Thursday, April 30, 2015

The Spirit of Patti Smith & Robert Mapplethorpe


Patti smith homage photo robert mapplethorpe


November 09, 2010

The Spirit of Patti Smith & Robert Mapplethorpe 

in VMAN as Channeled by Model-Photog Christian Brylle


The Philadelphia-born poet/rockstar and the shooter were A-list scenesters in the NYC of the late 60s, hanging with the artsy Chelsea Hotel crowd - including William Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin & Johnny Winter.  Although he found his artistic calling first, Smith became famous before her lover-turned-friend Robert (he subsequently discovered he was gay...good thing she didn't take it personally). Mapplethorpe died of AIDS in 1989, and her memoir about their lifelong friendship, "Just Kids," is up for a National Book Award; Smith already received the prestigious title of Commandeur des Arts et des Lettres from the French Ministry of Culture in 2005.

The multitalented Christian Brylle proves he's more than just a pretty modeling face with this spread he shot (and also stars in) for VMAN (issue #20; The Winter Issue - on newsstands November 11th). Posing as Mapplethorpe with Freja Beha Erichsen as Smith, "PATTI + ROBERT" showcases some of winter's coolest rock 'n roll looks while paying homage to the bond of youth and coolness shared by the famous friends. Be sure to check it out at VMAN.com.
- Lesley Scott

FASHIONTRIBES



Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Julian Barnes / Books




BOOKS

by Julian Barnes
Books say: She did this because. Life says: She did this. Books are where things are explained to you; life is where things aren't. I'm not surprised some people prefer books.




Sherwood Anderson / Truth

Sherwood Anderson
TRUTH
by Sherwood Anderson


That in the beginning when the world was young there were a great many thoughts but no such thing as truth. Man made the truths himself and each truth was a composite of a great many vague thoughts. All about in the world were truths and they were all beautiful.


Frank Herbert / The Mystery of Life


Sally Mann
From What Remains
Photo by Sally Mann
From What Remais
THE MYSTERY OF LIFE
by Frank Herbert

"The mystery of life isn’t a problem to solve, but a reality to experience."

— Frank Herbert, Dune



Monday, April 27, 2015

Ivette Ivens / Breastfeeding Goddesses


Something about Ivette Iven's photography resonated with my soul the first time I scrolled past one of her photos on Facebook. It was a photograph of a stunning, laughing woman with blue hair breastfeeding her daughter in the snow. The mother looked blissfully happy while her daughter, cradled in her breasts, looked innocent, safe, and secure. It perfectly captured everything I felt about breastfeeding. The empowering, natural, beautiful journey that creates an immeasurable bond was perfectly showcased in this one photograph.


After seeing that first photograph, I found her photography's Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/IvetteIvensPhotography). I was inspired by her photographs and wanted to share them with my blog followers, so I started posting several of her breastfeeding photos on my blog's Facebook page. Each photo tells an individual story of mother and child, but I believe that all of the photographs speak to breastfeeding mothers. The looks of adoration, strength, determination, and unconditional love on these mother's faces have all been our own faces looking at our children as we nurse them. These children's looks of happiness, contentment, and joy have all been the faces our own children. The beauty of breastfeeding is universal, and I believe that Ivette Iven's photography captures that beauty wonderfully.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Susan Sontag / I'm a foreigner in America


Susan Sontag
Photo by Jesse Fernández
"I'm a foreigner in America"

Susan Sontag
By Alain Elkann


“I am a foreigner in America. From the time I was a child, I dreamt of being somewhere else.”
Susan Sontag, in your latest book, you write that the United States is a country where one can always start over in life. Is that true?
“It’s definitely a myth, but because people believe in it, it ends up being possible. This is people’s fantasy when they come to America, a land of new horizons. It’s a more profound idea than finding one’s fortunes in America. Moreover, the characters in my book found success in Europe and come to America where they have a worse life, but with the hope of starting over. In America, you can be a grandmother and take parachuting lessons and everyone will tell you, “Good for you!” There’s no sense of being ridiculous.”

