Laughter the Best Medicine
Frank liked watching Ernie Kovaks and especially the Nairobi Trio
, but who didn't?
People were so creative
Here's a pronunciation guide for Vlie
t... even if you knew something, there was a fifty fifty chance you were wrong. Back then, you had to take people's word for how to pronounce their names.
I'd clip out cartoons from Mad or New Yorker for Don. One was a self-portrait of Van Gogh with his ear missing and a dotted line with words "Cut on dotted line." Another was of the famous little dutch boy standing on a ladder painting a mural (Dutch Boy Paints) and the little dutch boy had his ear cut off, too.
All these cartoons started appearing because "Lust for Life" (the movie) was released and Van Gogh had made it into American consciousness ... imagine the public being aware of a fine artist now and streaming to the movie houses for such a film ... but they had to pick an aberrant artist for the film, you see ... it was the '50s ... but sometimes it seems they're all a little off kilter, aren't they? ... like that's an assumed prerequisite for being an artist.
While destruction is required component to the creation of any art, it's not always necessary, though, for the artist to destruct. I'd mark those words of wisdom.
We'd all seen the movie, and would watch it again when it came on television, but we'd also each read Irving Stone.
Don would collect these cartoons and things, self-references. Me, I preferred Gauguin. I figured he survived being on a remote tropical island because he didn't speak the language and so he didn't understand what people were saying about him or how they might regard him. He knew little of how the society was put together. Ignorance can be bliss.
My sister, who was 7 years older than I, was living in dire circumstances up in Antelope Valley
when she first got to know these people. She'd gone to a music show. More than one of theirs, as she mentioned an outdoor event, too. The desert was a remote and difficult place to live back then, and the winds that sometimes came up ... ferocious desert winds like something out of Lawrence of Arabia. The sand would pour through the edges of the windows and pile up around the inside of the kitchen door. And jobs were scarce. Mining was pretty much finished and a difficult way to make a living, and unless you wanted to be clerk in a sleepy gas station, help candle turkey eggs, tend to the occasional ostrich farm, or work for the military or in the aerospace industry, there was not much opportunity there. The drag strips in the desert, though interesting, as another version of land speed records, hard to make much of a living from that really.
Later, when she returned to Claremont and needed a full time job to get herself through life, based on an aptitude test she took in downtown Los Angeles, she was steered into making a series of choices according to her natural talents and preferences. So she went to school and eventually after studying in anatomy textbooks and physiology textbooks she eventually passed the rather brutal exam to become a dental assistant. This was back in the day when every dental chair had a ceramic spit sink. While she was working for a dentist in Pomona, one Ronald K. Walton, DDS, she helped Frank get a good deal on some necessary dental work he needed, and he was most appreciative. We always tried to help our friends.
Maybe he could do good dental work, but the dentist was a sick fool and had a photo of himself posed with a corpse with the flesh burned off (as they did then for autopsy in medical schools) that he'd later dissected. He maintained this 5x7 in a little white scalloped edge cardboard frame in his office. And the assholes in his class even stuck a little straw boat hat on her head for humor. Frank was lucky to go to Dr. Walton as the older dentists in the area would rill and fill teeth without so much as a shot of novocaine. Doctors, I thought, really have no respect for humans. He became famous when he in his high speed motorboat tore through the back of a whale when he was careening out of Newport Harbor, and the injured whale died. My mother when she heard of the photograph from my sister was horrified and angry, and she launched into her own story from years prior, something she'd heard about as a teenager growing up in Louisville -- the medical students at a university there would dismember a corpse and toss a finger at girls passing by on the campus. See what I mean? Sadistic assholes, doctors, many of them.
When Frank towards the end of his life said he'd been playing the blues all those years, I think I know what meant.
As I used to need rides into Pomona to get to a stationery store somewhere on S. Holt, for those purple waxy mimeograph templates or envelopes, well ... they sold a bunch of stuff in those stores. When my sister and Frank took me down there, Frank ordered some business cards once and he selected the style from a big book on the counter near the plate glass window..