Noel Rockmore, Bukowski, Gypsy Lou Webb

d gray

tried to do his best but could not
Founding member
i was reading my yahoo art news page today and got to this article -

http://news.yahoo.com/noel-rockmore-picasso-orleans-revisited-122634844.html

interesting story and artwork, never heard of him (so i thought). searched him in
our city library database and the only thing that came up was bukowski's 'crucifix'
chapbook. then i remembered his name from that and also remembered not being
crazy about his stuff in relation to bukowski's work. found this site - http://www.rockmore.org/
and was really impressed with what i've had time to check out.

went to the 'project and auction updates' link and found this gypsy lou article -

http://archive.constantcontact.com/fs064/1101421417670/archive/1108314810001.html
 

Bukfan

"The law is wrong; I am right"
It says in the Gypsy Lou article:

"She told us a story about her early years in the Quarter when this skinny little guy approached her early one morning as she set up on Pirates Alley. He just wanted to talk to her and hear her complicated traveling life story but he did not buy anything. She told us, "His name was Robert Zimmerman but everyone knew him as Bob Dylan and he wrote a song about me." We smiled and nodded, because with Lou, you just never know what is real. I Googled Gypsy Lou - Bob Dylan after we left, 1963 Witmark records - it's as real as it gets!"

When I bought the album and saw the song title, "Gypsy Lou", I of course thought of Gypsy Lou Webb, but I also thought it was probably just a coincidence, but it now looks like it wasn't a coincidence after all. Of course, she could have made it up, for as it says in the article, "...with Lou, you just never know what is real".
Does anyone remember if Gypsy Lou ever mentioned her meeting with Dylan before now?
 
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Rekrab

Usually wrong.
Fascinating posts. Thanks. Now I gotta learn more about Rockmore, and hear that Dylan song.
 

Bukfan

"The law is wrong; I am right"
Nope, it's mainly about somebody named Gypsy Lou traveling the country. If it was about Gypsy Lou Webb, he probably would've mentioned her selling her paintings in Pirate's Alley, or at least have mentioned him meeting her in New Orleans.
 
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mjp

Founding member
The timing is not right for the song to be about Webb. When he recorded those Whitmark demos he hadn't been outside of New York much to speak of. Lou's story timing is off too. She says she met Dylan in her "early years" in New Orleans, which would have made him a baby, since he was born after they moved there.

For what it's worth.
 

Bukfan

"The law is wrong; I am right"
Right, Dylan would have been way too young to have met her during her "early years" in New Orleans.
It seems like old Lou has a streak of mythomania in her makeup. :)
 

1fsh2fsh

I think that I think too much
Founding member
At 96 I think that you can say anything that you like.. just because.
 
The timing is not right for the song to be about Webb. When he recorded those Whitmark demos he hadn't been outside of New York much to speak of. Lou's story timing is off too. She says she met Dylan in her "early years" in New Orleans, which would have made him a baby, since he was born after they moved there.

For what it's worth.

The TIMING is NOT off in the above quote since Lou and John Webb were in New Orleans in the early 60s which is when the Gypsy Lou song was released on Witmark (62-64). That would have put Dylan in his early 20s and he has two other New Orleans songs about the same time period (Rising Sun - New Orleans Rag). The real question, perhaps for a Dylan fanatic, would be did he visit NOLA in his early 20s?

As for the Buk fan that feels he would have referenced Pirate's Alley if he had met Lou, that seems a bit omniscient, knowing what Dylan would reference. Remember Lou & John had traveled all over like Gypsies before settling in NOLA and starting the Outsiders and Lou was working Pirate's alley about the time the meeting would have taken place. Her other memory is that he asked a lot of questions and then he did not buy anything - that makes sense.

Bukowski indicates he was very excited about the Rockmore artwork being included in Crucifix in a Deathhand in his letters at the Univ. of Arizona archive. He was not thrilled about Rockmore's looks, greased hair, tight jeans and artist swagger but he really liked the art. Once again, we must remember Bukowski had gone back to the post office and the Outsiders represented a HUGE break for him. So much that he left the Post Office (again) and travelled to NOLA where he met Lou & Jon & Rockmore in the mid 60s. Lou tells the story about meeting Bukpwski at the station and picking him up the first time sight unseen, "he was the drunk guy staggerring around the columns at the station."
 

bospress.net

www.bospress.net
Reading the lyrics, the only thing that seems to fit with Gypsy Lou (Webb) is the title of the song. Nothing else in the lyrics seems to hint at this Gypsy Lou being Gypsy Lou Webb. Try as I might, I cannot find any sliver of reference t0 the Gypsy Lou that I know except for the title.