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Illness as Metaphor by Susan Sontag / Reviewed by Denis Denoghue

'Illness as Metaphor'

by Susan Sontag

Reviewed by DENIS DONOGHUE

The New York Times
Published: July 16, 1978



Illness as Metaphor" first appeared as three long essays in the New York Review of Books last January and February. The essays have been revised in a spirit of discretion. Wilhelm Reich's language is no longer described as having "its own inimitable looniness"; now it has "its own inimitable coherence." Laetrile is a "dangerous nostrum" rather than a "quack cure." John Dean is not reported as calling Watergate "the cancer on the Presidency." The revised version has him explaining Watergate to Nixon: "We have a cancer within -- close to the Presidency -- that's growing." Far-right groups no longer have "a paranoid view of the world"; now they have a "politics of paranoia." All the textual changes I have come across serve the cause of moderation.

But Susan Sontag is still angry. Her book is not about illness, but about the use of illness as a figure or metaphor. She is particularly concerned with the metaphorical sue of tuberculosis in the 19th century and cancer in the 20th. Most of these metaphors are lurid, and they turn each disease into a mythology. Until 1882, when tuberculosis was discovered to be a bacterial infection, the symptoms were regarded as constituting not merely a disease but a stage of being, a mystery of nature. Those who suffered from the disease were thought to embody a special type of humanity. The corresponding typology featured not bodily symptoms but spiritual and moral attributes: nobility of soul, creative fire, the melancholy of Romanticism, desire and its excess. Today, if Miss Sontag's account is accurate, there is a corresponding stereotype of the cancer victim: someone emotionally inert, a loser, slow, bourgeois, someone who has steadily repressed his natural feelings, especially of rage. Such a person is thought to be cancer-prone.

Susan Sontag / Illness as Metaphor / Review

Susan Sontag
ILLNESS AS METAPHOR 
By Susan Sontag

In 1978 Susan Sontag wrote Illness as Metaphor, a classic work described by Newsweek as "one of the most liberating books of its time." A cancer patient herself when she was writing the book, Sontag shows how the metaphors and myths surrounding certain illnesses, especially cancer, add greatly to the suffering of patients and often inhibit them from seeking proper treatment. By demystifying the fantasies surrounding cancer, Sontag shows cancer for what it is - just a disease. Cancer, she argues, is not a curse, not a punishment, certainly not an embarrassment and, it is highly curable, if good treatment is followed.
Almost a decade later, with the outbreak of a new, stigmatized disease replete with mystifications and punitive metaphors, Sontag wrote a sequel to Illness as Metaphor, extending the argument of the earlier book to the AIDS pandemic.
These two essays now published together, Illness as Metaphor and AIDS and Its Metaphors, have been translated into many languages and continue to have an enormous influence on the thinking of medical professionals and, above all, on the lives of many thousands of patients and caregivers.



Friday, April 24, 2015

Game of Thrones season / Big Sky Atlantic return serves mainly as a catch-up



Game of Thrones season 5 episode 1 review: Big Sky Atlantic return serves mainly as a catch-up



If you were one of those panting with excitement at the thought of Game of Thrones’ return, last night’s series five opener might have been a let-down.

There were no truly gruesome death scenes, an uneventful funeral in place of the usual wedding-massacre and only a modest quota of bare boobies. Instead, the episode functioned mainly as a catch-up, reminding us of where all the characters have landed on the Seven Kingdoms map.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Jack Nicholson / Interview


Jack Nicholson


INTERVIEW / Great film, Jack, now let's talk about you: Jack Nicholson



 
 

THERE'S always a bit of messing around when you do superstars - conditions laid down, complicated arrangements that you fear will go wrong should the superstar wake up grumpy on the day and say bugger it, I ain't doing nothing. Jack Nicholson was only in London for two days on a private visit, but to help along his new film, Hoffa, which opens on 19 March, he'd agreed to do just two interviews. I had to see the film first, at a private viewing in Soho, at 10.30. In the morning? No, evening. Oh, cripes. That's when I have my cocoa and go to bed.

