Life on the avenue
*The Great Black Way L.A.'s Central Avenue in the 1940s and the Lost Negro Renaissance RJ Smith PublicAffairs: 400 pp., $26.95 Lady Sings the Blues The 50th Anniversary Edition Billie Holiday with Will.
"Come, let's stroll. Let us stroll to a different time and place — Los Angeles' Central Avenue during its heyday in the 1940s."
When I was a kid I didn't exactly stroll, but sometimes I would rollerskate or ride my bike or used to drive with my parents down Central Avenue
. Before that, many years in the distant past, the family home held a Maxwell Street address. That was in Chicago. So I sometimes feel I have the right to say something about those places. And the music, too. And my impressions. I remember when I was a young teenger, no longer living anywhere near Central but a world away, and reading the first line of Billie Holliday's autobiography. The book was already an old copy and the cover was crushed and wrinkled. Brutally frank, compared to celebrity memoir or even the tabloids of the day, but still protective of her mother in the harsh first line.