February, 1970. There used to be an Automat Restaurant on East 86th Street in Yorkville, Manhattan. My friend, Ray Smith and I met there for lunch which at any of the Automats meant also people watching.
As I was drawing, a man came by our table and seeing that I was drawing, made a few comments.
At that time my hair was pretty long and the Chicago Seven Trial was just ending. The Seven had been accused of organizing and inciting the anti war-riots during the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago!
The trial had been as much theater as it had been judicial with Abbie Hoffman acting as the most visible performer! Feelings were running hot and heavy with anti-war protesters demonstrating in support and Vice President Agnew and Richard Nixon’s Silent Majority in very strong, often violent opposition!
Seeing my long hair, this guy, evidently a veteran of World War II, expressed an opinion!
“Git a job!” RIGHT!!
But that appeared to be the problem! Older people related the Vietnam War to the Second World War where the enemies and reasons for war were pretty obvious! The Vietnam situation was so much more complicated and confusing!
I remembered back in 1969 while I was drawing an assignment for Fortune Magazine, an article on the 21 Club. During a lunch there with John Charles Daly and his wife Virginia Warren (daughter of Chief Justice/California Governor, Earl Warren), the subject of the Vietnam War drifted into the conversation.
Virginia was “a peacenik” as was I and somehow we got into a very heated and quite unpleasant argument as to whether it was a just war or not! Daly became quite angry and like the man at the Automat declared that the warriors of WW II had done a job for us! Thank god for Virginia agreeing with me!
I couldn’t believe I was arguing political warfare with one of the most celebrated and legendary newsmen in the world!
Several nights later I went to the invitational opening of Hippopotamus, a club on the site of Arthur, the legendary club that Sybil Burton (the ex-wife of Richard Burton) had opened with her new young trophy husband, Jordan Christopher.
Arthur had also been the locationPaul Bartel and I had borrowed to use as The Raided Premise discotheque in our movie, The Secret Cinema!
And now Arthur was just a memory.
I walked into Hippopotamus and immediately after, Jimi Hendrix and Marisa Berenson arrived! As interesting as the crowd was, Berenson and Hendrix stole the show!
I did become aware though that due to my almost weekly illustrations in New York magazine I was being thought of as worthy to be invited to places that really recognizable people were invited to! However I was more or less not much more than (to quote Norma Desmond/Gloria Swanson) “a dress extra”! At least that was my realistic appraisal of the situation. Later, I learned that that was how everybody felt!
I once asked Paul Bartel how was his experience as a guest judge at a Berlin film festival and he sincerely replied, “it was fabulous! So many celebrities — I was the only one I’d never heard of!”
There was a young woman wearing clothes so uniquely indigenously tribal that she could’ve been mistaken for a character in Peter Shaffer’s Inca play, Royal Hunt of the Sun”!
I was wearing a black leather motorcycle jacket, a silk Turnbull & Asser turtleneck, black velvet tuxedo trousers, and maroon patent leather evening shoes — but it was a time that many were celebrating regional costumes as clothing!
Afterwards I met friends at the Brasserie in the Seagram Building!
Bill Rilling, Gary Van Kirk and I had finally moved into Connie Bartel’stenant house on her 68-acre property that she had decided would be a Christmas Tree farm! We’d been leaving the city on Friday afternoon and returning to Manhattan on Sunday evening! It was making all the difference in city living — weekends in the country!
Connie had friends living in the next property, another beautifully restored old house. Jean and Kurt Lassen had similar work backgrounds as Connie; and like Bill, Gary and I also lived in the city — but with much more elegant style than we did!
There was also Liza, their young daughter.
We went out to dinner at a local restaurant.
And there was a young friend of Liza’s.
Afterwards we went back to the Lassens’ house for more conversation.
Bill had to leave earlier for an appointment in the city but Gary and I stayed until the last minute.
Weekends would seem to be everything we’d hoped they’d be!
So far so good!