Hey. Last week we published a blog from our pal Stephanie V. Augello, a photographer and author in the Big Apple. You may recall, it was a photo-essay on Henry Miller’s childhood haunts in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
Below you will find part 2, in which Stephanie, in the spirit of Miller the artist, interviews an aspiring migrant musician working in a local bar (that bar would be Trash Bar; ironically enough, I got kicked out of that place three times in one night in 2009. Dangerous place.)
The parallels with Miller’s life, and the archetype of the struggling artist which he helped to embody (“I have no money, no resources, no hopes. I am the happiest man alive”) are striking, and we hope you enjoy it. And thanks again, Stephanie!
Working as a music photographer and writer up and down the Eastern Seaboard has given me the opportunity to become acquainted with many bartenders and band members. I do not, however, only shove a camera their faces.
I actually talk to them, and most of the time, instantly consider them friends. Below is one such recent exchange, conducted at the Trash Bar in Williamsburg, located only a few blocks from Miller’s childhood home.
Me: So, what do you do when you’re not bartending?
Bartender: I’m here for acting. I do band stuff too. Well, I’m taking a break. I needed money. I want to do it again. Being in a band.
Me: You from New York?
Bartender: North Carolina.
Me: I lived in Asheville for a bit. I’m from here though. Random question. Do you know anything about Henry Miller?
Bartender: Well, yes and no. I’ve read Tropic of Cancer, but aside from that, I don’t know much.
Me: You know more than a lot of people. He grew up down the block. Right on Driggs.
Bartender: Huh. I had no idea.
Me: Yeah, he was a lot like us. Well, he…umm….tell me, if you had the chance…if you could do it all again…would you have chosen the artist’s life if you’d known it would be this hard?
Bartender: (pauses) Yes.
When given the opportunity, I will gladly pat the arm of a relocated sound guy from Kansas and say, “Streets ain’t paved with gold, buddy,”; and then empathically watch as his youth smiles a smile of hope, denial and premature disillusionment, that only the New York concrete can create. Everyone wants to leave where they’re from; and sometimes, that “where you’re from” is where everyone wants to be.