A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from June 11, 2008
“Ugliest, filthiest, shittiest city in the world” (Henry Miller)

Henry Miller (1891-1980) was an American novelist famed for his sexually graphic works that were banned in the 1950s, such as Tropic of Cancer and Tropic of Capricorn. Miller was born in the Yorkville section of Manhattan and lived in Brooklyn in hardscrabble childhood.

In a documentary short, Henry Miller Asleep & Awake (1975), Miller said: “Today, I think it’s the ugliest, filthiest, shittiest city in the world. When I was a kid, there was hardly anything that we have today - no telephones, no automobiles...no nothing, really. It was rather quaint.  There was color even, in the buildings. But as time went on, why, it got more horrible to me. When I think of the Brooklyn bridge, which was the only bridge then in existence...how many times I walked over that bridge on an empty stomach, back and forth, looking for a handout, never getting anything...selling newspapers at Times Square, begging on Broadway, coming home with a dime maybe.  It’s no wonder that I had these goddamned recurring nightmares all my life. I don’t know how I ever survived, or why I’m still sane.”

The remark was featured on the Gothamist blog on June 9, 2008 and was also picked up on other blogs.


Wikipedia: Henry Miller
Henry Valentine Miller (December 26, 1891 – June 7, 1980), was an American writer and painter. He is known for breaking with existing literary forms and developing a new sort of “novel” that is a mixture of novel, autobiography, social criticism, philosophical reflection, surrealist free association, and mysticism, one that is distinctly always about and expressive of the real-life Henry Miller and yet is also fictional. His most characteristic works of this kind are Tropic of Cancer, Tropic of Capricorn, and Black Spring. He also wrote travel memoirs and essays of literary criticism and analysis.

Biography
Miller was born to tailor Heinrich Miller and Louise Marie Neiting, in the Yorkville section of Manhattan, New York City, of German Catholic heritage. As a child he lived at 662 Driggs Avenue in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, known in that time (and referred to frequently in his works) as The Fourteenth Ward.

Internet Movie Database
Henry Miller Asleep & Awake (1975)
Director: Tom Schiller
Writer: Tom Schiller (writer)
Genre: Documentary | Short

Nightshark MySpace Blog
Thursday, May 17, 2007
Miller
Ahhhhh - now I know where I am...and who I am. Back in that old shithole, New York, where I was born. A place where I knew nothing but starvation, humiliation, despair, frustration...every goddamn thing. Nothing but misery. Every bloody street I look down, I see nothing but misery, nothing but monsters. Of course, this was the New York that I knew when I was being born, or rather I didn’t know it yet. Later, when I began to explore it, why, it’s a different city, a little more horrible. It gets worse all the time. Today, I think it’s the ugliest, filthiest, shittiest city in the world. When I was a kid, there was hardly anything that we have today - no telephones, no automobiles...no nothing, really. It was rather quaint.  There was color even, in the buildings. But as time went on, why, it got more horrible to me. When I think of the Brooklyn bridge, which was the only bridge then in existence...how many times I walked over that bridge on an empty stomach, back and forth, looking for a handout, never getting anything...selling newspapers at Times Square, begging on Broadway, coming home with a dime maybe.  It’s no wonder that I had these goddamned recurring nightmares all my life. I don’t know how I ever survived, or why I’m still sane. In fact, I don’t know now whether I’m awake or dreaming. My whole past seems like one long dream, punctured with nightmares.
-Henry Miller, sometime in the late 1970’s

La tumba del pardo
Nothing But Monsters
Publicado en letras by immorfo en Marzo 4th, 2008
Ahh, now I know. Now I know where I am. And who I am. Back in that old shithole of New York where I was born, the place where I knew nothing but starvation, humiliation, despair, frustration… every goddamn thing. Nothing but misery. Every bloody street I look down I see nothing but misery, nothing but monsters. Of course, this was the New York that I knew when I was being born, or rather I didn’t know it yet. Later, when I began to explore it, why, it’s a different city, a little more horrible.

It gets worse all the time. Today, I think it’s the ugliest, filthiest, shittiest city in the world. When I was a kid, there was hardly anything that we have today - no telephones, no automobiles…no nothing, really. It was rather quaint. There was color even, in the buildings. But as time went on, why, it got more horrible to me. When I think of the Brooklyn bridge, which was the only bridge then in existence…how many times I walked over that bridge on an empty stomach, back and forth, looking for a handout, never getting anything…selling newspapers at Times Square, begging on Broadway, coming home with a dime maybe.

It’s no wonder that I had these goddamned recurring nightmares all my life. I don’t know how I ever survived, or why I’m still sane. In fact, I don’t know now whether I’m awake or dreaming. My whole past seems like one long dream, punctured with nightmares

Henry Miller

Gothamist.com
June 9, 2008
Video of the Day: Henry Miller Hating New York
On a brutally hot day like this, it’s not too hard to appreciate this priceless rant from the late author Henry Miller as he tears into “that old shithole New York where I was born… the ugliest, filthiest, shittiest city in the world.” The clip comes to light today thanks to Save Vs. Death (via Boing Boing), and it’s excerpted from Henry Miller Asleep & Awake, a short film made in 1975 by Tom Schiller that takes place almost entirely in Miller’s bathroom.

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityNames/Phrases • (0) Comments • Wednesday, June 11, 2008 • Permalink