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Hi Ho, the artistic life I had very divergent feelings about Just Kids, Patti Smith s National Book Award winning memoir about her friendship with Robert Mapplethorpe There were times that I felt moved by the beauty of her writing, and others in which I found her to be nothingthan another spoiled, entitled kid who got where she got to, talented or not, because of connections It is not that Smith arrived in NYC with a list of names and numbers But she did have the good fortune to encoun Hi Ho, the artistic life I had very divergent feelings about Just Kids, Patti Smith s National Book Award winning memoir about her friendship with Robert Mapplethorpe There were times that I felt moved by the beauty of her writing, and others in which I found her to be nothingthan another spoiled, entitled kid who got where she got to, talented or not, because of connections It is not that Smith arrived in NYC with a list of names and numbers But she did have the good fortune to encounter a knight in shining armor who had a prodigious artistic drive and the good looks to attract a series of male gateways to the New York arts scene Patti Smith image from El Pais photo credit Cordon PressThere is no doubt about the deep connection Smith formed with Robert Mapplethorpe, famed photographer to be They were not only lovers, but bffs And that continued long after they stopped sharing a bed Smith takes us on a journey through the gritty and some not so gritty portions of the New York arts scene, offering glimpses of the many, many people she and Mapplethorpe met It is a veritable who s who, including bits and pieces on Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Sam Shepherd, Andy Warhol, William Burroughs, and a cast of hundreds I never got the impression that Smith was name dropping She was as amazed as any aspiring artist might be at finding herself among so many notables One downside to this is that so many shining lights speed by like houses at night as seen from a train I would have liked it had she gone into a little or a lotdetail onof these luminaries She certainly does reinforce the image of the Chelsea Hotel as a cauldron of creativity in its day The story of her arrival in New York, meeting Mapplethorpe and struggling to get by is worth the price of admission, a real look at what it means to be a starving artist And that is not just a glib turn of phrase, as Patti, at times, made use of the five finger discount in order to eat It is also fun to read about how she and Robert trolled discount stores for materials they would use to make jewelry or incorporate into other artistic projects Smith and Mapplethorpe back in the day image from Vanity FairDespite the minimal physical mileage traversed here, Just Kids is a bit of a road story Instead of crossing continents, she and Mapplethorpe cross from obscurity to fame, from outsiders to insiders, from fellow travelers in a very non political sense to lovers to soulmatesI was surprised at a few things Ok, look at almost any photo of Patti Smith and tell me with a straight face that she doesn t make you think of the Calvin Klein ideal of physical appearance Yet, when she appeared in a play as a person with drug issues she was completely uncomfortable pretending to shoot up Even her director was shocked at her lack of hard drug experience A little weed here and there does not give one that lovely Ginger Baker look A diet sprinkled with stolen food contributed for sure, but nature sculpted that body, not dark substances I was also surprised having come to the book with no familiarity with Smith beyond her recording of Because the Night about the diversity of her artistry, running from drawing to poetry, to playwrighting, to acting, and so on I have read better memoirs, and I do not think this should have won the National Book Award But there is no missing the real feeling she communicates, the love she and Mapplethorpe had for each other Her writing is good, sometimes better than good, and you will not be disappointed But for many, the lifestyles presented here might be discomfiting, the willingness to engage in hustling, thievery, and very open relationships make the artistic world Smith and Mapplethorpe inhabited a decidedly acquired taste EXTRA STUFFLinks to the author s personal, Instagram and FB pages Looking For You I Was I can see why some reviews detect white washing or sugar coating in Just Kids , but I wanted desperately to believe the story Patti Smith was telling about her relationship with Robert Mapplethorpe.Glitter in Their EyesPatti admits to her naivete, but I don t think she was trying to hide stuff from her kids or anything.Nor do I think she closed off her emotions about her past.Ultimately, the book is a love story, only the love extended over a long period, and sometimes it Looking For You I Was I can see why some reviews detect white washing or sugar coating in Just Kids , but I wanted desperately to believe the story Patti Smith was telling about her relationship with Robert Mapplethorpe.Glitter in Their EyesPatti admits to her naivete, but I don t think she was trying to hide stuff from her kids or anything.Nor do I think she closed off