You may remember we’ve been soliciting stuff for our upcoming souvenir book (which, by the way, is gonna rule.)
Well, as you can imagine, throughout the whole harassment-process, we’ve received tons of amazing stuff from fans from all over the US. We published one recently, and today we’d like to publish another – the first of a two-part series, in fact. So let me just set it up real quick.
If we’re to believe the quantum physicists, time does not exist. That said, it’s always nice to healthily explore the past – the tapestry of our lives – for illuminating context about all sorts of things. Things like Henry Miller, for example.
And when you talk about Henry, you never truly understand the totality of the man without understanding where he came from: Brooklyn, NY. The “Brooklyn” in him never left him, and forever influenced his art. He will always be that rambling Brooklyn dude chewing your ear off at the corner bar (If this element of his life interests you, check out this book, which we carry on our online store.)
So we’d like to present to you this fantastic photo-essay submission by our pal Stephanie V. Augello, a photographer from, you guessed, it Brooklyn, NYC. Check out her portfolio here and her blog here.
Stephanie went to Miller’s childhood home in Brooklyn, took photos, immersed herself in the ‘hood, and created a very wonderful two-part photo-essay on what she found. The first installment is below. Enjoy!
This is for Danny Arana…because he’s wonderful.
“New York is cold, glittering, malign…There is a sort of atomic frenzy to the activity going on; the more furious the pace, the more diminished the spirit…Nobody knows what it’s all about. Nobody directs the energy. Stupendous. Bizarre. Baffling. A tremendous reactive urge, but absolutely uncoordinated.”
In the area surrounding what was once considered the 14th Ward of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, we’re all a derivation of some ethnic corner of these (still) ethnic streets. Aside from Henry Miller’s German 662 Driggs Avenue home location, and the Italian plots on McGuinness Boulevard that my family once called home, the Latin element sings its’ song.
The purportedly “hip” New York locale is not as it was in the early 20th Century. I imagine that, while Miller was growing up at the corner of Driggs and Metropolitan, strains of Ragtime seeped through the cracked windows of brownstones. Here, in our earlyish 21st Century, beats of merengue muffle through the neon sighs of shops with Corona signs, and the obvious Reggaeton bounces out of car windows.
While working for a telegraph company in New York, Henry Miller supposedly stated that someone should write O. Henry “rags-to-riches” stories about the workers. Many of those mused about laborers had most likely crossed into our country via New York Harbor. When the Statue of Liberty was dedicated in 1886, only 5 years before Miller’s birth, it was inscribed with Emma Lazarus’ words “Give me your tired, your poor/Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…”
The definition of “tired” and “poor” has since evolved to include this land’s own wanderers. Your bartender. Your cocktail waitress. He is also a musician. She is also an artist. Much like their international ancestors, some drive forced this place upon them. They serve up their solitude here, and internally clamor for their starring role in an O. Henry tale….
(to be continued!)