Archives for posts with tag: 1950s

Dean Martin sings “Nevertheless” in a clip from 1955.

NEVERTHELESS
by Harry Ruby and Bert Kalmar (1931)

Maybe I’m right, maybe I’m wrong
Maybe I’m weak, maybe I’m strong
But nevertheless I’m in love with you.
Maybe I’ll win, maybe I’ll lose
Maybe I’m in for cryin’ the blues
But nevertheless I’m in love with you.
Somehow I know at a glance the terrible chances that I’m takin’.
Fine at the start then left with a heart that is breakin’.
Maybe I’ll live a life of regret
Maybe I’ll give much more than I get
But nevertheless I’m in love with you.
Somehow I know at a glance the terrible terrible chances that I’m takin’.
Fine at the start then left with a heart that was breaking.
Maybe I’ll live a life of regret
And maybe I’ll give so much more than I get
But nevertheless I’m in love with you.

Image

MEDITATIONS IN AN EMERGENCY (Excerpt)
by Frank O’Hara (1926-1966)

        … I have never clogged myself with the praises of pastoral life, nor with nostalgia for an innocent past of perverted acts in pastures. No. One need never leave the confines of New York to get all the greenery one wishes—I can’t even enjoy a blade of grass unless I know there’s a subway handy, or a record store or some other sign that people do not totally regret life. It is more important to affirm the least sincere; the clouds get enough attention as it is and even they continue to pass. Do they know what they’re missing? Uh huh. 

Read the rest of the poem at poetryfoundation.org.

“Meditations in an Emergency” is found in Frank O’Hara’s 1957 poetry collection of the same name. The 52-page book, reissued by Grove Press in 1996, is available at Amazon.com.

AUTHOR BIO FROM THE POETRY FOUNDATION: Frank O’Hara (born in 1926) was a dynamic leader of the “New York School” of poets, a group that included John Ashbery, Barbara Guest, Kenneth Koch, and James Schuyler. From the beginning, O’Hara’s poetry was engaged with the worlds of music, dance, and painting. In that complex of associations, he devised an idea of poetic form that allowed the inclusion of many kinds of events, including everyday conversations and notes about New York advertising signs. Since his death in 1966 at age forty, the depth and richness of his achievements as a poet and art critic have been recognized by an international audience.

PAINTING: Portrait of Frank O’Hara by Larry Rivers (1955)

Image

“In the middle of the night, I got up because I couldn’t sleep…and examined the L.A. night. What brutal, hot, siren-whining nights they are! Right across the street there was trouble. An old rickety rundown rooming house was the scene of some kind of tragedy. The cruiser was pulled up below and the cops were questioning an old man with gray hair. Sobbings came from within. I could hear everything, together with the hum of my hotel neon. I never felt sadder in my life. L.A. is the loneliest and most brutal of American cities; New York gets god-awful cold in the winter but there’s a feeling of wacky comradeship somewhere in some streets. L.A. is a jungle.”

From Chapter 13, On the Road by JACK KEROUAC (originally published in 1957)

Photo: Skid Row, Los Angeles, 1955. (From the Los Angeles ExaminerNegatives Collection, 1950-1961. Digitally reproduced by the University of Southern California Digital Archive. More information here.)

Image

Portrait of Frank O’Hara by Larry Rivers (1955)

FROM POETS.ORG: During the 1950s, poet Frank O’Hara was the subject of numerous portraits by New York School painters, including Nell Blaine, Grace Hartigan, Larry Rivers, and Jane Freilicher, who suggested that O’Hara appeared in so many paintings because he was always hanging around artists’ studios. O’Hara wanted to be as involved in the artistic process as possible, whether it meant stretching canvases or posing as a model. He built close associations with Willem de Kooning and Jackson Pollock, who were just beginning to be known as Abstract Expressionists. He also befriended up-and-coming painters such as Richard Diebenkorn and Cy Twombly.

Image
THE GREEN CROFT
by Barbara Eknoian

I’m sixteen working at The Green Croft,
a family inn, green-shuttered,
four stories high
right on Lake Hopatcong.
On the porch every night after supper,
my friends and I rock back and forth
in our chairs like old grannies
while the rich kids
whiz by in their speedboats.
Across the lake, the Bon Air Lodge
is lit up like an electric power plant.
We hear music from their band
and wish we were older to venture
across the River Styx Bridge
to attend their big Labor Day bash.
On our porch, the ancient jukebox
houses only one modern song.
I play Elvis’s
“I want you, I need you, I love you,”
over and over 
pining for a boy back home.
 
One night, Charlie, a guest who looks
like a forty-year-old bookworm,
sits at the upright piano playing,
“A Whole Lot of Shaking Going On”
 as good as Jerry Lee Lewis.
Guests push the Ping-Pong table aside,
start to rock ‘n’ roll. 
Peter the waiter tries to pull me up
to Lindy, but I’m too shy and say no.
He grabs Kathy, the waitress,
flips her around like the “Swing Kids.”
I sit there and feel the floorboards
vibrating beneath me
as Charlie bangs the piano
and pumps the foot pedal below.