her emotions about her past.Ultimately, the book is a love story, only the love extended over a long period, and sometimes it was requited, sometimes not.Just KiddingLots of things got in the way, sexuality for starters, drugs for main course, other partners for dessert.But the book is about a love that they shared, and a youth that they both retained the whole of their lives, no matter what happened on the inside or the outside and no matter how poor or successful they were.The name of the book asserts her belief that all that time they really were just kids , those two kids that the tourists photographed soon after they first met.About Another BoyAlthough Patti reveals a lot about Robert, I think ultimately the book is her final expression of love for him.I think it s important that she express her sugary side anyway, rather than hide your love away.The book might be relatively sugar coated for our image of Patti Smith, but her sugar isn t as sickly sweet as most sleb love stories Memento Mori Postscript One of the reasons I empathise with this book so much is my passion for Robert Mapplethorpe s photography not to mention Patti s music, lyrics and poetry.In March April, 1986, I was on the Board of the Institute of Modern Art in Brisbane, at the time we helped to bring an exhibition of Robert s photos to Australia.It was a time of great political and moral conservatism in Queensland.The Board included artists and academics who feared the loss of their jobs, if they were involved in the exhibition of photography that might later be found to be obscene under our criminal laws.Many Board Meetings in the lead up to the exhibition debated whether we should not proceed with the exhibition or remove particular images including Man in Polyester Suit.I made some tentative preparations to deal with a potential criminal action against the Board Members, including getting expert evidence on Robert s artistic status.In the end, we decided to proceed with the exhibition in an uncensored form All images were displayed in the form submitted by the artist and the curator.The exhibition was highly popular and no complaints were made to the Police.No criminal prosecution occurred.The important lesson is that we could have self censored and lost our own freedom.Instead, we asserted and preserved our freedom in the face of fear.For me, Robert and Patti represent, not just the existence of freedom in the abstract, but the assertion of freedom in reality.Theythan earned the right to their loveYour ancestors salute you Stayin up for days in the Chelsea Hotel Just Kids makes me feel so damn left out If only I had been able to show up at the Chelsea in the early 1970s I coulda been a contender, I could have lived for art Oh yes, I would have been very na ve just like Patti had been at first I totally get that I don t think I could have been as brave tho Art is a harsh mistress Suddenly Robert looked up and said, Patti, did art get us I looked away, not really wanting to think about it IStayin up for days in the Chelsea Hotel Just Kids makes me feel so damn left out If only I had been able to show up at the Chelsea in the early 1970s I coulda been a contender, I could have lived for art Oh yes, I would have been very na ve just like Patti had been at first I totally get that I don t think I could have been as brave tho Art is a harsh mistress Suddenly Robert looked up and said, Patti, did art get us I looked away, not really wanting to think about it I don t know, Robert I don t know Perhaps it did, but no one could regret that Only a fool would regret being had by art or a saint Robert beckoned me to help him stand, and he faltered Patti, he said, I m dying It s so painful He looked at me, his look of love and reproach My love for him could not save him His love for life could not save him.What I loved about this memoir is how it communicates in a rough, rambley sort of way what it was like to be there In that milieu It almost seems irrelevant that they all became famous There are some moments of real poignancy here and some very deft turns of phrase, but I was also just bored stiff for most of it Clearly Smith has led a really interesting life, but she s just not a great writer The great bulk of the book was a long series of Then this happened Then that happened Then Robert did this Then I did that And while there is a lot of reflection about art, there is very little on the subject of her relationship with Mapplethorpe, supposedly the purpose of writin There are some moments of real poignancy here and some very deft turns of phrase, but I was also just bored stiff for most of it Clearly Smith has led a really interesting life, but she s just not a great writer The great bulk of the book was a long series of Then this happened Then that happened Then Robert did this Then I did that And while there is a lot of reflection about art, there is very little on the subject of her relationship with Mapplethorpe, supposedly the purpose of writing the book How and why did she stick with him as a lover through his gay hustling What did she feel about this She is by turns squeamish about his homosexuality and also fully accepting of everything he does There s nothing inherently wrong