Posts Tagged ‘Down These Mean Streets’

Juan bobo

Juan Bobo History Lesson:

Piri Thomas

In 1967, a raw and disturbing autobiography was published by Knopf Doubleday. It was called Down these Mean Streets by Piri Thomas.

A Puerto Rican ex-felon, Piri wrote a scathing account of his East Harlem childhood, and the choices he made which landed him in prison. The language was sharp and unvarnished. The publisher saw great dramatic value in giving Piri free rein, to tell his story in his own vernacular.

The book caught on and has been in print ever since, for nearly fifty years. Martin Scorcese’s second feature film, Mean Streets, borrowed its title and ambience.

The New York Times celebrated its dysfunction, calling it “a report from the guts and heart.”

There is clearly more to the Puerto Rican (or any) experience than crime, drugs, prison and family dysfunction. But Piri was ghetto fabulous, Piri delivered the “real deal,” and Piri got published.

Here is a YouTube video about the life and work of Piri Thomas:

The Chronicles of Juan Bobo