Marilyn was a friend of my family since she was fifteen. They saw the drawings of my first muse that I did at two coffee shops. They did not see the clay bust my First Love did of me – before we met! She admired me from a distance. She would stay in the girl’s room when she stayed over night. We were a good example to Christine and Vicki Presco, because we were loving and creative.
In 1970 I looked Marilyn up to see if she could come out and play some more, but, she was with Allen. A few days after we said goodbye, again, I conjured Rena out of the sea. She became my muse. When Christine saw the painting I did of Rena, she too up art. My sister made many of her clothes. She loved Fashion. Marilyn made the dresses she wore at my wedding and at Christine’s house where she lay on me a double-breasted jacket. My new bride, Mary Ann Tharaldsen, is wearing M’s ‘Train Dress’. She was married to Thomas Pynchon and lived in Mexico with him. Christine is wearing a Train Dress that the world famous artist ‘Rosamond’ is modeling.
Mary Ann was a good friend of Richard and Mimi Farina who lived in Carmel where Rosamond had two galleries, and did a life-size portrait of Mimi. The poet, George Sterling founded the Bohemian Colony of Carmel. Kenny Reed founded Jazz and Poetry at the Granary in Eugene, which I saw as an annex to the Carmel Bohemian scene. Pynchon is a Jazz fan who employs Jazz in his novels. I will devote a couple of chapters to the Granary where Izzy read his poems, and where Nisha Calkins, read, then sang Rena’s poem while her step-father played. You will find Mary Ann’s art here;
The Hippie-Bohemian movement was a Struggle For Fashion & Passion. Marilyn was at the heart of this struggle. I am exhausted by folks saying I am exaggerating the importance and input of family and friends. Mary Ann did a portrait of her friend, Jules Siegal who wrote for Playboy. The black and white photo above is of Marilyn and Baby Jane, the daughter of Jane Mansfeld, at the Renaissance Fair where Boho Chic abound.
When Marilyn told me her portfolia got burned up in a fire, I grieved, for she told me within were photographs of her friend, Maggie Thrett. She is posing in the dresses and outfits M made for this actress who was in ‘Mudd’s Women’ a Star Trek eposode.
M had gone to Paris when she was seventeen to study fashoin design. Like the Rosamond Women, she made her own clothes. M&M used to go to parties togethers, and the Reneisance Fair, with their mutual friend, Jane Marie Mandsfield, the daughter of the famous actress who was the other Blonde Hollywood Bobmshell. Mother and daughter both appeared in Playboy magazine that did a centerfold shoot at Moonfire last year.
When I reminded M she has one photo of just her and Jane in it, she asked me;
“Who do you think took the photo?”
When Maggie was invted to the Moonfire Ranch, she got M an invite. At this famous Bohemian house that overlooks the Paccific Ocean, M met McDonald who married Ertha Kitt. He took a liking to Marilyn who made it on the A list. Perhaps it was the modeling she did in this artist’s retreat that was in the movie Mondo Hollywood that starred Jane Mansfield. M said she posed against this mural an artist rendered in a out-of-this world home that Captain Kirk might dwell in on his days off.
Here again is that architectural theme that we find in the Big Sur, and the house designed by for Allan Fox. This is why I was shocked to learn Allan sold that home shortly after Christine drowned, it the kind of home you keep in the family for generations to come. Julie Lynch sold a movie script about Rosamond to the director who did ‘Scent of a Woman’. Will Hollywood be going out to Rocky Point?
At Mooonfire the rich and famous came to partake of the creative ambience and behold other beautiful people. George Harris and Andy Warhol have been guests. Debbie Boone is wearing Marilyn’s ‘Train Dress’ in this video. How many weddings was this song sung at?
“The 1906 earthquake and fire which devastated San Francisco spurred a mass exodus from the city. Many refugees came to Carmel, where developer Devendorf generously offered lots to artists for a mere ten dollars down and whatever they could pay per month, often at no interest. Artists and writers already settled in Carmel embraced the new arrivals.
San Francisco poet George Sterling, who had arrived a year earlier headed the welcoming committee. His entourage included celebrated writers such a Mary Austin, Sinclair Lewis, Jack London, Joaquin Miller, Upton Sinclair, Charles Stoddard, and photographer Arnold Genthe, who provided convivial companionship at Sterling’s home above the Carmel Mission. 
Responding to the needs of artists displaced by the earthquake, the Del Monte Hotel opened a large gallery in 1907, catering to a wealthy, worldwide clientele. The project was spearheaded by William Keith, California’s most successful landscapist of the nineteenth century, Arthur Mathews, and other leaders of the art community. California artists whose works were selected for exhibition profited well, and helped introduce the best of California art to an international audience. The new gallery, which exhibited forty artists annually, helped develop the careers of many Northern California artists, including 1915 Panama – Pacific International Exposition award winners Anne Bremer, E. Charleton Fortune, Armin Hansen, and Clark Hobart.
“The uncrowned King of Bohemia (so his friends called him), Sterling had been at the center of every artistic circle in the San Francisco Bay Area. Celebrated as the embodiment of the local artistic scene, though forgotten today, Sterling had in his lifetime been linked with the immortals, his name carved on the walls of the Panama-Pacific International Exposition next to the great poets of the past.”
