Friday, January 21, 2011

Was 1963 The Best Year Ever In New York City?

by Dick Mac

The current issue of New York Magazine features the cover story The Greatest New York Ever.

The article asks many writers to share their thoughts about the greatest everything of New York City: musical, television show, building, film, song, etc., and the collection of short essays is a wonderful read.

As a nerdy reader of poetry, a museum goer, a foreign film aficionado, and a general pop gossip monger, I was particularly struck by this paragraph in the essay about 1963 being the best year ever in New York City:

A feeling that something new was happening burbled up from the gap between the Beats and the hippies. Bob Dylan played Town Hall, John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman recorded their studio album, Frank O’Hara had just written his great "Lana Turner Has Collapsed!" poem. Suzanne Farrell was dancing with George Balanchine's New York City Ballet. Andy Warhol was painting Marilyn Monroe, Jasper Johns showing at Castelli, Candy Darling and Holly Woodlawn finding their way to town. At the Art, the Paris, the Thalia, you could watch Resnais or Truffaut, or Jack Smith and Kenneth Anger at the Film-Makers' Cooperative. Grace Paley and Donald Barthelme were writing buddies in the West Village. The newspaper strike had given birth to The New York Review of Books. Even an inconvenience led to something good.
The Greatest Year: 1963. When we never knew what was about to end.

The list of names mentioned in that paragraph, and the thought of all those people and things happening at the same time in the same place, reminds me why I love New York so very much.

I recommend buying the magazine and enjoying every word of this cover story.

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