There are eight million stories in the naked city. This has been one of them.
The greatest legacy of Naked City is its location footage. This police procedural, which ran between 1958-1963, is chock-full of New York’s real streets. Breakfast at Tiffany’s/West Side Story-era New York. The year 1962 takes my breath away–because it hovers innocently in the middle of the American century, suspended from the ‘50s, just a hop, skip and gun blast away from the assassination and the Beatles.
Naked City was nearly the only location show shot in New York. We visit the fabled St. Nicholas Arena fights on 66th Street. It would be closed in a year. We take in the vista from the elevated subway at 161st Street looking out on Yankee Stadium and the Polo Grounds. We enter the old, cigar-hazed Madison Square Garden at 50th Street, and cross the Bowery where Lower East Side kids run amok and play stickball. Children play alone on sidewalks and playgrounds.more...
By the end of Ringo’s “All-Starr” concert at Billy Bob’s in Fort Worth, two adorable 13-year-old girls in braces, accompanied by one’s mom, staked out front stage for souvenirs. When the meat rack of security guards turned awry, the best she could grab was Gary Brooker’s sweat rag. Sensually inhaling of its fragrance, she neatly folded the white-haired musician’s rag.
“What do you plan to do with it?” I inquired.
“Keep it by my bed,” she purred. Once there were millions of such girls—who’d get up and dance before her mother was born—that would faint over the sweaty droppings of anything Ringo. How nice to see at least two were still interested, by association of Gary Brooker.
As a child, I was given a rare glimpse into the explosion of off-Broadway theater in the late 60s. The 1967 season may have been the best ever, financially and artistically. Off-Broadway is where all the action was—a place where someone like Norman Lear could poach his ideas for future TV shows and the whole the zeitgeist would eventually be harnessed and watered down for the mainstream.
Pick a play, any play, and its small stage was likely to contain an eye-popping young cast. A $4 ticket led the way to George Tabori’s The Niggerlovers (with Morgan Freeman, Stacy Keach, Viveca Lindfors), or Murray Schisgal’s Fragments (with Gene Hackman, James Coco) or Israel Horovitz’s The Indian Wants the Bronx (with Al Pacino, John Cazale, Marsha Mason).
I’m sometimes asked what my favorite New York books are. These became favorites after I wrote Tales of Times Square. I never read much about New York before that. I was too busy experiencing it.more...
Josh Alan Friedman performs “Thanksgiving at McDonald’s in Times Square” at Alias Books as part of the New Texture Nights series in Los Angeles.more...