How am I the first to write a review of this book!?!?
Club 57 was under the radar for so long - a late-70s and early-80s performance space founded in tHow am I the first to write a review of this book!?!?
Club 57 was under the radar for so long - a late-70s and early-80s performance space founded in the basement of a Polish church in NYCs East Village. Keith Haring, Ann Magnuson, Kenny Scharf, Fab 5 Freddy, Lypsinka, Charles Busch, and Marc Shaiman got their starts there. People like Madonna, Cyndi Lauper, The B-52s, Basquiat, RuPaul and others gathered and performed there.
How did this all happen in the basement of a Polish church - with neighbors constantly complaining? The New York Times had this quote I love: "Club 57’s origins had little to do with art. The Holy Cross Polish National Catholic Church had charged Stanley Strychacki, who had arrived in the neighborhood from Poland in 1972, with raising additional parish revenue from their cavernous Gramercy Park wedding hall, Irving Plaza, as well as from the church’s barely used basement bar, which Mr. Strychacki named the East Village Students Club. But Mr. Strychacki quickly grew bored of catering to either the polka crowd or New York University students. Instead, he found himself drawn toward the punk and garage rock bands springing up nearby."
Of course, in the midst of Reagan conservatism, the ground was ripe for counter-culture arts. Punk and New Wave (including new mixing and synthesizer technology) gave birth to young artists with loads of energy, yet little experience. Fashion was finding a new voice with vintage shops, small-time designers, punk aesthetic, rummaging, and Memphis Design. Sexual exploration was at its peak. Drugs were accessible. The East Village was dirty and dangerous, squatters were numerous, and rents were otherwise cheap.
It couldn’t last forever.
The club closed in 1983. Its artists were pillaged for paying gigs – Ann Magnuson went on to the movie The Hunger. Better venues swept up Keith Haring and his art. Madonna started working on her solo career and recording her first album, as did Lauper. Many of the other participants – artists and audience – were devastated by the early days of AIDS.
This is an exhaustive but thoroughly entertaining story about Club 57. It accompanied NYC's Museum off Modern Art and their display about Club 57. This compendium is part coffee table book, part biography, full of engaging narrative and first-hand accounts. I thoroughly enjoyed it front to back! ...more
I read this once when I was about 10, one of the particularly Catholic books my stepmother apparently didn't catch when our family moved in with hersI read this once when I was about 10, one of the particularly Catholic books my stepmother apparently didn't catch when our family moved in with hers - or she would've thrown it out. I thought of it then being a sort of Christian ethic, a C.S. Lewis historical fiction, or a proselytizing Edgar Rice Burroughs about the Holy Grail in early Christendom.
It's still those things, though time hasn't been kind to it. Costain's high-and-mighty old-school language sounds more like a gimmick. It does create a tone and an air, both of which unfortunately make this book less attractive. His vernacular makes the whole story a Christian "good for you" book - Costain is someone who often forgets telling a good story in order to preach.
Basil is a poor, young, but talented sculptor who is adopted by a rich man. Through terrible machinations, Basil is sold into slavery, where he works years and years to right the wrongs done to him. For this, he travels all over the Roman Empire - this is just a few decades after Christ was crucified. On the way, he meets rich and forgiving Christians and one particularly pure and beautiful "Go Jesus" waif.
All the Christians here are tortured to one level or another by the people around them. All the Christians are above reproach, and their doubts and foibles are so, so, so much less than the flawed non-Christian people around them. It's a hard life loving Jesus, even if you're a rich Christian. Because everyone else sucks to one level or another. "We're so much better than them."
Basil is set to make a frame for the famous silver chalice, the one Jesus used at the last supper. It's been hidden for years, and now it's time to take the simple, beautiful faith-inspiring thing and gaudy it up....much like this book does throughout. (The truth is that the apostles are dying, and they should be captured in the cup's frame, along with the elusive image of Jesus, which Basil struggles to imagine...) Is Basil going to become a Christian in the process? Do you think?
There are so many elements of good, swashbuckling storytelling here. They get lost in LOOOONG details and of course that schoolmarmish preaching. It's a long, thick book, and much of the beginning actually could be miles shorter. I assume The Silver Chalice would be half the length if Costain had been less concerned with writing a story about why we all should convert, and instead told a story with complex, flawed people going on adventures.
There are also questionable theological ethics - for a supremely forgiving people, they refuse to have Judas represented on the cup... Also, there's loads of sexism, which would have registered barely a blip when Costain penned the book in the mid-1950s. Now, that sexism stings - a sort of rebuke of a faith that still hasn't yet fully accepted everyone - women, non-believers, etc. - as equals to good, male Christians in God's eyes....more