Star Rover of The Rose of the World

This extremely rare photo of the first west coast Black Mask get-together on January 11, 1936 captures possibly the only meeting of several of these authors.
Pictured in the back row, from left to right, are Raymond J. Moffatt, Raymond Chandler, Herbert Stinson, Dwight Babcock, Eric Taylor and Dashiell Hammett. In the front row, again from left to right, are Arthur Barnes (?), John K. Butler, W. T. Ballard, Horace McCoy and Norbert Davis.

When an American President, or Vice President, are elected, historians take note of the city and town they hail from to get an idea of the cultural contribution and events that took place that gave rise to that person being sworn into the highest offices in the land. My relatives lived below ‘The Higts’ located in the Oakland Hills where a colony of Japanese Bohemian poets and artists lived and gathered to discuss their craft. Juaquin has dinner at he home of Dante Gabriel Rossetti. Other Pre-Raphaelite artists are there. How about writers. Miller corresponds with Michael Rossetti who published ‘The Germ’. My grandfather published ‘The Gem’ magazine.

Camping On Anacapa by Roy Reuben Rosamond | Rosamond Press

On February 6, 2021 as the clock headed for High Noon, I identified the man who is holding a gun as he sits next to my mother’s mother, Mary Magdalene Rosamond, the wife of Royal Rosamond, who taught Erle Stanley Gardner to write – according to my aunt Lillia, who dated the actor, Errol Flynn. Lillian told me about her famous escapades, she agreeing to be in my autobiography, before she stabbed me in the back and gave interviews to Tom Snyder, the most FAILED writer in history, along with, Sandra Faulkner and Julie Lynch, the Three Unholy Ghost Writers paid to tell the story of Mary Magdalene Rose of the World, who does not get an introduction. Mary camped with famous, and not so famous authors. There is the possibility Mary was Norbert’s lover. Note how they sit next to each other. She is a MEMBER OF THIS GROUP. Why didn’t I google these authors before? Six years ago I identified Arthur Barnes and John K. Butler as being feet away from Mary who knew who these men were. Se did not brag about the company she and her husband kept.

Norbert killed himself by hooking a hose of to his car and running it into a small room. In Snyder’s Book of Lies, he suggests I am responsible for Bill Arnold’s suicide that Christine Rosamond identified with by doing a painting of herself sitting in a car stopped on a railroad track. The artist Rosamond could have been approached to illustrate these Hardboiled Detective Stories.

Yesterday, my close friend for twenty-four years, Mark Gall, encouraged me to write my story – after I told him there are very traumatic incidents in my life, the foremost being the suicide of my childhood friend who was an artist and writer. Bill may have taken his life after sending manuscripts to publishers. He was nineteen years of age. A week ago I found evidence Bill’s sister is gone. Vicky Arnold insisted I stop killing myself with alcohol so she will not be alone with the truths we discovered in 1986. I have some of the letters we exchanged where we talk about my two unfinished science fiction books. They are one more reason I got sober so I can finish them.

In the last month, Mark and I discussed Ed Corbin, who is now in a rest home. Ed was an editor for Doubleday, and wrote one of President Eisenhower’s biographies. He and Mark attended Harvard. I dropped out of High School. I hung with these authors. My Harvard knew about my connection to the author, Ken Kesey, via Nancy Hamren, who became Bill’s lover at thirteen. She knew Vicky Arnold. She compared Bill to Ken. who one author suggests Kesey drank himself to death – and had writer’s block! Then there is George Sterling the author who founded the Bohemian Club, and a close friend of Jack London who wrote ‘Star Rover’ a spiritual science fiction book that is worthy of the Black Mask and ‘Weird Tales’. There is a infamous straight jacket in ‘Star Rover.

Then there is the work of Thomas Pynchon, who was the best friend of Richard Farina, who wrote ‘I Have Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up To Me’. Richard’s death at an early age had a profound affect on the Bohemian and Hippie History. I have identified the Cornell group of writers that hovered around my ex-wife who is in Mary Magdalene Rosamond’s Rosy Tree.

Last night I talked to my kin, Michael Dundon, about the crisis I was in after leaning to Vicky Arnold’s death. I asked him why my sister, Vickie Presco, did not contact him about being in our sister’s biography, after all, Christine and Michael were famous lovers, and, he encouraged Rosamond to take her art seriously. He bought her hundreds of dollars in art supplies.

“No one told me anything!”

We talked about the ongoing crisis Shannon Rosamond is in. She too did not appear in her mother’s biography – along with her teacher – myself! Who else? My brother. I told Michael they put an ad on Dead Rosamond’s website in 1997 bidding those who had contact with Christine to come foreword and be in the book – that did not sell! My daughter and he family found it, and ruled it was best a sixteen year girl find a way to further her career – without contacting her father! What career? Is this what my late sister would be wanting to do? Christine did not know her nieces – existed! Why would she want her brother to be severely hurt by his daughter – and her family – that didn;t wat to be MY FAMILY, because……I AM A FAILURE……and if I took my life, this would be no loss. Michael knew I was killing myself, and got me into Serenity Lane in 1987. We talked about our Program and resentments being – KILLERS! Then we talked about Van Gough. I sent my good friend an image of the painting I am working on. He was wowed!

Then there is The Art and Political Dynasty I put together in my years of research. The illustrations for these mystery tales is applicable to the Rosamond Cult created by the Failed Rosey Writers. Here is the greatest literary maleficent – ever! Tom Snyder identified Royal Rosamond as the author of ‘The Squaw Man’ that became Cecil B. DeMille’s first movie. All Snyder had to do was google this, and he would know that Lillian got it wrong. For betraying me and her sister, Snyder let’s La La Lil swing away at a dead corpse – which was shocking to Rosamond fans who expected to read how wonderful Rosemary was, her daughter getting all her gifts from her. Snyder got it right in giving Royal credit for teaching Erle Stanley Gardener to write.

And lets not leave out Belle, my Venus, whose manifestation is accosted by a sex fiend hiding in the bushes. This is the oldest literary theme known to man. Consider to what lengths King David was will willing to have Bathsheba when he spotted her bathing nude. It’s all good. My daughter and my grandchildren are in this Rosy Story. I got two detective serial novels to deal with both. Then there is my Bond book ‘The Royal Janitor’. I am kin to Ian Fleming via my cousin, Elizabeth Rosemond Taylor.

‘My Editor. My Enemy!’ A Futurian author hires one of his bitter enemies to edit his books. They meet in a padded room at eighter end of a long table. They are chained to the floor so they can not cause each other grave bodily injury.

Belle: This bit about a back door time warp to the old Mediterranean Cafe on Telegraph – is coming out! It has way too much – FAT! No one still alive is going to get it!”

Smiley Jackson: “You bitch! The Watchers warned me you were going to try to cut this out – so the Western Vortex can not be saved!”

‘The Black Delilah of Heather Hollow’

Secretary: “You got a call from the kurds. They killed your duaghter’s husband, ISSIS leader ‘Detroit Bob’. They will put her on a jet for home for $5,000 dollars.”

Synch Cornblower: “Damn it! This means I have to write another detective novel to pay for this latest insult to fatherhood. Help me come up with another pen name. If she and her family discover I am making tons of money writing dime detective novels, they will really try to destroy me.”

‘Die – Artist – Die!”

Sydney Morristown is caught – yet again sneaking a young model past his landlady, El Tubbo.

“And…just where do you think you are going with that poor girl – your latest victim?”

“As if it is any of your business. I am using her as my model for the cover of Synch Cornblower’s new thriller. ‘Eat My Ass – Snowflake’. “

“Sounds like a pervert name to me!”

At twelve Bill and I were mimicking London and Serling, then, when we got older, Kerouac and Cassidy. Christine was a witness to this remarkable bond and would take up art when she was twenty-four and unemployable due to having a child to raise. Seling founded the Carmel community that was shaken by his sudicide. Rosemary suggested my sister took her life;

“Like Virginia Wolfe, she put stones in her pocket, and walked in the water.”

As for this accusation I could have saved Bill’s life, if only I had passed Christine’s note to him – that told him alas how she feels – Bill lived with us for a year before Rosemary came and got us. She fled Oakland after being busted for making porno movies for Big Bones Remmer, and being his high class hooker. This is right out of Raymond Chandler. I am going to apply for a grant so all aspects of my family can be studied – especially the Probate of one of the highest paid artists in history – who is defamed in Snyder’s book, along with her teacher.

Vicki Presco told me Sydney Morris searched my letters I sent the Superior Court of Monterey for death threats, and didn’t find any. Gaslighting me has been a hobby for the un-gifted ones. Mark Gall can testify I have been a good friends of the Galls, for many years, and, am sound in mind – as any writer and artist can be. It is all gist for the mill – from here! It’s all good. This is what books are made of.

Ironically, my grandmother has rescued her offspring from beyond the grave. Mary Magdalene has given me the credibility I long deserved. Together, we raise up our story, and our art from the dark mire the worst executor – and the world’s worst writer in the world – cast us. Bill’s tragic suicide caused many who knew and loved us, real concern, that I would take my life, too. My therapist, Barbara, cared. Thank you.

NEXT MORNING:

Last night before I went to bed I read a few pages of Snyder’s bio, and again I was in shock. Snyder has my aunt Lillian destroying her sister – in High School. Before this evil book was published, I flew to Bullhead City to interview Lillian who got on a jet. There exist three hours of tape – which I later sent to Vicki Presco before our reconciliation involving my daughter and grandson. My surviving sister told me she missed Lillian’s voice. She knew what she and Mark Presco had done and knew I had not read the bio. Luckily I have a miniature tape that I began my interview with. This utter betrayal goes against everything that is ethical in the World of Literature. No writer or artist has suffered such oppression – that borders on MURDER! I now suspect Vicki murdered Christine at Rocky Point. She is capable – of anything! Scott Hale was a neighbor of Lillian, and so was Tom Snyder. I happened to call Lillian when these two roguish friends were headed to Royal Rosamond’s youngest daughter’s house – to rip off his grandson’s literary legacy. They grabbed The Art, and My Story. Three members of the Black Mast come through a photograph – to convict these cultural thieves – of theft, that was blessed by the law firm of Robert Brevoort Buck.

Here are photos of Rosemary shooting a gun with members of the Lewis family. I gave this video to the Ventura museum, but, will make the LA museum, and the Getty museum aware of them. The Lewis family is a historic family, as was are family – until Vicki dropped out as Christine’s first named executor – and stabbed a dead woman in the back. Then she went after me and Shannon. This monster hated the creative people in her family who kept this vile creature in their shadow. This goes for her neo-Nazi brother who wrote racist essays – and went after my newfound daughter – too! My sibling read the proof of this murder mystery that blames me for the death by suicide of my childhood friend. You can not get more diabolical than this.

IDEA for Netflix series: ‘The Firing Squad’

Synopsis: An oppressed writer and artist has been trying to find out the truth about how his famous sister ‘Rosamond’ died. While looking at a photo of his grandmother, three Black Mask authors come alive and give him council by the fire. They are joined by a fourth, who also likes to shoot pistols. The Four Ghosts of the Cultural Apocalypse offer to solve the mystery of the Rose of the World, if the mortal writer helps them solve more murders. At the end of the show, the perpetrator is lined up before the Firing Squad. When the triggers are pulled, the monster dies of a heart attack. Justice is served!

John Presco

Copyright 2021

Babcock, Dwight V. (pulp fiction writer) (what-when-how.com)

Rosemary Rosamond Rides & Shoots – YouTube

“It’s even more obvious in her work on ‘The Crossing’. She was very depressed, dealing with her unresolved feelings for her childhood sweetheart, Bill. He died before she could work it through with, or about him, and she resented Greg because she said he didn’t deliver on his promise to tell Bill how she felt. She really loved him, and maybe Greg saw that as a intrusion. Anyway, Christine told me he never delivered her message. Later. Bill pulled his car onto the tracks and died under the wheels of a train – a suicide according to Christine – and she never got over her failure to tell Bill her feelings for him. She felt very strongly she could have saved him, if he’d only known.”

There was no note or letter, thus, no promise by me. This was a quote from Garth Benton who had to have seen, or heard of, the 276 page autobiography his ex-wife was working on – that was disappeared. Were there any more thoughts about Bill, who never kissed Christine? This is another evil attempt to divorce me from Rosamond’s family. Shannon said she has not read Snyder’s bio. I told her not to, because it put me in therapy. My therapists was concerned I would take my life. I got to tell her how I felt, and she was shocked.

When I found my daughter after she was disappeared for two years, I asked her if she read Snyder’s bio that she and her mother wanted to be in. She said she had not. Her mother did. Did she care if I killed myself? How about her sister and brother? It no longer matters. My Literary Family and I have survived the most evil literary attempt to destroy members of – a natal family! Vicky and I thought I would not have a child. She died childless. I consider her a member of my Literary Family, for this beautiful sister, who loved her brother, dearly, saved the life of his best friend. Thank you Vicky. You will always be remembered….and loved!

WITTGENSTEIN & NORBERT DAVIS (mysteryfile.com)

Anatomy of a Rogue Wave | Rosamond Press

A Seasonal Rogue Wave | Rosamond Press

Blamed For Bill’s Suicide | Rosamond Press

Sterling carried a vial of cyanide for many years. When asked about it he said, “A prison becomes a home if you have the key”.[13] Finally in November 1926, Sterling used it at his residence at the San Francisco Bohemian Club after not receiving an expected visit from H.L. Mencken. Kevin Starr wrote that “When George Sterling’s corpse was discovered in his room at the Bohemian Club… the golden age of San Francisco’s bohemia had definitely come to a miserable end.”

George Sterling – Wikipedia

“Big Bones” of Scowtown | Rosamond Press

Max Latin (thrillingdetective.com)

Authors Channeling Pigs | Rosamond Press

The Rosamond American Authors | Rosamond Press

My Art Dynasty | Rosamond Press

Rosemond of the Royal Academy | Rosamond Press

The Black Mask – Writes Again! | Rosamond Press

On Saturday, February 6, 2021, 12:05:59 AM PST, Mark Gall > wrote:

Please write your story. But don’t get the virus! Our group is getting closer to vaccination time.
M. D. “Mark” Gall
Professor Emeritus
University of OregonCollege of Education

Meredith (“Mark”) Gall: Vita (uoregon.edu)

Authors and Creators: Norbert Davis (thrillingdetective.com)

The Turquoise Shop (1941) by Frances Crane – Dead Yesterday (wordpress.com)

Norbert Davis

Pseudonyms: Harrison Hunt, Cedric Titus (1909-1949)

“Norbert Davis is a natural. If we were to pick anyone who, in spite of all human trials and tribulations, looks upon life resignedly and mostly as all fun, our nominee would be Bert.”

— Joseph T. Shaw, editor, in an unpublished intro in The Hard-Boiled Omnibus

Certainly, NORBERT DAVIS was one of the great tragic figures among the pulp writers of the thirties and forties. He wrote westerns, war stories, romance and adventure tales as well as well as crime and detective fiction. Yet, he never quite got the recognition he deserved (and even now, he’s at most a cult favourite, more read about than read), mostly because he abandoned his ace in the hole, a humourously hard-boiled crime hybrid he had perfected in the pulps, for a chance to write for the more lucrative market of the slicks. And it certainly didn’t help that he committed suicide at the age of forty.

Not a good career move, that.

Still, he left his mark. In the thirties and early forties there were several mystery writers who worked the same vein of zany hard-boiled, screwball stories, including Craig Rice, Dwight V. Babcock (who was a pal of Davis’) and Frank Gruber, but none could touch Davis at his peak.

He regularly sold to the very best of the detective magazines of the day, including Dime Detective and even occasionally Black Mask, and regularly appeared in such top titles as Argosy and The Saturday Evening Post.

Smoky Joe’s Cannabis Café | Rosamond Press

The Return of The Green Swastika | Rosamond Press

Marijuana Road & Lil Hippie | Rosamond Press

PHOTO GALLERY

    The photos below were obtained several years ago by Bill Pronzini from Ruth Babcock, widow of Norbert Davis’s fellow pulp writer, Dwight V. Babcock.  With the assistance of John Apostolou, who has done extensive research into the lives of both Davis and Babcock, we no longer believe that all five photos came from the same visit by the Davises at the Babcocks’ home.

    Norbert Davis made a trip in 1936 to a farm owned by Ruth Babcock’s family in Modesto, California.  While there, he and Dwight did some target shooting.  Photos were taken and some prints sent to Joseph T. Shaw in April 1936.  Three of the pictures – Norbert shooting, Dwight shooting, the two of them sitting – were taken during that visit.  The house in the picture of the car appears to be the same house in the photo with Babcock and Davis sitting on the front steps.  If this is so, it would suggest that the woman standing on the running board of the car is Frances, Norbert Davis’s first wife.  (If anyone can identify what brand of automobile this sporty convertible might be, we’d like to know that too.)

    The remaining picture of three seated individuals was shot, we now believe, at a different location several years later.  Norbert has aged considerably, and the house is clearly not the same one as in the other two shots.  John suggests that the picture may have been taken in 1948 or early 1949.  The woman seated in the middle is Nancy Davis, Norbert’s second wife.  She would have been about 27 years old.  (Apparently target shooting was a common pastime for the two writers.  Note that Davis is holding a gun in that later photo as well.)

    Nancy Kirkwood Crane Davis was also the daughter of mystery writer Frances Crane, a fact uncovered by Tom and Enid Schantz while researching Davis’s life for their introduction to the Rue Morgue Press editions of his books.  If you’re interested in learning more about Norbert Davis and his life, you’re strongly urged to read it.  It’s excellent and definitely worth your while.

Catalog (pulpartists.com)

Margaret Brundage – Illustration History

Rolf Armstrong – Illustration History

Black Mask: The Greatest Hard-Boiled Detective Magazine Ever Published (blackmaskmagazine.com)

Jack London Was a Seer

Posted on October 26, 2020 by Royal Rosamond Press

Jack’s mother was channeling a native American chief. I am the embodiment of London who had Pilgrim Ancestors. My short story ‘Negroes Look In My Window At Night’ was prophetic. I will try to get it published as ‘Artichoke’. Below is my boat I lived in on the Oakland Estuary not far from Jack London Square were Jack docked his oyster boat. A neighbor who lived on a old tug gave me a book on Edgar Cayce to read. This is when I began to channel Jack – and others! You can see an old typewriter I bought.

John Presco

Copyright 2020

https://rosamondpress.com/2019/12/31/the-second-coming-of-martin-eden/

https://rosamondpress.com/2020/09/06/martin-eden-and-me-2/

UPTON SINCLAIR ENDORSES A PSYCHIC WHO ‘DIVINES’ HIS FRIENDSHIP WITH JACK LONDON

https://dangerousminds.net/comments/upton_sinclair_endorses_a_psychic_who_divines_his_friendship_with_jack_lond

Jack London’s mother, Flora Wellman, was the fifth and youngest child of Pennsylvania Canal builder Marshall Wellman and his first wife, Eleanor Garrett Jones. Marshall Wellman was descended from Thomas Wellman, an early Puritan settler in the Massachusetts Bay Colony.[9] Flora left Ohio and moved to the Pacific coast when her father remarried after her mother died. In San Francisco, Flora worked as a music teacher and spiritualist, claiming to channel the spirit of a Sauk chief, Black Hawk.[10][clarification needed]

Biographer Clarice Stasz and others believe London’s father was astrologer William Chaney.[11] Flora Wellman was living with Chaney in San Francisco when she became pregnant. Whether Wellman and Chaney were legally married is unknown. Stasz notes that in his memoirs, Chaney refers to London’s mother Flora Wellman as having been “his wife”; he also cites an advertisement in which Flora called herself “Florence Wellman Chaney”.[12]

According to Flora Wellman’s account, as recorded in the San Francisco Chronicle of June 4, 1875, Chaney demanded that she have an abortion. When she refused, he disclaimed responsibility for the child. In desperation, she shot herself. She was not seriously wounded, but she was temporarily deranged. After giving birth, Flora sent the baby for wet-nursing to Virginia (Jennie) Prentiss, a formerly enslaved African-American woman and a neighbor. Prentiss was an important maternal figure throughout London’s life, and he would later refer to her as his primary source of love and affection as a child.[13]

Late in 1876, Flora Wellman married John London, a partially disabled Civil War veteran, and brought her baby John, later known as Jack, to live with the newly married couple. The family moved around the San Francisco Bay Area before settling in Oakland, where London completed public grade school. The Prentiss family moved with the Londons, and remained a stable source of care for the young Jack.[13]

Chandler had an immense stylistic influence on American popular literature, and is considered by many to be a founder, along with Dashiell Hammett, James M. Cain and other Black Mask writers, of the hard-boiled school of detective fiction. His protagonist, Philip Marlowe, along with Hammett’s Sam Spade, is considered by some to be synonymous with “private detective,” both having been played on screen by Humphrey Bogart, whom many considered to be the quintessential Marlowe.

Black Mask was a pulp magazine launched in 1920 by journalist H. L. Mencken and drama critic George Jean Nathan as one of a number of money-making publishing ventures to support the prestigious literary magazine The Smart Set, which Mencken edited, and which operated at a loss. Under their editorial hand, the magazine was not exclusively a publisher of crime fiction, offering, according to the magazine, “the best stories available of adventure, the best mystery and detective stories, the best romances, the best love stories, and the best stories of the occult.” The magazine’s first editor was Florence Osborne (credited as F. M. Osborne).[1]

Contents
 [hide] 
1 Editorial control
2 Contributing authors
3 Decline and revival
4 In popular culture
5 Anthologies
6 References
7 External links
Editorial control[edit]
After eight issues, Mencken and Nathan considered their initial $500 investment to have been sufficiently profitable, and they sold the magazine to its publishers, Eltinge Warner and Eugene Crow for $12,500. The magazine was then edited by George W. Sutton (1922–24), followed by Philip C. Cody.[2] In 1926, Joseph Shaw took over the editorship.

Contributing authors[edit]

Early Black Mask contributors of note included J. S. Fletcher, Vincent Starrett, and Herman Petersen.[3] Shaw, following up on a promising lead from one of the early issues, promptly turned the magazine into an outlet for the growing school of naturalistic crime writers led by Carroll John Daly. Daly’s private detective Race Williams was a rough and ready character with a sharp tongue, and established the model for many later acerbic private eyes.

Black Mask later published the profoundly influential Dashiell Hammett, creator of Sam Spade and The Continental Op, and other hardboiled writers who came in his wake, such as Raymond Chandler, Erle Stanley Gardner, Paul Cain, Frederick Nebel, Frederick C. Davis, Raoul F. Whitfield,[3] Theodore Tinsley, W.T. Ballard, Dwight V. Babcock, and Roger Torrey.[4] Author George Harmon Coxe created “Casey, Crime Photographer”, for the magazine, which became a media franchise with novels, films, radio, comic book tie-ins, television, and legitimate theatre.[5] Black Mask’s covers were usually painted by artists Fred Craft or J. W. Schlaikjer,[6] while Shaw gave the artist Arthur Rodman Bowker a monopoly over all Black Mask interior illustrations.[7] Although primarily known for male contributors, Black Mask also published a number of women crime writers, including Marjory Stoneman Douglas, Katherine Brocklebank, Sally Dixon Wright, Florence M. Pettee, Marion O’Hearn, Kay Krausse, Frances Beck, Tiah Devitt and Dorothy Dunn. [8] The magazine was hugely successful, and many of the writers, such as Hugh B. Cave, who appeared in its pages went onto greater commercial and critical success.
Although crime fiction made up most of the magazine’s content, Black Mask also published some Western and general adventure fiction.[1]
Decline and revival[edit]
Black Mask reached a sales peak in the early 1930s, but then interest began to wane under increasing pressure from radio, the cinema, and rival pulp magazines. In 1936, refusing to cut writers’ already meager pay, Shaw resigned, and many of the high-profile authors abandoned the magazine with him. Shaw’s successor Fanny Ellsworth, (1936–40) managed to attract new writers to Black Mask, including Cornell Woolrich, Frank Gruber, Max Brand and Steve Fisher. [9] However, from the 1940s on, Black Mask was in decline, despite the efforts of new editor Kenneth S. White (1940–48). The magazine in this period carried the work of John D. MacDonald.[1] Henry Steeger then edited Black Mask anonymously until it eventually ceased publication in 1951. [2]
In 1985, the magazine was revived as The New Black Mask, and featured noted crime writers James Ellroy, Michael Collins, Sara Paretsky and Bill Pronzini, as well as Chandler and Hammett reprints. Edward D. Hoch praised the revived Black Mask, stating in the book Encyclopedia Mysteriosa that “it came close to reviving the excitement and storytelling pleasure of the great old pulp magazines”. Due to a legal dispute over the rights to Black Mask name, the magazine ceased publication in 1987. It was revived as a short-lived magazine titled A Matter of Crime.[10]
Original copies of the Black Mask are highly valued among pulp magazine collectors. Issues with Chandler and Hammett stories are especially rare and command high prices.[1]
In popular culture[edit]
Black Mask magazine was the specific pulp fiction magazine that inspired the 1994 Quentin Tarantino film Pulp Fiction. Originally, the title of the film was Black Mask, before being changed.
An issue of Black Mask magazine features as a (planted) clue in the 1927 murder mystery novel Unnatural Death by Dorothy L. Sayers.
An episode of the 1990s television series Millennium mentions a ‘literary journal’ known as the ‘Dark Mask’ which featured detective fiction, an obvious parody of the Black Mask.
Anthologies[edit]
The Hard-Boiled Omnibus: Early Stories from Black Mask edited by Joseph T. Shaw, (1946).
The Hard-Boiled Detective: Stories from Black Mask magazine, 1920-1951 edited by Herbert Ruhm, (1977).
The Black Mask Boys: masters in the hard-boiled school of detective fiction edited by William F. Nolan, (1985).
Includes a short history of the magazine.
The Black Lizard Big Book of Black Mask Stories edited by Otto Penzler, (2007).

This extremely rare photo of the first west coast Black Mask get-together on January 11, 1936 captures possibly the only meeting of several of these authors.
Pictured in the back row, from left to right, are Raymond J. Moffatt, Raymond Chandler, Herbert Stinson, Dwight Babcock, Eric Taylor and Dashiell Hammett. In the front row, again from left to right, are Arthur Barnes (?), John K. Butler, W. T. Ballard, Horace McCoy and Norbert Davis.

Cleve F. Adams (6 stories)
Dwight V. Babcock (21 stories)
W. T. Ballard (43 stories)
Max Brand (9 stories)
Katherine Brocklebank (7 stories)
John K. Butler (11 stories)
Paul Cain (17 stories)
Hugh B. Cave (9 stories)
D.L. Champion (30 stories)
Raymond Chandler (11 stories)
Merle Constiner (12 stories)
George Harmon Coxe (27 stories)
John Carroll Daly (60 stories)
Norbert Davis (13 stories)
Ramon DeColta (24 stories)
Lester Dent (2 stories)
Bruno Fischer (5 stories)
Steve Fisher (9 stories)
Erle Stanley Gardner (103 stories)
William Campbell Gault (7 stories)
Frank Gruber (14 stories)
Brett Haliday (2 stories)
Dashiell Hammett (49 stories)
Baynard H. Kendrick (14 stories)
Louis L’Amour (1 story)
John Lawrence (14 stories)
John D. MacDonald (6 stories)
Horace McCoy (17 stories)
Robert Martin (8 stories)
Frederick Nebel (67 stories)
Robert Reeves (10 stories)
Stewart Sterling (12 stories)
Herbert Stinson (27 stories)
Eric Taylor (7 stories)
Roger Torrey (50 stories)
Donald Wandrei (6 stories)
Raoul Whitfield (66 stories)
Cornell Woolrich (24 stories)

Branding Royal Rosamond Press

Posted on February 6, 2019 by Royal Rosamond Press

I have decided to donate my grandfather’s books to the Springfield Library. As to what connection my city has to Ina Coolbrith, that connection, is me. I own a small newspaper-blog that is a registered business in Lane County. I am the only newspaper in Springfield. Ina would love Royal Rosamond Press. I hope she can be a cornerstone in the new library, as well as Jessie Benton, who wrote a journal from her husband’s notes he took while exploring the Willamette Valley. Jessie is my kin.

John Presco

President: Royal Rosamond Press

Royal Rosamond’s Gem Publishing

Posted on October 28, 2018by Royal Rosamond Press

My grandfather founded Gem Publishing because no one would publish his books. He taught himself how to write. He went back to his roots in the Ozarks and wrote about ‘His People’. He considered his writing – art. He taught Erl Stanley Gardner how to write and type in the Rosamond home in Ventura California. I keep encountering rude folks in Springtucky who think they are the Salt of the Earth Rednecks, and just may kill a man to prove what liars they are.

John

The History of Lurton

Posted on March 22, 2017by Royal Rosamond Press

Roy Rosamond and Gaston Melies

Posted on December 8, 2014by Royal Rosamond Press

RR Rosamond Letter 2

I found this letter two days ago on the Rosamond photo file I got several years ago. I could not make out the signature, and googled Sulphur Mountain and Santa Paula. This is a letter from the famous director, Gaston Melies, the brother of the even more famous director,  Georges Méliès.

I was in shock. I considered the thousands of hours of research I have done without receiving a dime, and now, at the bottom of the shaft of the mine I have dug for myself, I find a gem.  I now owned the engine that drove my grandfather, that kept him going forward, he never giving up. Did he tell everyone around him Gaston will make a movie from his story ‘The Finding of the Last Chance Mine’, one day? If not, there were plenty more stories where that came from – a veritable mother load!

Why wasn’t I told about this letter? Why didn’t my grandmother tell me she was Bohemian Grove Wood Nymph? The sad truth now hit home. Being a writer, a gambler, a poet, a drifter, a artist, and a free spirit, are not good things to be, especially when they are associated with ‘Being a Failure’. Royal Rosamond failed to strike it big, and take his Rosy family to Hollywood where they would be rolling in doe. Instead, Mary Magdalene Magdalene was forced to make hats in order to feed her four beautiful daughters – and her husband who took the pen name, Royal. This is why Mary told him not to come home when he failed to sign that book deal with Homer Croy who wrote ‘They Had to See Paris’ starring the most famous cowboy of the time, Will Rogers. Roy Reuben Rosamond, was all washed up. He was a has-been wannabe. This prospector never saw his beautiful wife, and his four daughters, again, but for my mother, Rosemary Rosamond, who went to Oklahoma City to see the abject failure, one last time. Roy had a newspaper stand and tutored young folk in the art of poetry.

If you are a creative person, you know for every star, there are a thousand souls who did not make to the Big Tent. In biographies of famous people you notice there is a creative group that surrounds them. If you are authoring a biography, you string connections together and hang them on a tree.

Francis Ford starred in Gaston’s movie ‘The Ghost of Sulphur Mountian’. Francis is the brother of the really famous director, John Ford, who is known for his Westerns. Roy Rosamond claimed he was a real Cowboy, so did Joaquin Miller who amused the Pre-Raphaelites and European Royalty with his Western garb.  This image was tailor-made for Miller by Ina Coolbrith the darling of the Bohemian Club. Then there is the Salon Jessie Fremont had in San Francisco that Mark Twain and Bret Harte attended. The Western Star is born. Now add to this the artwork of Thomas Hart Benton, and Christine Rosamond Benton, then you behold the core cultural movement in America, that left the East Coast, high and dry.

Last, but no least, is Jack London’s Last Chance Salon in Oakland, and Steinbecks ‘Grapes of Wrath’ that John Ford directed. Sprinkle in the Radical Republicans, who did battle with the folks that starred in ‘Birth of a Nation’ and what you get is gritty Westernized Socialism and a Commie Witchhunt.

I can now see my mother knew about this deal to secure her father’s story, and make sure Gaston owns the copyright. Rosemary flirted with the idea she would be a movie star, and once dated a B Actor named George. She used to show us his picture and ask;

“How would you kids have liked to have been George’s children and be born in Hollywood? He asked me to marry him. Instead, I married that SOB father of yours.”

Drats! Our story is tailor made for W.C. Fields who stepped on my aunts toes at a tennis match. This got the attention of Errol Flynn, who sent his friend over to give Lillian an invite, with phone number!

You see, it took over ten years to gather together my family history, because the women in the family had grown bitter – wrathful! Here is a video of the other man Rosemary should have married. His father owned a vast tract of Lima Bean fields in Camarillo, just east of the little town of Santa Paula where Gaston moved his movie company ‘Star Film Ranch’ in 1911. He was following a trend. Some say tis was the film capitol of California. The Rosamond household was not but twelve miles away at ‘Ventura by the Sea’. Did Gaston make a search of the local talent for his next movie?

Royal’s story appeared in West Coast Magazine. A similar story about a mine, along with ‘The Squaw Girl’, appeared in Out West magazine in 1911. There is mention of a “dramatic copyright’ which indicates Royal was writing with the movies in mind. This puts my grandfather at the epicenter of the first California Movie industry. Was he aware of the movie ‘The Squaw Man’ that Christine Rosamond’s first biographer mistakenly attributed to Roy? How much money did Tom Snyder receive for getting it wrong? That book did not sell, and was a abject failure. My daughter, her mother and aunt, and my surviving sister, backed this losing effort.

Jon Presco

Copyright 2014

http://www.discoversantapaula.com/SantaPaula_Filming.htm

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The Voice of the Mountain

Posted on June 5, 2015by Royal Rosamond Press

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Branding Royal Rosamond Press

Posted on January 22, 2015by Royal Rosamond Press

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Below is an article on how to brand your company or non-profit organization. This is made extremely easier if your kindred owned businesses with your company’s name. This morning I purchased a business card, and other items whereupon is the name

ROYAL ROSAMOND PRESS

My grandfather was a Newspaperman – of sorts! He sold 400 copies of The Oklahoman, and 200 copies of the Oklahoma Times, at his newspaper stand in Oklahoma City. He tutored young people in poetry and had plans to build a Poet’s retreat on the Buffalo River.The Ozark Historian, Otto Rayburn, was supportive of this.

It is the objective of my newspaper to restore the dream of these two men who published their own magazine. Rayburn published ‘Arcadian Life’, and Royal’s Gem Publishing, published ‘Bright Stories’. Royal also published one novel under ‘R.R. Rosamond Publishing’ founded in 1931 in Ventura where it was published.

If any respectable gentleman or company owns, or is seeking to own a resort on the Buffalo River, and is seeking a name with great branding, let me know. I see;

THE ROYAL ROSAMOND INN

Jon Presco

President: Royal Rosamond Press

braskewitz@yahoo.com

Copyright 2014

https://rosamondpress.com/2011/08/23/the-vincent-rice-trust/

http://www.buffaloriver.com/

http://www.encyclopediaofarkansas.net/encyclopedia/entry-detail.aspx?entryID=3003

https://www.questia.com/library/journal/1P3-114256623/in-the-land-of-a-million-smiles-twentieth-century

http://libinfo.uark.edu/specialcollections/research/guides/folklore/folkperiodicals.asp
http://boards.rootsweb.com/topics.obits2/78126/mb.ashx

Message Board Post:

Otto Ernest Rayburn (1891-1960)

Otto Ernest Rayburn was a writer, magazine publisher, and collector of Arkansas and Ozark lore. Vance Randolph, in his introduction to Rayburn’s autobiography, Forty Years in the Ozarks (1957), defined Rayburn as a “dedicated regionalist” and added, “There is no denying that, in the period between 1925 and 1950, Rayburn did more to arouse popular interest in Ozark folklore than all of the professors put together.”

Otto Rayburn was born on May 6, 1891, in Hacklebarney settlement, Davis County, Iowa, to William Grant Rayburn, a farmer, and Sarah Jane Turpin Rayburn. The family soon moved to Woodson County, Kansas, where Rayburn grew up. In 1909-1910, he attended Marionville College in Marionville, Missouri. In the spring of 1917, Rayburn bought forty acres near Reeds Spring, Missouri. In June, he enlisted in the U.S. Army and served in France. He was discharged at Camp Funston, Kansas, in May 1919. For the next few years, he taught in Kansas and Arkansas schools.

In 1924, he became school superintendent for the Kingston Community Project of the Board of Missions of the Presbyterian Church. He regarded the six years he spent at Kingston (Madison County) as one of the most important epochs of his life. On September 26, 1925, Rayburn married Lutie Beatrice Day of Hopkins County, Texas, and brought her back to Kingston. They had two children. He was attracted to Kingston by its isolation, “a community that has a splendid highway in but no road out.”

In Kingston, he published his first magazine, Ozark Life: The Mirror of the Ozarks, beginning in June 1925, edited jointly with James T. (Ted) Richmond. The sixteen-page paper struck the tone that continued in virtually every periodical Rayburn ever undertook from then on, a tone that the late twentieth century calls boosterism or hype. Kingston is “Nature’s Beauty Shop,” and the King’s River valley is “one of the fairest dimples in the face of the smiling Ozarks.” He also wrote a column, “Ozark Folkways,” for the Sunday Arkansas Gazette for eight years beginning in 1927, as well as the column “Ozark News Nuggets” in the Sunday Tulsa Tribune.

Rayburn and Richmond sold the magazine in 1931. The same year, in Eminence, Missouri, Rayburn started The Arcadian, sometimes known as The Arcadian Magazine, with the subtitle, “A Journal of the Well-Flavored Earth.” Rayburn wrote much of the material himself, but he also published poetry, fiction, and commentary by other writers. The Arcadian Magazine ceased publication in mid-1932. Rayburn enrolled at East Texas State Teachers College in Commerce, Texas, and published another magazine, Arcadian Life, subtitled, “A Journal of Ozarkian Lore and Pastoral Living,” at Sulphur Springs (Washington County) and Commerce, Texas, from 1933 to 1936. During the summer of 1936, Rayburn received his World War I soldier’s bonus. He returned to Arkansas and discovered Caddo Gap (Montgomery County), a village in the Ouachita Mountains. He taught in the Caddo Gap school and had a writers’ workshop at the Shadow Haven Tourist Courts, owned by Ida Sublette Cobb, a poet and the mother of promin!
ent Republican politician Osro Cobb.

In 1940, Rayburn was commissioned by Duell, Sloan, and Pearce to write the American Folkways Series book on the Ozarks. Ozark Country came out in December 1941. His most successful extended piece, it went through four printings. In 1941, after Ozark Country was finished, he moved to the Rural Dale School in Saline County and in 1943 started another magazine, Ozark Guide. In 1945, he retired from teaching and moved to Eureka Springs (Carroll County), where he opened Rayburn’s Book House. In Eureka Springs, he gave guided tours, sold real estate, and managed the annual folk festival, in addition to publishing Ozark Guide. He published The Eureka Springs Story in 1954 and his autobiography in 1957.

Rayburn died on October 30, 1960, in Fayetteville (Washington County) after a short illness. An Arkansas Gazette editorial called to him a “Champion of the Ozarks” and noted that “His Ozark Folk Encyclopedia, a monumental collection. already has served useful purpose and will continue to do so.”

My uncle Vincent Rice became my art patron when I was sixteen. I had given him a seascape I had done, that he had framed and proudly hung over his mantle. Later, he would save a painting I did when I was thirteen, and frame it. I worked at Vinnie’s warehouse one summer, and he gave me his car, the 1957 Ford Fairlane in the photo above.

Vincent married Roy Reuben Rosamond’s oldest daughter, June. They had no children, and tried to make the Presco children their surrogate children, with little success. Vincent did his best to help us, he letting us live on the house on Glendon, for little, or, no rent. When he died, he left a good chunk of money to my siblings and I, and our cousin. I immediately made plans to acquire a scanner and new computer so I could publish historic letters and photographs on the internet.

Above are two photos that were on file at the University of Arkansas that I sent for. They appeared in the Otto Rayburn collection. Otto also was a good friend of my grandfather. Otto was a good friend of the artist, Thomas Hart Benton, the cousin of Garth Benton, who married Christine, Rosamond Presco, and born, Drew Benton. The Hand of Fate is at work here. Above are two letters from Rayburn that I will donate to the UofA. In 1998 I donated Rosamond’s ‘At Martha Healey’s Grave’ a small book I republished under my registered newspaper, Royal Rosamond Press Co.

The `Back to the Earth Movement’ was not invented by Hippie. In the 1930s many Americans were seeking a return to the Arcadian lifestyle
that was disappearing fast. My grandfather, Royal Rosamond, was at the vanguard of that movement, he leaving his beautiful wife and
four daughters to go live in the Ozarks where he was born where he would write four novels about the Billy Boys. He was good friends of
Otto Rayburn who bid him to find Californian poets who would contribute to his Magazine `Arcadian Life’.

The log cabin on the cover of this issue was built by Royal on his forty acres in Arkansas where he established a fishing retreat for
poets. Royal played the fiddle and collected quilts. He taught poetry in his attic studio in Oklahoma City where he died estranged
from his daughters. His wife, Mary Magdalene Rosamond, thought her husband quite the irresponsible Fool, and bid Royal not to come
home, she more capable then he of raising their children. One can say my grandfather dropped out of society. Five years ago I located
his unmarked grave and put a marker there. He was son of two roses, Rosamond, and Ida Louisiana Rose.

Lillian told me of the time she and her father went the dunes in Ventura where lived a colony of people in humble shacks. I am
wondering if this is not a splinter group of “The Dunites” that made a colony of Seekers in Oceana near San Louis Obispo. Royal called these people “his people” and visited them frequently. There was a Scotsman who played the fiddle for Lillian.

Professor Ernest Wood was a Theosophist working at the Theosophical Society in Madras, to whom Baba gave an explanation as to what he
meant by spirituality. Lillian said women from the Theosophical society befriended her mother Mary, and she thinks they contributed
to her independent nature.

It is important to understand we did not invent the core aspects of Hippiedom, so that we can establish a legitimate history that will
carry forth our best attributes. It is my plan to restructure the Family Creative Unity so it may last many lifetimes, and be enjoyed by all members of our family.

Jon Presco

Copyright 2011

Out West Hipsters

Posted on December 22, 2012by Royal Rosamond Press

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I read this on another blog;

“Over the past year, I’ve overheard Oakland natives complaining about the influx of hipsters moving to Oakland. However, this trend is as old as the city itself. Poseurs have been coming to the East Bay since the pioneer days. Today we honor one of these famous poseurs, Joaquin Miller, on his 175th birthday.”

Michael McClure is a late arrival hipster. When I first heard his prodigy’s music, I said to myself;

“It’s all over. This hot body oil throbbing lava lamp sex-rock shit will sweep hippiedom, and wipe out the Northern Beat peecoat scene with walks to the cold beaches while on Owsley’s latest batch of LSD.”

“Know thyself, was now “Check-out my white rock-hard musical cock – baby!”
I am speaking of Jim Morrison, whom McClure tried to educate, turn him into a real poet. No sooner was this magic trick done, then Jim is down in LA haunting the castle the rock group Love lived in, he camping outside Arthur Lee’s door in order to suck his magic mojo into his hot to trot being. Arthur was disgusted, as I assume was McClure.

In my Back to Reality Movement, let us remove Jim and McClure’s contribution, and go back to California’s traditional roots before LSD came along, and a legion of middle-class pothead achievers. The Beat Museum that McClure opened, is pathetic, way off the mainline in a geriatric way. Best to have founded a hipster museum in the home of Wanda Harkins on Pinehaven Road, she opening her home to real beats and hipsters for decades. Wanda was the host of wild bongo parties that resulted in a raid by the Oakland Police Department. Peter Shapiro of the Loading Zone was a guest, as was Jerry Rubin and Bruce Perlowin ‘The King of Pot’. Unfortanetly, when Wanda passed away, the glory days of Pinehave came to an end, we hipsters given the old heave-ho by Wanda’s overly ambitious second son, who we talked about dosing as far bask as 1968. This square failed in all his endeavors and then began cutting us down at the knees in some insane need to be a success. Being burned-out hippies, it was pretty easty getting the dope on us and busting our ass, where today, he is the Last Man Standing in what was once a good scene! I have met some Narco types before, but this dude takes the cake in order to get brownie points in some weird and very private contest he is having with hiself.

Above is a photo of the 13th. Street Four crossing a bridge in Venice California. From left to right is: Keith Pruvis, Tim O’Connor, Peter Shapiro, and, Jon Greg Presco. In the foreground in Tim’s girlfriend whose father was a famous Hollywood agent and good friend of Lee Marvin and Marlon Brando who were at her home quite alot. Tim’s father was a famous actor of the same name.

In 1968, The Four lived in a large Victorian house on 13th. street near downtown Oakland. James Taylor, Keith and I, moved into this incredible house two weeks after my fall at McClure’s Beach. James invited the rock band ‘The Loading Zone’ to come live with us. As ‘The Marbles’ they played at the first Trips Festival at Longshoremen’s Hall in 1966. Keith Peter, and myself were good friends of James Harkins who was one cool dude. He dropped acid with his fathr in 1965, and is a prolific artist and poet.

I was given a bedroom next to the sound room. It had a beautiful carved mantel. I was the artist in residence. When the Zone came home from a gig at the Filmore they would bring home members of famous bands who wanted to see the quintessential hippie scene that had made the San Francisco bay area famous all over the world. I would get a knock on my door and some band member wanted to come in and take a peek. One young man asked if he could watch me paint. There was a fire in the hearth. I worked late at night on large canvases provided by my patron and benefactor, Bob H. who grew up with Tim Scully, and was a good friend of Owsley, he helping him build the sound system for the Grateful Dead. Bob’s brother, Tim H. was a member of the Brotherhood of Eternal Love, and sold LSD in Europe. Bob had worked at the Livermore Lab when he was sixteen. He was a young genius who bid me to paint again after my fall.

“There is nothing new under the sun.” Check out the surfer chic.

Jon Presco

SAN FRANCISCO — JERRY CIMINO, founder of the Beat Museum, steps out onto the teeming streets of San Francisco’s North Beach section. Standing under a 12-foot-high, six-foot-wide painting of Jack Kerouac and Neal Cassady, he opens his arms wide.

Multimedia
Slide Show On the Road.“Everything happened here,” he says dramatically. “We call this intersection, Broadway and Columbus, the center of the universe.”

Maybe so, if you’re someone whose heart flutters like a Lester Young tenor sax solo at the mere mention of the names Kerouac and Cassady. Because it was in this traditionally Italian neighborhood that an influential group of bohemian artists and writers coalesced in the late 1940s, eventually becoming known as the Beat Generation.

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Return to the Dunes and Moy Mell

Posted on May 26, 2015 by Royal Rosamond Press

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When I talked to Carol Williams we spoke between the lines, being, law firms have no spiritual base, and will bleach out all the spirituality they find in Creative People they handle so they can get down to what really matters to them – THE MONEY!

I am more than a Baba Lover. I have traced his families cosmology to the Kurds, as well as the Nazarites. I have been communicating with Kurds on facebook. One group is seeking to form a secular way of life to counter ISIS that is destroying art and selling artifacts.

Sydney Morris crushed my spiritual input in my family, along with the Family Sobriety that I begged him to protect in several letters. I will have to go to the Monterey Supreme Court and see how many of letters got filed in the probate of Christine Rosamond Benton.

Morris did not charge my family any money because he knew he had destroyed us and the Rosamond estate. He knew this while he handled the Creative Legacy of the Weston family. Edward Weston contributed to the ‘Dune Forum’ which published photos of Meher Baba’s visit to the Dunites. Add to these images the photos of Peter Stackpole and we are gazing upon the sublime.

Jon Presco

Copyright 2015

sublime

1. elevated or lofty in thought, language, etc.: Paradise Lost is sublime poetry.2. impressing the mind with a sense of grandeur or power; inspiring awe, veneration, etc.:Switzerland has sublime scenery.

 During the earlier 1932 visit he had met a spiritual seeker named Sam Cohen, a Theosophist and resident of a loosely knit freethinkers’ community named “Moy Mell” nestled among the dunes on the beach at Oceano, California. The benefactor of this group of intellectuals, spiritual seekers, artists and social misfits was Chester Alan Arthur III, grandson of the 21st President, who went by the name of Gavin. For a time Gavin published a magazine called the Dune Forum, which included articles by such notables as Stuart Edward White (author of the spiritualist classic, The Unobstructed Universe), and photographic contributions by Ansel Adams and Edward Weston (whose dune photographs are well-known). Gavin would frequently entertain the intellectual and artistic elite of America at his cabin in the dunes. Although accounts differ somewhat, it appears that Baba sent disciple Meredith Starr and his wife to Moy Mell in 1932

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http://www.photographywest.com/pages/weston_sand_dunes.html

http://www.scpr.org/programs/take-two/2014/03/10/36375/how-the-dunites-created-a-secret-utopia-in-the-oce/

http://socalarchhistory.blogspot.com/2010/11/oceano-dunes-and-westons.html

http://www.ial.goldthread.com/Meher_Baba.html

https://rosamondpress.com/2014/02/23/the-avatar-of-moy-mell/

https://rosamondpress.com/2012/10/24/the-changlings-of-moy-mell/

https://www.photographersgallery.com/by_artist.asp?id=216

“The most amazing vibrations on earth could be found 18 miles south of San Luis Obispo California in the middle of the Oceano Dunes…That’s where we are. A vortex, kinda like Sedona Arizona, just a magnificent energy center.” — Environmentalist John Reid

We’re a few miles south of Pismo Beach not far from the 101 freeway. I’ve been following environmentalist John Reid into the dunes for hours. We’re a little lost, but that’s the nature of the place.

An entire squatter community once disappeared into this wilderness — a colony of hermits, artists and poets called Dunites. They sat out the great depression here in a string of wooded coves, drawing in visitors like John Steinbeck, Upton Sinclair and even India’s holy man, Meher Baba. The Dunite appeal — as, Reid sees it — was their freedom.

“To live the American dream the way it was intended to be lived, not the way it was manufactured to be,” said Reid.  “They were able to have their little plots of land, their gardens and their creative enterprises without any government interference.”

Tucked behind commercial farmland and oil fields, the Oceano Dunes are still obscure. Most people I’ve talked to have never heard of them. Strange considering they’re 18 miles long and look like an Egyptian desert sitting halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco.

You know those famous Ansel Adams dune photos? Well, that’s them. Except now they’re a big RV campground and off-roader’s paradise.

Fenced off from the vehicles, the Dunites’ archaeological remains sit side by side with those of the native Chumash who lived here for thousands of years before them. Big white heaps of their ancient discarded meals. Their shell mounds.

“You could tell which ones are Chumash and which ones are Dunite based upon the size of the clam shell,” said Reid. “When the Chumash were here, there were a lot more sea otters, the predator of the Pismo clam. But when the Dunites were here, sea otters had gotten rare, the clams got larger, lived longer.”

Full grown clams, a mediterranean climate, fresh water a few feet underground, and secluded coves. What more could a hermit ask for?

The last Dunite

Reid tromps into a snarl of vegetation where the last Dunite in the wild was ever seen, back in the late ’70s. This is where Norm Hammond, a firefighter at the time, saw a plume of smoke he thought was coming from a wildfire. Searching for a way in, he spotted a secret trail.

“You had to get on your hands and knees, and there were places where the limbs had been cut and hooked together like a gate. It opened up into a clearing. There was a fellow in there tending his fire, washing clothes,” said Hammond. “There was several buildings. He had a little garden going and I saw him but he didn’t see me so I stood there long enough to check out what was going on.”

When that last Dunite died a few months later, the group’s legacy might have largely vanished, but for Hammond. He had become transfixed. Since then, he’s published a history of the Dunites and is still unearthing their artifacts.

At the Oceano Depot Museum, we stare at what looks like a hippie health guru who’s time-travelled back into a 1930s photograph.

“This is George Blais. He was generally a nudist. He believed in drawing the power of the sun in the day, and the power of the stars at night into his naked flesh,” said Hammond. “He’s shown here with one of his paintings depicting the evils of eating meat and drinking milk.

Blais was a self styled evangelist among this band of renegade Sufis, Theosophists, yogis, and astrologers. When India’s great spiritual teacher of the ’30s, Meher Baba, visited them, he may have seen some of their art, like this sculpture that looks half robot painted in the pallet of a B-52s album cover.

“This is a religious figure, The Evolution of Consciousness. Those crossed legged things are supposed to symbolize duality. And then the square is truth and then the little ball on top is enlightenment,” said Hammond.

Shifting sands

I’d always streaked past this Pismo Beach stretch of the 101. Written it off as culturally devoid. RV parks, dreary motels, outlet malls. Yet when I looked for an affordable way to vacation in nearby Avila Beach during peak season, I landed in a $45 a night Airbnb tent on someone’s lawn overlooking this.

“The sand dunes migrate over time so a couple of the cabins just got swallowed up by the dunes,” said Reid.

Realtors tried to develop the dunes into an Atlantic City of the West, but the shifting sands made it impossible for owners to ever find their tracts of land.

Eventually one small development did sprout up among the broader Dunite population. A utopian commune founded by the grandson of President Chester Arthur. A friend of FDR’s with carte blanche at the White House, Gavin Arthur wandered out of city life on a literary quest. John Reid is writing a book about Arthur.

“Gavin first went into the dunes in 1926 having just come back from Ireland where he would buy weapons for the IRA with his allowance from his father,” said Reid. “That wasn’t going anywhere so he came back to the United States and happened upon the Oceano Dunes. Heard that there were hermits living out there and eventually he got to know them and a seed was germinated of establishing a utopia out there and a literary magazine.”

Arthur found an empty cove, named it Moy Mell — that’s Gaelic for “Land of Honey” — and built a handful of vacation-style cottages. He moved in an editorial staff that published what he hoped would become the New Yorker of the west. The Dune Forum.

Arthur urged Dunites and literati alike to sit around the fire, debate controversial issues and share new work. An unknown John Steinbeck read from what would become his first commercial success, Tortilla Flat.

Another face around the campfire, Upton Sinclair. The social justice writer frequented Moy Mell in the moments leading up to his run for governor of California. The group’s fireside chats were turned into articles Arthur hoped would reach across class lines.

Among them, there was a young girl named Ella Thorp Ellis. From her bohemian seaside cottage in Santa Cruz, she explained what drove her father, Dunham Thorp, the managing editor of the Dune Forum, to leave his job as a press agent in Los Angeles.

“Dunham worked for Joan Crawford. She was bossy and Dunham didn’t like being bossed around,” said Ellis. “He didn’t want Hollywood, he wanted a real intellectual community. So he got rid of Joan Crawford.”

Between the time I’d met Ellis and found someone to guide me to her old neighborhood, she’d passed away. Like so many aspects of this story, I’d barely caught a glimpse of her before she was gone. I’d been hoping to get her a copy of this recording of her mother, Marion Thorp, interviewed by historian Norm Hammond in 1979:

Return to the Dunes and Moy Mell

Posted on May 26, 2015 by Royal Rosamond Press

dunitess2
dunitess3
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dunites5

When I talked to Carol Williams we spoke between the lines, being, law firms have no spiritual base, and will bleach out all the spirituality they find in Creative People they handle so they can get down to what really matters to them – THE MONEY!

I am more than a Baba Lover. I have traced his families cosmology to the Kurds, as well as the Nazarites. I have been communicating with Kurds on facebook. One group is seeking to form a secular way of life to counter ISIS that is destroying art and selling artifacts.

Sydney Morris crushed my spiritual input in my family, along with the Family Sobriety that I begged him to protect in several letters. I will have to go to the Monterey Supreme Court and see how many of letters got filed in the probate of Christine Rosamond Benton.

Morris did not charge my family any money because he knew he had destroyed us and the Rosamond estate. He knew this while he handled the Creative Legacy of the Weston family. Edward Weston contributed to the ‘Dune Forum’ which published photos of Meher Baba’s visit to the Dunites. Add to these images the photos of Peter Stackpole and we are gazing upon the sublime.

Jon Presco

Copyright 2015

sublime

1. elevated or lofty in thought, language, etc.: Paradise Lost is sublime poetry.2. impressing the mind with a sense of grandeur or power; inspiring awe, veneration, etc.:Switzerland has sublime scenery.

 During the earlier 1932 visit he had met a spiritual seeker named Sam Cohen, a Theosophist and resident of a loosely knit freethinkers’ community named “Moy Mell” nestled among the dunes on the beach at Oceano, California. The benefactor of this group of intellectuals, spiritual seekers, artists and social misfits was Chester Alan Arthur III, grandson of the 21st President, who went by the name of Gavin. For a time Gavin published a magazine called the Dune Forum, which included articles by such notables as Stuart Edward White (author of the spiritualist classic, The Unobstructed Universe), and photographic contributions by Ansel Adams and Edward Weston (whose dune photographs are well-known). Gavin would frequently entertain the intellectual and artistic elite of America at his cabin in the dunes. Although accounts differ somewhat, it appears that Baba sent disciple Meredith Starr and his wife to Moy Mell in 1932

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stackpole9

http://www.photographywest.com/pages/weston_sand_dunes.html

http://www.scpr.org/programs/take-two/2014/03/10/36375/how-the-dunites-created-a-secret-utopia-in-the-oce/

http://socalarchhistory.blogspot.com/2010/11/oceano-dunes-and-westons.html

http://www.ial.goldthread.com/Meher_Baba.html

https://rosamondpress.com/2014/02/23/the-avatar-of-moy-mell/

https://rosamondpress.com/2012/10/24/the-changlings-of-moy-mell/

https://www.photographersgallery.com/by_artist.asp?id=216

“The most amazing vibrations on earth could be found 18 miles south of San Luis Obispo California in the middle of the Oceano Dunes…That’s where we are. A vortex, kinda like Sedona Arizona, just a magnificent energy center.” — Environmentalist John Reid

We’re a few miles south of Pismo Beach not far from the 101 freeway. I’ve been following environmentalist John Reid into the dunes for hours. We’re a little lost, but that’s the nature of the place.

An entire squatter community once disappeared into this wilderness — a colony of hermits, artists and poets called Dunites. They sat out the great depression here in a string of wooded coves, drawing in visitors like John Steinbeck, Upton Sinclair and even India’s holy man, Meher Baba. The Dunite appeal — as, Reid sees it — was their freedom.

“To live the American dream the way it was intended to be lived, not the way it was manufactured to be,” said Reid.  “They were able to have their little plots of land, their gardens and their creative enterprises without any government interference.”

Tucked behind commercial farmland and oil fields, the Oceano Dunes are still obscure. Most people I’ve talked to have never heard of them. Strange considering they’re 18 miles long and look like an Egyptian desert sitting halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco.

You know those famous Ansel Adams dune photos? Well, that’s them. Except now they’re a big RV campground and off-roader’s paradise.

Fenced off from the vehicles, the Dunites’ archaeological remains sit side by side with those of the native Chumash who lived here for thousands of years before them. Big white heaps of their ancient discarded meals. Their shell mounds.

“You could tell which ones are Chumash and which ones are Dunite based upon the size of the clam shell,” said Reid. “When the Chumash were here, there were a lot more sea otters, the predator of the Pismo clam. But when the Dunites were here, sea otters had gotten rare, the clams got larger, lived longer.”

Full grown clams, a mediterranean climate, fresh water a few feet underground, and secluded coves. What more could a hermit ask for?

The last Dunite

Reid tromps into a snarl of vegetation where the last Dunite in the wild was ever seen, back in the late ’70s. This is where Norm Hammond, a firefighter at the time, saw a plume of smoke he thought was coming from a wildfire. Searching for a way in, he spotted a secret trail.

“You had to get on your hands and knees, and there were places where the limbs had been cut and hooked together like a gate. It opened up into a clearing. There was a fellow in there tending his fire, washing clothes,” said Hammond. “There was several buildings. He had a little garden going and I saw him but he didn’t see me so I stood there long enough to check out what was going on.”

When that last Dunite died a few months later, the group’s legacy might have largely vanished, but for Hammond. He had become transfixed. Since then, he’s published a history of the Dunites and is still unearthing their artifacts.

At the Oceano Depot Museum, we stare at what looks like a hippie health guru who’s time-travelled back into a 1930s photograph.

“This is George Blais. He was generally a nudist. He believed in drawing the power of the sun in the day, and the power of the stars at night into his naked flesh,” said Hammond. “He’s shown here with one of his paintings depicting the evils of eating meat and drinking milk.

Blais was a self styled evangelist among this band of renegade Sufis, Theosophists, yogis, and astrologers. When India’s great spiritual teacher of the ’30s, Meher Baba, visited them, he may have seen some of their art, like this sculpture that looks half robot painted in the pallet of a B-52s album cover.

“This is a religious figure, The Evolution of Consciousness. Those crossed legged things are supposed to symbolize duality. And then the square is truth and then the little ball on top is enlightenment,” said Hammond.

Shifting sands

I’d always streaked past this Pismo Beach stretch of the 101. Written it off as culturally devoid. RV parks, dreary motels, outlet malls. Yet when I looked for an affordable way to vacation in nearby Avila Beach during peak season, I landed in a $45 a night Airbnb tent on someone’s lawn overlooking this.

“The sand dunes migrate over time so a couple of the cabins just got swallowed up by the dunes,” said Reid.

Realtors tried to develop the dunes into an Atlantic City of the West, but the shifting sands made it impossible for owners to ever find their tracts of land.

Eventually one small development did sprout up among the broader Dunite population. A utopian commune founded by the grandson of President Chester Arthur. A friend of FDR’s with carte blanche at the White House, Gavin Arthur wandered out of city life on a literary quest. John Reid is writing a book about Arthur.

“Gavin first went into the dunes in 1926 having just come back from Ireland where he would buy weapons for the IRA with his allowance from his father,” said Reid. “That wasn’t going anywhere so he came back to the United States and happened upon the Oceano Dunes. Heard that there were hermits living out there and eventually he got to know them and a seed was germinated of establishing a utopia out there and a literary magazine.”

Arthur found an empty cove, named it Moy Mell — that’s Gaelic for “Land of Honey” — and built a handful of vacation-style cottages. He moved in an editorial staff that published what he hoped would become the New Yorker of the west. The Dune Forum.

Arthur urged Dunites and literati alike to sit around the fire, debate controversial issues and share new work. An unknown John Steinbeck read from what would become his first commercial success, Tortilla Flat.

Another face around the campfire, Upton Sinclair. The social justice writer frequented Moy Mell in the moments leading up to his run for governor of California. The group’s fireside chats were turned into articles Arthur hoped would reach across class lines.

Among them, there was a young girl named Ella Thorp Ellis. From her bohemian seaside cottage in Santa Cruz, she explained what drove her father, Dunham Thorp, the managing editor of the Dune Forum, to leave his job as a press agent in Los Angeles.

“Dunham worked for Joan Crawford. She was bossy and Dunham didn’t like being bossed around,” said Ellis. “He didn’t want Hollywood, he wanted a real intellectual community. So he got rid of Joan Crawford.”

Between the time I’d met Ellis and found someone to guide me to her old neighborhood, she’d passed away. Like so many aspects of this story, I’d barely caught a glimpse of her before she was gone. I’d been hoping to get her a copy of this recording of her mother, Marion Thorp, interviewed by historian Norm Hammond in 1979:

We think we live in a free country. But nobody in Santa Maria dares lift a finger unless she says yes. I’ve often wondered why she wanted to stay here after Brandon left her. I think it’s because she’s dictatorial by nature and doesn’t care to live where anyone else might be considered as important as herself.”

Until a few years ago, Santa Maria, New Mexico, was a sleepy artist’s colony. Then Mona Brandon swept into town with her millions and began making changes. Some residents love her, others hate her, but ignoring her is impossible.

Jean Holly has watched the whole saga unfold from the vantage point of her little jewelry shop. She manages to keep from getting involved, until one day a dead body is found in the desert. Some speculate that it’s Mona’s husband Tom, who disappeared three years ago. Though Jean isn’t interested in murder, she’s quite interested in Patrick Abbott, the out-of-town detective who gets drawn into the case. This quiet little village is about to get very lively, and Jean has a front-row seat.

The Turquoise Shop by Frances Crane 1941 book cover

It’s easy to see how the The Turquoise Shop spawned a long-running series of comic mysteries starring Jean and Pat Abbott. (I don’t think it’s too much of a shock that these two end up together.) It’s an amusing, escapist mystery that takes place in an appealing location and doesn’t ask the reader to think too hard. The most pleasant surprise here is the character of Jean, who narrates the story. Later in the series, she becomes more insecure and dependent on Pat, but at this point, she is an independent and capable woman who is more interested in her business than in her friends’ dramas. She’s also strangely uninterested in their murders, which is a big drawback in a mystery novel. Note that even the paperback edition describes this as “A Pat Abbott Mystery,” with no mention of Jean as a detective. This is sadly accurate.

Jean came to New Mexico at eighteen after the deaths of her parents. Like her, many of the residents of Santa Maria have come west to reinvent themselves. As a result, the community is tolerant of personal eccentricities, like English expat Daisy’s habit of carrying a knife in her boot. Gilbert Mason says he’s a poet and this is accepted, though no one’s ever seen him write a line. The unquestioning acceptance of so many diverse types is what makes the town such a haven.

There were always a lot of people on the plaza at noon. Today the dull light made the color and variety of Santa Maria even more striking than usual. Dark chiseled male Indian faces looked out of their pale swathing blankets. Anglos in cowman clothes were everywhere. Some were actually cowmen, but more were male or female artists, polishing off a dizzy western outfit with masses of silver and turquoise bracelets and rings. Mexican girls promenaded, fluttering sooty eyelashes and swinging neat hips.

When murder strikes, Jean belatedly realizes they’ve been taking an awful lot on faith. Anyone can be anything they want in Santa Maria, including a murderer.

The laid-back atmosphere of the town is exactly what allowed Mona Brandon to develop a foothold there. Mona has weaponized generosity; she specializes in giving with strings attached, the gift nobody really wants that benefits her more than the recipient. For example, she adopts a local Indian, Luis Martinez, to serve as a picturesque backdrop for herself. Because he’s adopted, she doesn’t have to pay him a regular wage, leaving him without an income and entirely dependent on her whims. The current target of her largesse is Michael O’Hara, a gifted artist with an inconvenient wife, Sonya.

The Frog and King of California

Posted on June 9, 2020 by Royal Rosamond Press

Capturing Beauty

by

John Presco

Copyright 2020

There is no sadder tale to tell then when one begins their life story with the betrayal of their daughter. It is a long road to haul a tragedy with no happy ending. Where is the redemption in the scheme of things? What justifications drove children to betray their parents, a parent? All the good and great work is ruined, even the telling of how it happened has lost the reader, the audience, before the curtain opens. For this stage they maketh is for real scoundrels who have no love for beauty, art, and even money: for they made all the money vanish, all the hard work, is destroyed.

I awoke feeling the core of my pain wondering how they exspect me to endure the isolation they dread? Have they no mercy, no pity? They identify me as the source of the talent and Rosanond’s success when they do this. Could it be they feel they will be left out, and thus there is a bond between thieves to make sure they get a piece of the cake.

I have been putting my self in Merian Salyer’s shoes. How did she feel when her son took her and his father to court? Fred Salyer grew cotton and was in a fierce rivalry with J.G. Boswell who is titled ‘The King of California’ in a book that wonders if he brought to California the South and a brand of slavery with him. John Steinbeck made the San Joaquin Valley famous in his novel ‘The Grapes of Wrath’ and ‘East of Eden’. The latter was required watching in the Presco household. In 1962 Rosemary Rosamond revealed to her three oldest children she was making porno for Mafia boss ‘Big Bone’ Remmer who came over to our home in San Sebastian to meet ‘The Presco Children’. We were informed our mother was a prostitute for Remmer, and thus the scene where Cal introduces Aaron to his mother was of huge importance as to how Vic Presco’s two sons saw themselves, how they maintained their self-esteem. When my package and offer to my seventeen year old daughter and her mother was returned ‘To Sender’ with no forwarding address, I immediately saw an image of my brother, the neo-Nazi and neo-Confederate. Had he help lure Heather Hanson away from me? Was he behind Stacey Pierrot coming to own our sister’s artistic legacy, it his style to lurk in the shadows so he can enjoy the most severe and destructive impact. Here is his blog. The Hanson family empowered a racist and misogynist. They see themselves as promoters of Black Power and leaders in the Women’s Empowerment Movement.

When I look at the photograph of Rosemary at the Rucker Company Christmas party, I see Big Bones lurking in the background. Rosemary competed with her sister to be ‘The Belle of the Ball’. They hung around Errol Flynn when they were around the age of eighteen. Having driven our father from his home after stabbing him between the eyes with a steak knife, we were entreated to her ‘Rosy Lineup’ of the men she should have married.

“How would you like to have been the children of this guy?”

I believe we were shown a photograph of one of the sons of LEWIS who bought the ranch that belonged to the Cabrillo family who bred white horses. LEWIS loaded up twenty box cars with his name on it and shipped a shit load of Lima Beans to Chicago replicating the scene where Cal tries to help his father realize his dream, that fails, and this Rebel Without a Cause is anointed ‘The Family Scapegoat’ who could do nothing right. Here is the LEWIS home movie.

“George wanted me to marry him. He is an actor. Isn’t he good looking. Imagine how more good-looking you would be if George was your father, and you grew up in Hollywood instead of Oakland. Your son-of-a-bitch father destroyed our lives!”

My daughter was born on Rosemary’s birthday. Her mother suggested it was her choice to ditch me – for good – and go get in the ‘Rival Biography’ that Mark insisted I support. When I told him to go fuck himself, and repeated what I said to Lilliam Rosamond after she gave Tom Snyder a interview, my racist brother threw me out of his family.

“You betrayed me you fucking cunt!”

Mark asked me if I could include some of his rants in my autobiography. He wanted me to cherry-pick what I found pertinent. When he told me he got to read the rough draft of ‘When You Close Your Eyes’ wherein Rosemary and her famous daughter are demonized, I was incredulous.

“You allowed the report that members of our family looted our sister’s house after the funderal?

We met for the last time at Rosamond’s house in Pacific Grove. Garth and Drew Benton were not at the funeral. However, I noticed a stranger lurking about in the dark dining room eavesdropping on our conversation.

“Who’s that?” I asked Vicki Presco.

“That’s Garth’s good friend. He volunteered to be here to make sure no one takes anything.”

My brother kept popping in, and leaving. I wonder where he went. It is revealed the McCurdy’s live next door. They are my brother and sister in Alcoholics Anonymous. They are mentioned in the pages next to the report Marian Sayler gave about owning ‘Dunkin The Frog’.

J.G. Boswell married Ruth Chandler the daughter of the man who owned the L.A. Times who helped secure the water rights of Tule Lake. I am sure Fred Sayler felt ‘The Cotton King’ had an unfair advantage due to ‘The Press’ that was never on his side.

I am a newspaper man. I am the President of Royal Rosamond Press. Today the news is filled with stories about the dismantling of all Confederate monuments including the statue of Robert E. Lee, who is in my family tree. If my brother is alive, I believe he wonders what our President wonders. Is it true?

“Every dog has their day!”

I have written a story about John and Jessie Fremont at least once a month. I am in their family tree. No one else gives a shit, and choose to call me insane. When it comes to a Family Dynasty that includes many land grants and the seizure of the Oregon Territory and California, there is no bigger war over real-estate and the family fortune.

https://www.blogger.com/profile/03261202790462777158

https://rosamondpress.com/2012/06/07/elmer-big-bones-remmer/

https://rosamondpress.com/2020/06/08/the-lee-line-battleship/

https://rosamondpress.com/2020/02/10/mark-presco-lurker-and-stalker/

https://rosamondpress.com/2020/01/09/i-claim-mariposa-land-grant/

https://rosamondpress.com/2019/05/14/mark-presco-vs-royal-rosamond/

https://rosamondpress.com/2020/02/07/rosmary-rosamond-rides-and-shoots-2/

According to another anonymous official, the nation’s top military officer, General Mark Milley, got into a ‘shouting match’ with Trump after the president spoke of his wish to end the country’s protests by bringing in active military forces. 

The official told The New Yorker that Gen. Milley is said to have stayed firm, responding: ‘I’m not doing that. That’s for law enforcement.’

It’s unclear whether that incident took place in the same White House meeting on Monday where Trump told Esper that he wanted 10,000 troops.

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2020/06/08/robert-e-lee-statue-judge-blocks-ralph-northam-order/5324728002/

A Virginia judge has issued an 10-day injunction that prevents Gov. Ralph Northam’s administration from removing an iconic but controversial statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee in Richmond.

The governor, however, won’t be deterred, a spokesman told The Progress-Index, a member of the USA TODAY Network.

“Governor Northam remains committed to removing this divisive symbol from Virginia’s capital city, and we’re confident in his authority to do so,” press secretary Alena Yarmosky said in an email late Monday night.

On Monday, Richmond Circuit Court judge Bradley B. Cavedo granted a request by attorneys for William C. Gregory that would halt any of the preparation work involved in removing the statue from its 130-year-old residence on Monument Avenue.

Is this the end for other Confederate memorials? Richmond is taking down Confederate statues

https://www.cnn.com/style/article/uk-statues-protest-movement-scli-intl-gbr/index.html

n Sunday, Black Lives Matter protesters in Bristol, UK, pulled down a statue of 17th-century slave trader Edward Colston and rolled it through the streets before dumping it, unceremoniously, into the River Avon.

Some applauded the move, while others decried what they called “mob rule.”

With a colonial history spanning centuries — and a mania for erecting statues in the 19th century — Britain’s towns and cities are dotted with monuments to figures like Colston.

For some, the statues have melted into the background of daily life, but many people are now questioning whether they should still stand on their pedestals.

On Tuesday, the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, announced a commission to examine the future of landmarks around the UK capital, including murals, street art, street names and statues.

The Commission for Diversity in the Public Realm is aimed at improving “diversity across London’s public realm, to ensure the capital’s landmarks suitably reflect London’s achievements and diversity.”

https://www.cnn.com/style/article/uk-statues-protest-movement-scli-intl-gbr/index.html

https://www.cnn.com/2020/06/08/politics/bill-barr-donald-trump-white-house-bunker/index.html

Washington (CNN)Attorney General William Barr said Monday that the US Secret Service recommended moving President Donald Trump to the underground White House bunker during late May protests, contradicting the President’s earlier assertion that his visit to the bunker was for “inspection.”Barr told Fox News that the June 1 action to expand the perimeter around the White House and Lafayette Square was a reaction “to three days of extremely violent demonstrations right across from the White House — a lot of injuries to police officers, arson.”“Things were so bad that the Secret Service recommended that the President go down to the bunker,” Barr said, referencing protests on May 29. “We can’t have that in our country. And so the decision was made. We had to move the perimeter one block. And that was what we were doing (on June 1).”Last week, Trump sought to explain his time in the bunker during clashes outside the residence on May 29 as an “inspection,” rather than a retreat for his own safety, telling Fox News Radio’s Brian Kilmeade he was only in the safe room for a “tiny” amount of time.

There is one thing I know for sure

In the tale, a spoiled princess reluctantly befriends the Frog Prince, whom she met after dropping a gold ball into a pond, and he retrieves it for her in exchange for her friendship. The Frog Prince magically transforms into a handsome prince. In the original Grimm version of the story, the frog’s spell was broken when the princess threw it against the wall, while in modern versions the transformation is triggered by the princess kissing the frog.[5]

In other early versions, it was sufficient for the frog to spend the night on the princess’ pillow.[6]

The frog prince also has a loyal servant named Henry (or Harry) who had three iron bands affixed around his heart to prevent it from breaking in his sadness over his master’s curse. When the frog prince transforms into his human form Henry’s overwhelming happiness causes all three bands to break, freeing his heart from its bonds.[7]

Marian Rae Salyer. December 1, 1922 December 6, 2005. A memorial service will be held on Monday, Dec. 12, 2005, at 2 P.M. for Marian Rae Salyer, age 83, at the Community Church of the Monterey Peninsula. Marian was the daughter of Mildred and Ray Mahaffey, and was raised in Chicago, Illinois by her loving parents Mildred and H.R. “Bud” Bollman. She was a graduate of Stephen’s College in Columbia, MO, and later became a registered nurse having attended St. Luke’s Hospital School of Nursing. Marian brought love and joy to every life she touched and will be sadly missed by her family and many friends in Pebble Beach, the San Joaquin Valley and the Palm Desert area. Marian’s survivors, include her husband of 56 years, Fred Salyer of Corcoran; daughters, Christine Salyer and Linda Lee of Fresno; son, Scott Salyer of Pebble Beach; grandchildren: John Lee, Patrick Van Wyk and his wife, Kim, Traci Van Wyk, Noelle Van Wyk and Stefanie and Caroline Salyer, and her constant little companion, “Mac”. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be to: Beacon House, 468 Pine Avenue, Pacific Grove, CA 93950 or to your favorite charity. Arrangements are under the direction of The Paul Mortuary in Pacific Grove.Mark AraxLos Angeles Times

AFTER 70 YEARS OF rivalry, the world’s largest cotton grower is buying out another California dynasty.

CORCORAN, Calif. – The Boswells and Salyers, two of the richest and most powerful farming families in America, have ended decades of rivalry and rancor over their California empires with a huge land deal in which one colossus will swallow the other.

Fred Salyer, 72, has agreed to sell his cotton and grain empire – an estimated 25,000 acres of fertile San Joaquin Valley soil – to J.G. Boswell for tens of millions of dollars, according to business associates.

The two men themselves aren’t talking about the deal that would end one of the most protracted family feuds in California history.

Salyer confirmed the sale, effective March 1, in a terse letter to city and county officials. Boswells and Salyers have been fighting over control of this part of the state since their forebears – “The Colonel” and “The Cockeye” – first squared off in the early 1920s.

In this two-company cotton town, where most everyone’s bread is buttered by Boswell or by Salyer but rarely by both, it was always thought that too much venom and pride stood between the two clans for any such deal. But over the past decade, as his fortunes waned, Salyer grew more open to overtures.

Last week, on the heels of another disappointing crop for Salyer, James Boswell II, the largest cotton grower in the world, traveled from Los Angeles to meet with Salyer.

Salyer wanted to sell only part of his empire, sources said, but soon everything was on the table. Boswell sealed the deal with a sum that, by some accounts, exceeded $26 million. “It’s the end of a long chapter,” said Corcoran Mayor Jon Rachford.

Few small towns in the country boast so many millions with so little flaunting of wealth. Perhaps that shyness has something to do with the federally subsidized water that for decades has flowed the cotton giants’ way, and the paper games that both land barons have played to get around the law that limits acreage of farmers who get that water.

The town itself has nothing but pride, proclaiming to visitors in bold letters: “Welcome to the Farming Capital of California.”

It is no idle boast. Boswell is not only the world’s largest cotton grower but America’s largest grower of wheat and seed alfalfa.

Such abundance is a testament to the vision and guile of two pioneers of California agriculture: Col. James Boswell, a military and cotton man driven out of Georgia by the boll weevil; and a Virginia hillbilly named Clarence Salyer who skinned mules and bore the cruel epithet “Cockeye” for a fake eye.

Vision was needed because this land, in wet years, was at the bottom of the largest body of fresh water west of the Mississippi – the Tulare Lake. In dry years, the land could sustain any and all row crops.

Guile was needed because the trick was to control the water.

The fight over water and politics often required one to subvert the other. A half-century later, both patriarchs dead, the battle raged on.Louis Warren, W. Turrentine Jackson professor of Western U.S. history at the University of California at DavisCHICAGO TRIBUNE

The King of California: J.G. Boswell and the Making of a Secret American Empire

By Mark Arax and Rick Wartzman

PublicAffairs, 558 pages, $30

California. The word brings to mind beaches, Hollywood, Disneyland, even colossal redwoods–but seldom cotton. In fact, in a state where farms are so big and modern that their owners call themselves growers rather than farmers, cotton growers are the biggest of all. And one of them, Jim Boswell, was the biggest grower in the world until his recent retirement. “The King of California” is his biography. It is also the story of the San Joaquin Valley, just over the low coastal mountains north of Los Angeles, where Boswell cotton spreads over 300 square miles.

Journalistic exposes of grower greed are a staple in California. For decades, the spectacle of dirt-poor migrants toiling for San Joaquin Valley land barons has inspired numerous social critics, most famously John Steinbeck in his classic novel “The Grapes of Wrath.” But Mark Arax and Rick Wartzman, reporter and business editor, respectively, at the Los Angeles Times, a Tribune Co. paper, have no truck with Steinbeck or his ilk, an “angry pack of agrarians” who have portrayed big agriculture as “a single-dimension bad guy” without ever interviewing “a single big farmer.” If their mission is to trace the career of California’s most successful farmer and his international “secret empire” of real estate and agriculture, they claim their interests are less reformist than investigative. How, they ask, has the valley become so dominated by such a powerful few? And if its farms are so rich, why are the towns so poor?

For all the authors’ protests, these questions certainly sound like the same ones that “angry pack of agrarians” asked all those years ago. Much of their search for answers is devoted to lively corporate and family history. Boswell Co. was founded by Lt. Col. James G. Boswell, who learned the cotton business in his native Georgia before relocating to California in the 1920s. With venture capital from Cecil B. DeMille and other southern California investors, Boswell and several other growers crafted a new landscape that resembled the South in some ways (huge plantations and plenty of racism) but was more modern in its dependence on vast sums of capital and technology (in recent years, Boswell technicians used laser-guided scrapers networked to global-positioning satellites to level their cotton fields prior to planting for ease of harvesting). Boswell’s farm long kept pace with California agriculture, which has advanced through accumulation of vast acreages, relentless pursuit of intensive mechanization, devotion to applied chemistry (fertilizers and pesticides) and a preference for near-powerless migrant workers.

Indeed, Boswell’s early dominance came as much through political mastery as business savvy. Family members spent less time on the farm than in the exclusive neighborhoods of Pasadena, where they built lasting alliances. Boswell eventually married Ruth Chandler, daughter of the Los Angeles Times-owning Chandlers, the most powerful family in southern California. The Boswell political reach grew long indeed.

In 1850, the land that was fated to become California’s cotton kingdom had been under water. Each spring, snowmelt rushed from the Sierra Nevada into the San Joaquin. There it recharged the abundant breeding grounds and habitat of birds, fish and clams in Tulare Lake, the biggest body of fresh water west of the Mississippi River. Early efforts to drain the lake and turn the land to agriculture culminated in the 1930s, when the Boswells and neighboring growers persuaded federal authorities that the lake was a flood, which officials then checked with a taxpayer-funded dam.

The effort has never been wholly successful. Even now, in wet years, parts of the lake briefly return. Jim Boswell, nephew of Boswell Co.’s founder, took advantage of the situation after he assumed control in 1952. He bought out competitors who could not sustain the fight against the resurgent lake, and as he expanded his valley holdings to monster size, he diversified into numerous other businesses. He sold unprofitable Arizona cotton fields to developer Del Webb, then partnered with him to build Sun City, the nation’s first retirement community. He bent Australian laws against foreign ownership to consolidate a 60,000-acre cotton spread. Back in California, the company finally prevailed in a 50-year congressional fight to gut federal laws that would have broken up the farm and reduced the Boswell latifundia to a yeomanly 160 acres.

This is a great story, but the authors’ devotion to the growers’ perspective is a tricky proposition. The book’s most persistent witness to the valley’s history is Jim Boswell himself, a charismatic figure whose capacity for distortion is suggested in his claim, early in the book, that there has never been any significant black presence in the town of Corcoran, where Boswell Co. is based. In fact, there were once four black churches in the town, and Arax and Wartzman provide a remarkable history of the area’s black and Mexican labor camps and communities, much of it drawn from their own interviews. Similar discrepancies between Boswell’s version of the past and the authors’ interpretation energize the book with a constant sense of revelation and intrigue, the uncovering of the secret American empire promised in the book’s subtitle.

But, played out over more than 400 pages of text, the continual scramble to correct or fill in Boswell’s distortions and half-truths seems to exhaust the authors. Nowhere is their simultaneous effort to cajole and critique the growers more troubling than in their account of Boswell’s neighbor, Clarence Salyer, a transplanted Virginian who careers through the book trailing mistresses, fist fights, drunken car wrecks and family feuds. For all Salyer’s failings, his “savage temper and rascal ways” met locally with a “willingness to forgive” that was “almost universal.”

The folksy synopsis of Salyer’s career sits uneasily near the end of a book whose early chapters include an astounding revelation. On Oct. 10, 1933, Clarence Salyer was in a crowd of growers confronting a peaceful picket line, when somebody opened fire on the strikers. Two workers were shot down in cold blood. While there were indictments, nobody was convicted of the crime. But, as Arax and Wartzman discover, Salyer was convinced he had killed somebody. He returned home that day with his gun, which he melted down in the coal forge in back of his house.

Salyer’s escape from possible punishment might be ascribed less to the goodwill of his neighbors than to his wealth and power. His fortune was second only to Jim Boswell’s. He kept a local constable on his payroll. It is to the authors’ credit that they uncover Salyer’s involvement in a long-unsolved murder. But the resort to local color veers toward whitewash when they dismiss Salyer as a “rascal” and his untouchability as “forgiveness.”

By book’s end, though, even the most powerful of California’s growers seems to be on the verge of becoming an anachronism. Competition from Chinese cotton makes Boswell’s fields ever-less economical. Just over the hill, thirsty Los Angeles promises top dollar for Boswell water, which may be their next commodity. A neighboring grower has already foregone cotton to compost sewage for the City of Angels, a service that brings in millions of dollars a year and obviates the need (or ability) to grow any kind of crop at all.

This may not be such a bad thing. Arax and Wartzman may want no part of that “angry pack of agrarians,” but by the book’s end they sound a lot like them. Cotton farming has all but destroyed the valley’s great wetlands. The spray of pesticide makes the whole basin smell “like rotten flesh,” and dire residues and runoff cause horrendous mutations in the remnant flocks of egrets, ducks and other waterfowl.

The region’s people have not done well either. Jim Boswell is a philanthropic man who has funded college scholarships, a park and a YMCA in Corcoran. He paid his workers well. And yet, precious little of Boswell Co.’s immense wealth flows downstream. The highly mechanized company produces fewer jobs than ever, and town residents are desperate. In the 1990s they agreed to host a new high-security prison. Nonetheless, their community remains a slough of despond. Unemployment hovers above 15 percent, gangs murder to control the drug trade, and the teen pregnancy rate is higher than Haiti’s. It is a sad contrast to neighboring towns like Kerman and Kingsburg, where a preponderance of smaller farmers have produced a persistent middle class and viable downtowns.

In the end, then, Arax and Wartzman’s careful research and sharp analysis of the local scene correct Boswell’s many distortions. For readers seeking a weave of corporate history, family biography and insight into the devil’s bargain Americans have made with big agriculture, there is no more colorful a tale than “The King of California.”.Jim Boswell built the state’s first giant agribusiness, swaying water and land policy.(Matt Black / Public Affairs Books)By  Jerry HirschApril 7, 200912 AM

James G. Boswell II, the intensely private businessman who transformed his family’s cotton holdings into California’s first giant agribusiness and one of the nation’s great farming empires, has died. He was 86.

Boswell died of natural causes Friday at his home in Indian Wells, Calif., according to a statement from the family.

As head of the family-owned J.G. Boswell Co., Boswell ran a company that has dominated California cotton growing for generations and has used its clout to influence land- and water-resource policy throughout much of the state.

He was just 29 when he inherited the company following the death of his uncle J.G. Boswell, the family patriarch. Over the next half-century, he transformed the business and more than tripled the size of the family farm, which peaked about 200,000 acres and now spans 150,000 in the San Joaquin Valley town of Corcoran. Boswell’s labs created new, more productive seeds. Technological improvements to his gins boosted their capacity to 400 bales of cotton a day — enough to produce 840,000 pairs of boxer shorts, according to a 2003 Times article.

Historians and agriculture economists credit Boswell with creating the template for large agribusiness concerns.

The Boswell business remains one of the world’s top sellers of “the extra-long staple cotton that goes into fabric blends and both soft and high-end apparel,” said Don Villarejo, director emeritus of the California Institute for Rural Studies in Davis.

“His legacy is quite impressive,” said Villarejo. “He was a brilliant business leader beloved by many of his employees. At the same time, his company was able to be ahead of and often acquire his chief farming competitors.”

Boswell also was legendary for using a combination of political clout and legal strategy “to outwit many of the environmental groups that have tried to restrict water deliveries to California agriculture,” Villarejo said.

He was an innovative water user, one of the first to employ lasers to level fields so that water flowed evenly and efficiently, said Richard Howitt, an agriculture economist at UC Davis.

Careful water management, including employing agronomists to determine when and how to water, allowed Boswell’s farms to produce more cotton with less water than competitors, Howitt said. Many of his techniques were later adopted by other farms.

But even during this period of growth and success for the enterprise, which included diversification into tomatoes and other crops, real estate development and farming in distant Australia, Boswell remained an intensely private man at the head of an intensely private family business.

rare 1999 interview with two now-former Los Angeles Times writers gave outsiders a sense of Boswell’s character.

For years staff writer Mark Arax and business editor Rick Wartzman had attempted to meet the cotton patriarch. But each letter and call was rejected. The two were writing “The King of California: J.G. Boswell and the Making of a Secret American Empire,” a book about the family’s cotton business, and they needed to talk to him. Finally he agreed.

J.G., as Boswell liked to be called, wanted to meet them on his land rather than in some sterile office. His intent was to show them that the business was only as good as its earth.

Boswell, the pair wrote, “wore a Cal Poly Ag hat tucked low, frayed khaki pants, a flannel shirt and Rockport shoes.”

“It was all part of an image that Boswell loved to play up. He had earned an economics degree at Stanford and sat on the board of General Electric and other big corporations, but he fancied himself a cowboy,” they wrote in a 2003 Times article.

Boswell attended the Thacher School, an exclusive private boarding school in Ojai, graduating in 1941.

He served in the Army during World War II in the South Pacific before graduating from Stanford in 1946. That’s where he met his first wife, Rosalind Murray. They raised their three children in Pasadena, far from the farm. She died in 2000.

The company remains headquartered in Pasadena.

Fancying himself a cowboy and living like a city boy, J.G. proved to be a complex figure. When he reached out to shake the writers’ hands, they noticed the missing fingers on his right hand, the result of a cattle-roping accident.

They jumped into an aged Chevy truck for a tour of his holdings. The writers said they traveled half a day and 150 miles but never left the farm. When they asked Boswell how much land he really owned, he responded, “What are you, a tax collector?”

“I’m the bad guy in agriculture because I’m big,” he said later. “I’m not going to try to fight it. I can’t change an image and say, ‘Well, I’m righteous and good and all that.’ But I’m telling you . . . I’m not going to apologize for our size.”

Wartzman, now director of the Drucker Institute at Claremont Graduate University, said he was sad to learn of Boswell’s death.

“He was an immensely complicated guy, someone who knew every inch of his land but whose company did some pretty awful things to the land,” Wartzman said. “It is just hard to farm in an environmentally sound manner at that scale.”

The company used its political clout to encourage the building of the Pine Flat Dam to shut the flow of water to Tulare Lake, which at one point was the largest freshwater lake west of the Mississippi River. The drained lake bed is now farmland, located at the heart of Boswell’s sprawling enterprise.

Boswell was born March 10, 1923, in Greensboro, Ga., the son of William Whittier Boswell Sr. and Kate Hall Boswell, and moved west with his parents and his uncles.

He was named after his uncle J.G. Boswell, who married Ruth Chandler, the daughter of Los Angeles Times Publisher and real estate baron Harry Chandler.

With no children of his own, J.G. Boswell picked his nephew to take control of the company he had founded in 1921 with the help of his brothers.

In the early 1980s, Boswell and the company would spend $1 million to defeat the Peripheral Canal, a system proposed to move water to Southern California. He thought it would hurt farming interests.

During the same period, Boswell helped farmers outflank state and game regulators and pump water from excessive snowmelt into the north fork of the Kings River. The move prevented farmland from flooding but also introduced the nonnative predatory white bass into the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta.

At times profane, Boswell liked to be in control. For many years his company extended its influence throughout the San Joaquin Valley by lending money to other growers.

He served as chairman, president and chief executive of the company from 1952 until his retirement in 1984. He remained on the company’s board of directors until his death. His son James W. Boswell now runs the business.

In addition to his son, he is survived by his wife, Barbara Wallace Boswell; daughters Jody Hall and Lorraine Wilcox; and five grandchildren.

A memorial service is planned for April 22 at 1 p.m. at the Corcoran High School Memorial Stadium.

https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2003/11/10/the-king-of-california

https://www.c-span.org/video/?192249-13/the-king-california

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_G._Boswell_II

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Griffin_Boswell

John Presco Married Mary Ann Tharaldsen

Posted on December 8, 2020 by Royal Rosamond Press

I married Mary Ann Tharaldsen, the ex-wife of Academy Award Winner, David Seidler, who is also in my family tree, along with Rick Partlow who marred my sister, Christine Rosamond Benton, who was married to the muralist, Garth Benton. Partlow won a Grammy. A Cornell paper says Mary Ann was married to Thomas Pynchon and they lived in the Rockridge on College Avenue near where the Hippie Movement began. The Loading Zone played at the Open Theatre. Lead guitarist, Peter Shapiro, played at our wedding reception. A close friend lived nearby and he was asked to contribute to Oliver Stone’s movie. He was a good friend of Jim Morrison and Michael MacLure who taught poetry across the street from the Art College.

My family were San Francisco Pioneers. Mary Ann’s father came from Norway. My step-daughter, Britt Baumback Murray will be in my family tree. Mary Ann is wearing Marilyn Reed’s ‘Train Dree’ that my sister Christine Rosamond Benton, wore, and Debbie Boone on the cover of her album. Mary Ann discovered the actor, Paul Drake, who played Mick in ‘Sudden Impact’. My friend, Bryan MacLean played at our wedding.

I still admire and love the only woman I married. She found me living and hiding in a little shack working on the fifty drawings of Atlantis. MA lived in Marin. My niece, Shannon Rosamond, read the bad movie script written about her mother. I’m going to use MA’s discovery of me in – our movie about a world famous artist. MA was raving about me, she saying my drawing were worthy of a Master’s Dissertation. She asked me if I was a member of Mensa?

I was blown away when twelve year old Britt showed me her written code after beating the Mother May I machine. I hope our new President will revitalize Gifted Children programs. Britt chose to go to my old school, McCheznie, verses the all white private school in SF. My Stuttmeister-Broderick kin had a house and small farm down the street. Gertrude Stein was a neighbor. I was very proud of my step-daughter for this stellar choice. Our black maid lived nearby and would take Christine home with her on the weekends to stay with the Sisters. At the reception MA danced with my nephew, Cian, when he was about nine. He is ‘The Garden Child’ I did a life-size drawing of MA who did a life-size painting of her good friend, Mimi Farina. I wish I had found time to do a painting of Britt and Mary Ann. Perhaps I will.

After our divorce, I moved downstairs. I remained good friends with MA. One day Britt brought her black girlfriend down to meet me, and show me their cornrow hairdos they just did. I should have become a photographer – along time ago. Her father had her going to the most exclusive private school in SF so she could meet the children of the rich. There had been a legal matter. Looking at these two beauties, was the happy outcome. These beautiful lessons continue to be the highlight of Bay Area History.

It occurs to me why I did not take up photography. I was afraid of becoming a commercial success like my sister, who is depicted as being deluded in saying her gallery ripped her off for millions; when in truth, they only ripped her for $50,000 a year. In this court matter, it never occurred to me me to use Rosamond as a character reference. I just now realize she was the kind of person Mr. Baumbach wanted his daughter to mingle with. The Benton’s were friends of the Getty family. The hut in this painting is more my style. I did this when I was seventeen from memory of the mudflats off the entrance of the Bay Bridge. It is rumored Pynchon lived here. You could only walk to this shack during a special low-tide. How perfect for your average recluse. Note the pier is broken, thus, there is no access to the Recluse, this way. Money can’t buy seclusion like this, because it is……a state of mind. Stoke the potbelly stove. Cue the rain!

John Presco

President: Royal Rosamond Press

(2) Cue The Rain – YouTube

Our Home On Miles | Rosamond Press

Christine Rosamond Partlow | Rosamond Press

BEAF | Rosamond Press

Black Mask Authors | Rosamond Press

Britt Baumbach Murray | Facebook

Mary A Presco

 in the California, Divorce Index, 1966-1984VIEW

Name:Mary A Presco
Spouse Name:John G
Location:Alameda
Date:24 Mar 1980

Mary Ann was married to

Name:David Seidler
Gender:Male
Marriage License Date:1961
Marriage License Place:Brooklyn, New York City, New York, USA
Spouse:Mary Ann Tharaldsen
License Number:4200

Two of Pynchon’s Cornell friends, his future girlfriend Tharaldsen and her then-husband, David ­Seidler, had moved to Seattle and encouraged Pynchon to join them. Tharaldsen says Pynchon arrived “depressed—very down.” She worked for Boeing, and hooked him up with a job writing technical copy for their in-house guide, Bomarc Service News. The aerospace giant was just then developing the Minuteman, a nuclear-capable missile that likely inspired Pynchon, years later, to cast Germany’s World War II–era V-2 rocket as the screaming menace of Gravity’s Rainbow.

UG. 25, 2013

On the Thomas Pynchon Trail: From the Long Island of His Boyhood to the ‘Yupper West Side’ of His New Novel

By Boris Kachka

Then: Pynchon, age 16, in his 1953 high-school yearbook, one of the few known photos of the author. Photo: Getty

Let’s get a few things straight. First of all, it’s pronounced “Pynch-ON.” Second, the great and bewildering and, yes, very private novelist is not exactly a recluse. In select company, he’s intensely social and charismatic, and, in spite of those famously shaming Bugs Bunny teeth, he was rarely without a girlfriend for the 30 years he spent wandering and couch-surfing before getting married in 1990. Today, he’s a yuppie—self-confessed, if you read his new novel, Bleeding Edge, as a key to the present life of a man whose travels led one critic to reflect: “Salinger hides; Pynchon runs.” Now Pynchon hides in plain sight, on the Upper West Side, with a family and a history of contradictions: a child of the postwar Establishment determined to reject it; a postmodernist master who’s called himself a “classicist”; a workaholic stoner; a polymath who revels in dirty puns; a literary outsider who’s married to a literary agent; a scourge of capitalism who sent his son to private school and lives in a $1.7 million prewar classic six.

Other high-serious contemporaries, like Don DeLillo and Cormac McCarthy, have avoided most publicity out of a conviction that their work should stand apart, and they’ve largely succeeded; no one stakes them out with telephoto lenses, and everyone takes their reticence as proof of their stature. But ­Pynchon, by truly going the countercultural distance—running farther, fighting harder, and writing wilder—has crafted a more slippery persona. He doesn’t just challenge his fans; he pranks them, dares them to find out what he’s really about (or maybe just to stop exalting Important Writers in the first place). He’s said he wants to “keep scholars busy for several generations,” but ­Pynchon academics, deprived of any scrap of history, find themselves turned into stalkers.* The more he flees, the more we want—even now that, at 76, he’s just another local writer you wouldn’t recognize on the street. Though likely you have heard the rumors: He was the Unabomber; he was CIA; he wrote ornery letters to the editor at a small-town newspaper in character as a bag lady. In 1976, a writer named John Calvin Batchelor wrote a long essay arguing that Pynchon didn’t exist and J. D. Salinger had written all the novels. Two decades later, Batchelor and Pynchon published stories on the same page of the newsletter of New York’s Cathedral School, which both their children attended. Their bylines were side by side: “John is a novelist”; “Tom is a writer.”

Tom is quite a writer. He’s been credited, justly, with perfecting encyclopedic postmodernism in his third novel, Gravity’s Rainbow, as well as in other kaleidoscopic epics and a few books he’d call potboilers and others would call the minor work of a giant. Bleeding Edge, out in September, is a love-hate letter to the New York City of a dozen years ago, when Internet 1.0 gave way to the fleeting traumas of September 11. It takes place partly on Long Island—where he was raised—but largely on what his detective heroine knows as “The Yupper West Side.” And it’s a book about something he’s never really addressed before: home.

Batchelor and Pynchon probably know each other by now (though neither has answered interview requests). But their first point of contact was a note Pynchon wrote in response to that original article, postmarked from Malibu and written, curiously, on MGM stationery. “Some of it is true,” Pynchon wrote of the story, “but none of the interesting parts. Keep trying.”

Early on in Gravity’s RainbowTyrone Slothrop muses bitterly on his old-money roots. “Shit, money, and the Word, the three American truths, powering the American mobility, claimed the Slothrops, clasped them for good to the country’s fate. But they did not prosper … about all they did was persist.” It sounds like an ungenerous rendering of the Pynchons, one of those Wasp lineages whose historical prominence leaves their ancestors with a burdened inheritance. For a would-be writer with his own stubborn ideas, it was a source of pride and shame.

The name goes back to Pinco de Normandie, who came to En­gland at the side of William the Conqueror, and carries on through Thomas Ruggles Pynchon, the author’s great-great-uncle, president of Trinity College and the first Pynchon to take issue with the family’s portrayal by another writer (Nathaniel Hawthorne, who wrote of the “Pyncheons” in The House of the Seven Gables). Thinkers, surveyors, and religious mavericks, the House of Pynchon had settled into middle-class respectability by the time this Thomas Ruggles Pynchon was born near Oyster Bay, Long Island, in 1937.

His father, Thomas Sr., remembered saluting fellow congregant Teddy Roosevelt at church, and remained a staunch Republican along with most of Long Island’s mid-century Establishment. Eisenhower was their man, and the growing white suburbs of postwar New York their constituency. Thomas Sr. went into engineering like his own father but wound up, for a time, in politics. He was Oyster Bay’s superintendent of highways and then, briefly, town supervisor (the equivalent of mayor), until he was accused of complicity in a scheme to overpay a road-­surfacing company. At a hearing during his campaign, Pynchon Sr. admitted to taking gifts. “I received some poinsettias and I managed to keep one alive,” he told his accuser, “and it will give me great pleasure to put one on your political grave.” Instead he lost, giving way to the town’s first Democratic supervisor in 32 years. His son was out of the house by then, but he’d seen enough of small-town, big-boss politics to float “The Republican Party Is a Machine” as an alternate title for his first novel, V. A family friend remembers the Pynchons, in their simple frame house, as “a very bookish family” with a large library to complement the ancestral portraits. On Sundays, the three children would split off between churches—­Episcopalian for Dad, Catholic for Mom (a nurse from upstate)—and reassemble later at Rothmann’s Steak House.

Tom was lanky and unathletic, with protruding teeth that embarrassed him. He stuttered, too, and felt a kinship with Porky Pig. But that same friend ascribes some of ­Pynchon’s “social behavior issues” to his “very dysfunctional family”—without elaborating. Pynchon himself almost never talked about his parents, especially in his earlier years. But one afternoon in the mid-sixties, he and his then-girlfriend, Mary Ann Tharaldsen, were driving through Big Sur when she complained of nausea. She wanted to stop at a bar and have a shot to settle her stomach. According to Tharaldsen, he exploded, telling her he would not tolerate midday drinking. When she asked why, he told her he’d seen his mother, after drinking,  accidentally puncture his father’s eye with a clothespin. It was the only time, says Tharaldsen, who lived with him, that he ever mentioned his family. “He was disconnected from them,” she says. “There seems to have been something not good there.”

A voracious reader and precocious writer, the young Pynchon skipped two grades, probably before high school, and channeled his suburban alienation into clever parodies of authority. He wrote a series of fictional columns under pseudonyms in his high-school paper in which teachers used drugs, shot off guns, and were driven insane by student pranks. In one story, a leftist agitator “got acquainted with the business end of a night stick the hard way.” Pynchon later recalled that his first “honest-to-God” story was about World War II—though in his recollection it doubled as a plan for how to navigate the stultifying culture of postwar America. “Idealism is no good,” he summarized. “Any concrete dedication to an abstract condition results in unpleasant things like wars.”

Now? A speculative rendering of the novelist today. Photo: Bobby Doherty/New York Magazine

Engineering physics, the hardest program at Cornell, was meant to supply Cold War America with its elites—the best and the brightest, junior league. One professor called its students “intellectual supermen”; Pynchon’s old friend David ­Shetzline remembers them as “the slide-rule boys.” But after less than two years in the major, Pynchon left Cornell in order to enlist in another Cold War operation, the Navy. He once wrote that ­calculus was “the only class I ever failed,” but he’s always used self-deprecation to deflect inquiries, and professors ­remembered universally good grades. Tharaldsen says she saw Pynchon’s IQ score, somewhere in the 190s. So why would he leave? He wrote much later about feeling in college “a sense of that other world humming out there”—a sense that would surely nag him from one city to another for the rest of his life. He was also in thrall to Thomas Wolfe and Lord Byron. Most likely he wanted to follow their examples, to experience adventure at ground level and not from the command centers.

Although he did come out of the Navy with the tales of bumbling and debauchery that animate V., Pynchon didn’t make much of an impression himself. Stephen Tomaske, a librarian who spent decades tracking his life, found only a couple of old shipmates who’d even known his name. “It’s my sense,” he mused to one of them, “that when you’d stop in Barcelona and the sailors would go to bars and whorehouses, he’d go to see a death cast of Chopin’s hands.” Everything was a curiosity to him, and Pynchon later wrote that his time abroad during the Suez crisis turned him “from a Romantic into kind of a classicist,” which he defined as a writer who thought “other people were more interesting than I was and therefore better to write about.” His Navy-era friends told me that he didn’t plan on going back to school, but he did—this time to study English.

“I thought he was a little weird,” says Pynchon’s Cornell friend Kirkpatrick Sale. “He stayed by himself most of the time.” But the goateed introvert came out for a beer once in a while, and noodled around on a guitar. He and Sale began writing an operetta, called “Minstrel Island,” about a land to which artists escaped from a square America ruled by IBM. “That gray-flannel-suit world was very much our future,” Sale says, “and we wanted of course to avoid it.” The goofy, unfinished musical was a precursor to Pynchon’s grand project—charting the fantasies and fears of individuals fleeing an all-consuming machine (Republican, electronic, whatever). Like Pynchon, these figures generally begin as straight arrows—Slothrop the military Wasp; The Crying of Lot 49’s Oedipa Maas coming home from a Tupperware party—insiders forced out by awful visions they never asked to see.

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.

Fariña’s one novel, Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up to Me, would transform those years into a Beat romp, the kind of mythopoetic veiled autobiography Pynchon resisted. But he’d blurb his friend’s book as “a joy from beginning to end … like the Hallelujah Chorus done by 200 kazoo players with perfect pitch.” And he saw its value as the document of a generation. It was the bildungsroman of his Cornell circle—a group, raised to inherit the Establishment, who built the hippie generation instead.

After graduating near the top of his class, Pynchon declined a teaching fellowship but immediately applied for a Ford Foundation grant to write opera librettos. Perhaps it’s the sheer hubris of the application, which didn’t even propose a specific project, that led him, decades later, to suppress it—or the fact that it was part of a dream life that didn’t pan out. The 22-year-old’s competition included Robert Lowell and Richard Wilbur. While admitting he’d published only two stories (though boasting he had sold a third and been very well reviewed in the campus paper), Pynchon described his literary development with astonishing self-confidence: “a Tom Wolfe period, a Scott Fitzgerald period, a Byron period … a Henry James period, a Nelson Algren period, a Faulkner period,” and so on. He suggested he could make a libretto out of science-fiction stories, maybe Ray Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles. (Pynchon grew up on the genre.) He had doubts about his lyrical talents, though “I have this guitar on which I occasionally kill time making up rock ‘n’ roll lyrics.” As for where he’d like to work, “Chicago is where my girl goes to school.”

That girl and that fellowship may have presented, for Pynchon, an opportunity for a middle-class life—steady income, a wife, a starter home. Toward the end of school, he’d gotten into a serious relationship with Lilian Laufgraben. They might have married, but her parents disapproved of her dating anyone who wasn’t Jewish. Jules Siegel, in a 1977 Playboy exposé on his ex-friend Tom, got her name wrong (possibly on purpose) as “Ellen Landgraben,” and until now only close friends knew her real name. In 1962, Laufgraben married a psychiatrist. (Today they live not far from Pynchon, but refuse to discuss the connection.) Pynchon gave the breakup as a reason to skip Kirk Sale’s New York wedding to a mutual friend, Faith, who edited early drafts of V. Lilian, he wrote, was getting married to “a nice safe Reformed-temple medical student from her hometown, and this is enough to blight the entire area for me.” A mutual friend, C. Michael Curtis, believes that the nose-job interlude in V., in which Jewish princess Esther is graphically carved up, was Pynchon’s “way of exorcising his angry feeling about losing her.”

Waiting on both Lilian and the Ford Foundation, Pynchon crashed on friends’ foam pads in New York, spending his days writing and his nights sampling the beatnik fantasy, seeing Ornette Coleman and “nursing the two-beer minimum.” (He tried pot once and hated it—for the time being.) He didn’t get the grant, but Lippincott editor Cork Smith accepted Pynchon’s story “Low-Lands” for an anthology and offered to buy his novel-in-progress. Candida Donadio, a fiercely loyal and supportive agent Pynchon had gotten through a professor at Cornell, secured $1,500 for it—$500 up front. Pynchon used the money to skip town.

Two of Pynchon’s Cornell friends, his future girlfriend Tharaldsen and her then-husband, David ­Seidler, had moved to Seattle and encouraged Pynchon to join them. Tharaldsen says Pynchon arrived “depressed—very down.” She worked for Boeing, and hooked him up with a job writing technical copy for their in-house guide, Bomarc Service News. The aerospace giant was just then developing the Minuteman, a nuclear-capable missile that likely inspired Pynchon, years later, to cast Germany’s World War II–era V-2 rocket as the screaming menace of Gravity’s Rainbow. (One of the joys of tracking Pynchon is tracing the far-flung interconnections in his work to unlikely real-world experiences—dating an NSA worker; seeing Charles de Gaulle in Mexico; fooling around on a primitive music synthesizer in 1972.)

One colleague remembered Pynchon as ornery and solitary on the job. But he managed to turn in V. eighteen months after signing the contract, meeting his own arbitrary deadline on the nose. After a few months of intense editing by mail, he used the $1,000 to quit his job at Boeing, vowing never to work for a corporation again. He called it his “escape money,” and he wanted to make it last—by running again, this time to Mexico.

His alienation had begun to coalesce into a worldview. Pynchon had written to the Sales that Seattle “is a nightmare. If there were no people in it it would be beautiful.” In his next letter, he complained that a group of “ten more or less individuals” at Boeing, “assembled in a conference room … turned into something else: The Magazine.” His letters, like his books, brim with the tension between individuals and groups, between intense curiosity and hopeless disillusionment. For much of his life he would flee crowds and cities, dipping a toe into cultures and communities and then leaving and skewering them in turn. (Friends describe him, in person as on the page, as an incomparable mimic.) Only rarely do we see him ask himself why—as when the Sales, later, pressed him on whether he hated Mexico, too. “What I hate is inside, not outside,” he wrote back, “a kind of deathwish I never knew I had.

In his few public pronouncements, Pynchon has reacted to the term recluse with either defiant denial (“ ‘Recluse’ is a code word generated by journalists … meaning, doesn’t like to talk to reporters,” he told CNN) or self-mockery (“Get your picture taken with a reclusive author!” he yelled to passing traffic on The ­Simpsons). He did experiment with the condition in Mexico, but he wasn’t cut out for the Salinger school of reclusion; he was too restless for that. A “dedicated sucker” for fictional chase scenes, he seemed to need them in real life, too, whether he was the pursuer or the pursued.

Published in early 1963, V. was a shockingly polymorphous novel for its time, focused on two protagonists: Benny Profane, who bounces around passively like the yo-yo that recurs throughout; and Herbert Stencil, who’s on an epic quest for the elusive, hidden order represented by the title, V.

Pynchon was nominated for a National Book Award, won a Faulkner First Novel prize, and was hounded by the press. In a letter to the Sales, he recounted his escape from two Time/Life reporters in Mexico City with a mix of pain and exhilaration. He happened to be out; his landlady told them “she didn’t know nothing, and go away”; he hid out in a motel over the weekend; later he retrieved his stuff and fled for Guanajuato. He suspected that “Lippinfink” was responsible. “So like please, please,” he concluded, “help me stay under cover.”

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.”

Tharaldsen hated L.A., and decided to go back to school in Berkeley. “I thought they were unserious sort of beach people—lazy bums! But Tom didn’t care because he was inside all day and writing all night.” At the moment, eager to break with his publisher, Lippincott (and rejoin Cork Smith, since departed to Viking), he saw Lot 49 as a quickie “potboiler” meant to break his option with the house—forcing them to either reject it, liberating him, or pay him $10,000. They paid him, defying his own low opinion of it. In his introduction to Slow Learner, a later collection of his early stories, he’d write that with Lot 49, “I seem to have forgotten most of what I thought I’d learned up till then.” Now it’s required reading in college courses, a gateway drug to the serious stuff. Which, of course, was his next book: Gravity’s Rainbow.

On the day Fariña’s Been Down So Long  was published, the debut author went for a ride on the back of a motorcycle, crashed, and was killed. Pynchon, devastated, wrote to Mimi that Fariña had made him “more open to myself, to experience.” But in the wake of his friend’s death, he seemed only more determined to live purely for himself. By one account, he tried pot more seriously in Berkeley around 1965; it seems this time it took. Later in life, he was known to keep a simple sign up above his desk: ESCHEW SLOTH. Gravity’s Rainbow is evidence of his success, but in Manhattan Beach, sloth was never further than the surf two blocks from his one-bedroom apartment, or the next delivery of Panama Red, a potent brand of weed smuggled in by a paratrooper with PTSD.

The poet Bill Pearlman, who knew him in those days, once wrote that he “got the impression Pynchon wanted no part of the middle-class adult world”—that he “got more pleasure and information from the young, and was in some ways childlike himself.” There grew around Pynchon, by the beach, something that looks from the distance of years like a cult—a cult of privacy, at least, which paradoxically helped cement the legend of Tom the Recluse. “He was surrounded by a group of people that protected him fiercely,” says Jim Hall, a peripheral member, “and you either were accepted on some level or you were not.”

With his straggly hair and mustache and Army-surplus clothes, the writer who’d once resembled William Faulkner now looked more like Frank Zappa. For a while he took in a girlfriend, the young daughter of Phyllis Coates, TV’s original Lois Lane, and looked after her son, Ethan. “They huddled up in that little dump he lived in,” Coates remembers. “Tom was very good to Ethan.” There was lots of what was once called getting together and is now called hooking up. Among the women was Chrissie Jolly, the wife of Jules Siegel, which is why his Playboy exposé was titled “Who Is Thomas Pynchon … and Why Did He Take Off With My Wife?”

Siegel and Jolly wrote a short book about Pynchon, in which Jolly said he “could slip into any character he wanted. He was really crafty, methodical.” For good measure, she added, “He broke up more than one marriage, because he was too shy to find someone on his own.” Harsh as that may sound, Tharaldsen ­seconds it: “That seems to be his modus operandi,” she says. “He was very withdrawn, and the one way he could make connections with women would be through his friends … It’s a pattern.”

Gravity’s Rainbow, which begins with a missile screaming across the sky, ends not with a bang but with a dispersal, as the fugitive Slothrop disintegrates into fragments of character and plot. Pynchon, too, seemed to disperse in the wake of the novel, crisscrossing the country like one of his yo-yo protagonists. His work dwelled on individuals on the run from a totalizing government-industrial complex; now, impossible to locate for months at a time, he came to embody his own literary project. Pity, then, that his decade in the wilderness seemed to sap his productivity.

Cork Smith, reunited with Pynchon for Rainbow, cut only 100 out of 1,300 manuscript pages, but didn’t grasp it well enough to attempt any more. It was hailed anyway as a masterpiece—albeit the kind that’s much easier to buy than to finish. As if to burnish his outsider status, the Pulitzer jury chose it for the 1974 fiction prize but the larger committee rejected it as obscene. It did win a National Book Award, which was given by Ralph Ellison to someone he thought might be Pynchon but who turned out to be absurdist comic Irwin Corey, sent by Viking with Pynchon’s approval, thanking the crowd with a string of malapropisms.

Pynchon might have been in the city at the time. From Manhattan Beach he’d followed friends up to pot-saturated Eureka, then crashed in New York. In a letter that winter to the Shetzlines, he vented his disenchantment with a city whose bohemian heyday was over. At the Village Gate, there was to be an “Impeachment Rally” against Nixon. “Why didn’t they have one in ’68?” he asked. He railed against the “third rate heads” of New York, the “dirty, desolate heart” of a declining empire, and the righteous proto-yuppie liberals better known as the “urban assholery.” He couldn’t “dig to live a ‘literary’ life no more.” He and a girlfriend might move “across the sea,” or maybe head back West. “Yes, it does sound like ‘aimless drifting,’ doesn’t it?”

In context, Pynchon’s cri de coeur wasn’t that of a radical but of an artist straddling a deep fissure in American life. His sixties friends had retreated into the California woods, the subject-to-be of a novel, Vineland, that he wouldn’t get it together to finish for seventeen years. His literary peers were assimilated into the “assholery” he disdained. A key word in Gravity’s Rainbow is preterite, which literally means bygone, but in Pynchon takes on the meaning of outside, oppressed, non-elite. And who was he?

“I think he withdrew and went to ground,” says Shetzline. “Had a kind of sit-down about where he stood with American cultural confusion. The middle was hard ground to hold … There was no going home.” Pynchon spoke of “riding the ’Hound”: taking a bus from town to town and always sitting in the back, watching the world with a thermos of coffee growing cold in his hand.

Occasionally he came out to visit the Shetzlines in rural Oregon. “I remember Pynchon on the horse I had,” Shetzline says. “He looked like Don Quixote.” Shetz­line’s ex-wife Mary Beal says he mostly stayed up late and watched TV. (Kirk Sale remembers his houseguest arguing with his kids over which cartoons to watch.) After crashing in their daughter’s room, Pynchon gave Beal an odd compliment: “People put me up in their kids’ rooms all the time, and hers is the first bed that doesn’t smell of urine.” The Shetzlines were part of an underground railroad for an author on the run. “He was just Mr. Mysterious,” she says.

Once, at a party out in the woods, a man they knew “outed Tom as a famous writer,” Beal recalls. “And of course nobody in the area reads literary novels—just a bunch of country folk … It mortified Tom to the point where he left the following day.” What could have been so mortifying? Beal thinks it had more to do with being unknown to a room full of people than it did with the one guy who was hounding him.

A Pynchon tracker has found at least one actual “hidey-hole” of his, as Shetzline calls it. Between 1976 and 1977, he spent more than a year in a neat but tiny redwood cabin in Trinidad, California, separated by 300 feet of trees from the lush, rocky shore of the Pacific. It’s deep in Humboldt County, the hippie paradise at the center of Vineland.

But that book wasn’t one of the two he was contracted by Viking to write. Those were Mason & Dixon, about the surveyors, and a never-written novel about an insurance adjuster flown in to Japan to assess the damage done by Godzilla. Viking had granted him a $1 million advance, beginning with $50,000 a year for three years. In his first experiment with reclusion, Pynchon had made do on $1,000 in Mexico; now he was living on a doctor’s salary in a glorified lean-to, years out from a finished book. Having eluded the media and the narcs but not his own paranoia, Pynchon had succeeded in eschewing the machine; now what about sloth?

It took the love of Pynchon’s life to flush him out of the wilderness and back to writing, family, and New York. Melanie Jackson was a sharp and ambitious young literary agent (“the prettiest girl in publishing,” remembers an editor) when she came to work for Candida Donadio. She was also a great-granddaughter of Teddy Roosevelt (Tom Sr.’s fellow churchgoer) and a granddaughter of a Supreme Court justice—a pedigreed Protestant from a town that neighbors Oyster Bay.

Like all good agents, Donadio had been the enabler of Pynchon’s life, the most important station on his underground railroad. Donadio told others Pynchon had been staying in Donadio’s apartment (platonically) when he began dating Jackson. A dispute between Jackson and Donadio resulted in Jackson’s leaving the agency in late 1981. Her first solo client was her boyfriend, Thomas Pynchon.

Together, the couple decided it was time to put out a collection of Pynchon’s early stories—something Cork Smith had brought up earlier to no avail. Smith offered $25,000, but the stories went to Little, Brown for $150,000, according to Smith, and Pynchon wrote an introduction that dismissed four of the five stories as “apprentice efforts.” On a basic level, it was another “option-breaker,” intended to preempt pirated stories and to give Jackson her first sale. (They took the other books away from Viking, too.) But it was also a reckoning with his earlier self, before the hiding and the running, the drugs and the block. He wrote of conflicting reactions brought on by looking back—to recoil or to rewrite—but “these two impulses have given way to one of those episodes of
middle-aged tranquillity, in which I now pretend to have reached a level of clarity about the young writer I was back then.”

Pynchon eased himself gradually, like a scuba diver, back to the surface of mainstream life. He spent a couple more years researching in California, but by the summer of 1988, when he won a $310,000 MacArthur “Genius” grant, he was reached through Jackson in New York (though the MacArthur Foundation had him listed as living in Boston at the time). Vineland came out two years later. A surprisingly accessible, loose, and goofy work about the last refuge of the left in the age of Reagan, it disappointed readers weaned on Pynchon’s dazzling complexity. David Foster Wallace was among the disenchanted. He wrote to Jonathan Franzen that Vineland was “heartbreakingly inferior” and that “I get the strong sense he’s spent twenty years smoking pot and watching TV.” He wasn’t terribly far off, but he missed something, too. His fallen hero had already transformed again, and thrown in his lot—if not exactly with the Reaganites, then certainly not with the shaggy pot-growers of Humboldt County.

Pynchon and Jackson married in 1990 and had a son—first name Jackson—a year later. Pynchon told friends he was seeing a lot more of his parents. His next novel, Mason & