Thursday, August 7, 2008
The Aqua Mustang 35 - GET ME OUT!
What am doing wandering around in the all too connected 1938, 1952, 1970 and 1986 versions of the White Mountains, where nothing ever changes? How can I get out? I had gotten out years ago and now I am in there in my writing as if I have entered a maze and have no sure way to retrace my steps.
Once in the summer of 1955 when I was 20 and a virtual virgin, free for the summer anyway of that pretentious college I was in, I began frequenting this mid-level brothel in Rome that, though only three blocks off the Via Veneto, charged the equivalent in overvalued dollars of 58 cents. I was happily obsessing over a not so young but very smooth girl who had these swim-suit like costumes. In the reception room she didn’t need to hustle. She just stood there for a few moments in a certain way, and I was thinking how fine it was to be here conquering shyness in an international whorehouse.
How fine, yet two blocks closer to the Veneto was the Eden Hotel, where that summer I sometimes slept in a suite taken my distinguished grandmother, who like me was taking a summer off from the White Mountains, and she was traveling happily with my younger Cousin Robin, her favorite grandson, who went to Winchester and lived in London except for summers in the White Mountains, and was the only one in the family whose English accent had to do with actually growing up mostly in England.
I don’t want to write anything more about the White Mountains. And that summer of 1986, when everything was so different. I don’t want to write over and over of how before I headed north that summer on the hunt for what had happened, visual art was taking me to places that the logic of words obscured, and I don’t want to write of visiting places from the past to see what I would find, as in walking on the Upper East Side and feeling I was being smothered by powdered old women in fur coats, or entering the Modern and being whisked back to the time of Motherwell and Kline and Pollack and deKooning, and my girlfriend Vannie, who was an action painter herself and who looked just right in black leotards – nor about how Hopper paintings at the Art Institute drew me into Beat era Chicago, where I spent my weekends away from Indianapolis where when I was 21 and a wire service reporter I was dealing with Klan people posing as ordinary Republican government leaders. Such dealings being something I knew how to fake. And anyway I was on my way to Cuba where it seemed a nonfiction revolution was about to start. And I don’t want to write about those recurring nightmares that would not go away.
Such writing right now is no more satisfying than doing more bragging stories about feats in Borneo and Angola and Laos and Egypt.
I want to get out. I had those happy years when I was not writing, working with color and line and form instead. And then after I came back to writing I got into that maze again. How can I get out?
“By writing,” I would say while attempting to put on a wise face if someone else should ask me about traps of the past. My words would be very helpful to someone else. I could tell them what was their best material.