Friday, May 30, 2014

RP: "An Uptown Soiree" -- Excerpt from WALKING ON GLASS: A MEMOIR OF THE LATER DAYS OF TENNESSEE WILLIAMS, by Scott Kenan (copyright currently contested)!!!

RE-PRINTED from here


In an effort to prevent myself from focus and run-on-forever problems, I will read this short introduction to my “light writing”, today.

ADDED FOR BLOG, ONLY: It was requested that I write something "light" to read this week, after my last reading of my letter to Drew Griffin of CNN, regarding my mother's use of a VA Hospital to murder her brother:, and before that, my letter to Trustees of UNC Chapel Hill -- caused much consternation.

I think BOTH are pretty self-explanatory, although the one for UNC includes issues that I should have explained further to the writers group. But beyond that, I should have realized that while most of the group and I agree on nearly all politics, I am the one FIGHTING TOOTH AND NAIL, and they like to just discuss and hopefully vote.

I should first tell you that I have realized that the audience for my blog and political information is people who are intimately connected to power and have influence, and while several of our group told me they read my blog at least occasionally, those people have returned, for now, to their home countries. Most of us are retired and enjoying the life we wisely planned for, so let the young who will inherit the Earth read and possibly act on my stuff. We older folks have already paid our dues.

And while I am a writer at age 62, so not near retirement, myself, I had NO CHOICE but to take on this fight -- AND I DID NOT WANT TO -- but due to an "accident of birth", and serious meddling (not only most of my life but even most of those I was in romantic relationships for over a year were PLANTED by my mother's people -- which I can prove), I had to do that, or face a life of jail, nut-house commitment, or even death.

But this week, I quit cigarette smoking due to health necessity, when lab tests for toe-nail fungus came back negative, and the doctor said the next most likely cause was poor circulation – also causing my wound from the removal of a carcinoma to heal at a snail’s pace – and smoking being the most important thing I control, I quit and got completely GAUZE-BRAINED and unable to write, so I’ll read half a chapter of my Williams memoir.

But I also spent two days nearly unable to breath, lungs filled with “that stuff that can fill them”, because I finally relaxed and my body caught up to me. You see, not only did the lawyers in Chicago try to pull a fast one this Tuesday, that PROVES they acted illegally and unconstitutionally so I can sue them royal, but my former Congresswoman, Cynthia McKinney, who had made a name for herself in the early oughts by reading into the Congressional Record that Bush and Cheney planned 9/11 with their business partners the Bin Laden and Saudi Royal Families, then even filed Articles of Impeachment against Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld, and was soon DRUMMED out of the House by Democrats, more than Republicans (this right after Bush declared VICTORY on the aircraft carrier -- but before Hurricane Katrina, when he enjoyed 85% popularity), and she is pumping me for info in many areas, and will likely help me find good council.

Anyway, I bought a good chest decongestant but am struggling with the vacuum in my head due to nicotine withdrawal. Here’s my “Light Writing”:

>>> HALF OF CHAPTER 23"An Uptown Soiree":

