Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Village Interviews: John Dahl

February 25
7:30 p.m.
MNN, click on channel 67

Dear Friends,

This Wednesday (tomorrow), February 25th at 7:30 PM, on my every-other-week shoestring cable show Famousx2, on Channel 67, I am re-airing a half-hour program of an interview I did with John Dahl, Lower Eastside activist, black nationalist and progressive, in 1996.

John, who died of complications to a heart condition after working blocks away from the World Trade Center in the months after 9-11 in early 2002, was an activist and proprietor of the unique Someplace Nice on Saint Mark's Place from 1971-1981. This storefront space, renting for $100/ month in 1971, was the venue for many jazz artists who later became well known such as Oliver Lake, Dennis Charles and Billy Bang, but unlike the lofts of the time, Someplace Nice was also a real community center providing a space for free films for kids, art exhibits, lectures, parties and a free lunch program partly funded by the federal government.

Originally from Brooklyn, Dahl also lived in Philly and in Delaware and saw Bird at the Howard Theater in DC. Then, in the early 50s, he served in the military in France for three years. When he returned to NYC in the late 50s, he started coming to the Village, east and west and attended computer school when most people had no idea what one really was. When that didn't work out in the form of employment, he attended printing school and became a successful printer for nearly 20 years. With the money he earned from that, he was able to open Someplace Nice. However, his inspiration for it stemmed from his having met Al Haj Malik Al Shabazz, aka Malcolm X. This meeting and their subsequent encounters turned him around forever. He discusses their conversations in this interview.

John also discusses his love of Jazz and how he got his first job in the music business handing out flyers for the great Art D'Lugoff's Gate. He tells one of the funniest stories I have ever heard about Miles Davis and about having heard Thelonious Monk and others at the Five Spot. He also talks about how the Eastside hippies of the 60s made him become a more tolerant person.

Finally, he mourns what has happened to the East Village of the 90s, that it had become a police state.

If you are in Manhattan and have access to Time Warner, you can see it today at 7:30 pm (EST-that's NYC Eastern Standard Time) on channel 67. On the RCN system, that should be channel 85.

If you are outside of Manhattan, anywhere in the world, and you have a good high-speed connection on your computer, you can go to MNN and click on channel 67 to see it at the same time.

Sometimes MNN does screw up broadcasts, but usually they air things without too many problems.....Be patient.

Jason Howard

(Photo from: Malcolm X Jazz Fest)

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