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Friday, September 29, 2023

Like he did in 1976 and then again in 1988, English professor emeritus Andrew Gordon will watch Bob Dylan take the stage on UF territory on Friday. But years before he witnessed Dylan rock The Gator Nation, he had a not-so-polite run-in with the folk legend in the Big Apple.

“It was an evening in the fall of 1964. I was on MacDougal Street in Greenwich Village in Manhattan, and I stepped into a bar next to a folk music club called the Kettle of Fish, strictly to use the men’s room. I was 19.

“... Inside it was dark, smokey, noisy and very crowded. I navigated through the joint to the rear, where there was a long table filled with people. Standing against the wall next to the table were two guys. One burly, bearded man leaning against the wall was the folk singer Dave Van Ronk. The other I didn’t recognize: a short, pale, skinny, hawk-nosed young guy in a plaid outfit ... He was very drunk ... [and] blocking the corridor to the restrooms.

“‘Excuse me,’ I said. ‘I’m trying to get through here.’ At the interruption, he turned sharply from Van Ronk and started to curse me, roundly and very loudly. I edged past him.

“... As I was standing at the urinal, I had an epiphany: That was Bob Dylan.

“I pondered what to say on the way out: ‘Hey, I love your music?’ Or: ‘I’m sorry, but you were very rude to me just now when I was trying to get to the men’s room?’ As I stepped out into the corridor, I caught a glimpse of the crowd. Everyone in the bar was busy with a drink and talking to one another, their backs to Dylan. They were playing it cool, doing the New York thing: studiously ignoring the fact there was a celebrity in the room.

“So I, too, did the New York thing. I walked out of the bar, and I said nothing.”

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