"Joe Gould was an odd and penniless and unemployable little man who came to the city in 1916 and ducked and dodged and held on as hard as he could for over thirty-five years. He was a member of one of the oldest families in New England ("The Goulds were the Goulds," he used to say, "when the Cabots and the Lowells were clamdiggers"), he was born and brought up in a town near Boston in which his father was a leading citizen, and he went to Harvard, as did his father and grandfather before him, but he claimed that until he arrived in New York City he had always felt out of place. "In my home town" he once wrote, "I never felt at home. I stuck out. Even in my own home, I never felt at home. In New York City, especially in Greenwich Village, down among the cranks and the misfits and the one-lungers and the has-beens and the might've-beens and the would-bes and the never-wills and the God-knows-whats, I have always felt at home."
First paragraph of the New Yorker Profile: "Joe Gould's Secret" by Joseph Mitchell, September 19, 1964.
Joseph Mitchell first profiled Joe Gould in the New Yorker article titled, "Professor Sea Gull" on December 12, 1942. When Mitchell met Gould, Gould was nicknamed Professor Sea Gull by Greenwich Village bartenders. He was eccentric, even for the beat period, and he claimed to be writing an "Oral History of the Contemporary World." In Mitchell's first profile, he quoted Gould as saying, Back home in Massachusetts I'd be called an old Yankee crank. Here I'm called a bohemian."
Mitchell ended up writing a book titled "Joe Gould's Secret" based on his two New Yorker profiles. It turns out that the "Oral History of the Contemporary World" never existed. The book was made into a movie in 2000.
ee cummings wrote a poem about Joe Gould.