I saw the film, and Mr Nicholson is brilliant. Unquote. His performance as the controversial American union boss Jimmy Hoffa is remarkable.

Women on the beach / Lauren Mellor

Women on the beach

Lauren Mellor


Lauren Mellor naked in bodypaint SI Swimsuit 2014

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

In praise of... Jack Nicholson

Jack Nicholson
In praise of … Jack Nicholson

At his best, Nicholson treads the finest of lines between derangement and all too sane fury

Monday 9 September 2012

If Jack Nicholson is really retiring, the cinema will have lost one of its great presences. But defining it is no simple task. It has been a while since the most nominated male actor in Hollywood history has made a film that compares toEasy Rider, Five Easy Pieces, Carnal Knowledge, Chinatown, Terms of Endearment. Even uncontained or badly directed, Nicholson had the capacity to act everyone else off the screen, and Stephen King, who wrote the original novel, expressed doubts about casting Nicholson as the deranged caretaker in The Shining, because in King's view he simply could not play the ordinary man. There is nothing ordinary about him. At his best, Nicholson taunts. He treads the finest of lines between derangement and all too sane fury, between moral purpose and its exact opposite. Time out of number he has made Mephistopheles easily the most sympathetic character in the cast.



Jack Nicholson 'retires from acting due to memory loss'

Jack Nicholson 'retires from acting due to memory loss'

Actor apparently refusing scripts as sources say he 'can no longer remember the lines' – but he will remain a public figure 

Ben Child
The Guardian
Thursday 5 September 2013 11.44 BST



Reports claim that Jack Nicholson has retired from acting due to memory loss.Radar Online and Star Magazine say the 76-year-old, three-time Oscar-winner is no longer considering scripts, though he will continue to play an active role in public life.
"There is a simple reason behind his decision – it's memory loss," a source told Radar. "Quite frankly, at 76, Jack has memory issues and can no longer remember the lines being asked of him."

Actor Jack Nicholson poses for a portrait in Beverly Hills, Calif.
on Sunday, Dec. 9, 2007.
(AP Photo/Matt Sayles) Photograph: Matt Sayles/AP

Nicholson has not been seen on the big screen since 2010, when he played the father of a business executive facing jail over alleged corporate malfeasance in the Reese Witherspoon and Paul Rudd romantic comedy drama How Do You Know. His only other acting role since turning 70 has been 2007's The Bucket List, and he currently has no films on his slate.
As well as best actor Oscars for 1975's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, 1998's As Good As It Gets and the best supporting actor prize for 1984's Terms of Endearment, Nicholson holds the record for the highest number of Oscar nominations for a male actor: 12. According to US reports, he will continue to appear at the annual awards ceremony if invited as a guest presenter of prizes, as he did earlier this year when handing over the best picture gong with Michelle Obama, and will likely be courtside on a regular basis to watch his beloved LA Lakers basketball team.
"Jack has no intention of retiring from the limelight," Radar's source said. "He's not retiring from public life, at all. He just doesn't want a tribute. He's happy to tacitly join the retirees' club, like Sean Connery."
However NBC anchor Maria Shriver has contradicted suggestions that Nicholson is to retire, according to E! Online, asserting he is "not suffering from any memory-related illness or dementia".
Nicholson reportedly turned down the chance to play an alcoholic father travelling with his son to pick up a million-dollar lottery prize in Alexander Payne's Nebraska. The role won 77-year-old Bruce Dern the best actor prize at this year's Cannes film festival. Nicholson was also due to star alongside Clint Eastwood and Warren Beatty as retired superheroes in Matthew Vaughn's The Golden Age. However, the proposed film has yet to see the light of day.
Neither Nicholson nor his representatives have so far made any public comment on the reports of his retirement.



