July 2, 1976: Hartwig House, hallway (clickable)

This has always been my favorite Joel Meyerowitz photograph.

I believe I am in good company, as whoever curates joelmeyerowitz.com has placed it first in the series of photos displayed there.

On the right, chenille bedspread, small bureau, framed print on the wall, ‘distract’ you from an otherwise kind of hypnotic view down the hall.

I think of this picture hearing cinematographer William Fraker relating a conceit of Roman Polanski’s during the filming of ‘Rosemary’s Baby’.

It’s a very short video clip.

Feign deny you craned your own neck a micron or two.

From our friend Martin, who teaches high school in Santa Monica:

Today I received California’s textbook guide to incorporating new social standards into the classroom. My favorite is this book title for Elementary School:
“The Bride was a Daddy — How to Teach LGBQT to First Graders”

Some couple of years ago, we were inadvertently invited to a party.

An afternoon lawn event with an obscene amount of food and mobs of the legitimately invited, we did in fact know a sizable swath of people there.

The inadvertency? Apparently the hostess had asked a friend about a couple she wanted to invite, but didn’t know, and the response to her description resulted in us. I can’t remember how we eventually discovered we weren’t the intended, and I won’t ask the irritable Stephen again.

One of the known guests at the party was lovely Page O. You are obliged to take it on faith that in both appearance and demeanor she is a complete tonic. Chatting with her, she introduced me to a gentleman nearby who had recently relocated from New York City.

I can typically be counted on to trot out my must-be-a-culture-shock opener when I’m introduced to someone ‘from abroad’, whether it’s moving here from a large metropolis, or another country. In this case, it produced an engaging back and forth.

Interrupted mid-sentence by another partygoer, when that person lurched away, this fellow said to me, ‘You were saying…’

Shocking as this overtly courteous display was, I believe I was able to collect myself, and parting, he said he looked forward to our running across each other again, he imagined, unaware hubby and I were all but common party crashers…

Friday was Stephen’s seventieth birthday. I gave him peonies, his favorite, from a local commercial flower farm owned by a gentleman who could only be cuter than he is if he sold his soul. I would not want that.

I also gave Stephen a new iPad. I gave him a new iPad for his sixtieth birthday. As you can see, I have virtually no imagination.

Went searching the other week for a husband-targeted birthday card, one specifically gooey with adoration, but they were all way too écrasant in their ghastly and I chickened out.

Celebrating both the birthday and the ‘permission’ to congregate with other vaccinated’s, we had lunch with a couple at a superbly COVID-revamped restaurant in town called The National. Stephen knows everybody, so other brave lunchers stopped by the table. It was a trace surreal.

Click on my attached photo, enjoy, and I’ll post a picture of the flower grower if you’re very nice to me.

I’d thought to borrow the title ‘Curious things about the house’ for this post, an homage, or ‘Spomage’ (sorry) rather, then tweaked to ‘Curiosities about the house’, but backed down — though our house is in fact curio heaven, or curio something.

I came home one day and found one of Stephen’s ‘finds’ dropped off near the front porch steps, and briefly imagined it had gotten there on its own, word having circulated among inanimate object circles that our house was like the elephant graveyard.

Stephen is the inveterate collector, but it will be revealed that the items on display in this post are actually mine.

These perky artifacts idle in a china cabinet from my mother’s house.  I’ve begun realizing that I routinely refer to the house that way reasonably, as she remained there alone 33 years after my father’s death at 48, 52 years ago today.

Emptying the house with my brother, I found these candles in a box of Christmas ornaments, wrapped in the same bit of tissue paper they’d return to each year after an appearance in some spruce or holly backed tableau.  It was the Fifties.

Now, their survival: they’ve got to be 65+ years-old, and they’re wax.  What are the odds.  Additionally, and I think I’ve wondered since childhood, wicks?  Who would light them and watch those tiny fawn heads melt?

My friend Will W says, ‘Only a monster!’  I’m going with that.

Next up: OXO silicone egg poachers.

You put them in boiling water up to the midriff there, crack the egg into the top scoop, it falls through into the cage, the egg coheres, egg white ‘feathers’ tamed!

Though you may not go into Eggs Benedict ecstasy as apparently I have done, you must have these, and will not know that until you do.  Thanks welcomed.

