Hanging Out With Eloise

New York, April 2000

Between Bangkok Pre-Journal and Bangkok Actual Journal

Tuesday, April 25, 2000

Wescott's brief on Mark reveals a troubled man. Unfortunately, his suffering did not end with his death.

Mark the Evangelist

The author of the earliest of the Gospels. He was probably the young man who fled naked when Jesus was arrested. He quarreled with St. Paul, either about the nature of his preaching to the Gentiles or about the evident grave dangers of doing so. He is supposed to have gone to Rome with St. Peter, as his interpreter.

It was in Alexandria that he was martyred. The mob called him the 'wild ox,' and with farcical cries of 'Draw the wild ox,' dragged him about town from morning to night on two successive days.

In the ninth century some Venetian sailors stole his body, smuggling it through the Mohammedan customs in a cargo of strong-smelling pork which the officers were glad not to touch. On one of his apostolic journeys, he drifted ashore in the Adriatic where the anomalous city stands in the sea; and an angel with him foretold its beauty and greatness.

His symbol is the lion, apparently because he is the principal historian of the Resurrection and because lion cubs are born dead and roused from death on the third day by the roaring of the he-lion.

I lied.

I didn't really fly on United to New York. I flew here on Delta. But, with that long bit on the 1938 advertising that I posted yesterday, the fabricated tie-in looked acceptable at the time.


For the next four days I'll be at The Plaza. On the 29th I have an evening flight to Paris that arrives in France in the late morning. That evening I have another evening flight: that time to Bangkok. If the weather is nice I want to catch a cab to the Left Bank for proper lunch.

But, back to The Plaza. The outside of the hotel never changes. Nor does the inside. It's all very grand. And, most important, Eloise is still here.

This afternoon I spent with my Russian friend. We talked for several hours and shared great memories.

Ahh ... but I have nearly forgotten NEWNES. I was getting carried away with other thoughts.

Today, in history, one royal died and three were born:

Fortunately, their stars reached white dwarf status long before:

Wednesday, April 26, 2000

NEWNES has unearthed an anniversary to which I can relate, if ever so tangentially:

One of my uncles, and there were dozens of them, actually was a very tiny cog in this little bit of history: a history made disproportionably infamous by Picasso. Uncle Bob, in the '30s, was a misfit in his hometown, Altoona, Pennsylvania. He was also cursed with a very bad case of commie-phobia. The Russian revolution did not ride well with him ... he saw a Red Tide lapping at every shore ... and, by God, he was going to do something about it. It all gets very vague from here on in. Apparently, he sailed for Europe; this was way back, when steam was still the chief source of marine power. Once in Spain he offered his services to General Franco. Little is known of what happened next. After World War II ended untidily for him he returned to America. Comfortable with combat gear and military hardware, he never really returned to a civilian way of thinking. The Cold War years were not kind to him. Increasingly concerned with the Red Menace, he peppered his congressmen and the press with long missives that often diverged from the point. It did not help that most of his letters were written with a red Crayon.

In the People section, NEWNES observes that 12 people of interest were born; two died, including:

Bjöornstjerne was one of the two who died. Daniel Defoe, another writer, was the other one who died. As NEWNES notes, April 26th was a rather rich day for births. The birthdays that we all cherish are for:

A few births, only NEWNES remembers:

Look out the window. See that building with TRUMP on it? Well, my friend, Paul Fjelstad, used to work there. Paul's Former Office BuildingBack then it was the General Motors Building and, according to Paul, the lobby used to be stuffed with the latest offerings from Detroit. Now FAO Schwartz has taken over the ground floor ... presumably, The Donald is the landlord.

The Plaza has a fine reputation. But, I am not convinced that it is completely deserved. In my opinion it offers only two things that The Oriental does not: a really good cup of coffee and a spectacular in-room Internet service. The coffee is pretty much a subjective thing and it is based on just one morning's tasting. The Internet service is not. By any standard it is brilliant; loading at 500 quadrillion baud per micro-millisecond it calls up everything I ever wrote here in less than an hour.

The "hang-it-on-the-door" breakfast choice is limited to three set menus, none of which are 100% satisfactory.

"The "turn-down" service comes, inconveniently, in the late afternoon.

(Murmurs from the crowd): "Ass-hole."

Much of the day passes.

We had lunch at the legendary Oyster Bar. It is a wet and cold New York afternoon. We spent the hours talking.

Look into the camera!

Thursday, April 27, 2000

DIED 1271

At an early age this peasant girl went to work for a nobleman and his wife in Lucca; and after their death the son and daughter-in-law kept her. They regarded her not only as a servant but as a friend. Nevertheless, she still slept in the attic, and her piety did not interfere with her usefulness: an angel did the work while she prayed.

