Consider this – How do you put all the great things that have happened in your life in one brief web page? You can’t. It takes more than one. So, here goes on my second page. At the beginning it will be all bare bones, but slowly but surely it will be filled out and will, I guarantee it, be just as goofy as the first page. Hope you enjoy the ride. Besides, it isn’t always what one has done as much as the people one has known – ones who have passed through and changed your life.
Jerry Vegder Disliked This Title – The title of this picture is ironic. My friend, Ben Peyronnin took it and then asked me to take a look at his Flickr site and to tell him what I thought of his most recent additions. This was one of them. I told him I liked it, but I hated the title. I know him that well. He can take it. Originally it was called something like “Ivy Been There” or “Ivy Seen It” or… Doesn’t matter. I hated it, the title that is. (Look closely and you will see there is a tiny little area with ivy growing on a concrete support column or, at least, I think that’s what it is. Anyway, the next time I talked to him he asked me to look at his Flickr site again and I did. It took me a while, but I finally noticed the change in titles and now… I love it! Vanity, vanity, vanity, all is vanity. Besides, I had to start this page off with this section because I am so damned flattered that he named a picture after me. Vanity!
Ben moved to Seattle from Port Townsend last June and loves taking pictures of his new urban environment – particularly the gritty, graffiti-ridden abandoned buildings found all over the area. For a while he was contracted to take pictures for a company which contracted with Sotheby’s International to supply images of high-end real estate offerings. That is not something to sneeze at. Sometimes he would even hang out of open-doored helicopters to make films of large, dramatic estates. The effects were startlingly beautiful.
Here is an example of the kind of work he did for pay.
However, it is what he does for pleasure that says much more about him than photos meant for the real estate market – fine as they are. If you would like to see more of his own personal works, things done to his own particular tastes, like the two examples shown below, then click on the Vegder Disliked picture shown above. That will take you to his Flickr posts where you will get much more of the flavor of what he is truly about.
Below are two more of Ben’s photo. The one on the left is called Tugger. The one on the right, Space. You can enlarge them after you go to his site.
I took a month long trip to Missouri to visit friends and to go to my best friend’s daughter’s wedding. While I was there Ben and his parents visited for about a day and a half so I could show them around. I give great tours. One of the nice results was some of the photos Ben took. Below is a picture of his step-mother, Denise, viewing one of the Noguchi sculptures at the Nelson. Noguchi is one of my faves. Great picture, too.
Another one of the places I took them is the historic Union Station. As you can see some of it was all fitted up for Christmas. To be fair Ben is not as pleased with these pictures as I am, but oh well…
The Peyronnin apple doesn’t fall far from the tree –
Years ago I started taking long vacations during the summer months, partially because my business would basically curl up and die at that time of the year. Knowing that I was going to be moving from Kansas City to the Northwest, I decided to take a brief trip through the South to see places I had never seen before and to visit friends in the Midwest that I wasn’t sure I would ever see again. My stops included Vicksburg and Oxford, Mississippi – Faulkner’s home – and New Harmony, Indiana, a 19th century utopian community. My best friend, Chris, said I should definitely go there. I spent the night in a moderately cheap motel in Evansville where someone from a rowdy crowd kept throwing the fire alarm – all night long. This certainly put me in a bad mood, but the next day I went to New Harmony and was pleasantly surprised, not by the older structures which I knew I would like, but by the modern visitor center, set apart from the traditional buildings. The Atheneum it turns out was designed by Richard Meier, one of my favorite modern architects. His buildings nearly always make me think of modern, high-tech prison facilities. The is not a put-down. All modern prisons should look so good. On top of that, I later read that this was Meier’s first major commission. Great choice.
So, Richard Meier was the architect, but who built the Atheneum? The Peyronnin Construction Company, that’s who. Ben’s grandfather’s company.
At least 9 years later I was shopping at the Safeway store in Port Townsend, around midnight. The checker, whom I had never met before, and I had an interesting, but extremely short conversation. Maybe two minutes at most. About two years later I was invited to a neighbor’s birthday party. I hate these things. I decided to stay a reasonable length of time before making my excuses so I could go home. Just as I was about to leave two young men showed up. I was introduced, we talked some. They were different than the other guests, less parochial – I can be such snob sometimes – so I stayed and visited with them for a while longer. Got their names, but it didn’t mean much. Found out one was from Los Alamos, New Mexico and the other was from Evansville. Sometime in the year after that it finally dawned on me: Ben Peyronnin from Evansville must be related somehow to the Peyronnin Construction Company from there. What are the odds against it? Peyronnin is not a common name, even in Indiana. I finally made the connection. And, by that time, Ben had been showing me his photographs. It was clearly the apple priciple at work. Duh!
Below is photo Ben took of on a recent family visit to New Harmony. If you want to see more about Meier and New Harmony, look it up yourself. This is about Ben and his family. Click on the image to see more of his New Harmony photos among others.
My birthday in 2015 –
I received a number of very thoughtful gifts for my birthday this year. Denise Peyronnin wrote, via e-mail, to wish me a “Happy…” I wrote back and thanked her and told her what I always tell everyone: “You know my birthday is always coming up. Even on the day I am having it. That way, it would give lots of people a chance to save up to give me what I really, really want – a yellow Lamborghini.” My joke. After that I didn’t think much about it. Then about a week or so later, Denise and Drew, Ben’s dad, were visiting him in Seattle and they came over to Port Townsend for the day to visit me.
