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If we secretly wanted popular success, we weren t prepared to compromise in any way for it.
Nobody I knew ever admitted he wanted to be famous.
Nowadays, when you can live your alternate lifestyle in almost any part of the country (even if the Matthew Shepherds are still murdered sometimes), it is probably hard to imagine how small a community we were.
The bohemian world was also in the vanguard of political thinking, in reaction to the racism and economic inequality of the country, with its hypocritical cant about democracy.
But the Village was the first taste of relaxing and just being myself that I had ever known the need to hide being gay unnecessary and it was exhilarating.
That was what my commercial artist father worried about when he saw me drawn into Village life that I would become a homeless bum, standing in the snow in Washington Square without a coat.
What s more, the goal was even to sound different from each other.
Vincent Millay and Allen Ginsberg, and scandalous figures like the now-forgotten poet Maxwell Bodenheim, whose sexual ix exploits and tawdry death were headline events, but mostly we were all sharing the adventure of the arts and sexual freedom together.And it was in the Village that the artists unanimously opposed our entry into World War Ito the point of declaring, from the top of the Washington Square arch, the Village an independent republic.Greenwich Village, admittedly with limitations, was freer than the rest of the country about black-white socializing.To find a freer atmosphere than the Village, blacks had to go to Paris, which at the time was pretty much a haven from prejudice. Looked at another way, modern art was always about demonstrating its xi superiority over the common herd, setting oneself apart from the philistines out in the provinces of America who demanded simplicities and banalities, who stifled creativity and your sexuality.Oddly, along with left-wing politics and rejection of religion, bohemians at the same time were equally devotees of mystical practices like ouija boards, astrology, and palm reading. In short, we were out to sound different from the daily papers, from advertising culture, from anything conventional.
There were always imitators to be sure, but it is telling that none of the poets in this book learned their craft in workshops, as almost all do today, which produces such a uniformity of style.