog Exists

To make the case for expanding the Park Slope Historic District

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Emmett Grogan: West Park Sloper

Readers with long memories may recall our earlier post about bank robber Willie Sutton, part of our occasional "Outlaws & Outsiders" series. We claim Sutton as a "West Park Sloper" because he lived in Dean Street between 3rd & 4th Avenues.

Actually the Sutton case came to our attention by way of yet another West Park Sloper, Emmett Grogan, who grew up on 4th Avenue in the "West Slope" and was an eyewitness to Sutton's capture, as recounted in Grogan's slightly fictionalized autobiobraphy Ringolevio: A Life Played For Keeps.

Grogan is perhaps best remembered these days as a founder of the San Francisco Diggers. As recounted by their website, the Diggers were an "anarchist guerilla street theater group that challenged the emerging Counterculture of the Sixties and whose actions and ideals inspired (and continue to inspire) a generation (of all ages) to create models of Free Association". The Diggers emerged in part from the famed San Francisco Mime Troupe, and reached an early apex during and after the "Summer of Love" by organizing free food and a free store ("It's free because it's yours!") in San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury community.

We are thus honored to welcome Emmett Grogan into the pantheon of Greater Park Slope Outlaws & Outsiders. We highly recommend his book Ringolevio to students of Brooklyn and of the 1960s.

It is said that Grogan originated the V-for-victory "peace sign" and the expression "Today is the first day of the rest of your life." Which is a true statement, if you think about it...

Digger poster

Emmett Grogan died in 1978 on the F train, en route to Coney Island, apparently of a heart condition exacerbated by heroin use. So, apparently, Emmett Grogan took his last subway ride through Park Slope.

Bob Dylan's 1978 album Street Legal is dedicated to Emmett Grogan, West Park Sloper:


Grogan's legacy resonates in Brooklyn's contemporary blogosphere. One of the authors/personae of the fascinating blog "Who Walk In Brooklyn" is named "Kenny Wisdom", the protagonist of Grogan's book Ringolevio.

3 comments:

Chicken Underwear said...

I picked up Ringolevio when I was in High School just because I liked the title. It was a fun ride

25 years later it was the book I chose to bring to jury duty.

Avram Marian - Gabriel ( Graham ) said...

Congratulation for you site!Beautiful!
Enter at Bob Dylan Official Blog for fans
http://bob-dylan-fanclub.blogspot.com/
and leave a link to your blog for sending people to this article.
Thanks!

Ed said...


EDLIS Café

http://www.edlis.org/cafe

Emmett Grogan discussed with Street Legal.

http://www.facebook.com/groups/edlis.cafe/permalink/452290961476108/?comment_id=452456501459554&offset=0&total_comments=10