What finally smoked him out was Richard Fariña’s wedding to Mimi Baez, sister of the famous folk singer. In August, Pynchon took a bus up the California coast to serve as his friend’s best man. Remembering the visit soon after, Fariña portrayed Pynchon with his head buried in Scientific American before eventually “coming to life with the tacos.” Pynchon later wrote to Mimi that Fariña teased him about his “anti-photograph Thing … what’s the matter, you afraid people are going to stick pins; pour aqua regia? So how could I tell him yeah, yeah right, you got it.”
After Fariña’s wedding, Pynchon went up to Berkeley, where he met up with Tharaldsen and Seidler. For years, Pynchon trackers have wondered about Tharaldsen, listed as married to Pynchon in a 1966–67 alumni directory. The real story is not of a secret marriage but a distressing divorce—hers from Seidler. Pynchon and Tharaldsen quickly fell in love, and when Pynchon went back to Mexico City shortly after John F. Kennedy was assassinated, Tharaldsen soon followed.
In Mexico, Tharaldsen says, Pynchon wrote all night, slept all day, and kept mostly to himself. When he didn’t write, he read—mainly Latin American writers like Jorge Luis Borges, a big influence on his second novel, The Crying of Lot 49. (He also translated Julio Cortázar’s short story “Axolotl.”) His odd writing habits persisted throughout his life; later, when he was in the throes of a chapter, he’d live off junk food (and sometimes pot). He’d cover the windows with black sheets, never answer the door, and avoid anything that smelled of obligation. He often worked on multiple books at once—three or four in the mid-sixties—and a friend remembers him bringing up the subject of 1997’s Mason & Dixon in 1970.
Tharaldsen grew bored of the routine. Soon they moved to Houston, then to Manhattan Beach. Tharaldsen, a painter, did a portrait of Pynchon with a pig on his shoulder, referencing a pig figurine he’d always carry in his pocket, talking to it on the street or at the movies. (He still identified closely with the animals, collecting swine paraphernalia and even signing a note to friends with a drawing of a pig.) Once Tharaldsen painted a man with massive teeth devouring a burger, which she titled Bottomless, Unfillable Nothingness. Pynchon thought it was him, and hated it. Tharaldsen insists it wasn’t, but their friend Mary Beal isn’t so sure. “I know she regarded him as devouring people. I think in the sense that he—well, I shouldn’t say this, because all writers do it. Writers use people.”
Pynchon absorbed a lot from Cornell’s powerhouse English department (though there’s no proof that he was taught by Vladimir Nabokov, as many assume). But he learned as much from his peers. He roomed with the writer and singer Richard Fariña, who would become one of his closest friends and, in a sense, his alter ego. Fariña was the man-about-campus, an expert self-mythologizer. Pynchon described their friendship in a rare interview—by fax—for David Hajdu’s cultural biography Positively Fourth Street. “He was the crazy one, I was the rationalist,” he wrote. “He was engagé, I was reserved—he was relaxed, I was stuffy.” Shetzline told Hajdu that he thought Pynchon was “fascinated with Richard’s effect on women, which was powerful.” It was Fariña (and Sale) who participated in a minor riot at Cornell that anticipated the student turmoil of the sixties, hurling eggs and holding signs reading APARTMENT PARTIES ARE MORAL!! EDUCATIONAL!! NECESSARY!! Pynchon—always the observer, seldom the joiner—didn’t attend.
Jules Siegel (October 21, 1935 – November 17, 2012) was a writer and graphic designer whose work has appeared over the years in Playboy, Best American Short Stories, Library of America‘s Writing Los Angeles, and many other publications. He occasionally contributed book reviews to the San Francisco Chronicle, and he administered newsroom-l, an email discussion list for journalists. He died suddenly, of a heart attack, at age 77.
His articles about Brian Wilson, Bob Dylan, Thomas Pynchon and other prominent Americans were primary (and often unique) sources of information based on his personal acquaintance and extensive direct interviews with the subjects. “Goodbye Surfing, Hello God!” has been anthologized several times (most recently in The Rock History Reader by Theo Cateforis) and is used as a primary source in every book about Brian Wilson’s struggle to complete Smile, his “teenage symphony to God.”
Siegel attended Cornell University with Pynchon during the 1953–54 term and graduated from Hunter College with a degree in English and philosophy in 1959. He was involved in politics, working for both the Nixon and Kennedy campaigns. He began working as a journalist in 1964. He lived and worked in Mexico, beginning in 1981 (moving to Cancún in 1983), where he was a witness of the Hurricane Gilbert landfall . He was also active in the field of book art. Three of his works are in the Artists Books Collection of the Museum of Modern Art. His books and calligraphic journals were exhibited at Franklin Furnace in 1978. Ample material on his life and works can be found in the links below.
Yes, these two artistic giants did meet, due to Pynchon’s enthusiasm for Pet Sounds and a Cornell classmate, writer Jules Siegel (RIP), who also knew Brian Wilson. The meeting, which occurred sometime in 1966, didn’t result in any meaningful exchange of ideas between the two; but a meeting by two such highly creative men at the height of their powers and both involved in massive projects, is noteworthy. Here’s the story….