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By JACK MICHELINE (1971)
Published in: Lurie, Boris; Krim, Seymour: NO!art, Cologne 1988
He came to the dance hall to watch the dance hall girls. He came to see the thighs of painted women. He came to sketch the frustrated, torn, deprived outcasts who get their thrills in touch and closeness of a warm body. Old men who saved their dimes and quarters and dollars. This was their racetrack, their skin of dreams.
A few hours they would lose their loneliness that the city makes of hunted men. Men beaten down by menial jobs, bus boys and stock clerks in the garment centre and sweater factories, day laborers, cooks, longshoremen, horny salesmen, men who jerk off looking at skin in sex magazines. Truck drivers and sanitation men who holler looking at girl's asses and pussy.
This was their Roseland of dreams. Girls made fifty cents o dance. Men shimmied up to the women, their crotch and legs and dreams of erotic fantasies. Old men with hardens. Women who have to pay rent and feed babies or gigolos or some wild lover who didn't fit in the system.
Women without panties on, women who nursed frustration and exploited fantasy. The dance hall was dark with old men and young guys who rubbed asses and bellies and men who used rubbers all their life. Dick and George and Harry and Shurmie and poor uncle Max, old men and young men with dreams. A society where sex and ass are exploited into dollars.
The dance hall girls could make forty dollars a night, some embraced misery, some exploited it. Some loved cats and had dogs at home. It was Friday night and the dance hall was jumping. Thirty girls stood on the dance floor waiting for the doors to open, to get on with their job, to get it over with. The sweating, panting men climbed the stairs and checked their coats. In the summer of their dreams some sought the shelter of winter.
The music began with a raunchy trumpet blowing over a distant city. Legs, arms, thighs, ass, eyes, nose, legs. The women waited for the horny men to choose them. The dance hall on Fourteenth Street began to move, jump with the action of the music. Belly to belly, ass to ass, dream to dream, pain to pain, cock to cunt howling in the night.
Observing the frantic passion of the evening Boris Lurie sat among this humanity of the cities sketching these creatures of the night. His "Dance hall Series". Boris did his job well. The dance hall is no longer there.
I am glad to call Boris Lurie my friend. The "Series" still stands out in my Infory, fresh as ever now, after all these years - being part of the history of this city like the mass of humanity that still dwell and dream and holler and whistle looking at a nice ass walking up the street.
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About JACK MICHELINE: (born December 6, 1929 in The Bronx, New York; died February 27, 1998 in San Francisco, California) was a Bay Area painter and poet. His name is synonymous with street artists, underground writers, and "outlaw" poets. One of San Francisco's original Beat poets, he was an innovative artist who was active in the San Francisco Poetry Renaissance of the 1950s and 1960s. - Born Harold Martin Silver, he took his pen name from writer Jack London, and moved to Greenwich Village in the 1950s, where he became a street poet, drawing on Harlem blues and jazz rhythms and the cadence of word music. He lived on the fringe of poverty, writing about hookers, drug addicts, blue collar workers, and the dispossessed. In 1957, Troubadour Press published his first book River of Red Wine; Jack Kerouac wrote the introduction, and it was reviewed by Dorothy Parker in Esquire magazine. Micheline relocated to San Francisco in the early 1960s, where he spent the rest of his life. He published over twenty books, some of them mimeographs and chapbooks. - Micheline was married twice, to Pat Cherkin in the 1950s, and to Marian "Mimi" Redding in the early 1960s. His only child was born to a mistress during his second marriage. - Though a poet of the Beat generation, Micheline characterized the Beat movement as a product of media hustle, and hated being categorized as a Beat poet. He was also a painter, working primarily with gouache in a self-taught, primitive style he picked up in Mexico City. - Micheline died of a heart attack while riding a BART subway train from San Francisco to Orinda in 1998. The back room at San Francisco's Abandoned Planet Bookstore still showcases Micheline's wall mural paintings. see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jack_Micheline