Illustration: Vintage postcard “Lake Hopatcong”

Image
Congratulations to Barbara Eknoian — author of poetry that appeared in the Silver Birch Press SILVER ANTHOLOGY and the Silver Birch Press GREEN ANTHOLOGY — on the May 2013 release of her novel CHANCES ARE.

BOOK DESCRIPTION: It’s the l950’s. Thirteen-year-old Susie Di Pietro lives near the projects in New Jersey. Bookies stand on the corner by the candy store and sound like characters from Guys and Dolls. Everyone plays the numbers, even young Susie. Throughout her high school years, she’s painfully aware that her pal, Ginger, and she are wallflowers. Susie shares her romantic tribulations, her trials with her teachers, and funny incidents that happen to her while she is growing up. Chances Are is a charming coming-of-age novel that will take you on a nostalgic trip: dancing to Johnny Mathis, Elvis, and The Platters. It will trigger fond memories for some readers of their teen years, and give younger readers a picture of that special era, “The Fifties.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Barbara Eknoian lives in La Mirada, California, with her extended family. Originally from New Jersey, she was forever homesick until she joined Donna Hilbert’s poetry workshop in Long Beach. Barbara was the first recipient of the Jane Buel Bradley Chapbook Award for her collection Jerkumstances (Pearl Editions). A two-time Pushcart Prize nominee for poetry, her story “Crazy Mom” was featured in the 2009 6th Annual Emerging Voices Group Show produced by Sally Shore‘s New Short Fiction Series.

CHANCES ARE is available in paperback and Kindle editions at Amazon.com

Image

Photo: Girl posing with 1959 Ford Fairlane. (“Betty, go stand by the Fairlane and let me snap your picture.”)

In the late 1950s and early 1960s, many people considered their Ford Fairlanes valued members of their families. The car boasted a beautiful design that inspired love and devotion among its owners.

Image

MIRROR TALK

Memoir by Barbara Alfaro

I don’t have as much time for reading as I’d like – if it were up to me, I’d read as a full-time occupation, eight hours a day. Most of my reading these days is work related – material I’m editing, manuscripts I’m evaluating, or reference materials for writing projects. But once in a while I’m able to spend time with a book that’s so enjoyable the pages just breeze by – and, I’ll admit, books like these aren’t easy to find. I’m happy to report I recently encountered a book that succeeded on all fronts – beautiful prose, laugh-out-loud humor, as well as depth and introspection. The book is Mirror Talk, a memoir by Barbara Alfaro – winner of the 2012 IndieReader Discovery Award.

In the approximately 30,000-word book, available at Amazon.com in paperback and Kindle versions, Alfaro covers a lot of territory – from her Catholic girlhood in New York during the 1950s, her career as an actor and director during the 1960s and 1970s, and her eventual development as a poet, playwright, and writer.

The Mirror Talk chapter entitled “Make Mine Cognac” about an experimental play Alfaro appeared in was the funniest story I’ve read in years – and had me laughing, and laughing, and laughing out loud. Alfaro’s sharp, witty writing style is reminiscent of the wisecracking reporter Hildy Johnson in the Ben Hecht comedy His Girl Friday or even the ultimate wit – Dorothy Parker herself.

About the experimental play “smuggled from behind the Iron Curtain,” Alfaro writes: “After weeks of rehearsal, it became depressingly clear that no one in the cast had the slightest idea of what the play was about…the director said something about ‘symbolic juxtaposition.’ Finally, one of the symbols clanged. ‘What the hell is this play about?’ The director smiled that knowing, smug smile only directors and successful orthodontists seem able to accomplish…”

If you’re looking for a quick, fun read with a lot of heart and soul, check out Mirror Talk by Barbara Alfaro, available at Amazon.com. The Kindle version, available, here is just $1.99!

Image

“In the middle of the night, I got up because I couldn’t sleep…and examined the L.A. night. What brutal, hot, siren-whining nights they are! Right across the street there was trouble. An old rickety rundown rooming house was the scene of some kind of tragedy. The cruiser was pulled up below and the cops were questioning an old man with gray hair. Sobbings came from within. I could hear everything, together with the hum of my hotel neon. I never felt sadder in my life. L.A. is the loneliest and most brutal of American cities; New York gets god-awful cold in the winter but there’s a feeling of wacky comradeship somewhere in some streets. L.A. is a jungle.”

From Chapter 13, On the Road by JACK KEROUAC (originally published in 1957)

Photo: Skid Row, Los Angeles, 1955. (From the Los Angeles Examiner Negatives Collection, 1950-1961. Digitally reproduced by the University of Southern California Digital Archive. More information here.)