She is the patroness of domestic servants.

Sometimes NEWNES uses initials; sometimes not:

I guess this is something that you'd expect to find in a parking garage in Queens. And, I suppose if you made the "something" a pizza deliveryman it would be real believable. Adding color to it would be if he were rolled up in a carpet. If the body was burned and punctured that would be the icing on the cake. How about cutting his head off, as well? Maybe finding the head in a plastic bag over in Rockaway ... would that make it real New Yorkish?


And would a real understated headline tell you which New York paper put the story on page B3?


From today's New York Times:


Days before he was scheduled to testify at the trial of a man charged with robbing him at gunpoint, a Brooklyn pizza deliveryman was found in a parking garage in Queens, his burned and decapitated body rolled up in a carpet that had been placed in an abandoned car, the authorities said.

The deliveryman, Kelly Marcelus, 39, was to have taken the witness stand this month in State Supreme Court in Brooklyn to testify against David Trumpet.

Last May, Mr. Trumpet, 32, was charged with thrusting a gun into Mr. Marcelus's face, beating him and stealing his wallet as Mr. Marcelus delivered a pizza to Mr. Trumpet's home in East Flatbush, the Brooklyn District Attorney's office said.

The authorities are investigating whether there was any connection between Mr. Marceleus's death and Mr. Trumpet, who was out on bail when the body was discovered on April 18.

Mr. Trumpet's trial got underway in Brooklyn last week with jury selection. Testimony in the trial is expected to begin shortly, said Teresa General, a spokeswoman for the district attorney's office.

But on Monday, the jurors were dismissed because the trial was put on hold for at least two weeks as investigators tried to sort out the circumstances of Mr. Marcelus's death.

Yesterday, Mr. Trumpet was taken back into custody after a new bail of $750,000 was set, Ms. General said. He has not been charged in Mr. Marcelus's death.

According to investigators, Mr. Marcelus's wife called the police in a panic on April 16 after he vanished while looking after the couple's 3-year-old son.

On April 18, investigators said, the policed received a tip that a plastic bag had been found along the shore at North Basin in Rockaway, Queens. When the authorities retrieved the bag, they found that it contained a burned, broken skull and a stone.

After searching the area, the authorities found the car near where the bag was found in a garage at 459 Beach 37th Street, investigators said.

The naked body of a decapitated man, burned and with puncture wounds in its back, was found inside.

Ms. General said that Mr. Trumpet was convicted in 1990 on a charge of criminal mischief.

Friday, April 28, 2000

They are in The TRUMP building. Look carefully! First find the faux marble columns. OK, now go to the faux marble crossbeams; that stretch just above the really huge letters, "M" and "P". Move your eyes up five windows. See them? They are on the fifth floor above the lobby. Remember, this used to be The GM Building before The Donald painted the place. Squint hard! You can just make out four outrageously well-paid men aiming four sets of binoculars at something several hundred feet away. One is a Russian from the former closed Soviet rocket-city of Svetslov. One is an American from Seattle. One is an Indian from Bangalore. One is an Israeli who refuses to say where he is from. They are not happy with what they see. They are too old to learn signmanship.

Yesterday my Russian friend and I went to The Drawing Center on Wooster Street in SoHo to see The Prinzhorn Collection: Traces Upon the 'Wunderblock.'

Essentially, these are works of art by madmen.

Though, the organizers describe it more fully as:

"This exhibition presents a selection of over two hundred drawings, books, and other artworks by fifty-three artists represented in the Prinzhorn Collection at the University of Heidelberg, Germany - a repository of images and objects made by psychiatric patients between 1890 and 1920. The collection was named after the art historian and psychiatrist Hans Prinzhorn (1886 - 1933), who, during his brief tenure as the assistant to the collection from 1919 to 1921, and through his influential book Artistry of the Mentally Ill (1922), greatly contributed to the understanding of art by individuals who suffer social exclusion, isolation, and psychic illness."

The New York Times feels that the tines on fork are not always of equal length:

Witch Head Park

"The show reminds us that the work of mad artists, however innately driven, runs the gamut of quality as much as the work of supposedly sane artists does. It can be generic or inspired, rote like or riveting. For every artist like August Natterer - whose vivid rendering of a plan for a village green in the shape of a witch's head is part Bosch and part Arcimboldo - there are several whose work is only marginally engaging as art."

But, dear reader, the most "wonderful" words of all were written by one of the catalog compilers. Allen S. Weiss, in "Prinzhorn's Heterotopia", looks at Louis Castner's "America Privat" (the drawing of the bicycle) like this:
American Privat

"Rather than accentuate the incommensurable, tragic distance between ardent desire an nostalgic death that constitutes the core of romanticism, the ultramodernist bachelor machines conflate Eros and Thanatos, suppress nostalgia, collapse time and eternity, confuse origins and telos, so as to inaugurate an epoch where reproductive technologies inform corporeal mechanics and phantasmatic simulacra."

