October, 1972: We were approaching an election — President Nixon running against Democratic Senator George McGovern. The illustrators staged an auction to raise money for the McGovern campaign. In contrast to Richard Nixon, who seemed even when smiling to have a hint of a scowl, George McGovern exuded the homey friendliness of a favorite uncle. In the world in which I lived it appeared to be obvious that McGovern was the better man for the job.
I submitted a drawing for the auction although after all these years I don’t exactly remember what it was! David Levine gave one of his visually acrid caricatures of Nixon!
Meanwhile, the downtown theater scene was as active and as bizarre as ever!
In the ensuing years, Harvey Fierstein and his career moved uptown but in 1972 he was still way off Broadway!
All the while, people in the Village were handing out shrunken Nixon Dollars!
It may not have been effective but it was safer than protesting somewhere uptown that might call in the Police and tear gas!
On Bob Fass’ midnight radio show on Pacifica’s WBAI-fm where a few years earlier Fass had been announcing locations and times of Love-Ins (and featuring an unknown Bob Dylan performing his songs), now he announced the latest demonstration and how to avoid getting gassed or beaten!
I wasn’t actively participating — deadlines and my responsibilities to my art directors — but my heart and spirit was with the protestors! I couldn’t be drafted because I’d already done my time in the army at Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Alabama so I no longer even had a draft card to burn!
I met Paul Bartel and Ellie Silverman at Joe Allen’s restaurant in the theater district.
Even though it was a Monday night the place was buzzing and it felt good just being there!
Paul and I regaled Ellie about our respective army careers. Me at Redstone living off base and spending my leisure time (and there was a lot of it) with The Huntsville Little Theater or designing The Huntsville Electric Company’s public entry lobby!
Paul was drafted too and making movies for the Army in Queens. While he was doing that I was living in Paris so Paul was living in my beautiful parlor floor apartment on Gramercy Park!
Both of us were lucky to get such great assignments, and of course it was just before Viet Nam so that made a big difference!
Topping off everything, when my commanding officer Captain Charles Mosgrove realized he had four drafted artists in the office, he decided to start an advertising agency! On army time!
We called him “Charlie”!
Ellie was amused and amazed. And then we talked about everything else!
The week was busy with work and deadlines and finally it was the weekend and time to pack up and go to the Farm.
I landed at the bus depot in Easton, Pennsylvania and waited for the cab to take me and my faithful Persian cat Tybalt across the Delaware River to New Jersey, Creek Road and the Farm.
The air was brisk with the hint of autumn and I took advantage of every minute. I sat by the creek and did a quick sketch before it got too dark to see what I was doing. Some of the trees on the top of the hills were just beginning to change color and an evening breeze had just enough of a chill to persuade me to stop and go inside.
And before I knew it the weekend was over and it was time to call the cab to take us back to Easton and the bus terminal where Tybalt and I waited for the bus back to Manhattan.
Back in Manhattan, Régine had decided to conquer Manhattan as she had conquered Paris with her club, New Jimmy’s. Her Paris club was very exclusive and Régine ruled it with an iron hand!
She kissed up to every celebrity who came.
When I was living in Paris I preferred the competition, Chez Castel, which seemed to me to be less self consciously pretentious. While people were excluded if they didn’t fit in or, god forbid, were tourists, Jean Castel himself had a warmth that was reflected in the club!
There were frequent events like the Bal des Dégoûtants (“dégoûtant” being the French word for “disgusting”). The Disgusting’s Ball was a party where the men came in drag wearing couture gowns and wigs and makeup by the most chic makeup artists in Paris!
One unfortunate event during one of the Bals was when Genevieve Fath, the widow of the couturier Jacques Fath, lost a diamond bracelet and insisted the police be called.
When they arrived, seeing the men in drag, one officer was heard asking the other, “What is this place?” “I think it’s a dyke bar!” he replied.
Another event was when a large group went to the Carnival in Rio de Janeiro. There was a sweet old lady who played the mandolin in front of the Deux Magots and Le Flore cafés.
I remember her name was Madame Sarmienta and she was a very familiar face around Saint Germain dès Pres. Since sarmiento means tall and thin in Spanish, it may have been a nickname. But since she was neither, I’ll assume it was her surname since that has Neapolitan roots as a surname as well.
Régine would never have thought of that! I always felt her club was a contradiction! While it catered to the tout Paris and aristocrats in general, it was also bourgeois! Chez Castel was not at all bourgeois!
And of course, there was the ladies’ nostalgic café concert in the Brasserie upstairs!
Nevertheless, Ben Bagley and I went to New Jimmy’s New York just to check it out.
Ben was a producer and had in fact been New York’s youngest when he produced The Shoestring Revue. He was 22 and was responsible for giving their first breaks to Joel Grey, Tammy Grimes, Charlotte Rae, Beatrice Arthur, Chita Rivera and others. Later, Ben produced a series of “Revisited” albums, lesser known songs by very well known songwriters such as George Gershwin, Irving Berlin, Noël Coward, Rogers & Hart, Jerome Kern, Harold Arlen and others equally as prominent!On these albums, Ben obtained performances from Bobby Short, Kaye Ballard and even unlikely singers like Katharine Hepburn, Laurence Harvey, Ellen Burstyn, Tony Perkins and many others!