It was one of those great spring days, it was Sunday, and you knew summer would be coming soon. And I remember that morning Dorrie and I had gone for a walk in the park and come back to the apartment. We were just sort of sitting around and I put on a record of Louie Armstrong, which was music I grew up with, and it was very, very pretty, and I happened to glance over and I saw Dorrie sitting there. And I remember thinking to myself how terrific she was and how much I loved her. And I don’t know, I guess it was a combination of everything, the sound of the music, and the breeze, and how beautiful Dorrie looked to me and for one brief moment everything just seemed to come together perfectly and I felt happy, almost indestructible in a way. It’s funny, that simple little moment of contact moved me in a very, very profound way.
1930s imagining of 1980s New York in the sci-fi musical Just Imagine (1930, dir. David Butler) (via)
Designed by art director Stephen Goosson, the city set was an elaborate miniature model that covered a ground area of 75 x 225 feet and whose tallest tower measured 40 feet.
Just Imagine’s New York was primarily inspired by architect Harvey Corbett’s prediction that 1970’s New York would resemble a “very modernized Venice” and by the futuristic urban designs presented in Hugh Ferriss’s 1929 book, The Metropolis of Tomorrow.
Ferriss’s drawings of the ”business center of the future” (pictures #3-5) provided the most direct inspiration for Goosson’s sets. Broad superhighways establish a geometric ground plan that extends upward through overlapping levels of bridges, streets, and terraced walkways. The grid of streets and bridges is pierced by huge freestanding skyscrapers surrounded by lower setback buildings, a design Ferriss created as an analogy to the natural world of “towering mountain peaks… surrounded by foothills”
The opening scenes of the (otherwise mediocre) film, which feature this cityscape, can be seen here.
More on the building of the Just Imagine set. Collection of Hugh Ferriss’s futuristic city sketches here.
Billie Holiday, 1958. Photographer: Dennis Stock (via)
“I’ve been told that nobody sings the word ‘hunger’ like I do. Or the word ‘love.’ Maybe I remember what those words are all about. Maybe I’m proud enough to want to remember Baltimore and Welfare Island, the Catholic institution and the Jefferson Market Court, the sheriff in front of our place in Harlem and the towns from coast to coast where I got my lumps and scars, Philly and Alderson, Hollywood and San Francisco, every damn bit of it.
All the Cadillacs and minks in the world – and I’ve had a few – can’t make it up or make me forget it. All I’ve learned in all those places from all those people is wrapped up in those two words. You’ve got to have something to eat and a little love in your life before you can hold still for any damn body’s sermon on how to behave. Everything I am and everything I want out of life goes smack back to that.”