Friday, October 01, 2021

Just Kids

I have heard of Patti Smith as a famous alternative musician of the past, but could not identify any of her music. (When I finally did listen to her top tracks on Spotify, it was all covers that jumped out. I've heard U2 and 10,000 Maniacs cover her songs, while she had covers of Prince and Nirvana songs.) When she started talking about Robert at first, I thought it was Robert Smith, and the time he (the singer of the Doors) died. Then I realized Robert Smith is the name of the Cure singer, and Jim Morrison was the Doors singer. (He death does actually show up later in the book.) The Robert who was dying in this book was Mapplethorpe. I had heard of him before, but really only remember him as being some artist that was more famous for controversy in the 80s.

This book is Smith's story of two young trying to find themselves in the New York City of the late 60s and eventually developing their own unique art. They both spent a significant amount of time struggling financially. They met by chance as he came to buy something at a store she was working at. She happened to see him walking by as she was trying to escape a bad date with a science fiction writer. She claimed he was her boyfriend to escape. They ended up becoming romantically involved. (At one time, he told his Catholic family they had eloped.) They broke up and got back together in different fashions. He eventually honed in on his homosexuality with other boyfriends, and she had other boyfriends, yet they still remained friends. They supported each other in their art. The book focusses on the "hard times" they had together in New York city in the late 60s. There were a series of odd jobs, some horrible apartments and many challenges as the artists spent time trying to create art. The book picks up speed in the 70s and then rushes through to touch on the launching point of their fame. Smith would eventually branch out from her Poetry to become a respected musician. He would be an artists known for his controversial sexual subject matter. He would provide the photographs for some of her album covers.


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