Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Schulenberg's Page: New York, Part CIX

My mother at home with Snowball.
Text and Illustrations by ┬ęBob Schulenberg

We continued to slosh through the wet summer.
The Secret Cinema had been accepted to appear in The New York Film Festival and was to be shown at Philharmonic Hall at Lincoln Center. Paul's diligence and perseverance had paid off! He was hopeful it would pay off professionally.

As to my professional life I was having a lot of work and getting paid but I wasn't getting major clients. I was hoping for national ads and more national magazines.

Bill Tobias, someone I'd known from the UCLA art department was working in advertising in town and over lunch, recommended Pema Browne, someone he knew who'd been the art buyer at Grey Advertising and seeing how much commission art representatives were earning she'd decided to become one. And she was looking for artists to represent!

Bill said the rate of commission was 30 to 40% and when I expressed shock, he said something I've quoted for decades: "let me put it this way — would you want 60% of something or 100% of nothing?"

So I met her, showed my work and she accepted me!

And a year after my father's death, my mother thought it would be a good morale booster to come to town and visit and also attend the Festival!

So a lot of good things were happening!

In the meantime, life continued.
The final weekend of the summer, ironically, was bright and sunny as if to reinforce how sarcastic and sadistic Mother Nature could be! That was when Maria Smith and Kristine Karam introduced me to Pat Ast.

She had been in Barbra's class at Erasmus Hall High School in Brooklyn and also being a singer, told me she'd beaten Barbra in the school's talent show!
On the beach just after we'd met, she gave me a wet kiss, a smothering embrace and as I gasped for breath she whispered, "play along with it!"

She was quite heavy set in a middle aged sort of way and unattractive among these Beautiful People but there was something honestly poignant and vulnerable about the way she said it and I liked her immediately and played it!

Like many young women who feel unattractive I think she'd gotten used to playing the clown and joking with the boys as a way of being included.
She was the Court Jester and continued long after in Manhattan at the court of Andy Warhol where she was in his films and ultimately at the Imperial Court of Imperious Couturier Halston where she was a model and Halston's muse and during a festivity once emerged provocatively from a cake!
In Andy Warhol'sHeat, with Joe Dallesandro, 1972
A while later in town, I introduced her to my mother and was moved to see how sincerely caring Pattie was. Over coffee, my mother and she were chatting like old friends.
Kevin Higgins and Maria left the island early the next morning. And Ben Bagley was back with us for another weekend, the last one.
Someone gave an elaborate farewell-to-summer Golden Falling Leaves-themed party.
There were a lot of guests in last gasp getups and there was an air of desperate gaiety in the atmosphere.
Later the festivities continued at the Botel.
Every autumn I lived in New York and Paris, my mood was split between the excitement of the new season and the morbid sadness of watching all the garden spaces wither from the cold and die! Being a native of warm Southern California, I was used to summer ending around mid-December and spring starting the following day!

My grandfather's house had a continuously blooming six-foot-tall bright red geranium hedge in his garden and it always pained me to see these six-month-old adolescent city plants die so young.

To add to my mood was the end of what had been a virtual non-summer and soon we would be having a real winter! And here were the elite of New York's Glamour Crowd behaving like people I'd walk across a street to avoid meeting! How could the fun and glamorous urban life be much different once I resumed my own life?

Were all the attractive New Yorkers really major drug takers?
Just as my mood was darkening I was greeted by a friend I'd greatly admired, Scott Wallace. He was bright, wholesomely handsome and reminding me of favorite fraternity brothers!

And even he was here for this last frantic weekend!

I was seated at a table and he joined me for a minute until his friends called him back into the desperate crowd. Even him?

After he left, I closed my sketchbook and got up to leave not noticing that the table cloth had been caught in my book. I noticed when it started getting pulled but in my dark mood I didn't care and kept going as all the glassware on the cloth crashed to the floor!
It was the end of the worst summer I could remember. Or imagine.

So who cared?
Finally it was over and we boarded the ferry.
Everyone appeared to have enjoyed it and many were already making their plans for the following summer of 1968!
As we waited for the train at Sayville I wasn't planning on returning.
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