Tag Archives: Non-fiction

The Greenwich Village Literary Review Spring 2015, Vol. II, No. 1

TABLE OF CONTENTS

OUR COVER

Cocktails
W. Jack Savage

NON-FICTION

History –
Yip Harburg: A Lyrical Activist Against Social Injustice Leigh Donaldson & Ernie Harburg

Memoir –
Memories of Judson Samuel Bean
My Mother’s Kitchen Erica Miles

FICTION
Tribute Sarah Bates
Sweet Sixteen Magda Benigna
Three Boys V. Conejero
Fire Box 598 Joe Corso
The Reunion Henya Drescher
Two Voices: a Tale from the Ancestors Mindy Kronenberg
Consequences Ann Ormsby
Jack of Hearts Leslie Silton

HUMOR & SATIRE
The Original Survivor Man Bill Batcher
The Good Neighbors James Como
The Art of Sleeping by Tootie translated by Erica Miles

POETRY
Night Duty Mario Ascueta Aguado
Baalbek, Lebanon, Makawao Forest, Opening Night’s Doors, Wind, What the Sky Tells Us Marguerite G. Bouvard
Extra Padding, Sunrise/Sunset, Ute Carson
At the Eye Doctor’s Office, V. Conejero
Seasonal Utterances (Spring), Julie Lauton
If These Walls Could Only Talk, John Lysaght
The Cat, In Memory of a Well-Loved Dog, Richard Merli
The Goose Who Loved Golf, John F. McCullagh
Portrait of My Mother, Erica Miles
The Party, Mindy Ohringer
Untitled No. 2, Dave Rullo
Near Holly Springs: Good Friday, Jeff Streeby
The First Floor Apartment on 84th, Lorien Vidal

ART & PHOTOGRAPHY
Cocktails, W. Jack Savage
Fountain 1, Samuel Bean
Fountain 2, Samuel Bean
Skycrapers with Clouds, Kyle Hemmings

BOOK REVIEWS
Robert J. Cooney reviews Jacob M. Appel’s short story collection Einstein’s Beach House
Richard Merli reviews Gary Beck’s book of poetry Civilized Ways
Erica Miles reviews Steven Jay Griffel’s novel Grossman’s Castle
Ellen Schecter reviews Erica Miles’ novel Dazzled by Darkness

– CONTRIBUTORS’ BIOGRAPHIES –
Contributors – Current Issue 

Advertisements

The Great Debate by Charlene Wexler

The Great Debate?

What if God and his angels operated like the President and U.S. Congress when humans were created? It might have gone something like this.

God: We’ve been fighting over these humans for six days and six nights. I want to play golf tomorrow, so let’s finish the negotiations.

Angels: We wanted to adjourn weeks ago! Besides, we don’t like negotiating with you! Anyway, fifteen toes and fifteen fingers? Are you crazy?

God: But that was your idea!

Angels: But now that you adopted it, we oppose it! Anyway, the number is uneven. They will never figure it out.

God: Then let’s make them smart enough to figure it out.

Angels: We oppose socialized education. Anyway, a few can be smarter, but we have to keep the majority dumb.

God: Why?

Angels: Somebody has to do the dirty cleanup jobs.

God: And I bet you want that to be my constituents, not yours.

Angels: Hey, we don’t want a dirty planet. Our constituents would complain.

God: Okay, we’ll go with your ten fingers and ten toes, if you will let me put 206 bones in them.

Angels: Two hundred and six bones? Big spender! Budget buster! Are you crazy?

God: Listen they will need spares. The bags of bones you budget-cutters bought are seconds, and they will break easily.

Angels: You have two of most organs, but only one heart. Why? Is this a conspiracy?

God: It got too complicated to route all that blood in two directions, so I gave up.

Angels: We said you were lazy! Let’s move on to another topic. We think all humans should be pink. Like in the red states.

God: No, blue would be better

Angels: You always favor the blue states! Anyway, we already used all the dye on the plants, and animals. We only have so much money to spend. Can’t raise the debt ceiling, you know.

God: Ok, so what color should we use?

Angels: How about brown? We have a lot of brown left over.

God: I like brown.

Angels: You like brown? Maybe we should re-think this. What about different shades of brown, from almost white to almost black?

God: I really would miss giving them some color. What about making the toes different colors?

Angels: What’s with you and toes?

God: Listen, we have a little blue and green left over. Not enough for toes, but maybe enough for the eyes. Now the tough part. I don’t want to be bothered constantly making new humans when the old ones wear out.

Angels: So let’s give them organs to reproduce on their own.

God: Where should we put the organs?

Angels: Put them anywhere. They will only use them a few times when they want to have children. And by the way, even though it looks like we have a deal now, if we change our minds, we’ll shut down the Universe!

The Greenwich Village Literary Review, Spring 2014 Vol. I, No. 1

The Greenwich Village Literary Review
Spring 2014, Vol. I, No. 1

Table of Contents

NON-FICTION:

The Greenwich Village Literary Heritage Alan Wexler

FICTION

Oyster Cocktails V. Conejero
Wish You Have a Pleasant Journey Tim Coover
Miss Nadya Zdravka Evtimova
Beach Beat Debralynn Fein
Drops of Water Primwatee Groover
These Days Meghan Horvath
One Percent Justine Manzano
A Horrific Error Robin Leigh Morgan
Ways of Calling God Ann Ormsby
Zone 5:  Operation Liz and Obly Charlie Wiseman with Henrietta Garnett

POETRY

September Lois Adams
Myles Tierney, ‘34 Janet Chalmers
The Old Woman and Her Dog V. Conejero
Cafuné, Journey to be Taken, Seagull Emily Duncan
The Land of Good Barbara J. Hughes
River Ambler Laura Hymers
For All Seasons Bill Kahn
Inside the Confessional Patricia Markert
Last Dance John McCullagh
The Street of Broken Dreams, Reflections Richard Merli
Gentle Nudge Suhaey Rosario
Small And Green Malik Sullivan
Flowers at my Door Nancy Winslow

NON-FICTION: Memoir

My Angel Barbara Schoenberg

###

The Greenwich Village Literary Heritage by Alan Wexler

While wandering through the narrow and winding streets of New York City’s Greenwich Village neighborhood, it’s difficult not to stumble upon connections to America’s literary heritage from the early 19th century to the recent past.

Perhaps the quirky street pattern of the Village, a far different one from the rigid grid of perpendicular, parallel and numbered streets and avenues just to the north, helps explain the allure this enclave has had over the centuries for generations of equally quirky writers and other creative artists who lived and worked within its environs.

Before the 1820s, Greenwich Village was indeed a village of sorts, a remote country outpost, north of the hustle and bustle of old New York, and then concentrated south of Canal Street on the lower end of the island of Manhattan. Outbreaks of cholera, typhoid and yellow fever, unchecked until modern sewage and sanitation could contain them in latter years, often ravaged the residential districts both east and west of lower Broadway. People died in large numbers, old and young, rich and poor alike. The poor, crowded into the wretched slums that became the Lower East Side, could do little but watch as their friends and family members sickened and died during these periodic plagues that often struck during the warmer summer months. The more affluent had the luxury of moving away from these horrors, and the pastoral suburbs of Greenwich Village beckoned them.

Washington Square Park, which had been just a few years before a cemetery for poor people north of the city, soon became an attractive residential district that brought the more well-to-do up from the squalid congestion of lower Manhattan. Greek Revival townhouses, with their mini-colonnaded facades, soon appeared along its boundaries, many still surviving on the north side of the park, and the street became a residential strip for those affluent refugees. The one at 18 Washington Square North became the home of the grandmother of a writer often identified with Greenwich Village (but who spent little of his career in America), and who set one of his most memorable works within it: Henry James, author of Washington Square.

Yet even before Henry James, before the Bohemians of the 1910s and 1920s, before Jack Kerouac and the Beats of the 1950s, before Bob Dylan and the Folk Music scene of the 1960s, Greenwich Village had been drawing its share of literary lions.

In 1809, the American Revolutionary War pamphleteer Thomas Paine died in a wood frame house at 59 Grove Street, now occupied by Marie’s Crisis, a piano bar aptly named for both Marie Antoinette, who lost her head in Paris when Paine lived there during the French Revolution, and for one of his polemical works, The Crisis, that cheered on the American revolutionary cause with the phrase, “These are the times that try men’s souls.”

The great chronicler of the early American frontier, James Fenimore Cooper, upon his return from Europe in 1833, took up residence with his family at 149 Bleecker Street, then a newly fashionable district, right next door to where the legendary entertainment club, The Bitter End would later host the early careers of such show business legends as Bob Dylan, Jerry Seinfeld and Madonna.

Louisa May Alcott, author of that classic account of Civil War era life in Boston, Little Women, lived and wrote some of that novel between 1867 and 1870 in a house her uncle had built more than ten years earlier at 130-132 MacDougal Street, a stretch of the Village now crowded with falafel joints, comedy clubs and bars for binge-drinking students from nearby New York University.

By the 1890s, the great tides of immigration into Manhattan from Southern and Eastern Europe, the onslaught of all those “tired, poor, huddled masses,” and especially all of that “wretched refuse” from Europe’s “teeming shore”, soon caused the well-to-do of Greenwich Village to pick up stakes and relocate to tonier neighborhoods uptown around Madison Square Park and beyond. The area now known as the South Village then became more Italian in its demographic makeup. Neighborhood cafes frequented at first by Italians after work would later become venues for Beat poetry recitals in the 1950s and introduce the practice of sipping syrupy espresso from tiny cups to hipster America long before anyone ever heard of Starbucks. The more genteel bluebloods and Knickerbocker descendants of the original Greenwich Village had decamped from their quaint neighborhood of tasteful row houses that rapidly were transformed into cheap apartments and rooming houses.

The more creatively inclined of that era and the years afterward gravitated toward Greenwich Village, drawn not only by the abundance of affordable housing, but by the unique charm of its streets, not as squalid and crowded as the Lower East Side which had become so overpopulated by then so as to make it a candidate for the “Calcutta of North America.”

In 1917, a recent Vassar College graduate named Edna St. Vincent Millay moved to Greenwich Village where she embarked on a literary career that would make her one of the most widely read poets in America. At one time she lived at 75 1/2 Bedford Street, a house so tiny it was not only typical of the small buildings of Greenwich Village but also still stands today as the most narrow house in Manhattan.  Nearby, stood a former brewery and one-time tobacco warehouse which, in 1924, Millay and some of her literary friends turned into the Cherry Lane Theatre. The Cherry Lane staged the early works of writers like Harold Pinter, Edward Albee, Clifford Odets, Eugene O’Neill, as well as the New York premiere of Samuel Beckett’s Endgame, and spawned dozens of other playhouses that flourished during the early years of the Off-Broadway theater scene

Millay’s Greenwich Village roots extend back to before her birth.  Just before that 1892 event in Rockland, Maine, her uncle’s life had been saved at a Greenwich Village hospital, St. Vincent’s, and in gratitude her parents bestowed that middle name upon her.

Not only are the former homes of well-known writers to be found on many of the quaint and narrow streets of Greenwich Village, but also there are a fair number of bars and other hangouts to be found, some of which can still be visited today. An 1880s era bar over in the West Village, once habituated by seafarers and longshoremen from a once-active nearby waterfront, the White Horse Tavern, can boast some literary luminaries among its now departed clientele. Among the most well-known was the Welsh poet Dylan Thomas, who, on his last tour of America, embarked on his final drinking spree at the White Horse, and died soon after at St. Vincent’s Hospital due to complications of what doctors termed “an alcoholic insult to the brain.”

The novelist most identified with the Beat Generation, Jack Kerouac, was a White Horse regular during his days in Greenwich Village, and reportedly was expelled from the establishment on several occasions for becoming excessively drunk. He memorializes the experience with a mention in his 1965 novel, Desolation Angels of seeing the graffiti scrawl: “Go Home Kerouac” on the wall of the toilet.

History and real estate are inseparably linked in understanding any New York City neighborhood. By the 1970s, Greenwich Village, although largely protected from wholesale demolition by landmark preservation laws, could not be protected by the rising tide of gentrification that has inundated other once less than fashionable areas.

Although many buildings and streets look about the same as they did more than a century ago, Greenwich Village rents and real estate prices have soared so that once again, as it had been in the early decades of the 19th century, it has become an enclave for the upper class. For the most part, the artists and writers who live in Greenwich Village tend to be only the most successful and affluent. But stroll through its byways, visit some of the bars and other haunts of Village writers of days gone by, and you still get a palpable sense of what was once here and the literary visions it inspired.

 

Select Bibliography:

Alcott, Louisa May. Little Women. 1868-1869. New York: Bantam Classics, 1983.

James, Henry. Washington Square. 1880. New York: Dover Thrift Editions, 1998. 

Kerouac, Jack. Desolation Angels. New York: Riverhead Books, 1965.

Millay, Edna St. Vincent. Collected Poems. New York: Harper Perennial Modern Classics, 2011

 Paine, Thomas. The Crisis. 1776-1783. Digireads.com, 2009.

###

My Angel by Barbara Schoenberg

My first part time job exercised polishing skills that, I had learned at home. I was holding a fresh rag. With aplomb, the supervisor of the paper flower department was showing me how to clean the green Formica counter with a little application of oil on a white square of linen. She demonstrated how to make the surface gleam. This section extended about 12 feet in length. About fifty large vases in pastel colors sat on three tiers of wooden stands and held different varieties in complex hues.

Miss O’Toole lifted a red rose from its group and let me hold it for a closer look. The petals curled in a circlet. The formal blossom was held together with green tape that  extended, to cover a long wire stem. There were over a dozen in the container. Miss O’Toole told me she hoped a buyer would purchase twelve roses at one time. It means that romance is in the air.

Each Saturday when I arrived at Kress’ “Five and Ten” in the middle of Manhattan, I collected the oiled rag and proceeded to complete my first task. I polished around each wooden stand so that the counter sparkled. I was careful to keep the stands  erect and centered each vase on them. While I worked I was often in a trance. I was day dreaming about my boyfriend and roses in this forest of flowers. Often peaking between the dark blocks of wood, I could see the angel of the flowers checking up on me. She wanted me to be careful and she never greeted me until I had finished my first assignment.

When she saw that I was on the sales floor, she pointed out that the vessels needed to be filled. I knew the boxes that held the assorted flowers. I took a glance at the receptacles and picked from each carton, to fill our garden.

Selling was my favorite time, because I liked to talk up each blossom. I’d even inquire about the colors of the paints in my customers’ rooms. I stressed that a vase should look full. If I sensed a hesitation, I offered the idea of putting one blossom in a pretty pitcher.

After being a salesgirl in the flower department for months, I grew confident and tried to speed up on the polishing event. I wanted to be on the floor and sell. When I sold a bunch, I was elated.

One Saturday morning, I was tardy and rushed to retrieve my rag. While I was rubbing at a spot on the counter, my arm hit the side of a stand next to me and it fell to the right and took about four more vases with it.

Miss O’Toole was at the end of the counter and with wings, kept them from falling to the floor. I flew to her and she wrapped me in her large and soft bosom. I was in the center of two fully opened peonies. Each of these soft feathery petals molded into wings and talked forgiveness.

###