Five Spot Café   Leave a comment

The Thomas Trail: every contact leaves traces

 

 

 

Five Spot Café

In 1956 Joe and Iggy Termini re-launched their No. 5 Bar, on the Bowery between Fourth and Fifth Streets, as the Five Spot Café.

 

Five Spot Cafe 5 Cooper Square_2

Five Spot Cafe 5 Cooper Square

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The Thomas Pynchon Connection

Pynchon’s first novel V (1961) includes a minor character named McClintic Sphere. Pynchon introduces him in a remarkable section (page 47 in my Bantam edition) with a whole series of links, allusions, echoes, and satirical reflections of the late 1950’s and Ornette Coleman’s legendary Five Spot appearance in Greenwich Village.

The section starts with several of the New York cast arriving at a Greenwich Village nightclub called the V-Note:

  • V for the title of the novel and an elusive woman, object of a novel-long search by one of the characters.
  • V as in the Roman Numeral for Five = Five Spot. This famous club featured Thelonious Monk and John Coltrane (1957) in a legendary engagement; it was the nightclub where Ornette Coleman first opened in November 1959 (and where he played a number of times over the following years)
  • V-Note. The Note = Half Note. Another Greenwich Village club, and another venue at which Coleman played during the period

McClintic Sphere is playing onstage when the group enters. Sphere is Thelonious Monk’s middle name (Monk was a frequent performer in the village at the time and as noted is closely associated with the Five Spot). McClintic may be an echo of Coleman’s unusual first name. (The only jazz musician with a somewhat similar first name would be Kenny Dorham, whose given first name was McKinley. He performed regularly in New York during that period and may be associated with groups that played the Five Spot).

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Posted April 6, 2015 by Nadar in Thomas Pynchon

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