A perfect gem just came to my attention--a 15-minute film on the great New York poet Frank O'Hara, produced by Thirteen/WNET in 1966, the same year he died.
In the film, Frank visits the studio of artist Alfred Leslie (who would later depict O'Hara's death by dune buggy), and then the two of them take a walk down Broadway.
Starting at 23rd Street, they pass the glorious Gordon Novelty Shop, alive and well. A coffee shop on the corner of 21st called Barry's Deli-Makers. Signs for party favors, decorations, lanterns, balloons (this was once a district of novelty shops). A little stand advertising meatballs, beef stew, and thick shakes, next to a wedding photographer's studio, next to a barber shop.
Then Union Square Park, the stretch where the farmer's market is today a parking lot full of chrome. Union Square with its crowd. Barton's Bonbonniere (wow--look!), a jeweler's shop, a phonebooth. Men in hats. Cigarettes 37 cents.
And then they're in Frank's apartment, that last apartment of his, at Broadway where 11th should be, recently demolished and turned into a condo building, the first floor replaced by a fro-yo joint histrionically called "Yooglers."
The phone rings while Frank types and it's "Jim." Jimmy Schuyler? I wonder. Or another Jim? (He's got an upset stomach after a night at "the Kansas City.") Frank smokes and reads poems. His cat sits nearby.
He reads the great, wonderful "The Day Lady Died," the poem that made me come to New York in the first place, if a poem is the thing that did it.
Frank's Last Place