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 Influential Album Horses To Her Visual Art And Poetry I found this book to be quite boring, unfortunately It started off strong, but after a bit Smith s 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, perfectly acceptable, I lay on, which 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 basically 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 never thought much about Patti Smith The images I saw of her never attracted me, and what I knew of her Rimbaud fixation turned me off I always had a problem with the Beat and Punk appropriation of Rimbaud as a figure of rebellion than a sophisticated poet For me poetry is a phenomenon of the page, not an outfit you wear down the street I also never got into Punk Rock Going to college in the fall of 1983 I had probably only heard of The Sex Pistols, though I had never listened to them Then when I got to college I was immersed in it, without my choosing to be I loved some of it but just never pursued it as an interest or as a lifestyle, it was just the soundtrack to my experiences At the time I was into focused listening of Prince and King Crimson and The Talking Heads than Black Flag and The Dead Kennedys And somehow, even during college, I managed to never listen to Horses until a couple years ago But what a great album and I would say about it what I would say about other Punk I ve gotten into since such as Television and The Minutemen that it is nothing other than simply great Rock Roll So I grew curious about Patti Smith and then this book came out and I snatched it up It s a sweet and gritty account of her growing into maturity and how it coincided with her relationship with Robert Mapplethorpe There s a wise naturalness in how she grew into the woman we now know There was ambition, but only on her own terms, and there was no striving to be part of a scene outside of herself Robert , though she ended up in one fascinating scene after another as the grimy and vibrant New York art bohemian landscape tumultuously morphed into the previously unknown seemingly by the hour in the late 1960 s and early 1970 s She portrays these scenes as the outsider she always felt she was, yet they re portrayed head on, not through a scrim of self consciousness or psychic distance she was in the thick of it, even acting as a nurturing figure to many, yet she was also strangely apart from it Throughout there s a focus on her intimate relationships and how their effects radiated out into the situations she was involved in, which gives the feeling of a real groundedness regardless of how crazy things were But whoever she was with Jim Carroll, Sam Shepard, a guy from Blue Oyster Cult Mapplethorpe sill permeated her consciousness In many ways they were alike, but in even important ways they were very different, and part of the fascination of this book is pondering the duality they set up Robert alienated from his family and erasing his past to find the future while Patti was always firmly bedded in her past and in her family, Robert s wild drug use and Patti s basically straight life, Patti s Victorian sloppiness and Robert s decadent minimalism, and of course the sexual complications This book is not only entertaining but lovely and wise too. 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 nothing than 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 lot detail on of 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 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 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.
PATTI SMITH is a writer, performer, and visual artist She gained recognition in the 1970s for her revolutionary merging of poetry and rock She has released twelve albums, including Horses, which has been hailed as one of the top one hundred albums of all time by Rolling Stone Smith had her first exhibit of drawings at the Gotham Book Mart in 1973 and has been represented by the Robert Miller Ga
- 304 pages
- Just Kids
- Patti Smith
- 27 December 2019 Patti Smith