Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Wish I Had Been There

I was reading last night about Max's Kansas City. It used to be a bar in New York City in the late 60's and early 70's (and now is a charity for artists) where everybody and anybody who was somebody (and equally — going to be somebody) used to hang out.

Counterculture celebrities (and real celebrities) partied side by side here: Andy Warhol at a table with a coterie of artists and gender-benders a few yards away from Mick Jagger, while the then-unknown Iggy Pop and David Bowie shared eyeliner tips. (Imagine Lou Reed and Patty Smyth sharing a dube in the can with Dennis Hopper and Warren Beatty.)

Maybe the nostalgia is creeping in. Maybe the grandiosity of the place is inflated in the retelling. Maybe Warhol only occupied "his regular table" once or twice a year, and maybe Mick's second (and last) visit qualified him as a "regular" for the history books. Maybe 99 nights out of 100, the place was half-filled by the ragtag forerunners of the same forver-nobodies that populate the Jaffa Café today: Interesting... but not legendary.

But I'll ponder that no further: I'll choose to think of Max's Kansas City as a place constantly populated by the elite of the Psychadelic age, where Kennedys — both real and figurative — rubbed elbows with transvestites and junkies even on Tuesday afternoons; where Bruce Springstein and Billy Joel stepped nervously onto the stage to entertain John Lennon and Allen Ginsberg with the first songs of their careers on some otherwise nondescript Wednesday night.

I like my glossed-over version of history better because, while it may or may not have ever been possible 40 years ago, it certainly is impossible today.

2 comments:

Bushwick is Beautiful said...

Do you know the address of the bar? It's closed down now right?

Jil In Pattaya said...

Park Avenue between 17th and 18th. It's apparently a deli now.