with either reaction but I d like to hear a littleabout them Bottom line had this not been Patti Smith writing about Robert Mapplethorpe, and had I not been in a book group where we were discussing the book, I wouldn t have kept reading past the 50th page ( Download ) ♃ Just Kids ♾ In Just Kids, Patti Smith s first book of prose, the legendary American artist offers a never before seen glimpse of her remarkable relationship with photographer Robert Mapplethorpe in the epochal days of New York City and the Chelsea Hotel in the late sixties and seventies An honest and moving story of youth and friendship, Smith brings the same unique, lyrical quality to Just Kids as she has to the rest of her formidable body of work from her influentialalbum Horses to her visual art and poetry This book is remarkably easy to parody Here, I ll try I was crossing Tompkins Square Park when I ran into a young man wearing a gabardine vest He smiled at me and called me Sister It was a young George Carlin Robert hated him because he frequently had flakes of rye bread in his beard, but I loved how he could make me laugh with his impressions of Mick Jagger On this morning, though, we wept together at the news that Paul McCartney would have to sell his house in Cannes It was a sort of This book is remarkably easy to parody Here, I ll try I was crossing Tompkins Square Park when I ran into a young man wearing a gabardine vest He smiled at me and called me Sister It was a young George Carlin Robert hated him because he frequently had flakes of rye bread in his beard, but I loved how he could make me laugh with his impressions of Mick Jagger On this morning, though, we wept together at the news that Paul McCartney would have to sell his house in Cannes It was a sort of paradise for us, even though we d never been George gave me a feather to put in my hair, and I took it home and pressed it between two pieces of crepe de chine, where it left a ghostly impression Robert insisted on using it in a construction, and finally I relented, though I knew I d never get it back It was a sacrifice to art, the sort of thing Rimbaud would ve done I think this parodic potential arises from the book s total and complete lack of irony This is the most earnest, sincere book I ve read in a long time, and that s what makes it so heartbreaking Smith begins the book with an abundance of naivete, and in many ways, she never loses the idealism with which she begins her career Written in a lyrical, elegiac tone, this is, at its heart, a book about the bond two artists develop There s a remarkable amount of honest in the pages, and Smith s and Mapplethorpe s friendship is unique They were lovers, collaborators, confidants, rivalsTheir lives were the stuff of legend, and this book is a valiant effort to put that legend on the page.If you ve ever held the romantic starving artist cliche in esteem, this is the book for you Smith spends paragraphs talking about how hungry she was when she first moved to New York, and she isn t using the word as a euphemism for ambition she really needed to eat Upon her return from a season in Paris, Mapplethorpe greets her in a feverish state, suffering from abscessed wisdom teeth and gonorrhea And yet They lived the lives of artists, staying up into the wee hours creating, writing, singing They knew everyone Harry Smith, Allen Ginsburg, Sam Shepard, Jim Carroll, Todd Rundgren, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin they all passed through Smith s life, and they all make memorable appearances in the book It s a name dropper s paradise, and yet, I didn t come away from the book feeling as though Smith was boasting or exaggerating her own life I m sure she s omitted some unfortunate moments on her rise to the top, but she seems honest about her own shortcomings She freely admits that she acted like a jerk after her first big poetry reading, for instance I knew nothing of Robert Mapplethorpe beyond his work and the controversy it had caused in the late 80s I was too young to understand much of what he was trying to say, though I could understand the controversy just fine The portrait Smith paints of Mapplethorpe is one of a passionate, wildly creative artist, and also of a man driven by his ambition to become famous Her friendship with him was clearly the defining moment of her life, and reading about it was a pleasure I often felt lost in this book, and I suspect that that s the only way to read it to just plow through it I don t think I share all of Smith s ideas about art, but I respect her passion and her talent as a writer Her prose is clear and direct and eminently readable And maybe best of all, wherever I took this book, people would comment on it I just finished it It s heartbreaking Or I wish I had her passion I love when I read a book that inspires that kind of connection between people It makes me feel, even if only for a moment, that I live in the kind of world that Patti Smith lives in I admire this woman She writes a deft, deeply felt prose She has a peerless memory She remembers gestures, apparel worn thirty years ago, favorite objects, facial expressions, stretches of dialog She can reanimate for us moments of deep emotional complexity This was