Some Trees by #JohnAshbery. The poet’s first book finds him fully-formed in voice, yet this is an odd thing to say about our greatest living practitioner of verse, as his work is nothing if not an ecstatic refutation of meaning as something that matures, or reifies. Ashbery’s poetry is dedicated to asserting the absolute organic mutability of language and our relationship with it, its eternal state of uncertainty and possibility. “There is no end to his/ Dislike, the accurate one.” So, he posits voice as vessel, a generous form accommodating a multiplicity of positions and idioms (erudite, lyrical, weird, tossed-off, dense, conversational) that elide the raw world as its light passes through the oblique, gentle confusion of the poem. “All beauty, resonance, integrity, / Exist by deprivation or logic/ of strange position.” #princelibrary #poetry

Gentleman Of Leisure: A Year In The Life Of A Pimp, text by #SusanHall, photographed by #BobAdelman. A remarkable combination of exceptional documentary photography and dry, intimate reportage conspire to produce an indelible portrait of Silky, a 1970s pimp who has seemingly walked straight out of a Blaxploitation flick, and his stable of working women. The photos themselves are remarkable enough to stand on their own - naturalistic, yet imbued with the style of their subjects, especially Silky and the garish, visually pungent glamour of the sartorial and material trappings of the player’s lifestyle in the decade of its aesthetic zenith, and capture the quotidian and alternately tender and brutal intimacies that he and his women share. Display, the shared concern of both photography and prostitution, is amply and richly exploited here. The first-person narratives of Silky and his stable presented are frank and compelling, and in tandem with the photographs they provide an unparalleled, and human document of world where the dynamics of the basest of human needs and desires are interrogated with unrelenting scrutiny, all in the context of a volume whose layout and design is gloriously reminiscent of a 1970s textbook. #princelibrary #photography #lit #socialscience #prostitution #pimps #widelapels #1970s #patriarchy #gender #plpick

740 Park: The Story of the World’s Richest Apartment Building by #MichaelGross. Being a relatively small island of finite dimensions, it naturally follows that New York City’s great collective obsession is real estate. Sex is a distant second. The eponymous co-op apartment building is perhaps the most ostentatious yet hermetic culmination of the city’s mania, a physical manifestation of the residential id wrought of the most luxurious materials. Gross chronicles its epic history, from a genesis steeped in tenuous and shady financing and financiers, to occupancy by a roll call of industrialists, and later media and finance titans whose crass machinations both inside and outside their residences would make the word venal blush. With names like Vanderbilt, Rockefeller, Bouvier, Chrysler, and Koch in abundance, rest-assured that the gossip-loving Marxist within you will be well-sated by the book’s conclusion. Gross deftly tells the story of the evolution of New York City’s 20th century high society through the prism of one of its most profane temples. #princelibrary #newyorkcity #history #realestate #homes #money #aristocracy #classwarfare

Black Postcards: A Rock & Roll Romance by #DeanWareham. In contrast to the standard rock memoir of sudden fame and debauched excess, the singer and guitarist of the beloved Galaxie 500 and Luna offers a modest chronicle of a working musician navigating the egos of band mates and record label follies of the pre- and post-Nirvana eras, from indies to the majors, in bands that never broke beyond cult status. No book quite captures the gentle tedium of touring, and the modest pleasures of a musical life quite as well as this does. #princelibrary #music #memoir #Galaxie500 #Luna #indierock #plpick

