Monday, August 6, 2018

In the middle of it all

The view of the North Sea from Kingsbarns Golf Links near the eastern coast of Fife in Scotland. Photo: JH.
Monday, August 6, 2018.  It was 80 degrees and sunny as I sat down to write this Diary on Saturday afternoon. It was humid, and we’d had a spell of rain earlier in the day.  It dropped down into the mid-70 at night but still with humidity. Which is what it did the night before when it also had a couple of downpours — which cooled things off measurably. Yesterday it was more of the same but with no prediction of rain. 80s in the day with a Real Feel of 100, and that way well into the evening.

Out in Scottsdale where Blair Sabol lives, they live this time of year with temps at 100 or more. Although about ten days ago they had it up to 114. I think they got a break in their weather.

These conditions have brought us extraordinary reality-murals of clouds, masses of clouds passing by. A lot of them are big and buffy and dark greys. They’re actually stunning to look at against the bright blue skies. I see them as Mother Nature making comments to us, and this planet, and these times. All of this of course could be attributed by my (sorta) vivid imagination. Nevertheless, I tell myself: look to Nature for the Truth.
The masses of clouds passing by ...
We’ve been quieter over here at the NYSD as you have noticed if you visit regularly. Summer is naturally the quiet time for us.  Although this year it seems quieter; I’ve found myself with days when I don’t have something pressing for the Diary or appointments.

Part of this welcome change is JH has been traveling more than usual for the past two and a half weeks. He was playing golf down in DC, visiting Rome and Sicily with his wife Danielle; and then up to Nantucket for more golf on that long weekend; and now, as I write he’s in Scotland playing golf with his father-in-law and friends until tomorrow. Yesterday he played 36 holes! A record for him.

Nevertheless, trouper that he is. he still gets us up online everyday, no matter the locations halfway across the world, and in other time zones. His work is labor intensive and despite the great help from the technology, the labor of putting NYSD together everyday remains intensive. Kudos to JH.
View of the Club House at Congressional Country Club in Betheda Maryland.
The 500m wide frozen river of lava from the 2002 erupton of Mt. Etna in Sicily.
The cliff walk from St. Andrews Cathedral in Old St. Andrews, Scotland.
He made a pit stop in Cold Spring, New York, too.
The city is always quiet in summertime although this year it seems even quieter. Now there are moments when passing through an area with this quietude,there are now numbers of  empty storefronts, sometimes whole blocks unoccupied.

We recorded this phenomenon last year in the stores along Madison Avenue. It is now wide-spread throughout the city, and so commonplace to be ordinary. In all the years I’ve lived in New York between 1961 and now, I’ve never seen this kind vacancy. Its causes are debatable. I don’t know if this is what it looked like in the Great Depression, but today it is epidemic.  Ironically, the luxury residential and commercial building is booming all over town.

On the other hand, every weekday morning in front of my building, on both sides of the avenue there are FedEx, USPS, UPS etc. double-parked and unloading scores, even hundred of boxes of all kinds of packages — all sizes, shapes and weights. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn this goes on in a lot of major cities. People are shopping on line. Those who can afford to shop. 
So you take those various situations beginning with the massive passing clouds, often darkly ominous — yesterday I saw one with a tiny tornado-like spout — along with the stores, maybe hundreds of empty storefronts across the city, and the quiet dusks of day, and it’s a movie. Maybe the beginning; maybe the denouement, to put it gently.

With all of the above, I’ve had the luxury of more time to read, and I’m into Christopher Petkanas’ “Loulou & Yves; the Untold Story of Loulou de La Falaise and the House of Saint Laurent” (St. Martin’s Press).

Loulou & Yves: The Untold Story of Loulou de La Falaise and the House of Saint Laurent. Click to order.
The book has been produced in the style of Jean Stein and George Plimpton’s “Edie,” the life of Warhol party celebrity and socialite Edie Sedgwick.  It’s a big book physically, with a wide variety of people, (including many whose lives were intertwined with Warhol and Sedgwick’s world) whom Petkanas interviewed. I was initially cowed by the volume. Would I read it? There are only so many minutes in an hour.

It’s about the fashion world in the last quarter of the 20th century. For beginners. If it’s fashion, then it’s about the times, our times. Its characters — leading and otherwise — were somehow related to that business which is also the business of celebrity and public relationships and corporate splendor and money and sex and drugs and sex and drugs and sex and money.

With that repetition, I surrendered unintending. Last month I wrote about Caroline Weber’s brilliant biography, “Proust’s Duchess” and how on approach, I had my doubts about my even reading it. Nevertheless, she got to me, it got to me, and if you read it — give yourself to it — it’ll get you too. That story was about three women in Paris in the last quarter of the 19th century. A hundred years ago. “Loulou & Yves…” is the update. The evolution.  Same crowd a hundred years on; our times. The Weber history is about women and “Loulou & Yves” is about the world of women (and men too, of course, although the women are certainly more interesting).

Loulou and Thadée Klossowski de Rola (far right) with Pierre Berge and Yves Saint Laurent, 1977. Photo courtesy of Christopher Petkanas
Lou Lou Klossowski at a dinner party celebrating Paloma Picasso Lopez's new play "Succes" at Club Sept's small dining room in Paris, France, 1978. Photo: Andre Leon Talley.
Petkanas interviewed scores, maybe hundreds of people who had some kind of relationship with the two main characters. You’re sitting in on their memories and recounting of life of the two, and the main characters around them, and more, famous, world-famous characters, as well as a groundswell of people you’ve never heard of before but who counted, big time, for a variety of reasons that could fill a few novels (or better, memoirs).

This could be a movie about the two characters. It’s definitely a movie about a time and place and way of life that is drifting away just like those clouds I’ve been watching. I know it’s too much for 90 minutes; maybe a series.

Loulou and Yves lived in a world far removed from the existence of most of us. Their creative psyches were almost touch-sensitive, and the great fortune they created richly benefitted a number of people including Yves and his business partner/companion Pierre Berge and their heirs.

Although not for Loulou. Loulou is our heroine, an unusual one at that, right out of “The Perils of Pauline" in digital. Andre Leon Talley who knew her well put it clearly: “She was a cross between (Truman Capote’s) Holly Golightly and (Christopher Isherwood’s) Sally Bowles.

The word “decadent” passes through some interviews and also through your mind as you read along. But Petkanas’ technique for telling you the story of these two fascinating lives gives you a variety of angles and details and images so that even if you don’t “relate” you can’t help observing.  The two were unreal frequently, spoiled, creative, brilliant, weird, compulsive, drug inflicted, brilliant, charming, other-worldly people. It’s a story about the world we’re living in now, a century away from Proust but the same territory marking our times versus theirs.

If this sounds like a “rave review,” it’s not a review so much as an admitting that it’s like reading gossip as it evolves before your eyes, into history. Faster and faster.
Loulou de la Falaise, Yves Saint Laurent, and Betty Catroux in 1978. Photo: GUY MARINEAU

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