NEWNES brings us home:

Saturday, April 29, 2000 (FLIGHT TO PARIS)

NEWNES notes the proximity (less than a century apart) of two naval related things:

Torpes, or Tropez

A Pisan martyr whose body was shoved out in an old boat with a rooster and a dog, and drifted ashore either at the mouth of the Arno, or in the Gulf of St. Tropez on the French Riviera.

During a bad drought in Pisa, his head was carried about the town, with immediate results: the Arno overflowed, sweeping over part of the procession. Those who were carrying the head dropped it; but two angel swimmers dove in, and brought it back to the archbishop.

Yikes! It's time to get a taxi to the airport.

Inflight Meal On Land

When I arrived at the Check-In desk at JFK's Terminal 1, Air France gave me the choice of taking dinner in the Air France First Class Salon or of waiting for the traditional in-flight meal. Having never eaten "in-flight" on the ground I tried it. It was anomalous. It emphasized how mediocre in-flight meals on Air France really are ... I mean; eating it on the ground was like eating ANY second-rate meal in ANY so-so franchise restaurant in ANY middling Middle American city. I took a picture.

For some curious reason Air France has hung a photograph of JFK and his father, Joe, in the lounge dining area. As you can see, they appear to be boarding a plane ... a prop one, guessing from the appearance of the two.

A Seven-Hour Flight Later...Air France #9 From JFK to CDG ... 10:55PM to 11:50AM

Ticket to Paris

Sunday, April 30, 2000 (FLIGHT TO BANGKOK)

NEWNES probably was not a Capricorn; or, maybe, it is more likely that he was. Anyway:

NEWNES comes up with another name after whom stuff is named:

NEWNES does not tell us if "he" knew when he blew out his birthday candles that the end was so near:

Her sainthood must have been carried on a mixed vote:

Catherine of Siena
1347 - 1380

The great daughter of a Sienese dyer began to have visions at the age of six, and soon determined to have God for a bridegroom. When she refused to have any other, her family made a household drudge of her; but one day her father, finding her on her knees in the kitchen, consented to her becoming a Dominican penitent. After that, she lived alone in one room for three years.

Her imagination was as sensual as it was strong. In the course of one of her visions of the Saviour, she asked Him, 'Where wast Thou, Lord, when my heart was filled with impurity?' And He made the astonishing reply, 'In thy heart.'

Dear reader, the balance of her life goes on for paragraphs: plagues, Florentine politics, juggling popes and anti-popes, suffering stigmata, writing long letters, etc.

Moving away from the saints ... and, also moving away from NEWNES' obsession with the birth and death of his famous people:

I have about six hours to pass, here at Charles de Gaulle, before Air France 172 leaves for Bangkok. Though the weather is nice, and it is my last chance for an April in Paris 2000 lunch, I didn't feel like driving down to the Left Bank for a ponderous French meal. Now, if Becky had been at her apartment ... that would have been different. But, she is at the Chateau. I phoned her at 2:30 in the afternoon ... she was still having lunch. See what I mean?

So, I am now in the Air France Salon below Gate 83 in Terminal 2C. It is fitted with a very fast Internet machine ... but, being Gallic, it turns testy when tired or irked and just freezes up with little warning. It also reverts to speaking French after 30 seconds passes, if the user doesn't hit a key. It is very French.

Fortunately, my cozy International Herald Tribune is forgiving of leisurely browsing. As usual, it yields bright jewels with little digging:

This from the People section of this weekend's IHT:

"Porters at an auction house in London put a painting by the artist Lucian Freud into a compactor because they thought the box it was delivered in was empty. 'It is an extremely unfortunate situation and we have taken immediate steps to prevent it happening again,' said a spokesman for Sotheby's, who confirmed that the painting had been destroyed. 'It was a study rather than a complete painting and it was worth around £100,000 ($158,000),' he added. He gave no details of the work."

Tonight's Air France Airbus was weirdly fitted with just one row of first class seats: six seats across. There was a curtain behind Row 1 and there was a curtain in front of Row 1. The sensation was like riding on the rear bench of a HumVee Limo ... but, one that had been specially built for the funeral trade. The 11-hour flight to Bangkok was uneventful ... even the flight path didn't deviate from the standard issue. Unfortunately, this time we flew over Calcutta during the morning; a night passing is spectacular, as the lights of the city appear to go from horizon to horizon.

Ticket to Bangkok Passing Over India

Beginning Monday: Bangkok Forever?

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