20 June 2005

An Old Proud History

The birth myth of The New York Minute

It began as the New Amsterdamme Minute, a British-sponsored New World daily est. 1642. Handed down through years of war and colonial expansion, a rough-and-ready New York publishing tycoon resurrected the faded paper in 1901 and used it to lambast the war in the Philippines. It went under, casualty of the patriotic fervor of the War to End All Wars.

After a long fallow period during the Depression, it surfaced again as a film company in the 40s, smuggled into shack offices in Santa Barbara orange groves. Its New York moniker more a metaphor than an actual geographic statement, it became synonomous with a series of smartly written French comedies filmed in San Francisco and an epic German-financed adaptation of Hamlet, made a trilogy and set in the Old American West.

1954: Blacklisted. J. Edgar Hoover's file on The New York Minute said to run to ten hundred pages. FBI wiretap transcripts of its editorial meetings still classified and unavailable to the general public.

Jun 25, 1967. The Beatles sing "All You Need Is Love" live on television. New York Minute pamphlets found read and discarded backstage.

In '72, name-checked in a forgotten Bob Dylan single titled Ramblin' Sam's Dogs of War. All copies of the EP since destroyed in a warehouse fire.

September, 1975: A little-known Irish author lauds its work before quietly vanishing under suspicions that he is the reincarnation of James Joyce. The IRA, Black & Tans, Ulster Loyalists and British paramilitaries conduct an aggressive manhunt but find nothing.

03/11/87- Long exiled in Oklahoma, it runs into trouble with the law over junk bonds and anti-Reagan pamphlets. Accused of running a militia funded by Mexican drug money smuggled through Texas.

18 March 1987. SEVILLE - A newborn orphan named James Sligh somehow acquires the disputed rights to the name. The child, brought up in a succession of wandering gypsy caravans after the mysterious death of his parents, is found playing with the documents one morning. Eyewitnesses report a strange yet friendly bearded man nervous in the vicinity.

Sixteen years later, come of age, he crosses the ocean, browned and tattered papers in hand, and arrives on Californian soil to avenge the death of his parents and bring the written word to the blank page. A journey across the country lands him in Boston. Shivering, he commences the heart of the tale.

There are, of course, other accounts.

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