Rent a Beatnik | Margalit Fox | Conversations With Tyler

Rent a Beatnik | Margalit Fox | Conversations With Tyler


Tyler: What’s the most surprising thing you’ve
learned about an ordinary life writing one of these obituaries? Not a famous person. Margalit: Here’s one. I brought one with me. There was a very good photographer who worked
with the “Village Voice” for many years, a man named Fred McDarrah. He died in 2007. His work as a photographer for the Voice alone
would have been more than enough to get him a news obit in our pages, which it did. He took, for instance, a very famous photo
of Bob Dylan, a young Bob Dylan all in black, in Sheridan Square Park in New York, facing
the camera and saluting. That photo has been everywhere. That was taken by our guy, Fred McDarrah. Because of when he worked in the ’50s and
’60s, he was famous for documenting photographically the beat generation. To my surprise and delight, when I started
pulling old clippings and researching the obit, we found that not only did he document
the beat generation, but he enterprisingly started a business called “Rent-a-Beatnik”
for these society matrons who wanted to be au courant, wanted to have a Beatnik play
the bongos or read poetry at their fancy parties in Scarsdale, but didn’t quite know how to
go about it. Tyler: With rental markets and everything
I would say. Margalit: Exactly. The lead of our obit we say, “Fred W. McDarrah,
a self-described square, who was a longtime photographer for the Village Voice, documented
the unwashed exploits of the beat generation, and as an enterprising freelance talents agent,
rented out members of that generation, washed or unwashed, to wide-eyed suburban society
gatherings, died, etc., etc. That was great fun.

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