Jack Nicholson Retires From Acting

Jack Nicholson 
Actor Jack Nicholson 
Retires From Acting

Sep 4, 2013

Excerpted from Radar Online: He’ll still sit court side at Los Angeles Lakers’ games, but Hollywood legend Jack Nicholson has quietly retired from the movie business, RadarOnline.com has exclusively learned.The 76-year-old icon has no plans to appear in films again after a career spanning five decades.
“Jack has — without fanfare — retired,” a well-placed Hollywood film insider confirmed to Radar.
“There is a simple reason behind his decision — it’s memory loss. Quite frankly, at 76, Jack has memory issues and can no longer remember the lines being asked of him.“His memory isn’t what it used to be.”
The three-time Academy Award winner has not worked since How Do You Know in 2010 starring Reese Witherspoon, Paul Rudd and Owen Wilson.
Tellingly, producers for the forthcoming film Nebraska had wanted him to play the key role of an aging, booze-addled father who makes the trip from Montana to Nebraska with his estranged son in order to claim a million dollar Mega Sweepstakes Marketing prize.
The role ultimately went to Bruce Dern, after Nicholson advised the filmmakers that he was not interested, the source said.Nicholson began his Hollywood career in the 1950s, first working as a gofer for animation legends William Hanna and Joseph Barbera at the MGM cartoon studio. He left soon after to pursue his dream to star on screen.
The New Jersey-native made his film debut in a low-budget teen drama The Cry Baby Killer, in 1958, playing the title role.
He’s best remembered for his Academy Award winning roles as Best Actor for One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and for As Good as It Gets. He also won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for the 1983 film Terms of Endearment.
Nicholson has been nominated for a record-setting 12 Oscars, eight for Best Actor and four for Best Supporting Actor, making him the most nominated male actor in Academy Awards history.“Jack has no intention of retiring from the limelight,” said the source, who noted his regular appearances on the Hollywood party circuit, court side at his beloved Lakers and his co-presentation of the Academy Award for Best Picture with First Lady Michelle Obama, earlier this year.
“He’s not retiring from public life, at all. He just doesn’t want a tribute,” added the insider. “He’s happy to tacitly join the retirees club like Sean Connery.”

PATDOLLAR



Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Frida Kahlo / The other accident

Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera
THE OTHER ACCIDENT

by Frida Kahlo

I suffered two grave accidents in my life. he other accident is Diego.



She and the Mexican muralist Diego Rivera first met when she was 15, and a student at a college where Diego was commissioned to paint a mural. So badly behaved were Frida and her gang that the previous muralists had armed themselves with pistols to deal with the kids. After meeting again in 1928, they married the following year, and she yearned for a child with him. Although she became pregnant several times, she had two terminations for medical reasons and one miscarriage. Her pelvis, it seems, had been too badly damaged to support a baby. Her painting Henry Ford Hospital depicts the artist, naked and alone on blood-soaked sheets, surrounded by a barren landscape that echoes her own barrenness. “Never before,” said Diego, “has a woman put such agonized poetry on canvas.


Raymond Chandler / The trap




Raymond Chandler

THE TRAP


There is no trap so deadly as the trap you set for yourself.


Raymond Chandler, The Long Goodbye







Oscar Wilde / A mask


A MASK
By Oscar Wilde

Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.



Monday, April 20, 2015

Günter Grass / The man who broke the silence

Günter Grass: 

the man who broke the silence

Truth-teller, controversialist, affectionate friend – above all, ingenious and inspirational novelist … Orhan Pamuk, John Irving and other writers salute Günter Grass, who died this week


Neal Ascherson, Rachel Seiffert, Ian Buruma, David Kynaston, Orhan Pamuk,Adam Thirlwell, Philip Hensher, Simon Winder, Lawrence Norfolk and Daniel Kehlman

Saturday 18 April 2015 09.36 BST

Günter Grass in 1989
Photo by Udo Hesse
Poster by T.A.

