Victor Hugo Presco

For awhile, my grandfather lived in San Francisco and was a business partner of his brother, Oscar. They remodeled houses and built cabinets. Hugo is listed as a house painter on Vic’s birth certificate. Rosemary told me after the brothers went their own way, Victor Hugo ended up living in a tar paper shack under the Bay Bridge. She got it wrong, it was the Carquinez bridge in Crockett, where Hugo made a living gambling. I had a talk with the old curator of the Crockett Museum who knew my grandfather. He told me he was one hell of a nice guy. Rosemary told me 5,000 people came to his funeral, including the Mayor of San Francisco. The curator told me there were scores of gambling joints in this small company town that preyed upon workers for C&H Sugar.

When Vic was delivering produce to Crockett one day, he took his two sons down to the wharf to meet his father who lived in a houseboat. When Victor Hugo answered the door, in a gruff voice my father introduced his sons to the man who had abandoned him, and walked away, we never to see this man again.

Rosemary told me Vic took the money Hugo’s friends had given him to buy a headstone and got drunk. What he did with the body, is a mystery. I would not put it past my father to have weighted his father down with rusty chains and dumped him in the bay. Captain Victime never paid a Vet bill if he could help it.

After my fake wedding to Thomas Pynchon’s Mexican mistress in 1980, we tried to buy the old Crockett Bakery that had four apartments attached to it. My artistic faux wife and I were thinking about starting an Artist Colony. I told her Crockett may be the next Sausalito due to the bedroom communities springing up between Sacramento and Berkeley. Folks will be wanting to go to a coffee house and hear music in a Bohemia Hot Spot. We can make bread and donuts. The seller backed out.

Alas I have decided on the name of my autobiography ‘Artist Anonymous’. In almost every major city one can read an article in the local paper about a “thriving artist community”. No artists are every mentioned by name. However, we anonymous artists are employed to attract non-artists to these old historic areas of town where investors are looking to make millions in what has been titled Bohemianism.

“Crockett has a thriving artist community, is rich in early California history.”

I am rich in early California history, but, everyone but me is making tons of dough off Artist Anonymous. I have been cast under the shadow of my famous sister, who told me she owes her success to me. She offered to teach me her style so I could make a million dollars too. I turned her down, because I loved being a poor artist, who forever is finding that magical cheap place to live in the slow lane; such as on my boat in the Sunrise boat yard in the Oakland Estuary. I will post on this place next.

Victor William owned two boats that he docked in Martinez a half mile from where his father lived. Why did Wenzel Anton Prescowitz, who came from Bohemia, name one of his sons after the author Victor Hugo? There were rare books in our house. But, let’s get back to Victor, a chip off the old block.

Above we see my captain having a Dark Fishing Moment. They were all dark because he feared he might snag his father and haul up his bones from Davey Jone’s Locker. Being abandoned by his father ‘The Gambler’ was the Hallmark moment of his life. It made my father forever, moody. He was always plumbing the depths of his soul, and if it was Shameful, Guilty, and about him – it was a Keeper! He never understood he had abandoned his two sons in his psycho drama. He died belieiving Rosemary had turned my brother and I against him – so he would feel that much more abandoned! You see how this works?

I never caught fish when I went fishing with my father, not like he and Shannon. We always got some evil, bloody stingray on our line, a devil fish of some kind. The sins of the father.

Jon Presco

Copyright 2011

Life in the slow lane / In I-80’s shadow, Crockett has stayed small as the county grew upMarch 05, 2004|By John Geluardi, Special to The Chronicle

The new Zampa Bridge and the old bridge over the Carquinez Strait can be seen from a hill overlooking Crockett. Chronicle photo by Michael MacorSmall and seemingly timeless, Crockett has a thriving artist community, is rich in early California history, and is surrounded by thousands of acres of scenic parkland. Yet, it has managed to remain a secret in the bustling Bay Area.

Even though a million or so people speed over the riverside hamlet on the Carquinez Bridge each week, most people are unaware of the town’s good restaurants, live jazz performances and panoramic hiking paths. In fact, all most people know is that Crockett is home to the redbrick C & H Sugar refinery, which has loomed over Carquinez Strait for nearly 100 years.

One reason for the town’s anonymity might be that it’s hard to get to. In 1998, Caltrans began a $300 million bridge construction and retrofit project. As a result, the Crockett interchange — which provided easy access to the center of town — was intermittently closed and then shut down altogether in 2000.

Bohemianism is the practice of an unconventional lifestyle, often in the company of like-minded people, with few permanent ties, involving musical, artistic or literary pursuits. In this context, Bohemians can be wanderers, adventurers, or vagabonds.

This use of the word bohemian first appeared in the English language in the 19th century[1] to describe the non-traditional lifestyles of marginalized and impoverished artists, writers, journalists, musicians, and actors in major European cities. Bohemians were associated with unorthodox or anti-establishment political or social viewpoints, which were often expressed through free love, frugality, and voluntary poverty.

