Saturday, March 16, 2024

The Weird and the Mundane

Up since four-thirty, I went down an unsuspected rabbit hole.  Mina Loy.  She ran with a strange and weird crowd.  Her life is certainly movie-worthy.  Painter, poet, editor and publisher, early modernist, intimate of Gertrude Stein and Djuna Barnes, praised as one of the most important symbolist poets of her time. . . not so many people know of her.  I did, but I didn't.  

I started to write a Wiki-style intro to her life, but you can Google her if you are interested.  There is too much to write about her this morning, and for many reasons the "rabbit hole" was disturbing.  Having finished watching "Poor Things" late last night, my mind is a bit overcome with strangeness, perhaps, whatever "strangeness" is.  But everything weird, it appears to me, is somehow rooted in the common and mundane from which it rebels and, given enough time, something back to which it returns.  One, it seems, cannot sustain life on a tightrope.  

Reading her biography, however, is like reading the Who's Who of the Unconventional, Unorthodox, and Outlandish. 

It makes me wish for the comfort of toast and tea.

I walked up to the Anti-Art Festival yesterday with a friend and realized how slow I am now.  It was 86 degrees and I was sweating like an alcoholic pig.  Once we got uptown, our pace slowed.  There was barely a reason as the "art" was just what I had predicted, a collection of tchotchkes.  But we saw friends and acquaintances to whom we spoke.  One of the friends I ran into heads up the Art Festival Committee or Commission or Council or Whatever.  I hadn't seen him for a couple of years, and it was a shock to see his new girth.  Shit happens.  I said, "I asked my friend if you were still in charge of this shit-show and she said, I don't think so.  I heard he died."  Later, miffed, she would ask me, "Why would you say that?"  

"It's just rough guy talk," I said.  That didn't appease her so very much.  

We walked the width and breadth of the park in which the booths are located before heading to outdoor seating for one of the Boulevard restaurants.  Just as we were sitting, one of her friends came to join us.  He is a strangely unorthodox but mundane fellow of wealth and average tastes.  He needn't work, so he and his girlfriend travel.  He visits many interesting places and has been just about everywhere, but his tales are uninteresting at best and boring in the main.  They were, at least, until he decided to excite us with tales of his sexual adventures.  I think I set him off with my description of Boulevard prostitution, highbrow and expensive.  This seemed right up his alley.  His eyes lit with intrigue.  Since I am home most nights, my knowledge is all second hand, but I suggested my friend open her purse and place it table top which is how the Russian working girls announce they are available.  

"It won't take long and you can buy us lunch." 

Animated now, he began to tell us about some threesome he engaged in with two women one night in his condo.  His threesome sounded about as exciting as his travels, I thought, but I could tell my friend was shocked.  She spends a lot of time with him, visits him in Washington and stays on his yacht, and she touts him as someone reputable, so I was really enjoying this.  When his tale was told, I decided to spice it up a bit, it having been reduced to something you could get from Reader's Digest, and concluded, "It seems they might have roofied me.  When I woke in the morning, my Rolex was gone and I smelled of shea butter."  

He liked that.  

I actually stole that ending from a recent experience told by one of Tennessee's friends.  

The restaurant was relatively quiet, but our service was poor and our food took far too long in coming, so I said I'd let them know we were 86ing the food order.  When the check came, my friend's wealthy pal fretted over how we would divide the expense.  I giggled and threw down my card to cover the two beers and one iced tea.  Yea.  He drank the tea.  

I think my friend was fairly stunned, not by the splitting of the check but by the sexual tale of adventure and daring.  

"He's quite something," I said.  

She just shook her head.  "That must have happened before he started going with Claudia.  She keeps him on a tight leash."

"Yea.  He didn't seem interested in the Russian hooker stuff, did he?"  I laughed at her willing naïveté.  "Where is Claudia now?"

Privilege has its power.  

But why am I still here?  I was going back to bed.  The sun is up now and the day has more than begun.  The hoi-polloi will be crowding the Boulevard soon to look at the carved bowls and blown up travel photos on display.  

"Oh, look at that?  Is that Venice?  Oh, John, I've always wanted to go there and travel the canals in a gondola."  

John will nod and try to avert his gaze for the moment from the teenaged girls in cut off jeans shorts he had just been ogling.  

"How much is the photograph?  Oh. . . wow.  Hey. . . do you want to get a chili dog?  I can smell them?"

Mina Loy married Arthur Cravan, a man described as a "poet/boxer."  He was once knocked out by Jack Johnson in a fight in the Canary Islands.  Some say he was paid to take a dive.  He was a draft dodger during WWI, so the couple was on the lam in Mexico City.  They felt that they were being tracked by some "secret agents" from the U.S. and decided to travel separately, she going ahead to Chile from where they were to depart for Europe.  He was to follow, but she never heard from him again.  His disappearance remains a mystery.  

Asked by an interviewer later, "What has been the happiest moment of your life?" she responded, "Every moment I spent with Arthur Cravan." 

"The unhappiest?"

"The rest of the time." 

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