Tuesday, April 28, 2009
france - 1969

For a long time I have been thinking about writing about my trip to France. My one trip. This summer, it will be forty years since I was there.....And it was a truly memorable trip in so very many ways....So, here goes......!My father had a house in Cap D'antibes....He had bought it some time in the mid to 1950's. He had never invited me there and so, I had never seen it. He would spend most of the Summers there.....By this time he was married to wife number four---his last wife, Olga, and they decided that maybe it was a good time to invite me to come. It was the summer of 1969.....This turned out to be a very traveling spring and summer filled with some very rich experiences.....I had gone to Montgomery, Alabama to visit my dear sweet friend and soul mate, Sammy Reese. (The picture above is the State House in Montgomery)
That was an incredibly memorable five days, mostly because of Sammy's unique view of everything---ALL of which he shared with me, and also because of the graciousness of his friends and his family. They took me in like I was family because that is how Sammy and I felt about each other, and dear Sammy showed me so very many wonderful and enlightening things in those few days---it was quite extraordinary.....I also visited my dear friend Betty Garrett and her husband Larry Parks, in Chicago....where Betty was doing a play. Again, there were many wonderful experiences. I saw the great George Seurat's most famous painting for the very first time---the one that sparked Stephen Sondheim's musical many years later, "Sunday In The Park With George". It hangs in one of the great Museums of America, The Art Institute of Chicago....This was a really fun trip and as always, it was a joy to be with Betty and Larry. And then I went on to Manhattan to visit my sister and lots of old friends and see lots of Broadway shows and plays---all things that feed my soul....Then, in July....The South Of France. I traveled more that early Spring and Summer of 1969 than I ever had before or since, in just a few short months.....and all of it was memorable.
I flew to Paris on Air France, my father having sent me a First Class round trip ticket from Los Angeles to Paris to Nice....I had my passport and everything was a 'go'.....!.The flight going over was just perfect with a fabulous and huge dinner. And it was a smooth ride and uneventful, except for the gentleman sitting next to me, a movie producer, who got a little drunk and made a rather overt pass, suggesting I do something to him right there in our seats---which was kind of shocking to me but also it sort of amused me, too. I turned him down, I might add, and later, I did wonder how many times he and/or other men making this kind of pass, actually "scored" with a stranger on a long flight!

We arrived in Paris in the late morning. There was a short wait between landing in Paris and then taking a little plane to Nice. That same gentleman who had been sitting next to me, was on that flight to Nice, too....Now sober, having slept off his drunkenness he didn't even give me a second look. He had told me that he and some other friends, who were on the flight from L.A., were all meeting in Nice, where his wife awaited him, and they were getting on a yacht and cruising around the Med for the next three weeks.....I always wondered what I had possibly done or had said in my conversation with him that made him feel he could make such a pass.....I think I have always been rather naive and kind of stupid where men are concerned....I only bring this up because of a later encounter during the three weeks I spent there in the South of France. We landed in Nice, and I could hardly believe I was actually there.....It looked so very beautiful from the air.....This was pretty exciting stuff for me.Daddy and Olga picked me up at the Nice airport and we then drove back to Cap Antibes and their home, which was called Lou Miradou.....I remember that I was terribly tired, but very excited, too....And I have no idea what time my body thought it was....As I recall, we had an early dinner and I unpacked and we talked for a while and then I tried to go to sleep. My room was actually Daddy's Office/Study and was on the ground floor---in the photo it is om the right hand side.....Daddy and Olga's Bedroom was on the second floor, which is not visible in the picture above---it was on the front side of the house. They always locked their bedroom door---which I found rather peculiar. Closing it, I understand---But locking it? I never could figure out who they were worried would be trying to come in..... There bedroom window is over on the upper right in this picture above....the front door to the house being over there on the ground floor on the left.....The house sat on this bluff above the main Highway that was a very well traveled noisy street, right next to the Mediterranean......Luckily, I had my little sound machine with me so the noise of all the sports cars and trucks, etc, was kind of drowned out by that.....I could see the Med looking out the window on one side and I could see the Garden of the house looking out the window on the other side....there was also a door to the outside from my room, so if I wanted to go in and out, I could.....Somewhere along the way, the strap of my purse had broken and so after a nice leisurely breakfast upstairs on the little outdoor patio, (picture. below) that was right above my room, we went into the town if Antibes.I really felt like now, I was really in France....Antibes was so quaint and lovely with these open areas where there were shops and cafes....We took my purse to be fixed and went to another shop where I was able to by another purse. My first 'French' purchase, (though not by any means, my last). I ended up using this 'new' purse day and night for that next three weeks---the whole time I was there, in the South Of France!I don't remember much of the rest of that day....I was pretty Jet lagged and unfortunately, my worst fear started to take place.....I began having a rather gnawingly painful toothache......It was a tooth that my dentist and I had been rather concerned about before I left on this trip......







More To Come........


