From the desk of Parker Avenue
If you asked any millennial how people communicated their disdain, disgust and opinions before twitter they will probably tell you they never thought about it. Let’s face it the world was pretty much created in 2007 by Apple. But actually once upon a time all across America people would make plans to meet up and TALK. Yep, good old conversations. And believe it or not they kind of liked it.
In 1919 a certain group of literary folks met one day at the Algonquin Hotel in New York City to do this talking thing. It was a luncheon set up by one literary to gather his cohorts and poke fun at one of his rivals but the joke was on the host because the intended target of his abuse was quite amused by the whole thing and ended the lunch by suggesting they should do it again. Every day after that fateful afternoon the group which became known as The Vicious Circle met for lunch at the same place. Eventually they were moved to a round table in the main dining room and the rest as they say is history.
Among those dishing and dining on sarcasm appetizers and opinion as the main course, was the first female member of the club-Dorothy Parker.
Ms. Parker was known more for her sharp wit than her dull pencil but she was a very accomplished writer and a bit of a character too. Fiercely independent and never one to hold her tongue Ms. Parker was well suited as a literary critic for Vanity Fair and Vogue but she is probably best now for her poems, plays and her quotes. If there had been twitter back then Dorothy Parker would make that orange dude in Washington D.C. look fairly tame. Of course for Dorothy Parker it was not only her talent but her job to be critical and tell it like she saw it.Ms. Parker responded while playing a parlor game that required her to use horticulture in a sentence, “You can lead a horticulture but you can’t make her think”.
Americans were losing their inhibitions and exploring the trappings of wealth. This is the time of The Great Gatsby, of decadence, over indulgence, and debauchery. If you had the will then why not? Can’t say its too much different than today, for better or worse. It’s true that everything old is new again.
The games of the Round Table were relatively friendly but the stakes were high. Vicious Circle member Harold Ross engaged in an afternoon poker game, as was the norm, but this time he won enough money to finance The New Yorker magazine. Established in 1925 the New Yorker still exists and is a highly relevant periodical to this day. Those were the kind of people and the nature of the games played at The Algonquin.
The lunch meetings ended in about 1929, it was a good 10 year run. The rooms are now $200 per night instead of $2 and the place looks a bit different since a remodeling in 2012 but the Algonquin Hotel still stands on West 44th street in Manhattan.
To be certain, when you come to Parker Avenue its not the intent to have the level of banter that went on at the Round Table nor should your visit be the folly of Twitter. What will be similar is that you will be immersed with interesting and compelling individuals in Detroit. The service, the products, and the patrons will all draw your respect and inspire your experience. The circle will be impressive but not vicious. When you gather at Parker Avenue you are one of an elite crowd of individuals who, in the same way the Vicious Circle changed the tone and course of American literature, are changing the community in Detroit.
Parker Avenue is bringing a long standing craft community back within the city limits. A place close to home to see fiber friends and meet new neighbors. Like any proper LYS Parker Avenue is your home.
President John F. Kennedy once said “When I was growing up , I had three wishes- I wanted to be a Lindbergh-type hero, learn Chinese and become a member of the Algonquin Round Table”. Well the time has long passed to be a member of the Round Table but we can’t wait to have you as a regular at Parker Avenue.