Frigid New York air poured into the room when I slid the window to the side. I stuck my head out. Snow danced on the night air and swirled toward me from all directions. Falling silently out of the blackness, it obscured all things distant. No noise reached me, and only a soft radiance of light suggested the Manhattan streets thirty-seven floors below. Nearby towers, their bases dissolved, floated—immobile ghosts in the night. I held out my hand, caught a few flakes, and then pulled back into the hard-edged geometry of the room.
We were guests of the Commission for Cultural Affairs of the City of New York. Someone in the mayor’s office had chosen the UN Plaza Hotel so that Tennessee could enjoy the sky-high indoor pool. However, swimming pool or not, the hotel had a cold, modern luxury that Tennessee detested.
Earlier in the day, we had gone to Gracie Mansion where Elizabeth Ashley addressed the gathering, and then Mayor Koch presented Tennessee and five others with the Mayor’s Award of Honor. In his acceptance speech, Tennessee became emotional, crying as he dedicated the award to Rose. I wondered how he would hold up at the party the next night.
            Looking out on the snowy scene, I fingered the pack of matches in my pocket before pulling it out to light a cigarette. The embossed letters of my name ran across the glossy black cover. I could not decide if a personalized matchbook was chic or tacky, but I would use only this one. I had packed the rest away, and planned to stash the replacements when the maid left them in the morning.
            Besides our own matchbooks, Tennessee and I had each received a large basket of fruit and a bottle of iced champagne. We downed the first bottle, and then Tennessee commandeered the second to keep him company during his nocturnal writing session—not bothering to keep it chilled.
            I looked back out through the open window into a world transformed and yet the same. There was a second reason we were in New York, the party George Plimpton and Jean Stein were throwing in Tennessee’s honor the next evening. Although I had no idea who would attend, I looked forward to that.
The sound of Tennessee’s typing filtered through the closed door. I needed sleep. I closed the window, got undressed, and slipped beneath the layers of covers.
“Oh . . . don’t talk to her.”
            Distinctly Truman Capote’s voice.
            “She’s a whore. And her sister’s a worse whore.”
I did not look to the next room where I knew he was lying, curled on an oversized ottoman. We were at the party in Jean Stein’s upper-story apartment on Central Park West. Earlier, I had spoken with Truman. His companion pulled me aside and warned me that Truman had been on the seven-day vodka diet. That had not stopped him from raising his head from the ottoman to comment on my height in a whining, vaguely sexual way. He did not have enough energy, or perhaps interest, to sustain a conversation, and soon his head rested back on his sprawled arm.
About fifty guests mingled in the two large, high-ceilinged rooms. Turkish carpets covered the floors and walls. A bar was set up under a crystal chandelier in the marble entrance hall. I had gone to get a drink. As I asked the bartender for a vodka tonic, the door from the outside hallway opened, and in walked a woman I instantly recognized. Unescorted and with unpretentious grace, she fixed me warmly in the eye, walked over, and extended her hand. With a small smile, she said, “How do you do? I’m Jackie Onassis.”
My heart jumped to my throat, but words still came to my mouth. I introduced myself. After a maid took her coat, I managed some small talk while I got her a drink. She was soft-spoken—almost shy. She was easy to talk to.
Jackie and I turned from the bar. My hand at the small of her back; I guided Jackie toward the party. It was at this point that the nodding Mr. Capote noticed her and raised himself up on the ottoman to call out his warning. I felt the little jolt in her back.
Time froze. A thousand scenarios, chivalrous to cowardly, rushed through my head. What to do?
Snap! I was back in the room. Jackie showed no reaction. The few people within earshot ignored the insult. I supposed they were in the habit of ignoring trouble from Truman, so I ignored it too. There was no other remedy, given his condition.
As we reached the edge of the party, people began to greet Jackie, and then a minute later, she found Tennessee. He took her on his arm and they retired to a corner of the room to talk privately. Tennessee had told me that since first meeting her before Jack was in the White House, he felt very close to her. He and Jack Kennedy had had a bond as well. Each of them had a sister who in her youth had grown excitable—Rose and Rosemary. And they both had parents who had acted on their belief that the best corrective for their daughter would be a lobotomy.
The other guests left them to talk alone.
I moved around the room meeting people, and later, while I was returning from getting another drink, a tall man approached me.
“What did Tennessee think of Dotson’s interview?” he said, and then added, “In the Paris Review.”
I laughed. That was a good story, and I was ready to tell it. I began by explaining that Dotson had never actually interviewed Tennessee, he had just cobbled together pieces of conversations they had had over the years. I explained how the real problem of it had been that Dotson quoted Tennessee as saying of Jane Wyman and Ronald Reagan, “The no-nose girl married the no-brains man.”
“This was published,” I said, “two weeks before our trip to the Kennedy Center Honors and the White House. Tennessee freaked—he could have killed Dotson. He was sure Reagan would take revenge. He wanted to cancel the trip.”
I took a long draft of my drink, and then continued as he stared at me, listening intently.
I explained how I had tried to calm Tennessee, but that it was Jane Smith’s intervention that had worked, and how when we arrived at the White House, Tennessee again seized up with fear and stood at the bar tossing glasses of wine until he got his click. Then, after we wobbled our way up the receiving line, Reagan kidded with me, but greeted Tennessee simply, and how after his first relief, Tennessee accused me of hogging the President. “So no,” I said, “He was not at all happy about that interview.”
“Well then . . .” he said, pulling himself up even straighter, “I see!” As he turned and marched away, I realized I had been talking to George Plimpton, one of our hosts for the evening—and the editor of The Paris Review.
There was nothing to do about the faux pas. At least Plimpton now knew how Tennessee had felt. I had not embellished the story—there was no need.
Once again, I visited the bar.
Drink in hand, I returned to the main room where I became captive to a plump and beaming woman whose teeth, I noticed, matched her string of pearls. My gaze meandered back and forth comparing the whites as she squeezed my hand and informed me several times of my height.
I turned to find the voice that seemed to be addressing me.
“How are you?” Warren Beattie held out his hand as he approached. I pulled away from the pearly woman. He smiled broadly, his head cocked to one side.
“Tommy Tune, right?”
I nearly choked. Shortly after college, friends of mine who were trying to break into musical theater said that if Tommy Tune could work his 6' 6" on Broadway, I could too—but I was not interested in dancing or acting.
“No . . .” I explained to Warren who I was, and we talked for a few minutes. I was beginning to fade, and soon went in search of Tennessee.
I found him in a corner of the room with a small group of young people clustered around him. An energetic blonde woman seemed to be in charge. Tennessee introduced me to her, Cathy Lee Crosby. She looked familiar and the name rang a bell, so I shut my mouth and acted as if I knew of her, hoping my ignorance was not seeping through the cracks. She was as excited about meeting Tennessee as the woman with the pearls had been about my height. Tennessee basked in the attention from his little group. However, he too was fading, and after ten minutes, we decided to leave.
Just as Tennessee had not wanted to face Reagan, I did not want to face George Plimpton. However, I had to thank him and Jean Stein before leaving. To steel myself, I had a final drink and remembered that my faux pas had not been as bad as Truman’s insult. And he had gotten away with that.
After Tennessee said goodbye to several people, we found our hosts. My dread of facing Plimpton proved to be unfounded. He and Jean spoke only with Tennessee, ignoring me completely.

            After final farewells, we rode the elevator down and walked out into the February night. We took a cab to the UN Plaza where, back in my room, I opened the window. The city spread out below—mile after mile in crisp, electric detail. Cold air blasted my face. I closed the window and got into bed. In twenty-four hours, we would be back in the tropics.


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