"How lucky I was, arriving in New York just as everything was about to go to hell." That was autumn 1972, when a very green James Wolcott arrived from Maryland, full of literary dreams, with a letter of introduction from Norman Mailer, and having no idea what was about to hit him. Landing at a time of accelerating municipal squalor and, paradoxically, gathering cultural energy in all spheres as "Downtown" became a category of art and life unto itself, he embarked upon his sentimental education, seventies New York style. This memoir is also a rollicking portrait of a legendary time and place. Wolcott was taken up by fabled film critic Pauline Kael; he became an early observer-participant in the nascent punk scene at CBGB, mixing with Patti Smith, Lester Bangs, and Tom Verlaine; and as a Village Voice writer he encountered the literary scene when Mailer, Gore Vidal, and George Plimpton strode the earth, and writing really mattered.--From publisher description. "A memoir by Vanity Fair culture critic James Wolcott about coming of age in 1970s New York"--Provided by publisher.