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renovation bluesOnce Upon A Time On Dean Street: L.J. Davis and Jonathan Lethem will be appearing at 7 pm next Tuesday, March 31, at the Community Bookstore, 143 7th Avenue in celebration of L.J.’s beautifully republished 1971 novel, A Meaningful Life. All living “brownstoners”— old and new, owners and renters, black, white and “Spanish,” as we used to say— are invited to attend; tenement dwellers too! The return of Davis to even the margins of Brooklyn literary consciousness is a wonderful and long overdue thing. There are lots of reasons for Davis’ thirty plus year disappearance (which wasn’t quite that) but I’ll let Jonathan and L.J. say their pieces first. Want a preview? The New York Review of Books Classics has one, and at the risk of incurring the wrath of those whose sense of humor is in inverse proportion to their obsession with ‘new’ ‘Brooklyn’ ‘property’ ‘values,’ my own selection follows below. Kenny Wisdom

He occasionally saw the hippies on the street too, looking around them as though the world had turned some delightful new color. Sometimes they looked at Lowell. They seemed pretty pleased with him too, but not in any human way. After a while Lowell began to check the street before he left the house, to make sure they were nowhere in sight. He didn’t like being looked at like that.

Lowell thought the matter over and decided that the situation was not normal. In the weeks since he first moved to the neighborhood, he’d met a fag real-estate agent, two senile old people, a pair of stoned hippies, and a nut. (He’d also met, albeit briefly, a substantial number of Negroes and Puerto Ricans and one goofy grocer from the Canary Islands, but they were not the people he was looking for so they didn’t count.) Clearly such a collection couldn’t be a reasonable cross-section of this or any other neighborhood. Therefore he had managed to meet the wrong people. Undoubtedly an opportunity for meeting the right people would arrive in due time. Meanwhile, he decided not to worry about it. He’d worry about it when he got done with the house, and he went right upstairs with a couple of six-packs and set to work, attempting to pull a nest of old wiring out of the wall without electrocuting himself, shorting out the house or burning it down or a combination of the three. Presently he began to sing “The Battle Hymn Of The Republic,” or as much of it as he could remember when he wasn’t drinking beer. It established a good rhythm for his wor, made the time pass quickly, gave rise to thoughts of Darius Collingwood, and was fun. He was aware of  the fact he’d forgotten to eat again. It was a good thing beer was so nourishing.


Willis Still Sunsweet, The Music Director, adds: Elvis and Chuck D. are musical heroes, aiiight? Don’t miss the great early ’60s Cannonball Adderley group for another “Work Song” and praise be unto Oscar Brown Jr. too.


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