RARA-AVIS: NYC Music Scene connections

From: Richard Moore ( moorich@aol.com)
Date: 12 Feb 2008

This is an area that has interested me quite a bit, primarily because my friend Ted White was an active member of the early 1960s music scene in New York City as a jazz critic for Crawdaddy, Rogue and other publications. If you read biographies of Charles Mingus, they all quote from Ted's review of Mingus' Town Hall concert in 1962 as a rare contemporary account of that historic jazz performance. White later became better known as a science fiction writer and editor.

But closer to the heart of the music center of those days was a young woman named Lee Hoffman who was good friends with Dave Van Ronk, Israel Young (who founded the Folklore Center), Larry Block, and so many others of that time in New York. She started a fan publication called "Caravan" at Van Ronk's suggestion. He contributed as did her English correspondent John Brunner, a budding science fiction writer. Eventually, the publication grew to be a professional chore and she turned it loose to find its own way.

But rather than read my capsule of those days, here is a link to a very nice piece by Hoffman herself on her Folknik Days with Van Ronk, Larry Block, and various others:


At the time in NYC, Hoffman was at the time married to Larry Shaw, editor of two science fiction magazines (Infinity and Science Ficton Adventures) and one crime magazine (Suspect). Shaw later was editor for the paperback line Lancer Books, various Hot Rod magazines and for one issue Mike Shayne Mystery Magazine. She and Shaw later divorced.

Hoffman was encouraged by her friends Ted White and Terry Carr
(himself to become a major editor) into trying her hand at writing and she became a WWA Spur Award winning writer of westerns, which she did for a few years before ceasing to write fiction. She died last year. She was certainly a talented writer as anyone who has read THE VALDEZ HORSE or any of her other novels and, by all accounts, was a very nice person.

I agree with Patrick that the beat scene and the coexisting folk scene in New York would make a very nice setting for a novel. You can also read another view of that scene in Bob Dylan's Chronicles published a couple of years ago.

Larry Block has used his interest in music and song writing in his fiction. I recall one novel published under the name Paul Kavanaugh that included some Block lyrics. I believe it was NOT COMING HOME TO YOU but my memory may be playing me false.

Richard Moore

--- In rara-avis-l@yahoogroups.com, Patrick King <abrasax93@...> wrote:
> Well, here's one crime novel that deals with the beat
> counter culture. Or at least the author meant it to:
> http://www.hardcasecrime.com/books_bios.cgi?title=A%20Diet%20of%
> There are many not-so-old crime novels that deal with
> the bee-bop jazz scene, which the beat movement
> emerged from.
> I'd say the absents of beats in golden-age crime
> stories has more to do with the fact that many of the
> authors, themselves, were from that scene and
> perceived that readers were neither interested or
> accepting of that culture. These authors wrote for
> money, after all. They wrote books they believed
> people want to read, not necessarily what they,
> themselves, want to write. Lawrence Block was a close
> friend to Blues Guitar virtuoso, Dave Van Ronk. Block
> actually penned a parody song that Van Ronk performed
> frequently: Georgie On the IRT. Van Ronk, by his own
> admission was a Communist and a radical. Van Ronk
> states this unequivocally in his autobiography THE
> MAYOR OF MACDOUGAL STREET, compiled by Elijah Wald
> after Van Ronk's death. Block pens the forward to it.
> The beat scene in New York and LA in the early fifties
> would be a great backdrop for many crime novels.
> Patrick King

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