In Dreams Begin Responsibilities: A Memoir

We knew we were already too late. Too late to be modernists, too late to be reds, too late to turn against Stalin, too late to fight the Nazis, too late to be red-baited, too late to join the anti-communist left, too late to take money from the CIA for our magazines. We were too late to be Cold Warriors and too late to bother trying to ban the bomb — the situation was in hand, we were told. We were too late for cheap rent. We came after Stonewall and, most of us, after the worst of the AIDS crisis. The famous zones of bohemian social life were expired: we never stepped foot in the real Cedar Tavern, or the Factory, or the Bunker, or Max’s Kansas City, or the Mudd Club, or Studio 54. We weren’t too late for the Downtown Art Scene Gold Rush, which seems to be permanent, if permanently tainted, because money has to come from somewhere. We weren’t too late to go to CBGB’s, but we were too late to see Television there; we instead saw bands that sounded like Television because the first thing we learned about when we were children was recycling. We were all recyclers. A term available for recycling at the time of our arrival was hipster, so that’s what they called us and what some of us called each other or even ourselves, especially when we were bemoaning our artistic or intellectual bankruptcy, which is not exactly the subject of this essay. We were hipsters but we weren’t “White Negroes,” which is not a phrase we would use, no matter how many of us were reading Norman Mailer. We were deracinated. We Were postcolonial. We were “diverse,” or so it was said. Most of us, it should be admitted,

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