Saturday, March 31, 2012

Fifty-Seven Years After My Crush on William Holden

My mother, a native Angeleno, the term for those born in Los Angeles, once described herself as "a movie nut."  Using movies as her frame of reference, she'd say that an old boyfriend had the eyes of Victor Mature ... a store clerk's mouth resembled Ann Blyth ... a young family member looked just like Erroll Flynn.  She'd attended a party once where a then-unknown "casual looking" (as my mother called her) Joan Fontaine was introduced as Olivia de Havilland's sister.  Another time she found herself powdering her nose next to Jean Harlow.  When we kids were growing up, she liked to go (and take us) to the movies every week.  (Always a double feature.)  I seem to remember it cost something like 50¢.  Even as a tyke in L.A., I got taken to movies, my very first being the1942 film, Jungle Book, with Sabu.  It was showing at Grauman's Chinese Theater in Hollywood.  The one with the hand- and foot-prints in cement.
Grauman's Chinese Theater
So it seemed natural that I became something of a movie nut, too.  I could tell you who Archibald Leach was, Spangler Arlington Brugh, Lucille LeSueur, Marion Morrison, Edythe Marrenner.  (Cary Grant, Robert Taylor, Joan Crawford, John Wayne, Susan Hayward.)  And I knew that William Holden's real name was William Beedle.  I had a total crush on him--that smile, those eyes!  Gregory Peck and Laurence Olivier were my other favorite actors.  (And Ronald Colman, for his voice.)  As for actresses, I decided the most beautiful were Ava Gardner, Hedy Lamarr, Elizabeth Taylor, and Vivien Leigh.  The most stylish were Grace Kelly and Audrey Hepburn. Every month, I'd walk to the local drug store for a current issue of Photoplay.  Every year I'd turn on the radio and listen to the Oscars.  The year William Holden won, I wrote in my diary, "'Swonderful." 

These people on screen seemed like part of the family.  So as the years went by and they began leaving us, I always felt a particular sadness.  Even as a favorite aunt or uncle, it did not seem possible that they would no longer be around to let us enjoy their company.

A few of the old crew remain but the list is fast-shortening.  The oldest now is Luise Rainer, born in Germany in 1910, winner of back-to-back best actress Academy Awards in 1936 and 1937.  Then there's Gone With the Wind's Melanie--Olivia de Havilland (1916). 

Others include:
Eli Wallach (1915)
Kirk Douglas (1916)
Joan Fontaine, Celeste Holm, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Ernest Borgnine (1917)
Maureen O'Hara, Mickey Rooney (1920)
Esther Williams (1921)
Eleanor Parker, Lizabeth Scott (1922)
Lauren Bacall, Eva Marie Saint, Doris Day (1924)
Angela Lansbury (1925)
Jerry Lewis (1926)
Gina Lollobrigida, Sidney Poitier (1927)
Shirley Temple, Ann Blyth (1928)
Jane Powell (1929)  

Thank you, each and all!

What Makes March March

Seeing the first crocus and snowdrops appear
Making up house and garden "to do" lists
Thinking about doing a major de-cluttering
Eating asparagus--good for a spring-time cleanse
Realizing that winter is past and the good times can roll 

(Having begun these lists last April, this one now finishes the year.) 

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Magnetic Spring: Photos and Poems

Icicles in drip-time

March is that month when the snow piles melt, Canada Geese jabber down by the river, and crocuses appear ... when the land is soggy, dirt roads become ruinous masses of mud, and the maple sugaring finishes up.
The last of the snow
Sugaring ... though most tapping is now done with plastic tubing

Along with the crocuses, tiny snowdrop blossoms announce the coming round of color as I rake the still-yellow-brown lawn and pick up the sticks that winter winds always leave in my yard.  Raking is almost as good as meditating as I gather autumn's left-over leaves into a heap to toss over my back hill--the same that slopes down toward a deer run amidst deciduous, hemlock, and white pine.  Some mornings, I've looked out to see deer asleep in those woods.  Or they'll twitch an ear and look around if they hear my friendly tap on the window.

The deer in my woods

The spring poems I'd love to include here are all too recent to be in the public domain.  So I will include two I composed using those refrigerator magnets.

after sleep

I lick white honey from the sky
and tell the wind
to bare sweet whisperings
& flood the moment with one raw spring
& imagine shadows playing music

Forced forsythia

near those only forests

when blue sleep falls cool
     over fiddleful arms
shot black music springs
about the raw day
chanting dreams away &
     telling skin to ache.

Ahhhh ...

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Outdoor Art in The City Different

The City Different is its nickname.  Its real name is La Villa Real de la Santa Fé de San Francisco de Asís, or The Royal Town of the Holy Faith of St. Francis of Assisi.  Of course, everyone calls it Santa Fe and knows it by its adobe-style architecture, 7,260-foot elevation, dry and sunny climate, brisk winters, thundery summers, stunning autumns ... and sneezy juniper pollen Aprils.  After New York and L.A., it's said to be the third largest art market in the U.S.  For a city of only 70,000 people, that's doing pretty well.

During every visit--as well as the few not-so-long-ago years I lived there--I've made a point of exploring the art scene.  Outside the galleries on opening nights, a group might be playing didgeridoos or young men with long black hair from a neighboring pueblo might be drumming.  Inside, bright people in silver and turquoise would be schmoozing.  (I overheard one man say he was painting seventh dimensional entities.)  As for the exhibits themselves, watercolors might portray sunset skies, blooming chamisa, or feathers and blue corn.  Mashed bottle caps, tin can tops, bones, and raffia might be turned into a surprisingly successful Mayan-like ceremonial collar.  Oil paintings might be intentionally scratched or sandpapered until glossy.  This last trip, I concentrated on outdoor works, thinking them (thus) public and okay to photograph.

