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Friday, September 20, 2013

Candied Beats



Greenwich Village, 1958.

What are the odds, eh? Marrying a woman named Blu when your name is Sky. How could we not have a store called Blue Skies?

That’s what I always wanted as a kid. A candy store with comics and magazines and everything else your heart could desire. I had to go round and round with everything else until I got it.

My parents were both teachers—one at college and the other at a preppy high school in Connecticut. My father was the prof; not at Yale but UConn. Both were diehard academics, so they were ecstatic when I started teaching too.

But after five, six years I thought, why? Teaching English in a private high school is fine, if that’s what you want.

I wanted to be down here. In the thick of it, with guys like Allen Ginsberg, Gregory Corso, bebop man Bob Kaufman and William Burroughs reinventing language.

Wanted a store with the kind of candy I'd get if I was a kid—root beer barrels, Atomic fireballs, bubble gum candy cigarettes, Tootsie pops, Babe Ruth bars, Mounds and Almond Joys, Mary Janes, peppermint sticks, Pez. Taffy. When somebody comes in and they don’t have any money, they at least get a piece of candy. Because I want people to feel welcome here.

I wanted posters and comics and books by real writers. I got lucky enough to meet a woman who wanted the same things.

And when Ruby’s Nell-mom and Gary Daddy-o asked me about teaching their kids, and then Mrs. T and Gordy’s parents asked too, I thought, why not?

Ruby’s crazy for the poets, her friend Sophie wants to be the next Lucille Ball and Gordy wants, I don’t know—to invent a new star, or maybe a galaxy. Stuffing them into a traditional school will knock the stuffing out of them. It won’t let them dream and it won’t let them play.

Life is an experiment; too short to waste on tradition and convention. And too long to live without being a member of the Beat Generation.

Ruby’s right when she says poetry isn’t good for anything except making you feel better. But I say, what more do you need?

Skylar M.
Blue Skies Owner
NYC