That being said, Dylan had a connection to Loujon in a more round-about way that they published beats and he was friends with beats, so they certainly knew the same people in the early 1960s and Dylan very well could have owned copies of Outsider 1 and 2, where Gypsy Lou is pictured on the cover. When did Ginsberg meet Dylan? Was it in NYC? Maybe he met her and loved the name, so he wrote a song with that name, but that does not make the song about her.

Bill
 
Agreed Bill! My point is that the timing is possible and having listened to many Lou stories over the last 5 years, I am not going to dismiss this one because the timing is off when actually it is dead on. I actually had dismissed it when Lou first told it until I researched it later and found the title she claimed in the time period she claimed which to me meant it was at least possible.

On the Beat generation connections, Rockmore actually sketched Ginsberg and Ferlengetti from Life in NOLA around 1970. Rockmore was also close friends since childhood with David Amram who did the music for Pull My Daisy - Jack Kerouac - at the Cafe Figaro which Rockmore painted several times in 61-62. Rockmore did a beautiful Portrait of Henry Miller for the Chaos Lou Jon Publication that was not used due to a dispute with Larry Borenstein. Lou felt that going with Henry Miller over Bukowski was really the big mistake in their publishing career. Rockmore also documented Haight-Asbury in 1967 and seems to have been a casual outside documenter/collaborator with the Beat generation folks.
 

mjp

Founding member
the timing is [...] dead on.
How is that? You do know when her "early years" in New Orleans were, right? The 40s. Not the 60s.

The only reason I even commented on this is because I'm reading Suze Rotolo's book, and according to her account of, you know, living with Bob Dylan during those years, Lou's story just doesn't make sense.

The story also doesn't pass the bullshit test, since for it to be true she would have had to have remembered the names of everyone she ever spoke to on the street, not to mention the unquestionable fact that Dylan would have never referred to himself as Robert Zimmerman in those days. It just didn't happen. He kept details about his past and his real name under wraps, as he was busy creating a mythical character.

Anything is possible. But you're grasping at very thin straws here.
 

Bukfan

"The law is wrong; I am right"
Yes, anything is possible, but that does'nt make everything probable.
 
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Erik

If u don't know the poetry u don't know Bukowski
Founding member
Didn't Jon Webb "invent" a famous blurb for one of Buk's books?
I vaguely remember something like that. Bet Gybsy learned that trick from him.
My guess is Gypsy Lou couldn't resist...
Don't blame her!
 
Lou tells the story about meeting Bukowski at the station and picking him up the first time sight unseen, "he was the drunk guy staggerring around the columns at the station."

New to the forum.

Know this has nothing to do with placing Bob Dylan in Gypsy Lou's vicinity in NOLA, tho I found the recollection in the quote above very interesting. Are there other recollections/observations of Buk during his time with the Webbs, or between '56-'66/when he became more well-known? (That is, outside of published work in chapbooks, etc., which is, yes, voluminous. I know I'm opening myself up for criticism here for not allowing the work to speak for the man, but there is always room complement the myth with interesting observations by worthwhile, outside parties.)

No, I'm not only asking for drunk stories, though the quote above might seem to imply that. (I also don't discourage them, though.)

For me, this seems to be an under-documented time of his life and the Sounes biography plays a little too loose with it for me. As does the documentary, BIT. I've done a good amount of research, and I've read the great majority of Buk's stuff, but there's something missing here, even though it was such a rich (and/or fraught) time for Buk the person.

It seems to me that this is the most dense time in Bukowski's life. In this span (roughly), he loses father/mother, JANE, makes regular clerk at the PO, FrancEyE, Barbara, busts gut, has Marina, and publishes with the Webbs. And about another 100 significant things...

I might be missing an obvious source, but, if so, please pass it on. Otherwise, I'm pretty curious.

What was this time? Here he's experimenting with his writing like at no other time in his life, and is more productive than any other poet on earth. There are details and flashes of who this strange person was then, but only in small amounts. Does anyone else see this as a problem?

Anyway, I'll take any help I can. This post is long enough as is.
 

hank solo

Just practicin' steps and keepin' outta the fights
Moderator
Founding member
There are other (usually quite slim - in both size and interesting details) memoirs that may offer a thumbnail sketch of what Bukowki was like in the 60s. It's a long while since I read it, and from memory I can't be sure if it covers the time you're refering to, but take a look at 'Spinning Off Bukowski' by Steve Richmond. I'm sure I found it at least a little bit entertaining :wb:
 

mjp

Founding member
Are there other recollections/observations of Buk during his time with the Webbs...
There are some in Bohemian New Orleans: The Story of the Outsider and Loujon Press, which is a good read on its own. As hank solo said, Spinning Off Bukowski is also good, but take it with a grain of salt. It was written by the guy who says with a straight face that he witnessed Bukowski "make himself physically very small" when he was angry.