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Saturday, April 25, 2009
floral beauty

Here are some more pretty flowers....For me, each of these pictures could be a 'card'......I don't have much to say about them. I will let them speak for themselves....... What I love, besides the colors, is the abstractness of some of these..... I love that there are a number of flowers in each of the pictures above....And yet, no one flower is the focus of the picture. It is all of them together in each photograph...... Then above, we have a very close look at a petal of that very beautiful flower called an Astromeria. (Thank you Kenju.....) There is this stunning combination of colors..... And the delicacy of the inside of the inside.....And below, a different and rich color of the same flower.....A gorgeous combination, too..... I love the purple and the blue combination.....and below, a somewhat closer look at another one of these gorgeous Astromeria's...... And below, a more conventional photograph. This one would make a lovely card, as well.....The yellow of that Rose is so rich....and I love the little itty bitty white flowers with it...... All of these flowers were in two different arrangements by the wonderful Van of The Conservatory....And they lasted and lasted and lasted.....And below, one more abstraction.....So very very beautiful...... Like a lovely soft painting......




More To Come.........


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Wednesday, April 22, 2009
grey gardens

"Grey Gardens". A fascinating haunting unforgettable story that never fails to effect you because it is about real people who lived their lives in a most unusual and some would say, often shocking way.
First, there was the Documentary Film by the Maysles brothers, released in 1975-76. Probably the most interesting and spectacular documentary ever made, and just as a 'film'.....It is still one of the most fascinating ever ever made, all these years later. You might say, this was the very first "reality" show, though in truth, saying that minimizes the greatness of this epic film and this epic story. These two women----this mother and daughter, hold our interest for so very many reasons, not the least of which is how they were living in this house known as Grey Gardens, which unfolds in all it's horror and it's stark realism in this magnificent Documentary. Everything that has come after this film, came because of this documentary film.

In November of 2006, a Musical called "Grey Gardens" opened on Broadway.....It starred the incandescent Christine Ebersole playing Big Edie, as a young mother in the first Act, and then, she plays Little Edie during the time that the Maysles filmed their Documentary, 40 plus years later.....This was a tour de force performance and won Miss Ebersole a Tony in the Leading Actress In A Musical category, and the great Mary Louise Wilson, who played the older Big Edie in the second Act, won a Tony, too, in The Best Supporting Actress In A Musical category.
Now, HBO has made a film, based on The Documentary and having done extensive research into the earlier life of both these woman, this film covers much more of their lives than the documentary did. So this becomes a much bigger and fuller story because it is not just a picture of their later life, but includes a lot about their younger years as well, as did the Musical. Drew Barrymore plays Little Edie and Jessica Lange plays Big Edie. Again.....these performances are astounding in their bravery and in their attention to detail, especially all the little nuances of the 'accents' of both this mother and daughter.....Emmys should be coming their way as well as an Emmy for the Make-Up people.....In fact, the picture should win lots and lots of Emmys, if there is a God of Emmys. The attention to every aspect is so incredibly detailed----it is thrilling . Much love went into the making of this film and it shows in every way.For anyone who is unfamiliar with who these women were...here is a little bit of background. Edith Bouvier Beale (Big Edie) was Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis' Aunt, and her daughter, Edith Bouvier Beale (Little Edie) was Jacquie's somewhat older Cousin. These were "society" people.

Little Edie 'came out', as Society people did, (And may still do....) in those days. The house in East Hampton, Grey Gardens, was the home of The Beale's. Big Edie sang and it seems secretly wished for some kind of career. Little Edie was an actress and a dancer, and she too so hoped for a career. But that was not to be. And somewhere along the way, Big Edie and her husband divorced and through circumstances of fortune and misfortune.....Big Edie and Little Edie lived in Grey Gardens, just the two of them, for years and years and years.....



In the early 1970's a scandal ensued because Grey Gardens had fallen into such disrepair and these two women were living in unimaginable squalor, including cat and Raccoon excrement, etc., etc.. The town of East Hampton, condemned the house and Jacqueline Kennedy and her sister Lee, stepped in to help their Aunt and Cousin and to bring Grey Gardens back, once again, to being a livable home. It was just about this time---after the semi-resurrection of the house----that The Maysles brothers began filming their documentary about these two women.But, one can see in the Documentary that the house was still in terrible shape and the way these two women lived was still pretty horrible. The fascination is, of course, how did this happen. How could these two women have fallen into the life they did, living the way they did? They are such interesting characters---particularly Little Edie....She had this incredible individual style and had always longed for the spotlight. The Maysles gave her that spotlight in their documentary and Big Edie, too.....Some people would say they were monsters in a way....maybe they were, but I don't think so. What the Maysles film did was to show us a relationship that was filled with love and hate and anger and laughter and was of such complexity that one never tires of trying to figure it all out.
If you don't have HBO, you can at least, for a start, rent the Documentary. It is, as I said, an astounding film on so very many levels.....Eventually the HBO movie will be available too....And their is a CD of the Broadway Musical that is available, as well......

