Smith also writes evocatively of a New York City that really no longer exists. A place where penniless artists, writers and musicians could manage to survive (barely) amid the squalor and grittiness of the lower East Side or (if one was really talented and lucky) a legendarily bohemian place like the Chelsea Hotel, where Dylan Thomas, Thomas Wolfe, Arthur Miller, Jimi Hendrix, Leonard Cohen and Janis Joplin lived or hung out. Smith and Mapplethorpe were courting homelessness when she heard that it was sometimes possible to barter art for rent with the Chelsea's manager, Stanley Bard; unfortunately, Bard was uninterested in what Mapplethorpe and Smith had to offer. But Smith did have a steady job, something many of the famous Chelsea residents lacked. He rented them a tiny room for $55 a week (Smith earned $65 working at a bookstore). This was in 1969. Today, a room with a shared bath at the Chelsea will run you at least $200 a night.
Check out this podcast of Smith reading two terrific passages from Just Kids. The first describes walking to Times Square on Christmas Eve in '69 to view the famous Lennon/Ono billboard, "War is Over (If You Want It)...Happy Christmas, John and Yoko." The second is Smith's delightful account of her introduction to the poet Alan Ginsberg, who at the time was trying to pick her up...he had mistaken her for a "very pretty boy"
Justin Montez and Jonah Gevercer (CKM, 2011) both recommended to me the book What is the What by Dave Eggers in the wake of discussions/focus on recent developments in Sudan. Justin was kind enough to pass along a copy to me. I'm reading it now. Wow.
So, what are you reading? What have read? What do you recommend? Summer time is reading time.