(“Do you have any claim to fame . . . other than having had Pynchon bonk your wife?”).
This morning I discovered Jules Siegel and his ex-wife, Christine Wexler, wrote a book about Siegel’s experiences when he went online and chatted with Pynchon Freaks. One could say I have picked up the gauntlet, the topic that was exploited when this book came into print. Funny, why didn’t my ex-Facebook friends, and my ex-wife, tell me about this book? Boris Kachka, Charles Shields, and Mary Ann Tharaldsen, remain tight Facebook buddies, I no longer privy to their conversations. With this discovery, I can now fish more directly for the answer to this question;
Do you have any claim to fame……other than having bonked Pynchon’s ex-wife?
But, the new question I am mining, like a vein of gold, is;
Is Thomas Pynchon exaggerating his drug experience and expertise, like Brian Willams, who was dismissed by NBC News? Is it time to take the old Acid Test out of its crate and hook Pynchon up to it – and his circle of friends?
Below is part of an interview with Christine Siegel. Who came up with Lineland which is a take-off of Vineland?
Wait a minute! Why didn’t I see this before? Doc is giving the V sign that stands for Vineland and Pynchon’s novel V. I think this movie is showing us THE WAY to the last Hippie reservation.
Here is the only psychedelic movie worthy to be connected with Pynchon. If you freeze the frames you see The Pig (Pynchon) devouring people in order to appear hip. Even th0ugh Mary Ann told me she tripped many times, only this video proves it. This the only real Acid Flick, until others pass the test. This is Vintage stuff.
‘Cautionary Kitty’ is full of acid-soaked apocalyptic messages. And, it is just oozing with ripe, un-rehearsed sexual innuendos, not like the contrived crap Pynchon’s Hollywood crew delivered on the silver screen. This is a – get behind the toilet – masterpiece, something Warhol would have put in the can at The Factory.
“I feel kitty! Oh so kitty!”
When freelance journalist Siegel searched the Internet for references to himself, he found that he had become a “sub-set of the Thomas Pynchon industry.” Irked, he decided to engage the members of a Pyhchon mailing list in conversation about his personal relationship with the writer-recluse. Siegel had written an article for Playboy 20 years ago about an affair that his then-wife, Christine Wexler, had had with Pynchon, whom Siegel met when both were students at Cornell. The article was unique, offering a detailed look at an all-too-human writer notorious for his obsession with privacy. Siegel’s plunge into Pynchon-L (the mailing list) quickly served to divide regular visitors into two camps: those hungry for gossip about the reclusive Pynchon, and those who regard the writer of Gravity’s Rainbow and other novels as a kind of literary demi-god, and Siegel as a resentful despoiler of their deity. Things heat up considerably when Wexler arrives on the list and fields questions herself, ultimately pouring salt on some old wounds. Lineland ingeniously combines an original format (Siegel excerpts actual E-mail throughout the text) with just enough juicy tidbits about Pynchon–such as his early poverty despite his family’s Mayflower-era roots–to satisfy the curious. The book also reveals several different sides of the Internet: a forum for academics interested in serious literary discussion; a breeding ground for Pynchonesque conspiracy theories; and a free-for-all for jerks who probably would not have the guts to say what they write (“Do you have any claim to fame . . . other than having had Pynchon bonk your wife?”). Ultimately the peacemaker, Siegel buries the hatchet with some of his attackers, and there is even a short epilogue by one of his earliest assailants. With its combination of cyber-culture and Pynchon gossip, Lineland should appeal to a variety of readers. (photos and illustrations, not seen)
Arne Herløv Petersen wrote:
> I would also like to ask Chrissie about Thomas Pynchon – how they met,
I was living with Jules in Laurel Canyon in 1966 and we went to visit
Tom where he lived in Manhattan Beach and we had a good time sitting
around smoking some really strong grass that Jules and I scored at a
be-in. We thought the be-in was very odd. It was just a hundred or so
people sitting around on the grass in Griffith Park asking themselves
why they were there. Next scene.
> What happened?
Then in 1968, Jules was in the hospital and Tom was dating my best
friend, Susan Gordon of San Marino, and he came over to visit me as a
friend and we talked about having an affair, and then about two years
later, I was in Los Angeles and Jules was in New York interviewing
Herman Kahn, and Tom and I got together in Manhattan Beach. I returned
to New York and planned to leave Jules and go back to California with
Tom. But the next time I saw him I was three months pregnant and we went
to a coffee shop on Sunset Strip and all we talked about was his
professional plans for the future.