Neal Ascherson
Don’t mourn for Günter Grass! Eat and drink for him, pork belly and black lentils and golden Westphalian beer. And then remember somebody else who can never die, and who seems now to stand for so much of Grass’s lust for real, bad-smelling, defiant life.
I mean his character Tulla Pokriefke, first met in Cat and Mouse and last seen in Crabwalk, his final novel. She starts as a scabby, dirty-minded teenager in wartime Danzig, who gets conscripted as a tram conductor. She ends up as an insufferable old matriarch in East Germany, suspect to everyone for speaking her mind, for blubbing over Stalin’s death and yet loudly defending the Nazi “Strength Through Joy” cruises for working-class families. Somebody in Crabwalk says: “That’s always been Tulla’s way. She says things other people don’t wish to hear. Of course she sometimes exaggerates just a bit.”

Game of Thrones / A return to form with dragons, Dorne and intrigue

Game of Thrones, S05E02 - TV review: A return to form with dragons, Dorne and intrigue


MATLIDA BATTERSBY

MONDAY 20 APRIL 2015

Where are the Sand Snakes? We’ve been promised three new ass-kicking warrior beauties in the form of Prince Oberyn Martell’s daughters, but two episodes in and the hotly anticipated new characters are yet to make an appearance. Instead, and as some consolation, we get our first glimpse of Oberyn the Red Viper’s homeland of Dorne and see his lover Ellaria Sand (Indira Varma) giving her king a poisonous earful, lisping her lines to ssssoound as ssssssnakey as posssssible .

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Patti Smith planning sequel to Just Kids memoir

Patti Smith
Patti Smith 
planning sequel to Just Kids memoir
Singer will focus on music and family this time, having already written about her relationship with Robert Mapplethorpe
Sean Michaels
Wednesday 19 December 201210.58 GMT


Patti Smith is working on a sequel to her acclaimed 2010 memoir, Just Kids. The new book will focus on a "similar time period", she has revealed, but with more of a focus on music and family.
"I just reached social security age, but I'm far from retiring," Smith told Billboard this week. Whereas Just Kids was centred on photographer Robert Mapplethorpe, "and my relationship with Robert, and wanting to be an artist", the new book "will be more, perhaps, music-based". The singer also said she wants to write about her late husband, the MC5 guitarist Fred "Sonic" Smith.
"I don't have a big rock'n'roll lifestyle, a sex, drugs and rock'n'roll story to tell," Smith told Billboard. "I think I have maybe a better story. Through rock'n'roll I travelled the world, worked with my late brother and, best of all, that's how I met Fred. It changed my life in many unexpected ways, so I have my story to tell."
Smith said she has lots in the pipeline for 2013, describing it as a "year of work". In addition to the next volume of her life story, the singer is working on a mystery novel, set in London. At the time she announced that project, almost two years ago, she said she was already "68%" finished.
Smith, who is 65, also continues to tour her new album, Banga, and to promote her photography, which was compiled in a recent book. Just Kids, which won the United States' National Book Award for Nonfiction, has been hailed as one of pop music's finest memoirs. An earlier collection of autobiographical sketches,Woolgathering, was published in 1992.


Patti Smith, godmother of punk, wins award for her autobiography


Patti Smith, godmother of punk, 
wins award for her autobiography

Memoir of her bohemian days with artist Robert Mapplethorpe earns acclaimed musician National Book Award in US

