Friday, June 11, 2010

Finding the Boulevard of Broken Dreams, Part I

I hope that you read Jeremiah's series this week at Vanishing New York on finding the diner in the West Village that served as the inspiration for Edward Hopper's most well-known painting, Nighthawks. It's a thrilling narrative...

Hopper was originally inspired to paint this, of course, after seeing Gottfried Helnwein's Boulevard of Broken Dreams.



In this iconic painting, Helnwein happened across James Dean, Humphrey Bogart and Marilyn Monroe dining at a Mulry Square diner that may or may not have actually existed. And if you look closely, you'll see that a young, carefree-looking Elvis Presley was working there while struggling to launch his music career.

I've always wanted to know when and where this chance happening occurred, an event that took place somehow without the knowledge of TMZ. Luckily, Jeremiah did most of the where work for me. So now I just needed to narrow down the dates. Or the when.

First, I turned to a trusted source: Wikipedia. I punched in the name of each icon to find out when he or she died.

Dean: September 30, 1955
Monroe: August 5, 1962
Bogart: January 14, 1957
Presley: August 16, 1977

So, looking at the dates, you figure this diner confab had to happen before September 30, 1955.

This would make Elvis 20, which seems plausible. Look how young he is in the painting.

But is it really Elvis -- or an impersonator?

To to continued....

Tomorrow: Why James Dean may have been alone.

But seriously, earlier this week, after reading two of Jeremiah's installments, I walked by Billy’s Antiques & Props on Houston... and what famous painting did I see for sale?




Coincidence? Hardly! I e-mailed proprietor Billy Leroy to ask how much the print cost. (This was likely not the original, which is housed in the Louvre.) Billy thought it was going for $40, but to give him a call to find out for sure. Which I forgot to do. I mentioned the coincidental aspect of all this to Billy, who responded, "lots of weird things happen in the vortex of Bowery and Houston."

Indeed.

9 comments:

Jeremiah Moss said...

glad to see you finally being serious for a change. this is some important research you've embarked on here, and i look forward to learning your findings.

EV Grieve said...

Well! You inspired me. But you know this was done with the utmost respect and admiration for your research.

And, sadly, there is only a Part I. I thought about pulling a George Lucas and starting in the middle ....

Jeremiah Moss said...

i want a prequel! (and it should include an errant smurf.)

Goggla said...

lulz.

Maybe the diner *was* at Bowery and Houston...or, better yet, the nexus of the universe, 1st & 1st.

Melanie said...

Okay--maybe the fried peanut butter,bacon and banana sandwich was a special of the day along with NY Dolls and a coke.
Smoking was permitted then and there I am assuming. EV Boulevard Of Broken Dreams--East 7th Street and Avenue A--I am not being facicious..I love this..Jeremiah--I think our smurfette could be found serving food as a part time job and working in a film the real one. Good luck Grieve with this--love it.

glamma said...

perhaps it is just a drag hangout and they are all impersonators..

Jeremiah Moss said...

the people have spoken. more! with smurfs!

Lisa said...

And no Jar-Jar Binks. Ever.

No sure how believable this is, but according to Wikipedia, "The scene was inspired by a diner (since demolished) in Greenwich Village, Hopper's home neighborhood in Manhattan. The now-vacant lot is known as Mulry Square, at the intersection of Seventh Avenue South, Greenwich Avenue, and West 11th Street", so perhaps it did indeed exist. And the lot does protrude out like a ship's prow, so who knows...

However, be it true or not, this was a lovely, evocative, poignant trilogy about the one of the far-too-many lost glories of the New York of yore. Thanks to Jeremiah for writing it, EV for picking it up and riffing on it, readers who responded and added their own comments. Thank God there are still such folks in NY, to enrich the lives of those of us who yearn for the city of the past.

Anonymous said...

Yes!.. it's $40 and if you buy a Billy's T-shirt ..I'll let it go for $30. Billy