If you tried to grab a cuppa at Oslo this morning, you were probably turned away and forced to trudge to one of the 5,000 other coffee spots on the avenue. The roaster’s Bedford Ave. location closed around 4:30 p.m. so that Morgan Freeman’s forthcoming dramedy, Life Itself, could shoot there. Oslo employees were incorporated into the shot, giving the celebrity barista at Grumpy a run for her money. One of them told B+B that the scene consisted of Freeman grabbing a cup of coffee — so, nothing exciting. But the movie — which also stars Diane Keaton and Cynthia Nixon and “centers on a married couple who get swept into a real estate bidding war when they put their Manhattan apartment on the market,” according to TheWrap — will be back in the neighborhood tomorrow and the next day.
The senior housing complex on the northeast corner of Avenue A and East 11th Street hardly looks like a landmark of Beat culture. But there, at 501 East 11th Street, three buildings shared a courtyard where residents gathered to talk, eat and drink wine. Fifties-era hipsters called it Paradise Alley.
The complex first drew attention in 1958 when Jack Kerouac published The Subterraneans, inspired by his affair five years earlier with black poet Alene Lee. The original version of the short novel was set in Paradise Alley, where Lee lived, and used her real name. For legal reasons, her character was re-written as Mardou Fox, one of the novel’s jazz club crowd; Kerouac’s character pursues an affair with Fox at her tenement apartment in what was changed to Heavenly Lane in San Francisco.
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