Monday, August 6, 2012

Sweltering, sluggish, and heavy

Through the scaffolding. 6:00 PM. Photo: JH.
Monday, August 6, 2012. Weekend in New York. Sweltering with air sluggish and heavy.

A good weekend for staying indoors unless you’ve got a swimming pool handy. And then about 7 PM last night, the dark clouds started to move in from the south and the west. At quarter to eight the day grew dark as night and the rains came.
A little after 7 PM on the promenade looking east and up, hoping for the rainclouds to bring some cooler air.
Circle line heading north. You can see the river surface getting blown by the breezes bringing in the rain clouds.
Big sky looking north toward the Triboro Bridge. 7:20 PM.
And over on the Upper West Side ...
Other pictures, other places. Eleanora and Michael Kennedy have a house by the ocean in Bridgehampton which they rented out for the month of July. The Kennedys usually cross the Atlantic usually heading south for the Mediterranean. This year, for reasons unknown to me, they headed north to Iceland. This was the birthday greeting they sent me. A mutual friend of ours asked me “who is that?” It’s Eleanora and Michael. Michael’s the tall one.
Icelandic snowbunnies, Eleanora and Michael Kennedy.
Also yesterday I got two photos from the peripatetic Susan Gutfreund, who was in Salzburg, Austria  for the Music Festival, and then to London for the opening of  the Olympics.

Me, I was looking at clouds, hoping for the dark ones that bring the rain. Hopes met.
Salzburg, Austria as seen through the lens of Susan Gutfreund.
A personal view of the opening ceremonies of the Olympics in London, also from the lens of Susan G.
Gore & Howard. Yesterday a reader sent me an email correcting the name of Gore Vidal’s living partner, Howard Austen, who died in 2003. He said Howard’s last name was Auster, not Austen. I disputed that, although I’d seen the same spelling in the New York Times obituary of Vidal and assumed it was a typo. I had known Howard when I lived in Los Angeles as we had several mutual friends. He was always referred to as Howard Austen and introduced that way.

However, said reader continued to dispute because in Gore Vidal’s second memoir, published in 2006, Howard’s last name was spelled AUSTER. This surprised me so I went back and looked at Gore’s first memoir, “Palimpsest,” published in 1995. There, Howard’s last name was spelled AUSTEN.

Howard and Gore in Ravello. Photographed by JIll Krementz on March 24, 1977. Click here to see Jill's remembrance of Gore Vidal.
Investigating further on Google, I found the following the the Forward web site:
Vidal recalled decades later to interviewer Amy Goodman on the public access TV show “Democracy Now”:

Gore: [Howard] was turned down by every advertising agency — and he had graduated from NYU — because it was a Jewish name. Can you imagine? He was rejected because he was Jewish. And I said, “Well, this is silly.” I said, “Change the ‘R’ to an ‘N.’” So he became Howard Austen, which has caused a lot of confusion to biographers, but immediately he was hired at Doyle, Dane & Bernbach, a very good house. Amazing to think how recently all that was still in effect.

The Forward article continues: Practical effectiveness in the face of bigotry was a trademark of Vidal’s durable literary and journalistic careers, as well as successful Hollywood and Broadway stints. Vidal was accompanied by Austen, who was no mere domestic accessory “Liberation: Diaries Volume 3, -- the final volume of journals by Christopher Isherwood, out in May from Chatto & Windus, with U.S. publication still to be announced, makes this clear. At a 1970s dinner chez Vidal and Austen in California where other guests included the German Jewish-born superagent Sue Mengers, Isherwood burst into an anti-Semitic rant, to which Austen took immediate and lasting exception. Despite the depth of their acquaintance and the height of their literary esteem for Isherwood, he was not forgiven for a long time.

Also on Google, I found a photo of the gravesite for the two men, Ironically the complete spelling of Howard’s name is out of the lens. Nevertheless, it has been confirmed, Howard Austen was born Howard R. Auster in Los Angeles in 1929. His partner in life, Gore Vidal will be buried next to him in the Rock Creek Church Yard and Cemetery in the District of Columbia, Gore Vidal’s home town.

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