Wednesday, March 17, 2010
Monday, March 15, 2010
63 years of age and still creating, Patti Smith continues on...
In reading her recent tender and bittersweet memoir Just Kids, which chronicles her time in NYC in the 1970's, and in particular, her profound relationship with Robert Mapplethorpe, I was struck not by the excesses of drugs and booze and dangerous lifestyles the artists, musicians, writers, and actors of the time were living, but by how little she partook. Make no mistake, she was at the heart of it, at first a homeless bohemian, eventually moving into the historic artist co-op Hotel Chelsea, then on to various loft spaces, all the while sharing some of the most remarkable moments of New York's 20th century counterculture with the likes of Allen Ginsberg, Jimi Hendrix, Harry Smith, Sandy Daley, Janis Joplin, Gregory Corso, William Burroughs, Andy Warhol, Bobby Neuwirth, Todd Rundgren, Tony Ingrassia, Jim Carroll, Sandy Peralman, Sam Shepard, etc. The intersections went on and on, as did the overdoses, mishaps, alcoholism, and dangerous promiscuity, but she rarely indulged herself.
Like the immediacy of a Polaroid picture, Patti Smith captured the moment. I can't help but think her unique discipline to craft a filterless phrase, being of and with a community, the eyes and ears of a movement, was not somehow divine. Her spirit and spirituality has never waned. She saw it. She lived it. She made sure she could retell it. Most of them are gone, yet Patti continues on helping us understand, and for that I thank her.