Guest host Jane Curtin presents a celebration of Greenwich Village—bad girls, beatniks, Bob Dylan, smart girls in small apartments, and the Village Halloween Parade are all remembered fondly.
“Here we live, here we love/This is the place for self-expression.” This is how Greenwich Village was described in the 1953 Broadway musical Wonderful Town. And you don’t need a tour guide like the one in the show to tell you that dozens of poets, painters, actors, dancers, and writers got their start “right in the heart of Greenwich Village.”
The legendary New York neighborhood is celebrated in the collection Greenwich Village Stories: A Collection of Memories, edited by Judith Stonehill for the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation.
On this program, we hear from a number of the book’s colorful contributors: comedian/author and This American Life contributor Dave Hill muses on the Village’s geographic eccentricities, and that famous Dylan song; fashion designer Isaac Mizrahi says the Jefferson Market Library—and the ghost of its one-time neighbor, the Womens’ House of Detention—were childhood talismans. Village Halloween Parade founder Ralph Lee tells us how it all began, and remembers some of the best costumes; and performance artist Penny Arcade recalls the thrill of live blues and beatniks, and says the Village is where she left childhood behind.
The program also features two works inspired by the Village. The late food and fiction writer Laurie Colwin’s charming memoir Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant makes it clear that her stories, usually about plucky girls in tiny apartments looking for love, were at least partly based on personal experience. The reader is the musical theater star Kelli O’Hara.
Our final story on this program about the heart of Greenwich Village is by John Updike. It’s the first in a series of pieces featuring a couple called the Maples. Updike chronicled the history of their marriage in eighteen stories over all. In this first one, he captures the neighborhood’s quirky magic on a winter evening. Host Jane Curtin reads “Snowing in Greenwich Village.” Listen to the Show