October 7, 2015
by Knox Bronson
October 7, 2015
Unlike “Just Kids,” Smith’s previous memoir, “M Train” is not a sustained narrative but a collection of short, loosely connected essays. Each piece shuttles backward and forward through time; she might start somewhere like the present day, but soon Smith is transported across years and continents, and off we go with her, like neophytes accompanying a seasoned pilgrim. “Just Kids” was an elegy for her great friend and former lover, the artist Robert Mapplethorpe, and the wanderings of “M Train” add up to an elegy, too, though a less overt one, for Smith’s late husband, Fred “Sonic” Smith, a guitarist with the rock band MC5, who died in 1994.
“Fred told me that if I promised to give him a child he would first take me anywhere in the world,” Smith writes early in the book, in the essay “Café ’Ino,” which begins at a now defunct café near the corner of Bedford Street and Sixth Avenue. To seal this fairytale-like bargain, the couple travelled to French Guiana, to collect stones from the former prison of Saint-Laurent-du-Maroni, where the poet Jean Genet, much to his anguish, had once failed to be incarcerated. The plan was to present these stones to the elderly Genet, through the intermediary of Burroughs. Inside the ruins of the prison, Smith picked three and placed them “in an oversized Gitanes matchbox, leaving the bits of earth clinging to them intact.”
Great review of this book in the New Yorker.
If you haven’t read Just Kids, her memoir of life with Robert Mapplethorpe and her early years in New York city, I highly recommend it. I love her. And her writing.
Warriors have an ulterior purpose for their acts which has nothing to do with personal gain. The average man acts only if there is a chance for profit. Warriors act not for profit, but for the spirit.
For the average man, the world is weird because if he’s not bored with it, he’s at odds with it. For a warrior, the world is weird because it is stupendous, awesome, mysterious, unfathomable. A warrior must assume responsibility for being here, in this marvelous world, in this marvelous time.
—Carlos Castenada, The Teachings of Don Juan
Section 43 by Country Joe and the Fish
This video features 60’s footage from Joshua Light Show, who provided the incredible lighting for Country Joe and the Fish, as well as all the other groups that performed at New York’s Fillmore East.
Kiddies, this is how it used to be.
The Fish used to play free concerts in Provo Park in Bezerkeley, across from City Hall. I had my first acid trip at one of them, a sunny Sunday afternoon. I was 16.
Their first album was entitled Electric Music For The Mind And Body. My first album, over thirty years later, was entitled Pop Down The Years (Electronic Music For The Mind and Body). Do you you think they made an impression on me?
I never get tired of Section 43.