New York Post, 1963 August 7
Streetsinger 'Moondog' Moves to Living Theater
They've put a roof over Moondog, but they haven't charged him any. It would be hard to do.
The blind streetsinger, for years a familiar sight in cloak and beard on the sidewalks of Times Sq., has opened a midnight show at the Living Theater, Sixth Av. and 14th St. He shares tripartite billing with two other drastic individualists, free-associator Hugh Romney and falsettist Tiny Tim. Performances are Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, following the regular showing there of "The Brig." It's weird and wonderful.
Moondog is actually Louis Thomas Hardin, born 47 years ago in Marysville, Kan., and raised as the son of an Episcopal minister in the Indian country of Wyoming. It has been said, accurately, that he has the face of a Christ; also of Kahlil Gibran, with whom he has other affinities. It has also been said accurately that his brand of music is "completely unclassifiable."
It is pure percussion, with some accompaniment by a chiclet at the piano. He comes in, crouches at the stage floor, tunes up his sidewise drum, then suddenly launches forth in an amazing contrapuntal syncopation of drums, maracas, ebony stick, cymbal. The range is from "unclassifiable" to African/Oriental to Bach and Vivaldi.
But Moondog is also a poet. From time to time he rises to his full six feet to feel his way in Braille - no doubt unnecessarily except as a stage effect - through rhymed couplets of his own authorship. These range from interesting ("As mass production masses on the order of the mind/A treaty of surrender is conditionally signed") to awful ("The leaning tower leaned a little farther south and said/'I wouldn't be so famous if I had a level head'")
Their further function is wryly autibiographical. "My way of dress annoyed her and she shouted 'You're a scarecrow!'/'Maybe so,' I said, 'and maybe you're the crow I scare.'"
Pause for Contemplation
He insists on a 15-second pause between each couplet for audience contemplation. Then he plays more music. More poetry. More music. Then he's done.
Hugh Romney is a talented anti-Establishmentarian with Proustian powers of total recall. "There's a whole series of slides inside my head," he announces. "Anybody call out any word and open up one in my doors."
And they do and it does. Somebody in the audience says: "Dog." Well, dogs remind Romney of animals, and in the instant he plunges deep into a fantastic story - all the more fantastic because patently true - about a lascivious coati mundi (or raccoon) that once turned on the shower and flooded out Romney's tenement on E. 10th St. In the course of the epic Romney works in his Ukrainian landlord, the cops, Sessue Hayakawa, Dick Tracy ("Everybody knows Dick Tracy was an Aryan") and much else of our life and hard times. Like Lenny Bruce, like all serious clowns, Romney has a kind of religion, and it comes through. Like Bruce, he has a brilliant delivery. Otherwise he is not like Bruce.
Indescribable Tiny Tim
And Tiny Tim. Some people have seen every movie ever made. Tiny Tim has obviously heard every old Victor record ever cut, going back 40 years and more. In a manner which is indescribable, and hilarious, his voice and hips and wrist and banjo reproduce these records, from "By the Sycamore Tree" to "Just Leave it to Me," from "I didn't Raise My Boy to Be a Soldier" to "Little Man, You've Had a Busy Day." Tiny Tim is a coterie phenomenon, to be sure, but the coterie is fervent and rapidly spreading.