New York's 9 Bleecker building, known since 2007 as the Yippie Museum Café, has been foreclosed. As of today, this venerable landmark of the counterculture has shut its doors, and the Yippies are being thrown out.
On Jan. 9, Yippie leader Dana Beal’s birthday, State Supreme Court Justice Jeffery Oing gave the Yippies until Jan. 17 to move everything out of the East Village building. Decades long resident of the building Beal, currently serving time for marijuana trafficking in Nebraska, will not have a home to return to when he's released from prison next month. Judge Oing denied the receivers the right to auction off Beal’s belongings, calling the action “crass.”
The history of this building goes back decades, to 1967 when it was a simple counterculture speakeasy. Long the home of left-wing activities, "Number 9" was the base of operations for marijuana rallies and protests, primarily the Smoke-In which originally took place in Washington Square Park and evolved into the Global Marijuana March. Beal's organization, Cures Not Wars, ran the events that also included Rock Against Racism concerts.
The term "Yippie" was coined by Paul Krassner. YIP stands for Youth International Party, founded by Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin and numerous other '60s radicals.
Publications such as Yipster Times and Overthrow grew out of the three-story building. "Yipster Times and High Times were conceived at the same moment,” says recent owner Michael McKenna. “One was going to be the political side, and one the pot side. Then, when High Times grew in popularity, they asked the Yipster Times to change its name because they felt there would be confusion. That was the point where High Times said, OK, we’re getting really popular, could you change your name? So they agreed to that, changing their name to Overthrow.”
Several years ago, the first floor of 9 Bleecker was converted into the Museum Café. Gone was the pissy smell and some of the history. Bands played shows and groups held meetings there. Food and drinks were available. However, mortgage payments were not made and the legal wrangling for the building began.
A prominent and outspoken advocate for legalization of both medical and recreational use, Beal ran his own buyers club in New York, which was where the marijuana he’s currently serving time for was heading. While the often garrulous Beal does not always get along with other activists, he's undeniably one of the foremost proponents for ending the War on Pot and Other Drugs. He's also a leading proponent for treating addicts with ibogaine.
The closing of 9 Bleecker is an outrage. It's sad day for New York City, the end of a real, hardcore, rebellious period in the Rotten Apple. The gentry have won yet another battle, despite the best efforts of the building's attorney Noah Potter, who fought tirelessly to keep it in the hands of the counterculture.
Where will the next force of resistance arise in this increasingly boxy and plastic city? Where are all the fighters for personal freedom, liberty and rebellion today? They’re out there, they must be, but for now, Number 9 is no longer in the vanguard. Soon it will be yet another trendy restaurant or boutique, one more selling shitty, overpriced products. First, CBGB (which was right down the block), now 9 Bleecker. New York has lost a big part of its soul.