as if this year didn't have enuf deaths word comes from Hollywood of the closing of this important spot. it wasn't just a gallery -- showing works by artists like Eddie Jelinet & JC Gonzo -- but it was a meeting place for people willing to look at the dark side. here I am with gallery owner Rick Castro -- famous fetish photographer & co-director of "Hustler White" -- on my first visit in 2011.
& in the notorious Tony Ward Toilet:
but my best memory was my first Hollywood reading:
& here is Rick -- who featured tea salons there -- with my gift of Mom's miniature teapot & napkins picturing teapots.
the death of any gallery is sad. but with the turn toward hate of the coming administration we more than ever need places like Antebellum. I am happy to have been a part of this cultural & social phenomenon but teary to see it end.
as a boy I liked her. in fact this portrait is one her studio sent me when I wrote for movie star pictures back in the '50s. as we both got older I outgrew her. I sourd on Zsa Zsa's dismal politics & obvious quest for money & celebrity. she became a joke. but by the very end I felt sorry for her. she lived too long. in another age she wd've been calld a courtsesan. but for our time the label ranged from "actress" to "gold digger." & as easy as it is to dismiss her one must remember that she did make films for Welles & Huston & Minnelli. every time I went to the airport in Albuquerque from the freeway I'd see that wonderful old downtown hotel where Gabor honeymoond with Conrad Hilton. & when I see her in costume as Jane Avril or Rosalie I smile for my long-ago boyhood.
here is the first poem in my suite "Towns from Trains" :
startld awake at 4 in the
I see from my window
arches of Casa del
"I must be in
then turn over
to dream of Cordova
the reason I return to this 1997 piece is this:
my neighbor Estee Huff gave me this brick because we had a long discussion which involved among other things the Harvey Girls. an earthquake apparently shook loose some bricks from Casa del Desierto which was the Harvey House in Barstow. they were sold to make money for the reconstruction. because of our conversation (& the brick in my atrium piece) she bought bricks for herself & me. rarely do people respond to my work in such a creative way. I was moved by her insight & generosity.
unite. never. respect this racist. never. when George W. Bush was inaugurated I wore a black armband. I felt so alone. I hope that when this monster is inaugurated I will be able to join thousands across the country in demonstrations. all day yesterday I was full of fear & anger & depression. then the young people took to the streets last nite. it was glorious. we can't listen to the pundits who faild us who now normalize this vulgarian who didn't win the majority of votes. we must challenge him daily.
I realize I've been neglecting the blog. I do post daily on Facebook. but I find myself thinking less abt what to present here. Facebook feels like e-mail for everyone. here it seems I'm writing a letter to friends. maybe when the remodel on my condo is done & I settle into some sort of routine I'll get back to regular postings.
his campaign probably began because he was mad at Obama for ridiculing him in public. from the beginning he was a clown. but as his lack of knowledge became clear & his bullying turnd into hate the whole campaign was a joke. but the leaders of the Republican party allowd him to continue. along the way the stand-up comic turnd out to be a sociopath. still too many of his party leaders supportd him. he didn't begin to get any real critical examination until he reveald himself to be a sexual predator. however yesterday was simply too much even for Trump. it's not just that he has no decency it's that he doesn't even know what decency is. he is the most dangerous person to run for the presidency in modern times. & perhaps the biggest tragedy of this election is that predictions are he will get 50 million votes. not a clown. not a creep. but a crazy man. & one who may receive 50 million votes.
in Palm Springs it takes til oct to begin cooling down. & with that comes more activities. tonite was the first artwalk in the Backstreet art district. of special interest to me was the opening of Tom Ross Gallery which for years had been on Canyon Rd. the vibe at all the galleries was exciting & did remind me of those first days I lived in Santa Fe.
my memory is that I read Albee before seeing his plays. I think it was my freshman year. the teacher was Stanley Solomon. "The Zoo Story" was a slap. some years later I saw the playwright for the first time -- cruising at Julius. I recall being jealous of the boy with whom he left. a couple years after that I was the object of his cruising -- on the streets of Manhattan. but it was a fun game that went nowhere. over the years I saw many productions of many of his plays. & then I lost interest in him as an artist. what I shd do now is go back to all his plays to reassess the whole career. he derves that.
I've told this story before but I never tire of it. the summer I was 16 I went to Cain Park to see Bob Hope. also appearing on stage with him was Hugh O'Brien. afterward I was looking for Hope to get an autograph. somehow I managed to get backstage. & there I found an open door. I went in. it turnd out to be a dressing room & there was O'Brien looking glorious in nothing but his tighty whities. I no longer recall what I said but that image of him has been a powerful visual all my life.
I don't read comic books. I've never playd a video game. I have little interest in sci fi/fantasy. so I've never been to a comic con. however there's one in my backyard. so I decided to see what all the fuss is. welllllllllll... one waits in line for too long to pay too much to be pushd around by too many people. I didn't know any of the artists there. but there were a number of actors. of course it was disconcerting to see them asking from $20-$40 for an autograph. I heard Fred Williamson tell an attendee "there ain't nothin' free here homie." watching them pocketing folding money isn't a happy memory but I guess this sort of thing is a way of supplementing an income in a business where work isn't always available.
I was able to have a quick conversation with Keith Coogan abt his grandfather. & it was exciting to see a venerable actor whose career spans more than 60 years -- James Hong.
behind me is Sam J. Jones who I first encounterd decades ago posing naked for Playgirl under a different name.
Lou Ferrigno meets fans.
I don't regret going but see no need to do this again. & of course I'm happy for the community. I saw tons of dollars being dishd out. & with many out-of-towners coming as well this has to be a cash cow for the city.
the release of yet another version of "Ben-Hur" is reviving interest in the silent version. the blog "Old Hollywood in Color" posts some dazzling stills as well as this banner with a sensational profile of May McAvoy.
