'President Richard M. Nixon calls the composer of “West Side Story” a “son of a bitch,” and other highlights from the United States government’s files on Leonard Bernstein.'
Did you know that Leonard Bernstein mixed socially (if that is the proper euphemism) with an eccentric group of people (including Carson McCullers, Gypsy Rose Leee, W. H. Auden, George Davis, and a dozen others) at 7 Middagh Street in Brooklyn (in the late 40s)? What a menagerie of eclectic personalities.
The story of those who lived in that house on Middagh Street was told in Sherill Tippins' February House: The Story of W. H. Auden, Carson McCullers, Jane & Paul Bowles, Benjamin Britten & Gypsy Rose Lee, Under One Roof in Wartime America.
Indeed. Tippins trumped a colleague and I who were working on a book on the same subject in 1998-1999 (if I correctly remember the years). He is a noted McCullers scholar (no longer in academia) and I was working with him as his research assistant; we were moving along quite well in accumulating information from the sources, and we were enthusiastic about what we had found, but other short-term professional commitments interfered with the pace of the project, and--like deer caught in the headlights--we found out that another publisher had an identical project in the works, which pulled the rug out from under ours. Still, the story of the gang at #7 Middagh Street is one for the ages. It is thoroughly fascinating. Oh, to have been a fly on the wall during some of their conversations.
POSTSCRIPT: As you will notice from the foregoing, my ability to recall and frame dates correctly is horrible. Obviously, I would have made a very questionable historian. Literature requires less precision. By the way, I have not read Tippins' book, which is probably due to some sort of misplaced professional jealousy. Perhaps I should swallow my wounded pride and give it a look.