Secret Historian: The Life And Times Of #SamuelSteward, Professor, Tattoo Artist And Sexual Renegade by #JustinSpring. Samuel Steward is undoubtably one of the most fascinating people you have never heard of, and this remarkable biography is a more than capable chronicling of his unbelievable life. Born to a conservative Ohio family, he discovered both an aptitude for writing and his homosexuality at an early age, and dove headlong into an uncompromising exploration of pre-Stonewall gay life; beginning in the 1920s he beds, Rudolph Valentino, a young Rock Hudson, playwright Thornton Wilder, and literally thousands of other men, meticulously documenting each encounter in his “stud files” of index cards. These records would serve as an invaluable resource for Alfred Kinsey, who drew on them heavily, in collaboration with Steward, for his landmark report on human sexuality which revolutionized the medical and scientific establishment’s views of homosexuality, and sexuality in general. Steward also attained middling success as a writer and professor, becoming close friends and confidants with Gertrude Stein and Alice B Toklas, Tennessee Williams, Jean Genet and Jean Cocteau, to name but a few, and published a few well-reviewed novels. While teaching in Chicago in the late 1940s, he took up tattooing under the name Phil Sparrow, which he became fascinated with vis-à-vis his uniform fetish and a predilection for rough trade, and he became one of the most sought after artists in the Midwest before decamping to Oakland in the 1960s, where he was the preferred tattooist of the Hell’s Angels. There are obviously many corollaries to be drawn between society’s changing views of tattooing and homosexuality during his lifetime, and Steward’s life is a roadmap of the quotidian experience of the marginalized, underground societies which drove those cultural shifts. He also found time to write a popular series of gay pulp fiction/erotica novels under the pen-name Phil Andros (with cover art by Tom Of Finland) that are considered influential classics of the genre. Spring is thoroughly engaged with his subject without being blithely celebratory - we get a thorough and complex portrait of a rich, sometimes brutally obsessive, but never timid life lived to its fullest - one which has had an influential, and heretofore nearly anonymous impact on contemporary sexuality and culture. #princelibrary #biography #lgbt #gayhistory #tattooing #PhilSparrow #PhilAndros #lit #plpick

The Face Of Black Music: Photographs By #ValerieWilmer, Introduction By #ArchieShepp. A collection of portraits of musicians both legendary and humble - primarily practitioners of jazz and blues - representing an impressively broad spectrum of performers within each genre; capturing Duke Ellington and Louis Armstrong with the same easy reverence as avant-gardians like Cecil Taylor and Milford Graves is supremely generous, and also true. Wilmer’s graceful, gritty shots are also interspersed with words from many of the subjects themselves, a choice that raises the book far above the facile and dubious representational tropes that so often plague this territory.
Incidentally, it also an indispensable document of the New York City loft jazz scene of the late 1960s and 70s. #princelibrary #photography #music #jazz #blues #blackhistory #newyorkcity #downtown

Callas Kissed Me… Lenny Too!: A Critic’s Memoir by #JohnGruen. Some of the best biographies are not those chronicling the lives of the most famous or notable artists, but those who are perpetually in their orbit. They can be more relatable for those among us who are not super-geniuses. Gruen is an art, music, and dance critic whose passions naturally drew him and his young wife, the painter Jane Wilson, to New York City in the early 1950s. As he becomes acquainted with seemingly everyone of note in the contemporaneous cultural scene, from the titular Maria Callas and Leonard Bernstein - with whom he had a brief fling, to Nureyev, De Kooning, Rauschenberg, Samuel Beckett, and even Keith Haring,(just to name a scant few of a multitude) we gain invaluable insights into the both the bohemian and “high” art and literary worlds of the city, a refreshing and balancing reprieve from the exhaustively chronicled downtown of our dreams. The tone is felicitously queeny and erudite, and always enthusiastic, as befits the constant appetite for the veneration of creativity - whether it be the author’s or those he admires - that the life chronicled here is a testament to. #princelibrary #memoir #autobiography #art #music #dance #criticism #newyorkcity #lit

Perhaps you overindulged this weekend, and are worried that you are going to have trouble fitting into your Dior Homme or Saint Laurent Paris as summer approaches? Fear not - The #KarlLagerfeld Diet by #DrJeanClaudeHoudret will have you looking as skinny as Unkle Karl’s jeans in no time. And don’t worry - you’ll still be able to eat all of your favorite everyday foods like quail flambé, jellied gazpacho, horse meat, zucchini gelatin, and protein sachets (yeah sorry, I don’t know what those are either). As Der Kaiser says, “if not being able to wear new, trendy small-sized clothes does not cause you any regret, this book is not for you.” #princelibrary #diet #fashion #health #lit

