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This past weekend I made a quick trip to LA. Ever the minimalist traveler, I ditched the suitcase and brought along only a backpack and a canvas tote. I seriously debated bringing one or two books, but then thought: eBook it.
I ended up so busy in LA that it was a good thing I didn't lug around books. Though I love physical books, I have to admit sometimes eBooks really do the trick.
This weekend's read was Just Kids From Brooklyn to The Chelsea Hotel: A Life of Art and Friendship by Patti Smith. Rock singer, artist, and writer Smith (Horses, Easter) vividly recreates New York's burgeoning art, music, literature, and culture scene in the '60s and '70s--all the characters are there: William S. Burroughs, Gregory Corso, Andy Warhol, Bob Dylan, Lou Reed, Sam Shepard, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Allen Ginsburg, and more.
But it's artist Robert Mapplethorpe that Smith focuses on the most. In the following New York Public Library interview, Smith tells the humorous anecdote about first meeting Mapplethorpe:
As expected, Smith writes quite poetically; from the start, the writing is beautiful and draws the reader in. She captures the joys and despairs of her life with Mapplethorpe. It's very fascinating to watch their intense friendship evolve as the two develop artistically and slowly work their way into the now famous New York arts scene.
It's hard to imagine that time without Smith or Mapplethorpe; but throughout the book Smith keenly recalls the way it felt to be an awkward outsider with very limited resources. The main narrative ends when Smith's single "Because the Night" makes it to #13 on the Billboard chart.
Film Coming Soon?
Besides winning the National Book Award, the Christian Science Monitor reports that Just Kids is set for film adaptation. It'll be interesting to see which actors sign on to play Smith and Mapplethorpe.
Karen Choy likes the Patti Smith song "Redondo Beach."