Everything is temporary anyway, when the streets are wet…

“Any good mixer of convivial habits considers he has a right to be called a Bohemian. But that is not a valid claim. There are two elements, at least, that are essential to Bohemianism. The first is devotion or addiction to one or more of the Seven Arts; the other is poverty. Other factors suggest themselves: for instance, I like to think of my Bohemians as young, as radical in their outlook on art and life; as unconventional, and, though this is debatable, as dwellers in a city large enough to have the somewhat cruel atmosphere of all great cities. – Bohemian Club Member George Sterling

After Oscar Wilde visited Sterling’s private gentleman’s Bohemian Club in 1882 he commented “I never saw so many well-dressed, well-fed, business-looking Bohemians in my life.”

Personally, going by Sterling’s definition I’m not sure if I would have even made it as a Bohemian’s-apprentice.  How about you?  Certainly offbeat callowness and insolvency in a big, cruel city once came naturally, but if devotion “to one or more of the Seven Arts” was also required, (except for some musician and mathematician friends) I’d be hard-pressed to name many eligible candidates from my entire (Baby Boom) generation.

Formally conceived in the 5th Century as a basis for a medieval university education, and the distant precursor to a 20th Century Liberal Arts curriculum, those Seven Arts were rigorously divided into the Trivium – including Grammar, Logic and Rhetoric, and the Quadrivium – including Arithmetic, Geometry, Music and Astronomy, which included studies in Astrology that assuredly stretched well beyond Linda Goodman’s “Sun Signs”.

Conveniently sidestepping Mr. George Sterling we see that as a concept Bohemianism  originated in 19th Century France, when writers and artists began to live en emass in the same low-rent neighborhoods inhabited by roving Romani (aka gypsies) who, it was believed, came from Bohemia, a land with Prague as it’s capital that would eventually be swallowed up by all that was to come. Soon the word “Bohemian” became an English colloquialism as well.

In England it was used to describe the anti-establishment, non-traditional aggregation of actors, writers, artists and musicians then burgeoning in every major European city.  In the States there had been a surge of actual Bohemian (as opposed to Romani) immigrants and for various reasons a number of them turned out to be talented, avant-garde journalists.  Predictably the term evolved into a tag-title for newspaper writers, particularly those who were known to be carefree and lighthearted.

By the end of the 19th Century both usages had pretty much melded into a generalized term for those with artistic or intellectual inclinations, who lived rather rootless, unconventional lifestyles.  Sometimes entire Bohemian communities arose when like-minded free-spirits gathered in such neighborhoods as Montmartre and Montparnasse in Paris; Fitzrovia, Chelsea and Soho in London; Greenwich Village in New York; and (close in proximity but light years apart from George Sterling and his Bohemian Club) San Francisco’s North Beach Neighborhood…

All of which goes a long way in introducing this selection from what was originally a ska band from Dallas in the early ‘80s.  With clear Bohemian intimations, New Bohemians (or “New Bos”) had taken on a more “alternative folk rock sound” by the time their singular lead singer joined the group in 1985 and the record label changed their name to Edie Brickell & New Bohemians.

The Dallas-born Brickell would eventually make her recording debut with the band on the 1988 album, “Shooting Rubberbands at the Stars” which included this somewhat Bohemian affirmation.  But in keeping with rubberbands and (previous posting’s) rubber balls, she would subsequently be in the middle of performing the album’s lead single “What I Am” on Saturday Night Live when she looked up and noticed Paul Simon standing near the cameraman.

“He made me mess the song up when I looked at him,” Brickell later said about her future husband, with whom she has had four children, adding “We can show the kids the tape and say, ‘Look, that’s when we first laid eyes on each other.’’”

  LISTEN TO TODAY’S SELECTION – Friday 5 October

Circle

 Me, I’m a part of your circle of friends

And we notice you don’t come around

Me, I think it all depends

On you touching ground with us

But I quit, I give up

Nothing’s good enough for anybody else

It seems

And I quit, I give up

Nothing’s good enough for anybody else

It seems

 And being alone

Is the best way to be

When I’m by myself it’s

The best way to be

When I’m all alone it’s

The best way to be

When I’m by myself

Nobody else can say goodbye

 Everything is temporary anyway

When the streets are wet

The colors slip into the sky

But I don’t know why that means you and I are

that means you and….

I quit, I give up

Nothin’s good enough for anybody else it seems

But I quit. I give up

Nothing’s good enough for anybody else it seems

 And being alone

Is the best way to be

When I’m by myself it’s

The best way to be

When I’m all alone it’s

The best way to be

When I’m by myself

Nobody else can say…

 Me, I’m a part of your circle of friends

And we notice you don’t come around.

Halalalalalala

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