clearly a labor of love The character study of Robert Mapplethorpe is disturbing, shattering We watch Smith living with him as a veil is lifted from her awareness, as her empathy broadens and she carries the reader along with I admire this woman She writes a deft, deeply felt prose She has a peerless memory She remembers gestures, apparel worn thirty years ago, favorite objects, facial expressions, stretches of dialog She can reanimate for us moments of deep emotional complexity This was clearly a labor of love The character study of Robert Mapplethorpe is disturbing, shattering We watch Smith living with him as a veil is lifted from her awareness, as her empathy broadens and she carries the reader along with her This is memoir as maelstrom, cataclysmic in its effect There sthan sufficient foreshadowing We know that Robert will die Yet one still finds oneself grabbing futilely for the gunwales, whirling ever faster, ever downward and inward.The book reminds me of Jean Stein and George Plimpton s Edie American Girl in it s New York setting But Stein and Plimpton s book consists of transcripts of recorded conversations worked up into semi confessional monologues It s compelling, but it doesn t touch the nimble pairing of image and incident we find in Just Kids, nor does it have the latter s exquisite verbal compression Like Edie, this book details an era of New York s art and cultural scene, but with a vividness I ve never come across before This intensity radiates from The Hotel Chelsea where Mapplethorpe and Smith occupied a room The middle third of the book gets a little lost in name dropping I suppose that s inevitable There s less insight into Mapplethorpe, whom the author is growing away from The sixties greats parade by Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, et al Then the artists and then the poets and so on The narrative dissipates under this welter of names Smith dates poet and rocker, Jim Carroll People Who Died She dates playwright Sam Shepherd True West, etc One begins to lose track Who s Matthew with the 45s again We watch Smith s astonishing evolution from visual artist to poet to rock and roller If someone were to write this story as fiction, it would probably be criticized as unrealistic.The theme, one of them, is the artist being true to his or herself and doing the work Fascinating is the level at which which both Mapplethorpe and Smith learn their art They are huge talents but they have entered a talented artistic circle that beggars description When Shepherd has to leave Smith to return to his wife, they pen a valedictory play which is later staged at the American Place Theater in midtown Mapplethorpe falls in love with photography when curator John McKendry brings him into the Met vaults and shows him rarely exhibited works by Stieglitz, Strand and Eakins Until then he was hesitant to do his own photography, though Smith had repeatedly encouraged him to he worked in photo collages with images from male magazines Smith in her turn is cajoled into poetry by Gregory Corso and into song writing by Bobby Neuwirth Who can claim such mentors and so many of them Most artists develop in far less encouraging settings Smith and Mapplethorpe have been incredibly blessed Toward the end the author reaches for a kind of ecstatic prose flight that seldom works Fortunately the attempts at woolgathering are few We are soon returned to earth by way of Mapplethorpe s suffering I was especially pleased to learn that in his last 15 years or so, he had found a partner, Sam Wagstaff, who supported him in all he did Wagstaff was both patron and lover, and rich as Croesus Mapplethorpe no longer had to hustle sex on 42nd Street to make the rent Wagstaff bought him a studio on Bond Street, walking distance from his own flat Smith herself no longer needed to work at Scribners bookstore either She recorded Horses which made her an international star So when the end comes at least it is unmarked by the poverty and obscurity of Smith and Mapplethorpe s earlier years Smith, living in Detroit by then with her husband, Fred Sonic Smith, drives to New York to see both men Sam is sick, too during their final illnesses Her last encounter with Robert, before he s wheeled off, was for this reader Sophoclean in its tragic impact The love these two shared, the exquisite trust Suddenly, it s gone A void prevails.By no means perfect, this is still an astonishing, emotionally affecting book As with all great writing, its effect is greater than the sum of its parts Please read it fulfilling book riot s 2018 read harder challenge task 12 a celebrity memoirextry points given to me, by me, for choosing a book that i have owned forthan a year super extry points for selfishly using the opportunity to interview nancy pearl for my own personal readers advisory needs, to suggest a celebrity memoir that wasn t gonna waste my time thanks, nancy pearl review to come review is now my tepid reaction to this book is in no way the fault of nancy pearl, who gave me exactly wh fulfilling book riot s 2018 read harder challenge task 12 a celebrity memoirextry points given to me, by me, for choosing a book that i have owned forthan a year super extry points for selfishly using the