To me, it hardly seems possible that The Sixties was almost half a century ago. I was growing up then. I remember stuff that happened: JFK campaigning for the presidency, the Kennedy assassinations, Vietnam War protests--well, I don't need to recite political history for you. You've surely read and heard all about it.
My own focus during that era was not so much on the front-page news, though, as it was on magazines (Seventeen and Mademoiselle, especially). And rock 'n' roll... and boys... but we're not goin' there now. We're going with the reading material which, I think, probably always was my biggest source of... well, let's just say ideas.
One of my ideas during my early teen years (i.e. the early Sixties) was that I thought it would be glamorous and exciting to move to New York City and be a fashion model. Never mind that I had neither the looks nor the figure nor the audacity to do it. It was an idea that lived safely in my imagination, which was pretty good back then.
But what if I had gone? Well, after reading Edie: An American Biography by Jean Stein, I'm happy to say we'll never know the answer to that question.
This book is about Edie Sedgwick. Having done a little data entry this morning, I can now tell you that she was my sixth cousin, twice removed, on my grandpa Rosmer's side--barely a fibril in my family tree, and I, of course, barely a fibril in hers. Our closest common ancestors were Captain Samuel Sedgwick (1667-1735) and his wife Mary Hopkins.
Edie was born in 1943, five years before me. About the time I was dreaming of having glamorous adventures in New York City, she was doing it. Oddly, I'd never heard of her until I came across this book. I say oddly because she seems to be something of an icon even now, although her main claim to fame seems to be only that she hung out with Andy Warhol and made some underground films with him. She also met and spent some time with Bob Dylan, and it's said that he wrote the song Just Like a Woman about her.
Roughly the first third of this book is about Edie's family. It opens thusly:
Have you ever seen the old graveyard up there in Stockbridge? In one corner is the family's burial place; it's called the Sedgwick Pie. The Pie is rather handsome. In the center Judge Theodore Sedgwick, the first of the Stockbridge Sedgwicks and a great-great-great-grandfather of Edie's and of mine [the speaker being John P. Marquand, Jr.], is buried under his tombstone, a high rising obelisk, and his wife Pamela is beside him. They are like the king and queen on a chessboard, and all around them like a pie are more modest stones, put in layers, back and round in a circle. The descendants of Judge Sedgwick, from generation unto generation, are all buried with their heads facing out and their feet pointing in toward their ancestor. The legend is that on Judgment Day when they arise and face the Judge, they will have to see no one but Sedgwicks.The entire book is written in the form of quotations from interviews done with family members and people who knew Edie. There is a lot of family history here, very candid in the telling. I found that aspect very interesting, in a train-wreck sort of way. (My own parents would have died of mortification had such a book been written about our family.) A six-generation descendancy chart at the back of the book was very helpful to me--I referred to it again and again, and also to the many photographs included throughout the book.
As Edie's story evolved, or maybe I should say devolved, the book became increasingly darker and more depressing. Her addiction to drugs and alcohol finally resulted in her death in 1971. And, mercifully, the end of the book.
Even darker and more depressing than the book, however, are the many videos of Edie which you can find on YouTube, if you have the stomach for it. They're from the Druggies With Cameras school of filmmaking. I don't find them suitable for inclusion here. I did find this excellent 1966 performance by Bob Dylan though, which I think is not only timely and relevant but also much more worthy of your attention, as there is actual talent involved. (The version I originally had posted here was removed by YouTube. This one lacks live performance video, but the sound track, from a performance at the Royal Albert Hall in 1966, is fantastic, especially the harmonica riff at the end.)
I could say more, but in the world of GeneaBloggers, it's Wordless Wednesday, so let's just go with that... more or less.