& here she is again with leading man Ramon Navarro.
most of you have seen this snapshot of me taken with May & our mutual friend Lois Wilson years ago. it's the only picture I have with her & reminds me of her sense of humor. a lovely lady. "Ben-Hur" was hardly her best performance but if it brings her back into the conversation so much the better.
since opting for sobriety 32 years ago my life has fallen into patterns. unless there is reason I tend to go to bed by 9:30 & rise at 5ish. last nite Nature's p.r. team was promising an explosive sky. so I stayed up late to observe the meteor shower. by 12:30 I'd seen but one shooting star. so my exhaustd body hit the sheets. I did wake at 3 to go outside again. this time I saw nothing extraordinary. I have seen this display before & was hoping for the best. as often happens when these events get hyped this was a disappointment.
my memory of it from a visit in 1988 was that crime made it a menacing place. I seem to recall there was a murder outside our hotel our first nite. but I still have one glorious memory: placing a banana on Carmen Miranda's grave.
& yes I still have that Carmen t-shirt & an album of hers purchased at her museum. also a souvenir plate from Sugar Loaf & watermelon sheets.
trouble falling asleep because I was so full of bile caused by Trump & his followers. then an alarm woke me around midnite. being new to the condo I feard it was the smoke alarm but it stoppd before I cd locate it. however a half hour later it startd up again. most disconcerting. when finally I was asleep again I had a disquieting dream in which I was forced to the campus of a small college to watch a baseball game. it wasn't till I woke this morning that I discoverd the alert came from my iphone warning me of a dust storm. in fact right now the air is so bad I can't see the mountains.
years ago I took a cutting from a favorite cactus at a Palm Springs resort . it liked Santa Fe & prosperd. in fact this spring it bedazzled with its fullest blooming ever. it was one of the few plants I brought on the move. & just now I transplantd it into a large pot.
what we celebrate today too often becomes the holiday that starts summer. but this year it was different for me.
for the first time in 20 years I went to the Palm Springs Air Museum. they had a ceremony marking Memorial Day. & at the end they rolld out a B-25. it took off to join some other smaller vintage planes for the missing man formation. then it returnd to drop flowers on the field in memory of those lost in combat.
really? in 2016? I presumed this moment of gay history was just that -- history. judging by the crowd at Oscar's it's alive & well. gentlemen of my vintage will remember those historic tea dances in Provincetown & Fire Island. & the majority of those still dancing today are at least my age. it all felt like a time wharp. since I no longer drink & only dance naked in my living room I doubt I'll make this a habit. but it was amusing to observe. .
emotionally I'm a citizen of Palm Springs. my body however is another matter. the change from that cold spring of Santa Fe to the intense heat of here is major. I've never been much of a water drinker but here it's essential. I seem to sweat constantly. altho I'm learning the bus routes it's hard to break my walking habit. here it wears me out. so much walking each day that I have blisters. but change is good as one ages. this is a report not a complaint.
my first 2 nites in Palm Springs were marrd by nitemares. probably the stress of such a major move. but last nite was dreams. & the sweetest: I was at a political fundraiser. at a table sitting next to Judy Garland. at one point she was askd to sing. she remaind in her seat & in perfect voice sang while looking straight into my eyes.
tonite my computer will be unpluggd. tomorrow it begins its journey to Palm Springs where it will be in storage for who knows how long. we'll see how successful I can be updating this on my remaining (much smaller) devices. with such a major life change I've decided it's time for a new look here. but of course there's a problem. the title. Arroyo Chamisa indicates the site of this blog for all its years. that site is changing. but this space has a long history. so I've decided to keep the title. I hope that isn't confusing -- or even whacko -- to future readers. obviously I believe in change. but right now I feel fine with keeping the old title in a new place.
I've been making so many farewell appearances I feel like Cher. today a group of actors took me to brunch. the talk was even more delicious than the food. here I am with a pair of exiles from Hollywood -- John Ericson & David Frankham.
just back from a farewell lunch at The Shed with my dear friend Pooka. she gave me a photo she uncoverd of me sitting beside her mother Bernique Longley. it was taken in 1997 at the Legal Tender in Lamy. another farewell lunch: this one for Sally Kemp who was taking the train on her way back to NYC. Sally is the redhead on the left. we think the photo was taken by R.B. Sprague.
an interesting footnote: Bernique designd the original menu & signage which The Shed still uses. & one of her paintings hangs on its walls.
a week from today I fly to Palm Springs. since I don't have a place of my own my "stuff" goes into storage. that includes my computer. to keep in touch I got an iPhone. however Apple isn't easy & I've been unable to sync that device to my others. right now things are such a mess that I no longer get e-mail on my iPad. so if I drop off the map for a while -- remember me kindly. & wait. now..... back to packing.
with only 9 more days till the move I just arranged to have my landline disconnectd after 22 years with this number. I don't get many calls (except nuisance ones from charities & people in India trying to sell me things). but if you have my number you can cross it out in yr address book. whoops. I'm showing my age. you can delete it from yr online directory.
a tiring day. on phone much too much. reserving storage space in Palm Springs. shutting down services here. more packing. & the weather nasty. cold with moments of rain & even snow. but I cleand up & took the bus to town. Wes Hempel was here for his opening. & I wantd to hello Wes & Jack Balas.
it was my second viewing of the show. & of course I saw new things. as much as I admire the large paintings the smaller pieces on paper thrill me in a whole different way. I'm excitd by the craft of painting that small. but there's also an intimacy in seeing work of that size. & for a writer there's the additional layer of meaning that comes with the image sharing space with printd words. so my difficult day resolvd itself as it so often does. painting or film or poetry or music takes me out of the doldrums to that sweet place.