Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Luck Be A Lady

   New York has been home to folk, punk, salsa, hip hop, and almost every other conceivable American music genre over the years. But no other kind of music is exclusively associated with New York like the Broadway musical.
   Not only has the music of Broadway defined New York to outsiders for generations, but the stories of Broadway have been told in newspapers, magazines, movies, and shows. One of the great storytellers of Broadway was the newspaperman Damon Runyon. He was born in Manhattan, but unluckily for him it was Manhattan, Kansas. He remedied that mistake after serving as a soldier and writer out west and moved to New York at the age of 30 in 1910. He covered baseball and boxing, and wrote serious news for Hearst's papers. But he was mostly know for his short stories of Broadway and the toughs and gangsters that hung out there. His stories were also where he developed his particular and strange style of writing. He only ever used the present tense, always wrote from the perspective of an anonymous first person narrator, and never used contractions. Even quirkier were the names of his characters like Madame La Gimp, The Lemon Drop Kid, or Rusty Charley. After his death in 1946, his ashes were (illegally) dumped over Broadway from a plane piloted by his friend, WWI ace Eddie Rickenbacker.