Spring, 1969. So much had already happened. President Nixon had ordered the presumably secret bombing of Cambodia with some of the public’s fear that it would expand the war while the population that had been called “the silent majority” was violently and ferociously defending the US involvement in any and all aspects of the war! In May, battalions of the 101st Airborne Division unsuccessfully assaulted “Hamburger Hill.” But after nine days of battle, in one of the war’s bloodiest battles they finally captured it! Harvard, Cornell and other universities were erupting in violent demonstrations against authority, while in California, Governor Ronald Reagan had attempted to quell an outbreak by placing Berkeley’s University of California campus under martial law and sending tear gas-spraying helicopters and riot police; one man was killed!
Thor Heyerdahl sailed a reed raft across the Atlantic Ocean and reported garbage floating everywhere while the Apollo 10 astronauts returned from an 8 day stay in space as a prelude to a landing on the moon!
Later in the month of June the Cuyahoga River caught fire caused by pollution!
I had been working on assignments from Harper’s Magazine, Columbia Records, other record companies and a lot of advertising agencies with national clients. I was thrilled to be making a good living doing something I would have done for free!
I met Esteban Chevau and must admit that I don’t remember any details. It may have been a business meeting but in my sketchbook is a note with his name and home address on West 16th Street so he may have been a friend of a friend.
I may have met him for coffee in one of the many Greek coffee shops that dotted the neighborhood.
I do remember spending an afternoon with Caterine Milinaire wandering around the Upper East Side and Central Park where she took a photograph of me.
With a red China marker she wrote an inscription on a print in French about spending an afternoon in Spring. She signed her name:
In imitation of my professional signature.
After, we went to dinner at Elaine’s.
Caterine had to leave earlier as she was going to the Hamptons the next morning.
An old friend of mine from Paris was there that night — Morfa Mansi — à British model I’d met through my friend Nicholas “Nicky” Armstrong years before.
As I’d mentioned, Elaine’s seemed to be the home-away-from-home for so many friends from abroad! During the making of Rosemary’s Baby in 1968 I’d seen Roman Polanski and Sharon Tate there and Sharon had invited me to The Dakota where they were shooting exterior establishing shots!
It seemed that everyone had decided to visit New York. Joyce Burrell-MacDowell and her husband Mack came from San Francisco and took me to dinner at Le Veau d’Or. Mack was a designer and years before, I’d visited them in their home in San Francisco. I spotted a beautiful antique stool in their living room and asked Mack about the unusual leather upholstery colored a pale peachy hue. It was unusual.
He smiled and said that he’d used the “fabric” that was normally used to cover prosthetic limbs! Arms and legs. He was inventive.
And another friend from Paris was in town. Pierre Cottrell was a film producer in Paris.
He’d produced films by Eric Rohmer such as Claire’s Knee, My Night At Maud’s and others. These films were very popular in America — with subtitles.
Pierre invited me to lunch with Roger Corman.
Corman has been called The Pope of Pop Cinema and was very instrumental in the careers of Francis Ford Coppola, Martin Scorsese, Peter Bogdanovich, Ron Howard and almost any of the major directors of the past fifty years! Jack Nicholson, Charles Bronson, Sandra Bullock and many others are also graduates of “The Corman Film School” as his studio has been called.
So I left Pierre and Corman and talk of movies and Hollywood deals. Little did I know then that almost two decades later, I, myself would be working at Corman’s studio on Main Street in Venice, California!
But that’s a story for much later — right at that moment I was going back to my apartment in Yorkville in the east 80s of the Upper East Side of the (as yet) un-gentrified little European part of Manhattan.
I had artwork to do!