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Just Kids

I will forever remember the sticky summer of 2014 as the season I read Just Kids by Patti Smith. A vulnerably honest and painstaking account of New York’s transient art scene in the late sixties and early seventies. Great personalities touching and circling one another like atoms, charged electrons sparking, personalities fading, and the never-ending array of those who were “allowed” to sit at the main table at Max’s Kansas City. Artists, musicians, socialites, pornographic film stars, transvestites, all knights in Arthur’s proverbial round table. Throughout the memoirs, Smith casually runs into Dali, Joplin, Ginsburg, Corso, and a whole slew of indelible characters.

I mostly read the book with deep visceral aching, like a yearning to time-travel, or a wish to be born in someone else’s circumstances, or body. However romanticized and naive that might be, truly, I am jealous of Patti Smith. Waxing poetic on Genet, Baudelaire and her inspirations, it seems Bohemian ennui spans generations.

And yet, being truthful to myself, and to reality (that cunning thing), the streets were mean. The young children were dreaming in lofts with no heat, the gonorrhea infected souls in homes with no showers, no medicine, pee in tupperware on the floor, coffee of the instant variety. Without great luxuries, but embodying opulence. Her childhood somewhat picturesque, and yet also devastated by teen pregnancy leading to a secret adoption, and the end of formal schooling.

Flea-ridden artists describing their struggles, and not just the spoils of success, are hard to find. Robert Mapplethorpe and Smith, in their years of homelessness, pennilessness and struggle tried anything to succeed – writing; drawing; photography; jewelry design; theatre; performance poetry; installations, escorting.

I lived on 21st Street and 7th avenue for three years. In the exact footsteps of her journey, tiptoeing on the same pavement, and yet her ghosts didn’t whistle. I passed the Chelsea Hotel with not so much as a nod sometimes, in all its majestic beauty and history. Her NYC might be gone, but her beautiful love story (more about relationships as connections of human spirit) is an allegory that can occur anywhere.

And so, exactly as Patti would not want, here is a commercialized simulacra of her world – reducing her memories to things:
Patti Smith, Just Kids
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“Everything distracted me, but most of all myself.” ― Patti Smith, Just Kids

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Do the Hustle!

As cinephiles, my husband and I  run to the movies yearly, during award season, to try to see all the nominees. This year we’ve scoped Her, Wolf of Wall Street, American Hustle, and Gravity! We’re desperately trying to find empty hours in the day to view the others before the red carpet on Sunday, March 2, 2014.

Of the aforementioned movies, no screenplay, set design or costume design felt as complete at American Hustle. A heavy nod to Michael Wilkinson , costume designer and period piece extraordinaire! Thanks to him, no one was screaming, “Disco Sucks!” because we all wanted to wear glam-rock leotards, wire-rimmed glasses, three piece suits, wrap dresses, polyester trousers, rayon tube tops, knit vests, hot pants, tinted aviators and ultra wide lapels.

Inspired by Costume Design and Set Design of American Hustle featuring Christian Bale, Jennifer Lawrence, Amy Adams!

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Amy Adams’ completely embodied a seventies vixen in her plunging sequined Halston halter dresses to her Diane von Furstenberg wraps. Even the slightly pudgy Christian Bale was still dressed to the nines, and highly dateable, in his exaggerated mixed print leisure suits, ruffled shirts and burgundy velour blazers.

Not to be outdone, Judy Becker, the Production and Set Designer, created stellar work. “Everybody thinks of the ‘70s in New York as very dirty and graffiti-ridden, but I knew that our movie wasn’t that ‘70s,” said Becker. Including metallic wallpaper, a nod to brutalism and a gratuitous use of yellow, explore her world on set here.

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