Monday, April 5, 2010

Hirshfeld's Speakeasies: 1932

Hirshfeld Speakeasy
from amazon
Prohibition was in its last gasp; the Depression still gripped the nation, and New Yorkers found ever more creative ways to tipple, in hideaways from Harlem to Greenwich Village. “Many law-abiding people now thought it was their patriotic duty to drink,” Pete Hamill writes in his introduction to The Speakeasies of 1932. “The speakeasy was a forging ground, a place where issues of class and race could be submerged in the name of a larger goal: the simple good time.” Hirschfeld, who died in January, would go on to immortalize Broadway stars in the Times. Kahn, who died in 1962, was a prolific screenwriter until his refusal to name names landed him on the Hollywood blacklist. Before all that, however, these lifelong friends deftly captured the Manhattan demimonde with a gimlet eye and a Runyon ear.

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