Monday, December 28, 2009
Patricia Highsmith's High Society (1970's style)
The Gateway to SoHo, July 1974 West Broadway and Houston Street Photo ©2002 Allan Tannenbaum
(From October 1973 until March 1982 the SoHo Weekly News was New York City's hippest paper and guide to what was happeining in Fun City)
Book Review - ‘The Talented Miss Highsmith,’ by Joan Schenkar - Review - NYTimes.com:
Patricia Highsmith traveled in very "high" circles. Her NOVELS are highly instructive of how contemporary elites behave.
Yesterday, I was at Dave McGowan's web site . Scroll down, on that link, to see a menacing photo of Dennis Hopper, who looms large in the chilling activities of the LC saga.
I mention Mr. Hopper because there was a significant synchronicity. Hopper played the legendary figure, Tom Ripley, in Wim Wender's film version of Patricia Highsmith's novel, "Ripley's Game", The American Friend.
This movie, captures my experiences in Manhattan's elite enclave of the downtown, SoHo, art scene of the 1970's. I commented on Peter Chamberlin's web site about the NY Times journalist Jane Perlez, who had penned a story about the recent Pakistan troublesMI6 (I mentioned her early writing for the downtown newspaper, The SoHo Weekly News). SoHo, short for South of Houston, (Houston Street) is a neighborhood in lower Manhattan comprised of wealthy people in the arts. There were and still are numerous prestigious art galleries(remember Andrew Crispo from McGowan's, Programmed to Kill?) I can safely say, SoHo has many parallels to Laurel Canyon. SoHo, like Laurel Canyon, has had it's share of strange murders. Heath Ledger's death was just the latest. Ledger died in his SoHo loft space. (Perlez and Ledger both Aussies both associated with SoHo).
Dennis Hopper's Ripley, in the movie "The American Friend", epitomizes SoHo's denizens of the 70's. The film maker, Wenders, captures the SoHo of the 1970's perfectly with Hopper's Ripley.. Highsmith, in all of her novels dealing with Tom Ripley, imparts on the Ripley character, an ambiguous psychological complexity which is a polite way of saying Tom Ripley is the ultimate embodiment of a pure sociopath. This multidimensional "complexity" can be viewed as a metaphor for much of the elite/upper echelon high society. This "aspect", McGowan also documents in LC, albeit in a more cursory manner.
My take, both LC and SoHo are elite compounds where a variety of overlords of organized crime reside(America's version of crowned bloodsuckers). Sometimes they cooperate amongst themselves, sometimes they compete amongst themselves and sometimes the competition becomes unspeakably lethal. Highsmith's novels reveal these truly amazing interactions in a most intimate and substantive style. A style, characterised by her biographer
Joan Schenkar,“She wrote five or six of the most unusual novels of the last century.”
I just found a cool web site dedicated to the SoHo Weekly News. Here is link