opportunity to interview nancy pearl for my own personal readers advisory needs, to suggest a celebrity memoir that wasn t gonna waste my time thanks, nancy pearl review to come review is now my tepid reaction to this book is in no way the fault of nancy pearl, who gave me exactly what i d asked for any type of celebrity any gender, age, race, or currency, and my only criteria is that it besubstance than flash, and that it not follow the narrative arc clich of early success ruined by overindulgence in perks of success leading to downfall, followed by peace and self reflective wisdom Good stories, decent writing, humor a plus.i just didn t respond to it the way i d expected hoped on the one hand, patti smith writes a highly detailed account of what it was like to be young and poor and artistically ambitious in the creative powderkeg of new york city in the late 60 s 70 s.on the other hand, patti smith writes a highly detailed account of what it was like to be young and poor and artistically ambitious in the creative powderkeg of new york city in the late 60 s 70 s.the details killed it for me there s so much here that feels like an itinerary what they wore and where they walked and all the trinkets they collected, photographed, then lost along the way, and it s a focus on props at the expense of any emotional appeal what should be an intensely moving elegy for youth, for new york, for power twin bestie lover mapplethorpe, is instead frustratingly detached and the reader is kept at arm s length with details about ribbons, huaraches, hats, haircuts, portfolios, and grilled cheeses it is, as nadine astutely points out, both listy and emotionally distant.smith mentionsthan once her flexible imagination, so the improbable i remember every moment of every day, many of which had tremendous import foreshadowing symbolism slant is somewhat mitigated by poetic license, but it s equally true that pattiandrobert s days had a disproportionately high level of import, just from the circles they were lucky enough to break into across the entire spectrum of the arts music, literature, theater, painting, photography, every one of them bristling with mentors generous with their time, advice, introductions to stillluminaries, raw materials for their artistic pursuits, and other gifts that pile up into those listy details a sweater from jackie curtis, a tattoo from vali, a guitar from sam shepard, Crosses of braided hair, tarnished charms, and haiku valentines made with bits of ribbon and leather and on and on etc.and the things that most interested me were often floated without introduction or context surfacing and withdrawing her buying and selling of used books, her reviewing records just mentioned as things i did without any of the details so very cluttered elsewhere one does not just casually mention finding a twenty six volume set of the complete henry james in perfect condition and reselling it in a mere two sentences.and how does she get to go to paris three times when she can t even afford to eat some days, and she and robert are splitting sandwiches true, her parisian hotels were rundown and lice ridden, but given the choice between lice and finery, i m pretty sure patti would have chosen to slum it after a quick WWRD consultation in order to achieve maximum artistic authenticity through squalor but yeah, the details around that bit of financial magic is something i would love to know for a friend.it s an okay read it wasn t a drag or anything, but i never felt like i was being encouraged to enter into the story, and at a distance, you don t feel the fire it s a couple of sweetly pretentious kids dreaming about art and being so, so earnest and self conscious about looking the part, surrounded by the trappings of capital a art but it has its moments One evening in late November Robert came home a bit shaken There were some etchings for sale at Brentano s Among them was a print pulled from an original plate from America A Prophecy, watermarked with Blake s monogram He had taken it from its portfolio, sliding it down his pants leg Robert was not one to steal he hadn t the nervous system for theft He did it on impulse because of our mutual love of Blake But toward the end of the day he lost courage He imagined they were on to him and ducked into the bathroom, slid it out of his trousers, shredded it, and flushed it down the toilet.I noticed his hands were shaking as he told me It had been raining and droplets trickled down from his thick curls He had on a white shirt, damp and sodden against his skin Like Jean Genet, Robert was a terrible thief Genet was caught and imprisoned for stealing rare volumes of Proust and rolls of silk from a shirt maker Aesthetic thieves I imagined his sense of horror and triumph as bits of Blake swirled into the sewers of New York City.We looked down at our hands, each holding on to the other We took a deep breath, accepting our complicity, not in theft, but in the destruction of a work of art At least they ll never get it, he said Who are they I asked Anyone who isn t us, he answered.there s a great deal of struggle, but there s just as much coincidence, timing, and right place right time at play here s some understatement for ya I