"This may seem like an obsession, but it is not. This is the residue of an obsession."

NYT 1992 William Kennedy

Totally random, but we tripped over this recently while searching for something and thought you might enjoy reading it: An Elizabeth Kolbert chronicle of a night out in Albany with William Kennedy in 1992, with stops at Cafe Capriccio, (what was then) The Boulevard on Central Ave, and the Dove Street row house where Legs Diamond was killed.

A clip:

Albany has been William Kennedy's home for most of his 64 years; still, wherever he goes he finds the city fascinating. In a desolate spot under a highway overpass he recognizes the heart of the city's old red-light district, the Gut, where mobsters went for a good time. Where a stretch of office buildings now stands he spies the gaudy nightclubs where showgirls and their dates hung out. His own chosen haunts -- restaurants and bars where he is on a first-name basis with the waiters -- are places whose metamorphoses he recounts with the enthusiasm of an archeologist let loose on the Acropolis.
Cafe Capriccio, an intimate restaurant tucked away in a nondescript section of downtown Albany, counts Mr. Kennedy as a regular, and it is there that many of his evenings, including this one, begin. "This was LoPresti's grocery," he said, heading into the restaurant for dinner. "To our right, that was the old Italian neighborhood.
"There were two theaters right here," he continued, gesturing toward a stretch of parking lot. "And one saloon after another, with shows and vaudeville acts and dancing. I remember when this was a wide-open city, an all-night city."

By the way: That new WHMT documentary about Kennedy -- Kennedy of Albany: A Writer and His City Premieres -- is available in full online.

screengrab from NYT Times Machine

Comments

This is so cool! Great find. Thanks for posting!

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I still don't know why it has to look like a spaceship. There are countless downtown theaters that fit in aesthetically with their surroundings. I was just in Arlington, Massachusetts and they have a six screen theater in a building fronted with a bakery, a toy store, a salon... Thinking that theaters can only look like suburban malls shows either a lack of imagination or a lack of awareness.

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