The term Bohemianism emerged in France in the early 19th century when artists and creators began to concentrate in the lower-rent, lower class gypsy neighborhoods. Bohémien was a common term for the Romani people of France, who had reached Western Europe via Bohemia.[2]

Contents [hide]
1 Origin of Bohemianism
1.1 American bohemianism
2 People
3 Bohemian communities in the past
4 See also
5 References
5.1 Notes
5.2 Bibliography
5.3 Further reading
6 External links

[edit] Origin of Bohemianism
“The Bohemian” by William-Adolphe Bouguereau, 1890, oil on canvasLiterary “Bohemians” were associated in the French imagination with roving Romani people (called “bohemians” because they were believed to have arrived from Bohemia[3][4]), outsiders apart from conventional society and untroubled by its disapproval. The term carries a connotation of arcane enlightenment (the opposite of Philistines), and also carries a less frequently intended, pejorative connotation of carelessness about personal hygiene and marital fidelity. The Spanish Gypsy in the French opera “Carmen” set in Seville, is referred to as a “bohémienne” in Meilhac and Halévy’s libretto (1875).

The term Bohemian has come to be very commonly accepted in our day as the description of a certain kind of literary gypsy, no matter in what language he speaks, or what city he inhabits …. A Bohemian is simply an artist or “littérateur” who, consciously or unconsciously, secedes from conventionality in life and in art. (Westminster Review, 1862[2])
Henri Murger’s collection of short stories “Scènes de la Vie de Bohème” (“Scenes of Bohemian Life”), published in 1845, was written to glorify and legitimize Bohemia.[5] Murger’s collection formed the basis of Giacomo Puccini’s opera La bohème (1896). Puccini’s work, in turn, became source material for Jonathan Larson’s musical Rent and the feature film of the same name. Like Puccini, Larson explores a Bohemian enclave in a dense urban area, in this case, New York City at the end of the 20th century. The show features a song, “La Vie Boheme”, which celebrates postmodern Bohemian culture.)

In English, Bohemian in this sense was initially popularized in William Makepeace Thackeray’s novel, Vanity Fair, published in 1848. Public perceptions of the alternative lifestyles supposedly led by artists were further molded by George du Maurier’s highly romanticized best-selling novel of Bohemian culture Trilby (1894). The novel outlines the fortunes of three expatriate English artists, their Irish model, and two very colorful Eastern European musicians, in the artists’ quarter of Paris.

In Spanish literature, the Bohemian impulse can be seen in Ramón del Valle-Inclán’s play Luces de Bohemia (Bohemian Lights), published in 1920.

[edit] American bohemianismIn 1845, Bohemian nationals began to immigrate to the United States, and from 1848 the wave included some of the radicals and ex-priests who had wanted a constitutional government. In New York City in 1857, a group of some 15–20 young, cultured journalists flourished as self-described “Bohemians” until the American Civil War began in 1860.[6] Similar groups in other cities were broken up as well; reporters spread out to report on the conflict. During the war, correspondents began to assume the title “Bohemian”, and newspapermen in general took up the moniker. Bohemian became synonymous with newspaper writer.[6] In 1866, war correspondent Junius Henri Browne, who wrote for the New York Tribune and Harper’s Magazine, described “Bohemian” journalists such as himself as well as the few carefree women and lighthearted men he encountered during the war years.[7]

Bohemian Grove during the summer Hi-Jinks, circa 1911–1916San Francisco journalist Bret Harte first wrote as “The Bohemian” in The Golden Era in 1861, with this persona taking part in many satirical doings, the lot published in his book Bohemian Papers in 1867. Harte wrote, “Bohemia has never been located geographically, but any clear day when the sun is going down, if you mount Telegraph Hill, you shall see its pleasant valleys and cloud-capped hills glittering in the West…”[8] Mark Twain included himself and Charles Warren Stoddard in the Bohemian category in 1867.[6] By 1872, when a group of journalists and artists who gathered regularly for cultural pursuits in San Francisco were casting about for a name, the term Bohemian became the main choice, and the Bohemian Club was born.[9] Club members who were established and successful, pillars of their community, respectable family men, redefined their own form of bohemianism to include people like themselves who were bons vivants, sportsmen, and appreciators of the fine arts.[8] Club member and poet George Sterling responded to this redefinition:

Any good mixer of convivial habits considers he has a right to be called a Bohemian. But that is not a valid claim. There are two elements, at least, that are essential to Bohemianism. The first is devotion or addiction to one or more of the Seven Arts; the other is poverty. Other factors suggest themselves: for instance, I like to think of my Bohemians as young, as radical in their outlook on art and life; as unconventional, and, though this is debatable, as dwellers in a city large enough to have the somewhat cruel atmosphere of all great cities.[10]
Despite his views, Sterling associated very closely with the Bohemian Club, and caroused with artist and industrialist alike at the Bohemian Grove.[10]

Oscar Ferdinand Telgmann and George Frederick Cameron wrote the song “The Bohemian” in the 1889 opera Leo, the Royal Cadet[11]

I’ve written some Psalms and some songs, I’ve dabbled in most of the arts:

Quixote-like, righted some wrongs in fact, I have played many parts.
I have seen both the bright and the dark of the world and the things that are its,
like the dove that flew forth from the ark: In a word, I am given to flits.
For the life of a rover is mine, A rover by land and by sea:
With a lady to love and a flagon of wine, oh, the world is the village for me!
To-day, as you see, I am here, Enjoying my pipe and my bowl:
To-morrow, and I may appear inscribing my name on the Pole.
The next day may see me once more, content as a hog upon ice,
Far down on the Florida shore, existing on bacon and rice.
I have hobnobbed with peasant and king, with a hundred to run at my call;
I have seen the sweet flowers of spring lose their odor and grace before Fall.
I have loved with the warmth of the boy and adored with the passion of man,
But the altar’s it’s drop of alloy, so I came buck to where I began!
Chorus. For the life of a rover is mine etc.