had no concept of what life at the Chelsea Hotel would be like when we checked in, but I soon realized it was a tremendous stroke of luck to wind up there.i ll say.i do like her description of the shabby elegance of the chelsea everyone who has ever even walked by the place has written about it, but hers is memorable The Chelsea was like a doll s house in the Twilight Zone, with a hundred rooms, each a small universe I wandered the halls seeking its spirits, dead or alive My adventures were mildly mischievous, tapping open a door slightly ajar and getting a glimpse of Virgil Thomson s grand piano, or loitering before the nameplate of Arthur C Clarke, hoping he might suddenly emerge Occasionally I would bump into Gert Schiff, the German scholar, armed with volumes on Picasso, or Viva in Eau Sauvage Everyone had something to offer and nobody appeared to have much money Even the successful seemed to have just enough to live like extravagant bums.three stars fine but not the riveting tearjerking rock and roll experience everyone built it up to be and even though no one asked me, i hate deckle edges on paperbacks what would rimbaud do come to my blog I found this book to be quite boring, unfortunately, especially given the fact that Smith is arguably an artistic genius It started off strong, but after a bit the writing style began to wear on my nerves examples using the word for instead of because, as in I went to the diner, for I was hungry and I hadn t any money instead of I didn t have any money and I lay upon the mattress instead of the simpler I lay on, which all felt somewhat pretentious Then she goes on and on and I found this book to be quite boring, unfortunately, especially given the fact that Smith is arguably an artistic genius It started off strong, but after a bit the writing style began to wear on my nerves examples using the word for instead of because, as in I went to the diner, for I was hungry and I hadn t any money instead of I didn t have any money and I lay upon the mattress instead of the simpler I lay on, which all felt somewhat pretentious Then she goes on and on and on about Rimbaud So much Rimbaud And Baudelaire So Much Baudelaire Her sentences were also quite choppy and repetitive I could essentially sum it up as I met a boy named Robert We loved each other We hadn t any money One day I bought a raincoat from a thrift store I went to France and visited Rimbaud s grave and wore my raincoat for it was raining Robert was a genius and we lay upon a mattress One time I met Jimi Hendrix Then he died Then I wore my raincoat out in New York and I bumped into Ginsberg He bought me a sandwich for I was hungry and hadn t any money The end I loved this book I did not want it to end To be honest, I did not know much about Patti Smith other than her music When the book initially came out, I heard so many wonderful things about it I thought I should give it a shot But frankly, I was a bit tired of the musician bio books as some were just so dreadful I was so wrong to think that and hold off on this book.I decided to go with the audio I was immediately enthralled with it The audio is narrated by Smith and she does an incredi I loved this book I did not want it to end To be honest, I did not know much about Patti Smith other than her music When the book initially came out, I heard so many wonderful things about it I thought I should give it a shot But frankly, I was a bit tired of the musician bio books as some were just so dreadful I was so wrong to think that and hold off on this book.I decided to go with the audio I was immediately enthralled with it The audio is narrated by Smith and she does an incredible job Who else to read the story of her life other than the one wrote it and lived it.Just Kids tells the story of Patti growing up and following her desires to go to NYC and grow and become an artist She tells of the wonderful life long friendship that she had with the photographer, Robert Mapplethorpe I had no idea how talented Patti Smith is she s a poet, artist, writer, musician, singer, actress She has been in photos, acted in plays, wrote lots of songs, wrote books on poetry and non fiction She came into contact with so many different types of artists that helped her grow various notable musicians, poets, artists There were a lot of famous people mentioned but these are the people that were in NYC during this time when it was on the cusp of art and artists coming alive She talks of her time spent in the Chelsea Hotel in NYC which, at the time, was a haven for artistic folks But out of all those mentioned, it was Mapplethorpe who pushed her and helped her find her artistic abilities and find out who she was is It s amazing that these two found one another and pushed each other It s a beautiful story.I saw Patti Smith speak recently and she said that Mapplethorpe, before he died, asked her to tell their story Just Kids is that story and a story that took her 20 years to write I know why this book won the National Book Award and why it s 4 on the 100 best music books of all time It reads like poetry Link to this list of 100 best music books m so glad I read this A true highlight for me, my favorite of 2016, and one I plan to read again