Here, then, is a display of the goofy, the considered, the colorful, and the imaginative that you see as you roam this beautiful town.  Let them inspire you to go visit!

On Canyon Road:
At Vivo Contemporary

At Meyer East

At McLarry

At Wiford Gallery

At Canyon Road Fine Art

And out in Tesuque (follow Bishop's Lodge Road north of town):

At Shidoni Foundry sculpture garden

At Tesuque Glass Works

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Taking the Train 2,194 Miles ... and Then Taking It Back Again

I had planned to spend February at home, but when a Santa Fe friend suggested I come visit, I was out of here in less than a week.  I took the train.  The Lake Shore Limited from New England to Chicago and the Southwest Chief on to New Mexico.  Two days and two nights.  I first did that route (going in the opposite direction) in 1961 when I left Santa Fe (where I was then working) and traveled out of my native western land for the very first time.  I was off on an adventure then to get a book publishing job in NYC.  I paid $87 for a one-way coach ticket and slept by curling up in the empty seat next to me.  I read The Sun Also Rises and wore high heels, stockings, and the same camel-hair coat I'd worn through high school and college. 

This trip:  approaching Albany, New York, on my way west

Next morning, Elkhart, Indiana

The Indiana scene

Approaching Chicago
I never counted all the cross-country trips I made after that.  I know that one year, starting in California, I made the entire trip to New York eating only almonds and life savers.  (I was always on a tight budget.)  Having now put aside that life-style, I only do a long train trip if I can get a roomette.  Even for one--though it can accommodate two--a roomette can be a bit cramped.  But I appreciate having a little home of my own--the privacy, the quiet where I can simply read or gaze out the window.  And I especially appreciate having a little bed to sleep in.  (The Lake Shore Limited also has a commode and pull-down sink in each room.)

The following morning in western Kansas

Western Kansas or eastern Colorado

Of course, going by train means not having to get to the station two or three hours early or taking off one's shoes, belt, and coat to load into one of those scanning containers.  It means no security pat-downs, no cramped seats or turbulence, no middle-seat assignments. It does mean a lot of whing-dinging down the track and swirly toots in the middle of the night as the train approaches each and every cross-road.  Plus plenty of jiggling back and forth.  But at least you know you're still on track.  Train travel also highlights this country's scruffiness--the tumble-down, the abandoned, the rattletrap.  The many heaps of old tires poured down ravines or into river beds.  Unlike Switzerland or Germany, there's nothing tidy or charming about a train's view of our national landscape. 

A typical scene
La Junta, Colorado

And the food leaves something to be desired.  (For those traveling in sleepers, meals are included in the price.)  I'll never forget my first breakfast on that long-ago Lake Shore Limited back in 1961--a heavenly bowl of hot oatmeal beautifully served on a well-ironed, well-starched tablecloth with a pitcher of cream.  Now it's paper table-"cloths," disposable containers of half-and-half, and little boxes of cold cereal.  There's no such thing as toast, only warmed-over biscuits and "croissants" that would make the French cringe.  No boiled or fried eggs, only scrambled or omelets from eggs long since cracked open.  At lunch, ice cream gets plopped down on the table in a little cardboard carton.  No gracious bowl, even, to put it in.  As well, everything is in packets.  Sugar, non-sugar, butter, non-butter.  Plus a basket of ranch, Italian, and lite salad dressings.  Burgers abound.  As do hash browns for breakfast.  Potato chips for lunch.  Tough steaks for supper.  All on disposable thin-plastic plates.

Stopping in La Junta for those who want to "de-train" and smoke.

Northeastern New Mexico

Raton, New Mexico

But the train personnel were markedly helpful and pleasant.  One even constructed a heating pad out of hot towels wrapped in plastic wrap when I experienced a back ache.  (She also brought back a couple of those teensy bottles of Jack Daniels from the lounge car to help dissipate the discomfort.)  Next day, Valentine's, she handed out Hershey kisses to those of us in her sleeper car.  I found a USA Today under my door one morning.  A complete Sunday New York Times on the return trip.

Early morning in Kansas City, Missouri, on the way home again

Fort Madison, Iowa, where the track crosses the Mississippi  which you can glimpse between the cars

As a single traveler I was always seated at a table with other people.  So I met a woman who'd written one book on the Rapture and was starting another advocating getting to Australia by taking a rocket straight up, waiting for Australia to come around underneath, then dropping down.  I met a literary agent from New York, an English prof who gave his students Thoreau, Berry, and Dillard in his essay-writing class, and two Indiana sorts who'd gone out to San Diego for a big barbecue and hot sauce gathering.  I met a Wisconsin man who wanted to build a house into a desert hillside (he wasn't sure where) and a Pennsylvania woman who was looking for any compatible warm (and affordable) place to move to. 

A brief leg-stretching stop

Chicago's Union Station's surprisingly empty first class lounge
And though I had a seven-hour wait in Chicago's Union Station on my way home, those of us in sleeper cars got to board an hour and a half early and then partake of complimentary wine and cheese in the dining car where we were given bunches of green and red grapes, three kinds of cheese, crackers, and our choice of Chardonnay or Shiraz.  We could then crawl in bed even before the train pulled out of the station.  It was over that Shiraz that I met the NY literary agent who'd just attended a gathering of 9,000 fellow agents, writers, and film people.  We agreed that train travel was better than flying.  Longer, but infinitely more relaxing.

Next week:  a glimpse at Santa Fe's outdoor art