In my former workplace was Judy S, one of the four video producer/directors in the unit when I signed on there.  I liked Judy quite a bit, though she was generally considered a pain, and knew it, for her wanton refusal to stray from ‘procedure’.

Judy dabbled in little theatre, and passed along to me once that someone experienced in amateur thespiana told her she was the kind of cast member who was scary, because her reading of her lines was always perfect.

Explanation: that should another member of the cast forget his/her line, the specter of an impromptu ‘bridge’ to keep the whole thing moving along could make the ‘perfect’ actor freeze.

Judy also wrote.  She related that during one quick in-person read-through of a submission, the editor looked up from the page and commented approvingly, ‘You use semi-colons!’ and moved on.  Imagine semi-colons getting an author’s foot in the door.

Recently, I encountered “usen’t” for the first time.  For the usen’t novice, this link presents a quick primer.  I do wonder if usen’t mightn’t light up an editor’s face like semi-colons, in spite of the linked opinion that its use leads to ‘cafard, parochialism, censoriousness’.

I’m going to go out on a limb and say the use of the word ‘cafard’ could lead to parochialism and censoriousness.

By the way, just a warning: autocorrect doesn’t like ‘usen’t’ one single bit. 

My brother informed me this morning that my friend Tony Austin has died at age seventy-five plus one day.

This posting will not be one of those Facebook things where old people start crossing off friends, you will know Tony from the maybe dozen times I have mentioned him here over the years, most recently with this post.

I lifted this photograph from the internet this morning in search of his obituary, this is his default facial expression I’d known over the years.  Time and distance has not protected me from this sadness at all.

Behold Yukio Mishima, strikingly au naturel, or as Stephen and I like to say in our in-house misuse, strikingly al dente.

I lifted this picture from a piece on ‘Yukio Mishima: The Death of a Man’ by Kishin Shinoyama.

We have a copy of the famous ’Ordeal by Roses’ by Eikoh Hosoe, but I confess that I am not very much fond of those photographs, which are not helped by the layout, which is a mess.

No complaint here, Mishima was atypically furry for a Japanese gentleman, according to those knowledgeable in these matters, including his biographer, Henry Scott-Stokes, whom we met in Toronto years ago.

I posted about that meeting — a victim (the post) of my great 2016 ‘blog purge’.  In that post, I also mentioned a Mishima short story recounting the suicide of two women in a greenhouse.

Writing then, that for whatever reason, the story ‘spoke to me’ (don’t be alarmed), I need to relocate it, or I’m going have to finally decide that I imagined the story myself (don’t be alarmed).

After this, I’m going to try very hard to stop posting photos of book covers…

This promised post would like to describe two people I encountered while in the Air Force stationed on Crete, surveilling North Africa in 1968 and 1969.

In my unit was a gentleman who was, the best way to describe, Auntie Mame, subdued at maybe fifty percent, but with flame still bright enough to warrant the remark to be quoted in just a bit.

Sgt. Sandy C was always attired in perfectly pressed uniforms, his cigaret perched at the very extreme tips of the two fingers holding it, hand absolutely erect.  Reacting to a funny remark, seldom just a laugh, rather head thrown back with a rapid-fire ha-ha-ha trill.

I could go on, but I think you will have conjured an image by now.  I don’t know if saying I enjoyed working with him is required, he was a a bundle of camp.  And he knitted.

He claimed to have a fiancée, as opposed to a fiancé, to return to back in South Carolina (I think), and I am as sure as I can be that it was true; if I thought of Sandy and betrothed after we parted company, I pictured happy sisters.

Which brings me to the second of the two folk I mentioned at the start.  I overheard once a passing exchange about Sgt. C.

A kid – ‘right out of central casting for a Forties bomber crew’ – opined: ‘I’m not saying the guy’s a fag, I just think he’d be happier if he was a dame.’

Essentially spot-on, kind not rude, and nigh enlightened.

Where are these people today?  I just hope they’re warm.

Why am I telling you this?

I started blogging in 2009, but in October 2016, I ditched the previous posts in a fit of cyber housecleaning. Some of it was really nice writing, but alas, as my old friend Susan once said: ‘Compulsion is a cruel master’.

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