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December 09, 1990|Charles Solomon

THE NEW BOHEMIA By John Gruen, photographs by Fred W. McDarrah (A Cappella: $11.95). Nothing appears more dated than yesterday's latest fad, and this chronicle of the artists and hangers-on in New York's East Village during the early '60s seems positively quaint. John Gruen's rather stiff prose offers glimpses of many artists destined for greater fame--Allen Ginsberg, Andy Warhol, Yoko Ono, LeRoi Jones--but the descriptions are couched in such old-fashioned circumlocutions that it's difficult to believe only 25 years have elapsed. Gruen seems vaguely scandalized by The Dom, a club where "young Negroes ask white girls to dance, and are never turned down." In the era of 2 Live Crew, the Fugs' "I wanna be your friend/ When the orgy ends" sounds like something from a church picnic. "The New Bohemia" reveals how far both the arts and society have come in the last 2 1/2 decades; whether that journey marks an advance or a decline is open to debate.

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