the mobster’s lament

Bird and Chet

This is the last of my posts from the research for The Mobster’s Lament, and it’s a fitting one. The quote is from Leonard Feather’s ‘Inside Bebop’, the first proper book about the new musical movement. It’s got some brilliant quotes in it from Parker himself. This photo is from much later, in 1950s, and

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52nd Street

I’ve been in two minds about putting this one up due to the explicit homophobia (and implicit racism) of the quote. It’s from ‘New York Confidential’ the 1940s true crime ‘expose’ that was basically a travel guide for criminals. I’ve posted loads of quotes from the book before so figured for full transparency I’d post

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“All the roofs are wetand underneath smokethat piles softly instreets, tongues areon top of each othermulling over the night.” Frank O’Hara, ‘Gamin’. A couple more pics from the 1947 Blizzard. The first one is from ‘Life’, not sure of the photographer. The second is by Harry Harris. I tried a million different ways to match

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A few more bits and pieces from my The Mobster’s Lament research. The quote is from ‘Christmas on the Hudson’ by Federico Garcia Lorca, which can be found in his collection ‘Poet in New York’. The original was written in Spanish, obviously. I found 3 or 4 different translations of it, but I didn’t really

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Night scenes

A couple more night scenes from the research I did for The Mobster’s Lament. Quotes are from ‘The Birth of Bebop’ and from the New York District Attorney’s Report for 1946 – 1948, which was a goldmine of information that I stumbled across during my research. ⠀The photos are both Feiningers, though the second one

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More Bird…

Above is a photo of Charlie Parker and a quote from James Baldwin. I love both of them. The quote was actually going to be the front quote in The Mobster’s Lament, but I switched it out at the last minute (anyone who has the promo copies of the book will see it’s still in

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In 1947 Billie Holiday was serving time in prison for possession, so she doesn’t appear in The Mobster’s Lament, but she’s discussed by her stable-mate, Louis Armstrong, and her manager, who are both side characters in the book. There are rumours that her manager, a former Capone stooge called Joe Glaser, assisted in her imprisonment.

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Two sides of NYC

These are two opposite sides of New York in the 1940s; the shadows under the ‘El’, and the floating neon lights of the consumer promised land. These are the extremes the book tries to capture, the variety of the city, from its tenements to its luxury hotels, from its bebop clubs to the bustling wharves

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Miles on Bird

The quote is from Miles Davis’ autobiography, where he reminisces about seeing his idol, Charlie Parker, in the flesh for the first time. In 1944 a teenaged Davis, freshly arrived in New York, spent months scouring the city’s clubs, looking for his idol. When Davis eventually found Parker, he was shocked at how bedraggled his

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What editing looks like… I think this is from a round of edits on the 6th or 7th draft of the new book. The published version will be the 9th draft. Much of the stuff I’m cleaning up on this page ended up getting cut from the final version anyway. My process is massively inefficient.

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