Denise is a very lovely and giving person. When they arrived at my place she was bearing gifts. She hugged me and handed me a bag. In it were two ceramic pieces she had made and told me I could keep one as a gift. I liked them both and told her that I couldn’t make up my mind. So, I said, “I’ll keep them both.” (I gave her something special of mine, something I owned, a valued piece which I had treasured for years and also ceramic. She seemed satisfied. I insisted she take it. Our own private potlatch.) Anyway, at the bottom of the bag was one more gift. I pulled it out, unwrapped it and now I can share it with you – see below.
I had finally made it. The big time. Ben suggested that I take it out of the box and play with it. I said: “Are you kidding? This thing will be worth quite a bit more in about 150 years if I leave it just as it is.” Now it sits in its box, wrapped in Saran Wrap, on my bedroom dresser in its place of honor. That is where the vase I gave to Denise used to sit. The Saran Wrap is to keep the dust and pollen off of it, keeping it as pristine as the day I got it.
Backstory: When Denise – what a sweetie! – read that I wanted a yellow Lamborghini she special ordered one knowing that she was going to see me soon. It arrived, on a rush order. She opened the box and it was ‘blue’. Oh no! But leave it to Denise. She hustled and by the time she arrived at my door she had gotten my decades-long-desired wish. Nothing will stop this woman when she is on a mission and I am right there cheering her on.
My Brush with Communism –
Photo taken by Evan Black
My Life as a Chess Master! – My life as a child was shit starting ten days after my sixth birthday and for years after that. It was unrelenting. Shit might be too mild a word for what was happening to and around me. But don’t get me wrong. The lives of millions and millions of other people are and were far worse. I know that. But it was happening to me and that is what counts here. In one of his novels Haruki Murakami wrote: Life’s crappy, no matter how you cut it.
I am telling you this because, despite those things which held me back, my life overall, in the balance of a lifetime, has been wonderful. I have met so many incredible people that have made my life not only worth living, but absolutely remarkable. One such encounter took place back in ca. 1970 when I was a graduate student at UCLA, was renting a room in a house in Pacific Palisades and was working for a money grubbing art appraiser on Las Cienega Boulevard. I had to do something to pay my rent, cover tuition and buy food. That magical moment which has affected my life until this day was the one and only evening I spent with the Straus family.
But before I tell you about that evening, let me tell you what led up to it. As I said, I worked for a man who was an art appraiser. Mainly I was a gofer. He owned a small shop and part of it was devoted to a restoration department run by a wonderful, middle aged German man who seemed to be able to do anything he set his mind to. My boss was always sending me all over the place to pick up or deliver items. I got to go to some of the homes of the wealthiest families in the area. One was at the northwest corner of North Beverly Drive, right off Sunset and right across the street from the Beverly Hills Hotel. Another time I was sent to pick up a Frederick Remington sculpture from a second floor apartment, nothing special, in Venice, but right on the beach. The middle-aged, disheveled woman who came to the door, had a cigarette hanging out of her mouth and a drink – alcoholic, of course – in her right hand. I told her who I was and why I was there. After a few moments she mumbled something and pointed at the statue and then wandered off. From another direction a nearly naked, buff, boy toy appeared from one of the other rooms, sneered at me and said “Who the eff are you?” and wandered off, like she had done, without waiting for an answer. The place was a mess. I stood there somewhat stupefied for a while and then I went over, picked up the statue, which was much heavier than I expected, and struggled to get it down to my car. I found out later that the woman was the dissolute heiress to one of the wealthiest automobile dynasties in America. But the only thing that impressed me about her was her depth of her dissolution.
I found this copy of Remington’s Bronco Buster at commons.wikimedia. It was posted there by Slowking4 and comes from the collection of the Smithsonian.
Parenthetically, I have a neighbor who I run into every now and then who can’t help himself from talking to me about pop-psychology. Ego, superego and a lot of new age jargon I have never heard before. And, I have a minor in psych. Anyway, every time I see him he works it into the conversation whether it is something that lasts for two or ten minutes. He always brings it up. He reminds me of a friend of mine, who has what I consider an obsessional hatred of Barack Obama. I can’t talk to him about anything without his working his disgust for the president into our conversation. I love my friend, but he might as well be talking to be about pop-psychology. Oh, the things we have to endure. Anyway, when I started writing about the Remington sculpture I had to pick up in Venice, California about 45 years ago, I flashed on an image I saw of the president on TV the other day and in the background was another copy of this famous statue. Below is an image posted at a web blog in 2010. It will show you what I mean.
President Obama in the Oval Office with one of the castings of Remington’s Bronco Buster behind him. This photo is from 2010.
[More to come soon.]
Photo by MicahelMaggs posted at commons.wikimedia
Louise and Ernst Straus
Danny’s passport photo
The Musical Connection – Mostly Classical –
Photo of Beethoven sculpture in Bonn posted at commons.wikimedia by Hans Weingartz
I will be adding the text to all of the entries on this page – and more. Be patient please.