Saturday, November 30, 2013

Sam Edwards, "In the Last Days of the Empire."

Sam Edwards, I'm told, was a bartender at "55," the joint next door to the Lion's Head. I seldom went into 55; whenever I did my nostrils were assailed by the smell of insecticide. There was good jazz there, but in those days I'd yet to develop an ear for it. My few visits were occasioned by hearing that someone I liked who'd been 86'd from the Head (which, despite its raffish reputation, maintained fairly strict standards of decorum) was having a drink there. It was owned by Bradley Cunnigham, who also owned Bradley's, an upscale bar and restaurant on University Place where my appreciation for jazz got a jolt one evening from listening to Joanne Brackeen. I heard that Bradley made more money off 55 than from Bradley's. Bradley's, like the Lion's Head, is long gone, but 55 survives.

Sam's video and poem, for which I must again offer thanks to Michael Simmons, is about Greenwich Village before I arrived; the Village of my high school and college aspirations that I, and others like me, unwittingly helped to destroy. Like Michael, I was delighted to see, in one of the photos in the montage that accompanies the reading of the poem, a poster for a concert by David Amram.