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Saturday, June 16, 2012

6-16-12 Survival Jobs for Writer-Musicians – Starter Job #126 (Starting Out Again. . .in the Big Apple with a new survival job at One U: And now, some history on our Grand High Poobah, Mickey Ruskin)


As interesting as were my co-workers at One U, the bosses were certainly megastars in the firmament of the NYC bar/restaurant scene, and their stock-in-trade was a hip clientele.

Most of this was no doubt on account of the legendary Mickey Ruskin, whose bio I will recount here with some help from the internet (and Wikipedia -- though there is no one entry for Mickey Ruskin per se, which is a crime, I tell ya!).

Originally a lawyer for a brief spell (attended Cornell Law School), Mickey Ruskin started his restaurant career in the early ‘60’s.  He opened The Tenth Street Coffeehouse in the Village, which featured nightly poetry readings.  Then on East Ninth Street, he opens Les Deux Magots.  That led to a bar called the Ninth Circle Steak House on West Tenth Street; it became a hangout for artists and musicians.  Then Mickey hits his stride in 1965 by opening a place called Max’s Kansas City, on Park Avenue South near 17th Street. 

Max’s became a hangout for the Andy Warhol Factory people, as well as a large following of The New York School sculptors and artists, poets, musicians, and celebrities -- including John Chamberlain, Robert Rauschenberg and Larry Rivers, whose presence attracted hip celebrities and the jet set.[1] Neil Williams, Larry Zox, Forrest (Frosty) Myers, Larry Poons, Brice Marden, Bob Neuwirth, Dan Christensen, Ronnie Landfield, Peter Reginato, Carl Andre, Dan Graham, Lawrence Weiner, Robert Smithson, Joseph Kosuth, Brigid Berlin, David R. Prentice, Roy Lichtenstein, Peter Forakis, Peter Young, Mark di Suvero, Larry Bell, Donald Judd, Dan Flavin, Richard Serra, Lee Lozano, Robert (Tex) Wray, Carlos Villa, Jack Whitten, Philip Glass, Max Neuhaus, Ray Johnson, Malcolm Morley, Marjorie Strider, Edward Avedisian, Carolee Schneemann, Dorothea Rockburne, David Budd, Norman Bluhm, Kenneth Showell, Tiger Morse, Colette Justine, Lenore Jaffee, William S. Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg, and Marisol were just a few of the artists seen regularly at Max's. Willem de Kooning, Barnett Newman, art critics Lucy Lippard, Robert Hughes, Clement Greenberg, and Harold Rosenberg, art dealers Leo Castelli. . . .

Before opening the bar/restaurant Chinese Chance (a.k.a. One U) roundabouts 1980, in the late seventies Ruskin own and ran a club on Chambers street long before Tribeca was at all hip, called The Lower Manhattan Ocean Club. Many cool, avant garde musicians performed there while other cool people played and drank: John Cale, Talking Heads, Patti Smith, Dwight Twilley -- even jazz legends like Lester Young and David Murray.  (The rock press enjoyed the ambiance too, of course -- Trixie A. Balm and her friends enjoyed frequenting the Ocean Club.) Many of those same luminaries followed, eventually, to One U -- Mickey’s last earthly watering hole. 

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