“Something in the change of the weather marked a change in myself as well. I felt a longing, a curiosity, and a vibrancy that seemed to stifle as I walked in the evening.” – Just Kids
I am a banana bread addict. As with much that is the subject of obsession, the initial thought of it was shrouded in a mildly confused disgust for me until a fateful trip to Thailand. It was a rainy evening and by rainy I mean torrents of water spilling from the sky. We tumbled into an Australian joint called Rockfish and were mesmerised by the Asian fusion dishes they served us. Stellar player in that meal was the banana bread I braved for dessert. Its crispy outside masked a decadently dense interior and the whole was smothered in a smooth pecan-caramel sauce. I digress. I recently discovered a recipe for lemony banana bread on a favourite food blog by Berlin-based photographer Marta Greber. It turned out delicious and combined with Patti Smith’s autobiography, Just Kids, proved a treat I couldn’t resist indulging in a little too frequently.
Just Kids is inspiring to say the least. I came across it when reading its review in a newspaper, the author of which happened to be sitting nearby. She sang its praises and I promptly purchased a copy. Patti Smith had been something of an enigma for me. I’d seen her live a few years back and been mesmerised, if a bit perplexed, by the performance. Born in Chicago and raised in New Jersey, she was on track to live a relatively conventional life until she fell pregnant out of wedlock and decided to give the baby up for adoption. It was then that she moved to New York City and eventually became an artist, singer and poet. One of her closest acquaintances was the late Robert Mapplethorpe. Their relationship takes up much of the narrative and with good reason as he seems to have been the principal catalyst to her creative energies. The book also captures the hedonism of the big apple in the 1970s. Just Kids, however, is by no means an idealistic portrayal and Patti Smith is often brutally honest about the poverty she experienced and the dinginess of New York City at the time. It is this sincerity that transforms Just Kids into a riveting read.