Sometimes Overwhelming by #ArleneGottfried. Indelible black and white photographs of New Yorkers in the 1970s and ’80s. Gottfried works in the vernacular territory of Robert Frank and Gary Winogrand, but focuses on a direct, almost forceful street portraiture which engages her subjects’ assertiveness in a way that allows them to resist, or even challenge, the camera’s gaze, resulting in affectingly visceral images that more than live up to the collection’s title. #princelibrary #art #photography #newyorkcity #1970s #1980s #lit #plpick

#JoséParlá: Walls, Diaries, And Paintings. Among his many books, this excellent monograph is perhaps the single best introduction to the artists’s rich oeuvre. I am biased because he is an old and dear friend, but I will posit that Parlá’s work stands as graffiti’s single most successful and equilateral engagement with painting, and fine art history in general. Writing serves as one of his many means of engaging and interrogating the aesthetics of the entropy of urban surfaces; in his work the abstract gestures of the city’s inhabitants become an architectural element, as language is subsumed by the time and the city, and freed from narrative. You also think of Cy Twombly of course, and Robert Ryman in the skillful handling of paint, but the work is never encumbered by references. #princelibrary #art #painting #graffiti #plpick #lit @joseparla

There Is No Eye by #JohnCohen. An essential and sympathetic document of late-1950s American counter-culture in its many incarnations, from beat poets like Allen Ginsberg, the overlapping Greenwich folk milieu of a young Bob Dylan and Odetta, New York City, and America at large. Cohen was in the thick of it all as a guitarist in the New Lost City Ramblers, and his photographs belie the generous, participatory aesthetic of his approach. #princelibrary #photography #folkmusic #culturalhistory #lit #beatgeneration

Vineland by #ThomasPynchon. Being the child of hippie parents, this is of course my favorite Pynchon novel. I can think of few other books that so brilliantly capture the futile, blithely narcissistic and exciting legacy of the 1960s counterculture, and its reverberations against the paranoid social landscape of Reagan years. Pynchon’s technical prowess is on fine display here, as he weaves his trademark formal wackiness, and some of his most memorably drawn protagonists, deftly into what is perhaps his most coherently structured novel - not that coherency is ever a virtue to be celebrated for its own sake, or never not a good lie. #princelibrary #fiction #lit #plpick

#GerhardRichter: October 18, 1977, with essays by #RobertStorr. A catalogue of Richter’s late 1980s pictorial reconciliation with one of postwar Germany’s greatest traumas, the the prison deaths of the left-wing Baader-Meinhoff group. His interrogations of photography, and therefore the problematic nature of representation itself, through painting over the course his career make him perhaps the most qualified of postmodern artists to engage with the tradition of history painting. These paintings are elegies not just for their subjects, but for the illusion of historical veracity and political progress. They are also quite beautiful. #princelibrary #art #painting #lit

#JoanMiró edited by #JamesThrallSoby. An excellent 1959 Museum Of Modern Art monograph on the varied work of the lyrical Spanish abstractionist, with a number of color plates. The tone and analysis is generally broad, and this a generous introduction to his oeuvre. #princelibrary #art #painting #miró #lit

New York Calling: From Blackout To Bloomberg, edited by #MarshallBerman and #BrianBerger. An extraordinarily sweeping yet detailed overview of the radical transformation of New York City’s political, sociological, economic, and artistic and cultural landscapes during what has arguably been its most transformational decades. A myriad of voices - journalists, artists, criminals, academics, junkies, activists, musicians, New Yorkers from all boroughs - mark what we have lost with essays whose perspectives range from the collective indignation of the city’s disenfranchised communities to the rawly intimate and personal. The weirdly poignant highlight is the great #LucSante’s tersely poetic anecdotal analysis of the esoteric economies of the East Village, wryly (and dryly) entitled “Commerce”. The dream of New York City that this book evokes is an indelible one. #princelibrary #history #newyorkcity #downtown #urbanism #art #music #1970s #1980s #plpick #lit