For a musician who virtually dropped out of public life for almost two decades, Patti Smith has become remarkably ubiquitous. Barely a month passes without her being graced with a new award or feted at a Manhattan cultural event.
The latest accolade for the 63-year-old "godmother of punk" was the National Book Award for non-fiction, which she won on Wednesday night for her memoir of her bohemian days in the Chelsea Hotel with the artist Robert Mapplethorpe.
It marked the fulfilment of Smith's lifelong dream to be a writer, or as she put it at the awards ceremony at Scribner's bookstore in New York, "of having a book of my own, of writing one that I could put on a shelf". (She has, however, produced several books of poetry and some photography collections.)
The cheers that greeted the announcement of her victory were a far cry from the 16 years she spent in semi-retirement during the 1980s and most of the 1990s, when she retreated to the outskirts of Detroit to bring up her family. She returned to performing, with the encouragement of friends such as Bob Dylan, beat poet Allen Ginsberg and Michael Stipe of REM, only in 1996, and in the past three years has enjoyed a cultural blooming in some ways even richer than her heyday in the 1970s.
Next year she will release her 11th album, 36 years after her debut album Horses, which, with its iconic Mapplethorpe portrait of her on the cover, propelled her to countercultural fame. Dream of Life, a documentary on her life and work that involved her being followed around with a camera for more than a decade by the fashion photographer Steven Sebring, was released in 2008 and continues to do the rounds of art cinemas and music venues, often with live performances by Smith.
Her rise as an author provides the unexpected icing on the cake of her cultural rebirth. Just Kids is Smith's keeping of a promise that she made to her lover, friend and muse, Mapplethorpe, as he lay dying from Aids in 1989. "I promised Robert the day before he died that I would write it … I wanted to write a book that he would appreciate," she told the music daily Spinner.
The book draws on the copious notes that she kept from childhood onwards. She told Spinner that she went back over "Robert's letters to me, my daily diaries of when I was 20 and when I lived at the Chelsea. I wrote down what happened, every day. I have little notations like 'Cut Robert's hair,' 'Met Janis Joplin', 'Got a new book store job', 'Met Salvador Dali'."
The book ends as she is on the brink of fame, and so does not touch on her breakthrough moment, the top 20 hit Because the Night, which she adapted from an original song that was passed on to her by Bruce Springsteen.
 This article was amended on 25 November 2010. The original gave Patti Smith's age as 65. This has been corrected. A headline has also been amended so that it no longer says this is Smith's first book; a line has also been inserted in the story to clarify a remark by Smith that seemed to suggest she had produced no other books.



Patti Smith's New York stories


Patti Smith's New York stories


Punk poet Patti Smith first met Robert Mapplethorpe when she moved to New York in the late 60s, and the pair became inseparable. Now she has written a memoir of their time together, from hanging out with Ginsberg and Warhol to her rise as a hit singer and his career as a photographer. She talks to Gaby Wood, and we publish an extract from her book, Just Kids


