Friday, January 29, 2010

NYC in the 1970s

Two new books have me a bit nostalgic about the New York City of the 1970s. I was a teenager in New York during 70s--and--although I acknowledge that the city is safer and cleaner now--it doesn't feel as vibrant to me.

CBGBs is shuttered: It's the place I first saw Patti Smith play. Just Kids--a tender look at her lifelong friendship with Robert Mapplethorpe--brings back memories about being broke and sometimes at a loss--but still feeling as if something great could happen at any moment and that poetry and literature could change the world.

I love the photos by Jon Naar in The Faith of Graffitti: Before high-tech, non-stick subway trains were born, Redbirds were moving art galleries. Do you remember checking to see if the paint was dry before you sat down and not being able to see out the window? You can see a few of those photos here--and read some of Norman Mailer's essay.
Why am I sentimental about a time when the city had high crime rates and dirty streets?

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