The Dickens references ran deep. A couple of Sundays ago was the closing show for Meryl Meisler’s exhibit, A Tale of Two Cities: Disco Era Bushwick, which was up at Bizarre for over a year. Meisler gave a talk on her inspiration in photography, and what her experience was photographing Bushwick and the Disco scene in the ’70s and ’80s. To celebrate, writers from Bushwick Daily’s first collection of short stories also read. (Since then, Bizarre Publishing has launched their new book ALL ABOUT LOVE, with photographs by Jean-Christian Bourcart.)
Meisler, a petite brunette who embodies that uniquely New York blend of warmth and grit, took turns on stage with fellow readers (and Bushwick royalty) Prospero Vega and Dallas Athent, whose fiction appears in Bushwick Nightz. The authors spun yarns from tough to tender as the crowd sipped autumnal beverages and basked in the glow of the bar’s warm wood interior—while the gypsy cabs and buses of Broadway zipped by just beyond. In the basement, a more visual display of glitz versus ghetto lined the walls: about two dozen of Meisler’s photographs from the book. Bushwick kids backed with Studio 54 queens at every turn. Through the Tale of Two Cities theme and the artists there to speak from their experience, it was clear that from the late 1970’s all the way to now, New York—both in Bushwick and in Partytown, Manhattan—was and is the both the best of times and the worst of times.
The exhibit has come down, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still get your own compendium of Meisler’s compelling images. Disco Era Bushwick continues to be written about all over the Internet; it’s become perhaps the most important retrospective of our beloved neighborhood ever created, and it remains available from many shops located right off the L train, like Spoonbill & Sugartown and The Strand. You can also buy one directly from Bizarre itself. Likewise, Bushwick Nightz remains on sale at many neighborhood vendors, including Better Than Jam, Catland, Vinyl Fantasy, Molasses, and Human Relations.