Every now and then, an artist will influence society rather than display its influences. In the case of Johnny Cash’s Live from Folsom Prison, the movement was positive. Country was definitely not cool in the 1960’s. The artists were seen as outsiders. When Cash played at Folsom and released a hit album, he sent two critical messages: prisoners deserved respect as humans beings and blacks and whites could come together under hopelessly dreadful circumstances and find something in common. The Folsom concert and recording was Cash’s idea, his vision. It electrified anyone paying attention and was a huge cross-over hit.
Six months ago, I put up a post about poetry, commenting on why I think it matters and the state of poetry today. I asked, “What poets/poems enrich your life?”, which didn’t seem to strike much of a chord among our readership – not really surprising, actually.
The Mail Online published an well presented collection of outstanding photographs from New York City, mostly Manhattan, from a fascinating period, 1968 through 1978. (Image)
Middle class white-flight was nearly complete by the late 1960s leaving a city consisting of the very wealthy, working people, and a collection of energetic twenty-somethings. These folks had no desire to live the suburban dream, regardless of their ability to afford an exit.
The elegant and courageous Mayor John Lindsay was on his way out. Shortly after he left office, the city was broke, an object of derision for the for the rest of the nation. We didn’t care. We knew better. It was a special time when an ordinary walk would often turn into an adventure of the imagination; when you could easily see the Vienna Symphony and Count Basie on successive Fridays and Carnegie Hall; when you were able to meet just about anyone if you had something to contribute to the conversation; and, when it was natural (and expected) to say, “Hi, how are you?” to luminaries from Lauren Bacall to John and Yoko Ono if you ran into them at close quarters in Central Park or the grocery store.
I got there in 1972. I can attest to the fact that McDonough captured the spirit of the times with all of the natural strangeness and wonder available just outside your front door, 24 hours a day. He is the Richard Avedon of the demimonde and common scenes represented in this very special work.