Wednesday, May 1, 2013

The Sling Diaries: Inspiration, Part II, the images

This is the second of two postings on the Sling Diaries theme of inspiration.  Click here for the first posting, which immediately precedes this one. 

The Village Vanguard opened its doors at 178 7th Ave in 1935.  It began by hosting poetry readings and folk music, but by the late 1950s, it was largely dedicated to jazz.  The Vanguard booked the brightest lights of bebop, launching the career of Thelonius Monk, among others.  It was a center of the Beat/bebop artistic communities from the late 1950s through the 1960s.  By the time I made it to NYC, the Vanguard had gotten expensive; I whiled away my time at Smalls around the corner instead, listening to bebop and pouring lemonade.

Greenwich Village has been historically known as an artists' haven and bohemian enclave.  Beginning in the late 19th century, the neighborhood has always attracted artists of all stripes, and it has been a center for many artistic and cultural movements.  I spent much of the summer of 1995, when I was 17, wandering the crooked streets of the Village late at night, sitting on stoops with my girlfriends, smoking surreptitious cigarettes, and waiting for the jazz boys to be done with their gigs...

Ben Bass opened the Strand Bookstore in 1927, and moved it to its current location on Broadway at 12th St in 1957.  My father worked there in the 1960s when Ben was still the boss, and I worked there in the summer of 1995, under Ben's son Bill.

The first labor march in NYC happened in Washington Square Park in 1834, and it hasn't been quiet since.  It was a gathering place for bohemians and folk musicians in the 1950s and 1960s.  Diane DiPrima (and many others) used to sleep there.  The famous 1961 headline "3000 BEATNIKS RIOT IN VILLAGE" referred to a scuffle that broke out between folk musicians and police there.  Dave Von Ronk writes: "That Washington Square Sunday afternoon scene was a catalyst for my whole generation."

The Cafe Reggio has been at 119 MacDougal St since 1927.  (The menu says that it is the first cafe in the country to serve cappuccino.)  It is one of the last standing of the old Village cafes, and has seen more than its share of history.  You should go some time.  Have a Viennese coffee and a pastry.  Enjoy being where you are.

I am wearing the Sakura Bloom Simple Silk Sling in Midnight.  Click here for information on the clothing and styling in these photographs.

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