That there have now been three major works based on these two women, says a lot about them and the strangely universal quality of who they were and what they mean to all of us as individuals. They touch us in ways that cannot be put into words. No doubt, this story is not every one's cup of tea. But, I think it is a story of such epic proportions as to be compared to Greek Tragedy or a play by Shakespeare. I can see how someone might now write an Opera as the next incarnation of "Grey Gardens".....the ARIAS that could be written.....Oh My!


Here is a link to a brilliant video of Christine Ebersole as 'Little Edie'. singing one of the wonderful songs by Scott Frankel from the Broadway Musical of "Grey Gardens" at The Tony Awards....This is just a little taste of what awaits you in the Documentary and the HBO film, as well...Much of the lyrics and dialogue are based on quotations by these two women, in the documentary......Enjoy!



And as a little bonus.....Here is Christine Ebersole singing "Around The World", also from "GREY GARDENS", but this was not during a performance of the show. The composer, Scott Frankel, is accompanying her on the piano.......And this is just a stunningly brilliant performance. Again, this is a song that 'Little Edie' sings in the show, as portrayed by Ms. Ebersole.....I don't know where this was filmed, but I'm sure glad it was......








More To Come........


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Sunday, April 19, 2009
as promised

These two flowers together really say "Spring" don't they? And Easter, too.....Let's take a closer look......
The Beauty of Ranunculus. The colors in this particular one are so stunning. Do be sure to click on all of these pictures to see them bigger....I know I repeat myself, but, I just can never get over the exquisiteness of the things that nature creates.....The colors and shapes. And all this beauty gives me hope...... Above, a different Ranunculas......I just love how one color fades into another.....it reminds me of my paintings. I bet I have painted 400 paintings of just this kind of 'happening', over the years....One color fading into another....Something about that so pleases my personal sensibilities, and always has........ I painted the above painting in 1990.....I wasn't photographing Ranunculas back then----in fact, I'm not sure I had even had really looked that closely at a Ranunculas, back then.....I was influenced by a flower in my Garden from a strange but beautiful plant called a Hoodia.....The flowers were not really like this painting except in shape, sort of, but it was my abstraction of them....Another painting from that same period is below..... These too, are not really a realistic rendering of my Hoodia flowers. Again, it is my abstraction of them....But you see how much the gradation of color-changes means to me....And it even goes back quite a bit further..... This painting is from 1978. Not flowers, though it certainly could be some kind of flower, but you see the connection here to the gradations of color going from the darker tones on the outside to the lighter tones in the interior......And then even before that, a painting below done in the very early 1970's....'71, I think...... This painting above is a particular favorite of mine....Everything about it truly pleases me.....I LOVE the Blues turning into Browns and Tans.....such a great combination of colors for me...Again, these were not based on flowers, at all, but I can see now, in retrospect, the relationship to flowers......And now, going back to the real flowers...here below is that gradation of color going the other way...... And looking closer below....How beautiful the interior is.....Complex and beautiful in all it's exquisiteness. So much happening on the inside of this beautiful flower.........And the colors just sing.......! They truly do! At least, they are music to my ears......There will definitely be......





More To Come........










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Thursday, April 16, 2009
bella

I rented a film from Netflix called "Bella".....I honestly don't remember what made me want to rent this film in the first place except, I think it was because it won an Award at the Toronto Film Festival in 2006. I didn't really look at what the film was about after I got it from Netflix, so, when I watched it, it was like watching something I knew nothing about---for me---The BEST way to see a film.It is a lovely film in every way, and it really is about love. And I mean 'love' in all it's many forms. There is tragedy in the film and there is such hope, too. I loved that it is about a Latino family that really cares about one another---no one is a drug addict or a thief or a criminal. These are people, like you and me and most people: Good and Decent and Caring even though they may be flawed, as we all are and as the film probably is, too, in it's own way...BUT, it is an important voice for pro life. Pro-Life where there is love---not just because one feels Pro-Life is the better way, no matter what.It is also about redemption. A young beautiful soul of a man is redeemed by his feeling that it is more important to love than not. An accident happens. He is responsible. It changes his life completely...till, he sees an opportunity to love an unborn child of a woman he is drawn to....I tell you the truth, there is no way I can really write about this film and honestly explain the whole story. There are so very many subtleties. Just know this: I urge you to rent this film and have a wonderfully uplifting experience. One small thing. If there is a minor flaw in this film it is that more was needed before the picture ended. There are things left out---at least, they were for me----before this ultimately very satisfying ending.And here's the thing.....This is a very important good good touching film in spite of this minor flaw. And another reason to support this film is, that it was a labor of love and probably cost 1/87th of what most films cost these days.....This is a little gem of a movie, and the actors are all truly truly magnificent. The lead actor, Eduardo Verastequi is one of Mexico's biggest stars, and not only is he a very very handsome-you-cannot-take-your-eyes-off-him man, he is beyond splendid in his role. I tell you, there isn't a bad performance in the bunch. And believe me, when you watch this sweet picture, I don't think you will be disappointed in any way on any level.


More To Come.......



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