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The New Mayors of Old Macdougal Street

The Coen brothers channel 1961.

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Photographs by Mark Peterson


If not for the tangle of camera equipment, and a few smartphonewielding production assistants, anyone walking on East 9th Street near Avenue A on February 17 would have thought they’d stepped into a time warp. For a day the block was transformed into Macdougal Street circa 1961 and lined with era-appropriate Plymouths and bouffant hairdos, legendary hangouts the Kettle of Fish and Gaslight Café were restored to their former glory (or at least their façades were), and beatniks in vintage attire loitered on fakesnow-blasted sidewalks. The occasion? The filming of Inside Llewyn Davis, Joel and Ethan Coen’s upcoming Scott Rudin–produced movie about New York’s early-sixties folk-music revival, based loosely on The Mayor of Macdougal Street: A Memoir by songwriter (and early Bob Dylan mentor) Dave Van Ronk. The Coen brothers arrived at around 2 p.m. and shot until after midnight. The film stars Oscar Isaac, Justin Timberlake, and Carey Mulligan.


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