> Why they broke up?
One of the issues between Jules and me was that I wanted a baby right
away and Jules didn’t. Tom seemed too kookie to have a baby with. Jules
came around to my point of view about the baby and I dropped Tom to have
the baby with Jules. Look what I got. Look at Faera. Look how special
she is. It was a good combination. Tom matured very late. He wasn’t as
mature as Jules. It was a good time to have a baby. The country was
still coming out of that affluent period. People didn’t have that
feeling of being squeezed for every penny the way they do now. It was
still OK to be a hippy then. It wasn’t as materialistic. As the country
got poorer, the people got more uptight. Then the Reagan thing–what a
terrible period. It was a lot more laidback then. It was
more like Polynesia. Now it’s like Germany.
The hippies tried to steer it in the right direction but they were too
irresponsible and they tried to change the institutions too fast for the
middle and lower classes. There was a big backlash. They were frightened
and jealous. That’s what Thomas Pynchon’s books are about –the backlash
and the resentment about food stamps on both sides; food stamps put
labels on people, they were shame-based– and the loss of
families and lovers. It’s as if the culture had a surgeon come in and
cut out the part of the heart that was the source of feelings of
sentimentality. People had to give up cherishing each other in order to
protect themselves against a new virulent strain of killer bee humans,
the young barbarians, the preppies, the white male preppies on Wall
Street and their merger and acquisition jobs. They gave up poetry too
along the way. Poets are an endangered species. That’s what Tom wanted
to be, a poet.
I stayed with Jules because he was the poet and the hippie. We actually
lived in a commune. We weren’t pretending. We were the real thing. Tom
didn’t stick his neck out and live the way he wrote. He was a classic
master artist who stayed home with his 400 coffee cans and wrote. He was
Thrifty MacPynchon. He used to have peanut butter and jelly in his
refrigerator so he could save money on food. He didn’t like it that I
went to the fancy butcher because it was more expensive than the
>if she still sees him
No. I talk to him from time to time on the phone. It averages out about
once every three years at Christmas.
> where he is living?
I believe in downtown New York, SOHO, in a loft.
> how he is as a person?
He’s happy now. He’s a doting father and he says his wife is “on the
sunny side of forty.”
> I have heard a number of stories telling either that he is completely spaced out, that he always carries his toy animals
He doesn’t carry toy animals around. He has a large collection of
statues of pigs and piggy banks. He collects porcelain and clay pigs.
People give them to him. He likes the animal. He thinks it’s a nice
animal. He likes Charlotte’s Web. He gave me a copy of it and
autographed it. He identifies with the pig in Charlotte’s Web. He
believe in eating pigs either. He thinks pork tastes like human flesh
and it would be cannibalism to eat pork. He thinks humans are a lot like
> that he has a lot of strange quirks
He’s very conventional and old-fashioned and has the values of his
generation of the Fifties from upper class Oyster Bay. He never met a
person who said “dig” or “man” or “it’s not my bag.” It’s only in his
imagination. He’d like to be one of his characters and wear a black
leather jacket and stand on the corner spit. Or he’d like to be one of
those surfers that he studied like a sociologist in Manhattan Beach.
He’s really a professional sociologist, studying people.
He identifies with the stuttering pig in Looney Tunes —
“Th..th..thhatt’s all folks!”– because he has a severe stutter when
tries to speak in public. He’s trying to do in his books what Warren
Beatty did in the film “Dick Tracy.” The characters in his books are all
cartoon characters. He writes in frames just like a comic strip. He’s
writing cartoons instead of drawing them. They’re not two dimensional
but holograms. They’re real people who go in and out of being cartoons.
They go back and forth between the real world and the cartoon world.
He is a Yankee, a New Englander–wear it out, make it do, or do without.
He needs to follow the Calvinist work ethic in order not to feel guilt
about his life. He has to measure up to the Yankee ideal. It’s all
Newport, Rhode Island, stuff, the old WASP combined with the
inward-looking Irish Catholic. He’s a conservative old-fashioned
workaholic with good values, strict Anglo-Christian values. He just
happens to be a conservative artist instead of a conservative investment