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Ringolevio: A Life Played for Keeps
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Ringolevio: A Life Played for Keeps

4.11 of 5 stars 4.11  ·  rating details  ·  228 ratings  ·  39 reviews
Ringolevio is a classic American story of self-invention by one of the more mysterious and alluring figures to emerge in the 1960s. Emmett Grogan grew up on New York City’s mean streets, getting hooked on heroin before he was in his teens, kicking the habit and winning a scholarship to a swanky Manhattan private school, pursuing a highly profitable sideline as a Park Avenu ...more
Paperback, 512 pages
Published October 14th 2008 by NYRB Classics (first published January 1st 1972)
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An immensely faulty book--arrogant, hectoring, repetitive, self amused, not to mention fantastically sexist and homophobic with touches of serious racism--that still remains nonetheless somehow inspiring. Like so many memoirists of the 60s, Grogan is absolutely convinced he is right-- so much so that much of the book is given over to speeches he forces various leftist/radical groups to listen to about how they should do what they're doing. All of these speeches involve him showing up to a meetin ...more
This is the strange but true story of a working class Irish kid from NYC who eventually became one of the core founders of "The Diggers", a radical, anarchist, collective serving free food to people in Haight-Ashbury as well as providing free clothes, and some social services to folks during the Summer of Love. On the way to Haight Ashbury he works as a criminal in NYC, flees to Italy, lives there eventually studying film, goes to Ireland and works with the IRA, becomes a porn writer in London, ...more
Loved his story. An interesting book that is weirdly inspiring. Before you exit this review: hear me out. Although his lifestyle was quite flawed. (Drug addict, sexist, selfish) Emmett Grogan was unafraid of the cards life dealt him, he took it on the chin and was unafraid to fight for beliefs and do the things he wished to do.
I couldn't slog through the first 100 pages of egotisical self-mythologizing. I prefer Warhol's brand of self-promotion and ego marketing: at least it is honest lies. And I'd be honestly lying if I said I could finish this book.
A bit of a scumbag, a lousy lay, full of blarney, sometimes puerile and petty minded, after 400 pages I was fed up with this guy. Still, this was an interesting read.
I wrote this book. Signed, Emmett Grogan.
An amazing story. A really really amazing story. Emmett Grogan's account is nigh-on unbelievable but true though hyperbolic account of his rise from the streets of Brooklyn through heroin, high-class jewel thievery, the Mafia, Film school in Rome, the I.R.A., and finally the Haight-Ashbury underground during the mid and late sixties. Some parts of the story are pretty hard to take especially when sexism, racism, or homophobia raise their heads. However the stories of the Diggers in the Haight-As ...more
As is so often the case, my edition is not the one shown. I have a hardback published by Little, Brown and Company in 1972. For me, this is an extremely important 1st person history of little known aspects of North American underground radical history. Emmett Grogan was a major participant in founding the more recent version of the Diggers - who created free stores & free food programs. "Emmett Grogan", as a name, also eventually became a "collective identity" (aka: "multiple name") that pre ...more
Jerry Symons
This book has been with me all of my adult life. I love it and hope you do, too.
I read about as much of this as I could take, in the name of "research," and wanted to love it, but could never get involved enough to finish. This book represents much of what I hate about the Sixties: a kind of freewheeling self-indulgence that tries to pass for free-spirited. Ultimately, just plain boring. Grogan (a founder of the Diggers) is just one of those characters (like Neal Cassady) who lived a lot better than he wrote; and that's okay.
What I learned from this book: I learned about Haight-Asbury and the "love child" era. I was actually the right age, but in the wrong place;I yearned to know more. Years later, when I read this book I was glad I never made it to San Francisco. But this book talks about the humanitarian efforts of Paul Grogan in rescuing, feeding and saving all of the hippies who tripped their brains out. His group was called the Diggers. More later.
"'This book is true.' But it doesn't mean it all happened." In Ringolvio: A Life Played for Keeps, Emmett Grogan willed himself a hero. (An idea I find really refreshing). Nice memoirs of living in the Bay Area in the 1960s, as well as NYC, Italy; there are passages that took place literally down the street from my apartment. One of the best openings I have read in awhile.
Michelle Mason
Fascinating life and some of it very hard to believe. Though his faults are many the man accomplished much and had an impact. Amazing story of his early life and his times in SF during the 60's....almost gave it 4 stars and honestly found it hard to put down once I began....
Craig Meggy
What al life, Grogan is no choir boy and parts of this book are brutal and dated - another era after all.

Well written and no doubt exaggerated, total faction in short ruth morphed into drug fueled memory
Joe Fletcher
God I loved this book, just a wild tale of growing up in a time of turmoil. I read this just after reading On The Road and Electric Kool Aid Acid Trip and loved it just as much as those.
Fascinating account of the 60's in San Francisco and the Diggers. Anyone interested in learning about this period and its major actors on the far left should read this!
If social movements of the 60s and 70s are your thing, you'll enjoy this a lot. Mostly it is a cool look back at a time and a place that are lost except in our memories.
This book is hard to put down. I would have to say that some parts of it are not as believable as others, however if even half of it is true it's a he'll of a story
His self-righteous and self-mythologising tone grates a bit, but it's still an interesting take on the whole sixties counter culture blah, blah, blah...
Lies! Not complete lies, but lies nonetheless. While he may or may not have been the founder of the Diggers is irrelevant. It's a good yarn!
Like a lot of the other reviewers have said, I got burned out on all the self-aggrandizement. Emmett Grogan was a great dude though.
Matty B
BIG SHIT! This is how you should live your life. Even if you haven't already, better now than never. Except for the overdose.
Paul Wilner
Emmett Grogan...didn't mess around. Many stories about his life and the causes of his death, some of which may even be true.
Steven Hargreaves
Amazing story of a walk-the-walk underground character in the 60s and no holds barred account of flower power.
A fantastic book and autobiography. I can't believe that this man did all the things in the book.
Excellent. Mr Grogan a seminal player in all kinds of SF madness including the Diggers.
interesting for the historical info, and a good read, though infuriating in some ways.
May 05, 2009 Jeff rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Hipsters, Beats, Diggers and Criminals
Recommended to Jeff by: John Engle
This is the lost Beat masterpiece and the story of the original Digger.
Jan 21, 2012 Marisa marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biographies
He was the main force behind the Diggers of the 60's. A fascinating character.
Ann Klefstad
Reading this now, it's endearing as hell. Waiting to see how it comes out . . .
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NYRB Classics: Ringolevio: A Life Played for Keeps, by Emmett Grogan 1 5 Oct 30, 2013 12:08PM  
Fact or Fiction? 1 13 Jul 12, 2008 11:09AM  
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Emmett Grogan was a founder of the Diggers in the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco, California. The Diggers took their name from the English Diggers (1649-1650), a radical movement opposed to feudalism, the Church of England and the British Crown.

The San Francisco Diggers were a legendary group that evolved out of two radical traditions that thrived in the Bay Area in the mid-1960s: the bo
More about Emmett Grogan...
Final Score The Portable Sixties Reader

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