Pre-1960s, not so much. But he was unknown and didn't often associate with the kinds of people who write about their friends. Maybe a little more so when he was with Barbara Fry, but there again, nobody in that crowd really went on to any prominence, so their recollections of Bukowski are seldom heard.
 
I'm returning to New Orleans in April. If we don't have a photo of the Loujon Press house on Royal I will take one-assuming we have the house number and it still exists.
 

Pogue Mahone

Officials say drugs may have played a part
Gypsy Lou update from the Rockmore folks

First stop was to see 100 Year old Gypsy Lou Webb in Slidell at her retirement center. For 100 she was in great shape and she recognized us right away. We went through the Rockmore book showing Lou pictures of herself & Rockmore. She talked about how she was bed ridden now and had to stay in her room although she can walk to the bathroom which is pretty good at 100. The hardest part was leaving and with a tight hug/grip on us, Lou said, "You can't leave now, I'm just starting to remember who I am." Lou is still doing deadpan humor at 100.

26418fa3-3ac2-42e9-a25d-f80a7dd4eae7.jpg
 

Black Swan

Abord the Yorikke!
i was reading my yahoo art news page today and got to this article -

http://news.yahoo.com/noel-rockmore-picasso-orleans-revisited-122634844.html

interesting story and artwork, never heard of him (so i thought). searched him in
our city library database and the only thing that came up was bukowski's 'crucifix'
chapbook. then i remembered his name from that and also remembered not being
crazy about his stuff in relation to bukowski's work. found this site - http://www.rockmore.org/
and was really impressed with what i've had time to check out.

went to the 'project and auction updates' link and found this gypsy lou article -

http://archive.constantcontact.com/fs064/1101421417670/archive/1108314810001.html
What a great find. I'd love to see the one of Gypsy Lou! I had never read this before.
 

Pogue Mahone

Officials say drugs may have played a part
I have been reading some little whispers about a manuscript that was recently "discovered" about Bukowski's relationship with Rockmore. The description says it covers the two of them drinking in the French Quarter in the 1960s, and continues to the early 1970s. I find this suspect, especially when I heard it is 200 pages. There are no letters from Bukowski and Rockmore that I have seen. Teasers include Bukowski and Rockmore arguing beer vs. Vodka, Bukowski personally picking out the art, and Rockmore trying to influence Lou to consummate a relationship with Bukowski after Jon dies.

Sounds like fiction to me, but....
 

mjp

Founding member
Noel Rockmore Community - June 12, 2017

Exciting Rockmore Update - Bukowski, Rockmore & Lou Book!

A 200 page manuscript has been found on Bukowski & Rockmore experiences in the French Quarter in the late 60s & Early 70s and is in the “being submitted for publishing stage.” We can’t share a single detail so please don’t ask but we can share a few occasional excerpts that are fascinating like this one.

“Rockmore and Bukowski knew each other well enough--drinking buddies at Johnny White’s. Beer vs. Vodka conversations and they certainly discussed the nature of their respective universes. There was, just as surely, some rancor between them. Rockmore told me he did not think Bukowski was a major poet, despite Gypsy Lou’s enthusiasms. Rockmore knew other Beat Poets: he sketched Ginsburg and Ferlinghetti when they visited New Orleans in the early 70s.

While I haven’t heard of a sketch of Bukowski, there may be one out there. Oddly, Rockmore thought Bukowski “couldn’t make it in LA” and had to come to New Orleans for inspiration. If someone was inclined, that criticism could just as easily be leveled at Rockmore, given his frequent departures for New York to New Orleans. Neither observation is correct. I have read that Bukowski was excited about Rockmore’s contribution to Crucifix, and it’s likely Rockmore was friendly with him for the sake of Gypsy Lou. And it is therefore likely Rockmore’s final judgment on Bukowski rests on the tasteless poem he wrote of Gypsy after Jon’s death in 1971:

...the dead are dead, there’s nothing we can do about it,
Let’s go to bed…
Go to bed?
Yes, let’s hit the sack, let’s make it…”

We heard directly from Gypsy Lou that Rockmore pressed hard but unsuccessfully on “consummating” their relationship after Jon died but we never knew he made a poem about it. The B&W Photo images come from the Collection of LouJon Patron Edwin Blair via the Jeff Weddle book, “Bohemian New Orleans: The Story of the Outsider and LouJon Press.” If you don’t have this collectible book by Jeff Weddle, you should get it on Amazon!

We will tease you with more Rockmore excerpts as this brand new book gets closer to publication.
 

Bukfan

"The law is wrong; I am right"
A 200 page manuscript has been found on Bukowski & Rockmore experiences in the French Quarter in the late 60s & Early 70s...

It will be interesting to find out who wrote it and to see if it's not science fiction like Pogue Mahone suggests. I don't recall Bukowski being in New Orleans in the early 70's.
 
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