Gaby Wood
The Observer
Sunday 31 January 2010 00.08 GMT

At the Robert Miller Gallery in New York, a place that has long provided a home for her association with the photographer Robert Mapplethorpe, Patti Smith – poet, punk rocker, painter and urban hero of long standing – has erected a museum of memory. A poster from 1978 advertises a joint show here of their work: Mapplethorpe's photographs of Smith, and Smith's drawings of Mapplethorpe. She gazes out, a dark-haired wizard caught mid-motion, blurred, against a wall of gauzy white fabric. He is a lightly sketched satyr with forking beard, a Greek demigod by way of Henri Michaux. "Bob Miller Gallery presentsPatti Smith," Smith's scrawl reads around the edges of her own drawing, "requesting the presence of Robert Mapplethorpe."
Mapplethorpe died of complications related to Aids in 1989, and Smith has, in a sense, been requesting his presence ever since. Elsewhere in the gallery, her old Corona typewriter spews a sheet of paper headed "Reflecting Robert"; a letter she wrote to him in March 2008 lies under glass, near a marble crucifix and his monogrammed velvet slippers, size 8½ M. She has reprinted as platinum prints beautiful photographs she took of his hands when they were both 21 (Smith is now 63); when he was satisfied with his work, she explained when she first exhibited these, Mapplethorpe would stand back from it and put his hands in his pockets with his thumbs sticking out. These are portraits of a moment in an artist's mind, details of a person known with great love and specificity.
"I'm not a Catholic, but I have a relic sensibility," Smith says of this display when I speak to her on the phone. (The retrieved objects are just a few elements of what she refers to as "my monastic mess".) Though she lives in New York, she is in San Francisco just now, for a reading from her latest book, Just Kids, a memoir about her first years in New York with Mapplethorpe.
They met in 1967; she arrived in New York from New Jersey, a 20-year-old who had just given up a child for adoption, and found him sleeping in an apartment where she thought friends of hers lived. (Her friends had left.) The pair were fated to meet again, repeatedly, and eventually they became inseparable. Smith writes about Mapplethorpe almost as if she were inside his head, evoking the plays of light that captivated his eyes, the work he did as he went along. "I did feel I could enter him and he me," she agrees, "and I still feel that." They recognised something in each other; they had, as she writes, "never been strangers".
In the late 60s and early 70s, Smith and Mapplethorpe worked feverishly into the night side by side, held toss-ups between grilled cheese sandwiches and art supplies. She nursed him through purgatory, when he had trench mouth and gonorrhoea and they were living in a cheap hotel where the corridors were filled with junkies. They were lovers at first, and when Mapplethorpe finally "answered nature's call", as Smith describes his homosexuality, they still "had something very precious to save".
They hung out with Allen Ginsberg and Janis Joplin and Andy Warhol and Sam Shepard. This was in the days when Mapplethorpe didn't have the patience to take pictures, before he became "smitten" with photography; when Smith had no idea she would one day front a rock'n'roll band. They were, as she neatly puts it, "in a fresh state of transformation", about to become the artists they would go on to be. "Patti, you got famous before me," he said a decade later, when they walked down the street and heard her hit record "Because the Night" blaring from storefronts.
"He was teasing me," Smith tells me now, "because I always told him I didn't care if I was famous, I just wanted him to be famous. But Robert wanted people to see me as he saw me – it didn't matter so much to me whether the world saw me or not, but it was very important for Robert that the world acknowledge me. He believed in me."
It has taken Smith 10 years to write the book. Initially, after Mapplethorpe died, she wrote instead of weeping, and came up with a series of linked prose poems in his honour, entitled The Coral Sea. But his death was succeeded by the death of Smith's pianist, Richard Sohl, at the age of 37, the death of her husband, the guitarist Fred "Sonic" Smith, and the death of her brother, Todd, all in the space of a few years, and though she'd promised Mapplethorpe on his death bed that she would one day write their story, she couldn't return to the first loss in the midst of the others. "Robert was the first great death in a series of great deaths," she says, "and it almost taught me how to grieve. Although you grieve differently for each person, the important part of grieving is to live."
There was a long while, after she got married, moved to Detroit and had two children, when Smith was out of the public eye. After her husband died in 1994, she moved back to New York. She wasn't fantastically well off financially, but her fans and friends pulled together: her lawyer got her kids a place in a hot-shot progressive private school; Michael Stipe found them a house; Ann Demeulemeester gave her clothes, Bob Dylan asked her to perform with him. She began to rebuild her life; she made a comeback.
Smith is working more strongly now than ever. She's working on another non-fiction book – "It's funny," she says, "I never thought of doing another book like the book I did for Robert, but I seem to have found a voice in this book that wants to keep talking" – and on a detective story. She continues to take photographs, and she is two thirds of the way through work on a new album. She's composing with her daughter, Jesse Paris, and collaborating with her son Jackson, a guitarist who is married to Meg White of the White Stripes. She has expanded her band to include, for instance, a group of gypsies she met in the hills in Italy, and continues to play with her longtime guitarist Lenny Kaye. The album will be, as she puts it, "a feast of family and friends", and Smith is "ecstatic" to be doing so much work at the age of 63.
New York City, of course, is expensive now and not the same; Smith can't help mourning the death of bohemia. But she wants to make one thing clear: she always has faith in the new guard. "I think that each generation has to do things their way," she explains. "I don't think my lot was any better or any cooler than the present time. My daughter now is 22, about the same age I was when I went to the Chelsea hotel with Robert, and I wish for her all the magic and all the possibilities I had. They're the future," she adds of Jesse's generation. "I'm certainly not the future. I was the future when I was younger. Now I'm happy to be the present."