Monday, September 10, 2007
Rainy Days and Writers
Its a rainy day here in New York and not a very nice one at that. Normally a little rain wouldn't stop me from going outside or at worst would drive me into the closest movie theatre (which i might do later). Rainy days in New York are like mirrors. If you are stressed out, it makes you very stressed out, and it shows. If you are happy, you enjoy walking around getting a little wet and notice how the colors of the skyline get crisper as the rain drives away the heavy air. As a guy who relies on my bicycle to get around the city, i prefer to travel without rain, but if it has to rain, so be it.
Today i didn't brave the very heavy humidity or the small but constant drizzle, and i decided to use the day to do some overdue writing on my book project. So why not use some of the day to reflect on all the great New York City writers. New York has given either home or inspiration to some of the most influential writers over the past few centuries.
As far back as Ben Franklin who called NYC home for a little while, writers have flocked to NY to get lost and then found in the chaos of NY.
Walt Whitman loved New York and especially Brooklyn. He used to write for the Brooklyn Eagle.
O'Henry used to drink at Pete's Tavern near Union Square.
Dylan Thomas drank himself to death at the White Horse Tavern in the west village...a bar that has hosted many other NYC writers such as Norman Mailer, James Baldwin and Hunter S. Thomson.
There are a host of modern TV comedy writers that have made sketch comedy relevant well past its time from inside the strange world of Saturday Night Live.
Henry Miller screwed his way through every dance hall, speak easy and rich patron's uptown abode...then wrote about it.
Edward Albee, and Mel Brooks lead the list of noteworthy NY city playwrights.
Don DeLillo and Frank McCourt have written great portraits of life in New York.
There are hundreds of others that should be on the list, but you get the point.
No other group however, except perhaps Whitman, has laid claim to mark their time in New York with the pen better that the Beat Poets. Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg and William S. Burroughs lead this list with pride. Joyce Glassman Johnson wrote about this scene years later.
And of course the man who the Beat writers claim to have been influenced by the most, Thomas Wolfe.
I want to explore some of these writers more in the coming months but for now, its on to my own New York book. Its a book about life as a bartender in the city. Its a book without a title so far, but the title should come last, don't you think?
People should read more.