For decades, the South Bronx was America’s “inner city.” Synonymous with civic neglect, crime, and metropolitan decay, the Bronx became the preeminent symbol used to proclaim the failings of urban places and the communities of color who lived in them. Images of its ruinsnone more infamous than the one broadcast live during the 1977 World Series: a building burning near Yankee Stadiumproclaimed the failures of urbanism.
Yet this same South Bronx produced hip hop, arguably the most powerful artistic and cultural innovation of the past fifty years. Two narrativesurban crisis and cultural renaissancehave dominated understandings of the Bronx and other urban environments. Today, as gentrification transforms American cities economically and demographically, the twin narratives structure our thinking about urban life.
A Bronx native, Peter L’Official draws on literature and the visual arts to recapture the history, people, and place beyond its myths and legends. Both fact and symbol, the Bronx was not a decades-long funeral pyre, nor was hip hop its lone cultural contribution. L’Official juxtaposes the artist Gordon Matta-Clark’s carvings of abandoned buildings with the city’s trompe l’oeil decals program; examines the centrality of the Bronx’s infamous Charlotte Street to two Hollywood films; offers original readings of novels by Don DeLillo and Tom Wolfe; and charts the emergence of a “global Bronx” as graffiti was brought into galleries and exhibited internationally, promoting a symbolic Bronx abroad.
Urban Legends presents a new cultural history of what it meant to live, work, and create in the Bronx.
|Product dimensions:||6.12(w) x 9.25(h) x (d)|
About the Author
Table of Contents
Introduction: When Legend Becomes Fact 1
1 The Lone Tenement 19
2 Perception Is Reality 34
3 Death and Taxes 71
4 A Global Bronx 124
5 South Bronx Surreal 145
6 The Paranoid Style of South Bronx Film 198
Conclusion: The River Is Deep 237