The Angels in Disguise

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They were the tumbleweeds of Tumbleweed Hotel, and for all their preposterous and well-thumbed dreams, there was something resplendent about them. Because they were young and sexy, and because they had both dreams, and the courage to haul their dreams up into the days they—albeit briefly—lived in.

And for this, George gave them beds. And here and there among them would appear older dreamers. Gathered together, they formed a second group of bookstore people. George would send them upstairs to lodgings of greater prestige: As writers they were rarely very established, and perhaps not all that published—or at least, not in any great commercial capacity, and not by major houses.

Nor even were they very sexy, though they were, much to the distress of the sexy kids, not infrequently quite sexual in their literary imaginations What? Older people think about sex too! I remember a poetry reading given one time by a weathered hippie with a gray beard and an indigo headband, in which he explained, with exceptional gentleness, how the poem he was about to read was written in Spain, concerning the afternoon he and his friends had been walking down a mountainside, and, as they descended, they had become—quite naturally—naked, and started making paintings with different parts of their bodies.

He had painted one, which had seemed just so beautiful, using the end of his penis. These unestablished writers fell all over the map in terms of style, interests, erudition, and form, though all shared being quite far out. It was a community of fringes, and while their writing may not have been very proficiently executed with respect to a target market, as an expression of human emotion in words, it was almost never without sincerity, nor without the power that comes when any living presence is captured in a work of art, no matter how cobble-stitched or personal.

How many of them will, like Melville or William Blake or the Gawain poet, be unearthed in some forgotten attic in a future century, or pulled from a box on the banks of the Seine and vaulted thence into the canon as some indeed liked to think or dream , is yet to be seen. His haphazard treatment of cash was due in no small part to his hatred of being inside a bank. In fact, and for all his avowed communism, he hated having anything to do with anything that smacked of institutions or bureaucracy.

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His response to what was required of him by regulators was a complex mixture of subterfuge, evasion and intransigence. Until I got good enough at it for him to trust me to make them up alone, and hardly have to touch the ledgers himself. The beleaguered accountant we passed them to was left no doubt wiping his glasses, and tearing what was left of his hair. Rather, in an important and inescapable sense, it was impossible for George to run a bookstore in the way that places like Waterstones do. For all that George was eccentric, as well as, by turns, hilarious, cantankerous, mischievous, sweet, exploitative, perverse, capricious and hugely hugely generous, and—though he surrounded himself with people—more shy than many recognized or thought, he was all these things not by posture, but inveterately so.

And as such, he was someone who was magnificently unable do the things that society, quite reasonably perhaps, would ask and expect of him. It was the brightest element of his sparkling genius, and the first lesson many of us learned from him.

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George, and the bookstore he invented, were an astonishing source of inspiration for the bales of young dreamers who tumbled through. But contact with the bookstore exposed them to a different universe, and it changed a lot of them.

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It was a lesson in how to build a life without following everything the world can immediately think up for you to do or say, and as such, it was immensely powerful. Through it the bookstore has seeded and born fruit in its own innumerable ways: And for every one of them, the world is a more interesting place. For the literary non-greats, the older dreamers, awaiting their discovery, or quietly growing older without needing it, the lesson was less one of entrepreneurial zeal than of soft spaces. These were people who were already making their own unconventional way through life.

Not a few had been younger dreamers, and had been touched by George decades previously. What the bookstore gave to them now was a continuing means to go on being who they were. It was one in a network of places and communities that made it possible for them to exist on the fringe, and for their existence to be acknowledged. And whether bad writers or good, the world is more interesting place for each of them too. The Bowery BoysSlip , Sach, Bobby, Gabe, Whitey, and Chuckaccidentally enter the detective business with the disappearance of a beautiful girl, Eleanor Williams, as their first case During their investigation, Slip accidentally wins the respect of gangster "Angles" Mickey Knox when he gets out of a prearranged police pickup.

Slip then realizes that "Angles" and his mob are responsible for the crime wave.

Angels in Disguise

Journalistic leader Leo Gorcey as "Slip" Mahoney is the newspaper's "chief copy boy" - and aspiring investigative reporter. This "Naked City"-influenced satire starts off well, but loses steam several times during the running time. The startling opening works well, with Mr. Gorcey awakening in an alley, where he and Mr. Hall have been uncharacteristically beaten to a pulp. From there, Gorcey "narrates" the loopy, nonsensical detective story.

Director Jean Yarbrough manages the tight budget reasonably well.

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You're likely to forget the plot entirely, later in the running time, when bookworm boy wonder Edward "Eddie" Ryan as Mr. Carver and sexy girlfriend Jean Dean as Vickie Darwell enter the picture. Watch for the scene where Mr. Ryan sadistically slaps Mr. Turkel's face, followed by Ms.

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Dean's sexually-charged entrance; in a dress which fills the movie screen like few others, Dean definitely gives the film a lift. Happily, the often underutilized Bowery supporting cast helps round up the forgettable, frayed storyline, with Bernard Gorcey as "Big Louie" joining "Whitey the Whip", "Chuck the Chiller", and "Butch the Butcher".

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