Gelett Burgess drew this fanciful “Map of Bohemia” for The Lark, March 1, 1896.The impish American writer and Bohemian Club member Gelett Burgess, who coined the word blurb among other things, supplied this description of the amorphous place called Bohemia:

To take the world as one finds it, the bad with the good, making the best of the present moment—to laugh at Fortune alike whether she be generous or unkind—to spend freely when one has money, and to hope gaily when one has none—to fleet the time carelessly, living for love and art—this is the temper and spirit of the modern Bohemian in his outward and visible aspect. It is a light and graceful philosophy, but it is the Gospel of the Moment, this exoteric phase of the Bohemian religion; and if, in some noble natures, it rises to a bold simplicity and naturalness, it may also lend its butterfly precepts to some very pretty vices and lovable faults, for in Bohemia one may find almost every sin save that of Hypocrisy. …
His faults are more commonly those of self-indulgence, thoughtlessness, vanity and procrastination, and these usually go hand-in-hand with generosity, love and charity; for it is not enough to be one’s self in Bohemia, one must allow others to be themselves, as well. …

What, then, is it that makes this mystical empire of Bohemia unique, and what is the charm of its mental fairyland? It is this: there are no roads in all Bohemia! One must choose and find one’s own path, be one’s own self, live one’s own life.[12]

In New York City, an organization of musicians was formed in 1907 by pianist Rafael Joseffy with friends such as Rubin Goldmark, called “The Bohemians (New York Musicians’ Club)”.[13] Near Times Square Joel Renaldo presided over “Joel’s Bohemian Refreshery” where the Bohemian crowd gathered from before the turn of the 20th Century until Prohibition began to bite.[14][15][16][17]

[edit] PeopleThe term has become associated with various artistic or academic communities and is used as a generalized adjective describing such people, environs, or situations: bohemian (boho—informal) is defined in The American College Dictionary as “a person with artistic or intellectual tendencies, who lives and acts with no regard for conventional rules of behavior.”

Many prominent European and American figures of the last 150 years belonged to the bohemian subculture, and any comprehensive “list of bohemians” would be tediously long. Bohemianism has been approved of by some bourgeois writers such as Honoré de Balzac, but most conservative cultural critics do not condone bohemian lifestyles.

The New York Times columnist David Brooks contends that much of the cultural ethos of what he semi-humorously terms “upper-class” Americans (meaning well-to-do middle-class people) is Bohemian-derived, coining the paradoxical term Bourgeois Bohemians or Bobos.[18]

The Bombshell Manual of Style author, Laren Stover, breaks down the Bohemian into five distinct mind-sets/styles in Bohemian Manifesto: a Field Guide to Living on the Edge. The Bohemian is “not easily classified like species of birds,” writes Stover, noting that there are crossovers and hybrids. The five types devised by Stover are:

Nouveau: bohemians with money who attempt to join traditional bohemianism with contemporary culture
Gypsy: drifters, neo-hippies, and others with nostalgia for previous, romanticized eras
Beat: also drifters, but non-materialist and art-focused
Zen: “post-beat,” focus on spirituality rather than art
Dandy: no money, but try to appear as if they have it by buying and displaying expensive or rare items – such as brands of alcohol[19]
In the United States, the bohemian impulse can be seen in the 1960s hippie counterculture (which was in turn informed by the Beat generation via writers such as William S. Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg, and Jack Kerouac).

Rainbow Gatherings may be seen as another contemporary worldwide expression of the bohemian impulse.[20] An American example is Burning Man, an annual participatory arts festival held in the Nevada desert.

[edit] Bohemian communities in the pastBy extension, Bohemia meant any place where one could live and work cheaply, and behave unconventionally; a community of free souls beyond the pale of respectable society. Several cities and neighborhoods came to be associated with bohemianism in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries: In Europe: Montmartre and Montparnasse in Paris; Chelsea, Fitzrovia, and Soho in London; Schwabing in Munich; Skadarlija in Belgrade; Tabán in Budapest. In the United States: Greenwich Village in New York City;[21] Venice Beach, California;[22] Topanga, California;[23] and Tiburon, California.[24]

In Australia: Newtown[25] and Potts Point, Sydney [26] and Fitzroy in Melbourne.

[edit] See alsoRelated terms
Art colony
Bohemian style
History of Western subcultures in the 20th Century
Simple living

About Royal Rosamond Press

I am an artist, a writer, and a theologian.
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