Last Call, Bohemia

02008-09-04 | Uncategorized | 3 comments

Last Call, Bohemia: Entertainment & Culture: vanityfair.com
It isn’t possible to quantify the extent to which society and culture are indebted to Bohemia. In every age in every successful country, it has been important that at least a small part of the cityscape is not dominated by bankers, developers, chain stores, generic restaurants, and railway terminals. This little quarter should instead be the preserve of—in no special order—insomniacs and restaurants and bars that never close; bibliophiles and the little stores and stalls that cater to them; alcoholics and addicts and deviants and the proprietors who understand them; aspirant painters and musicians and the modest studios that can accommodate them; ladies of easy virtue and the men who require them; misfits and poets from foreign shores and exiles from remote and cruel dictatorships. Though it should be no disadvantage to be young in such a quartier, the atmosphere should not by any means discourage the veteran. It was Jean-Paul Sartre who to his last days lent the patina to the Saint-Germain district of Paris, just as it is Lawrence Ferlinghetti, last of the Beats, who by continuing to operate his City Lights bookstore in San Francisco’s North Beach still gives continuity with the past.

Right on!
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3 Comments

  1. yumi

    Last train to Bohemia.

    Reply
  2. Rob

    Great article. It made me wonder where the heart and soul of the valley surrounding Phoenix is. There can be no doubt that Phoenix has many hubs of creativity of all sorts – visual arts, musical arts, performing arts, linguistic arts, culinary arts, and more. Even Scottsdale could be said to have its hubs, although clearly more retail and celebratory than creative in a generational sense. Tempe really is the Valley’s Bohemia, “the little preserve of—in no special order—insomniacs and restaurants and bars that never close; bibliophiles and the little stores and stalls that cater to them; alcoholics and addicts and deviants and the proprietors who understand them; aspirant painters and musicians and the modest studios that can accommodate them; ladies of easy virtue and the men who require them; misfits and poets from foreign shores and exiles from remote and cruel dictatorships. Though it should be no disadvantage to be young in such a quartier, the atmosphere should not by any means discourage the veteran.” This type of place is very endearing to me and clearly to many others, but apparently not to mainstream America. The American consumer citizen has been led to find comfort in a homogenized big box society, one in which there are as few variables as possible and one in which few consumer citizens determine their own lives; instead they allow corporations to determine their lives for them. Tempe’s Mill Avenue, once a place where ragged poets performed to accompanying bongo players outside private businesses, has been transformed into a place where no one may sit on the sidewalk, busking is banned, and private businesses have been pushed out by landlords eager to rent retail property to deeper corporate pockets. What was a vibrant and colorful society seems universally beige in a world of glass and steel. Both worlds are necessary; the glass and steel world supports life economically in the Bohemian one and the Bohemian one supports the glass and steel one culturally. This means that Tempe must be very careful that it does not destroy its cultural riches in efforts to attract financial ones. Is Tempe’s goal to turn itself into another gleaming community with no soul? Where is the vibrancy in nearby Peoria? Where are the outside investors lining up in nearby Gilbert? The Tempe city planners that approve projects should consider what makes the city unique, what makes it attractive, and what gives it a soul, when considering how the city builds the face it will wear for the next generation.

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  3. Matt Callahan

    And here I was worried they were going to stop importing Bohemia. Whew!

    Reply

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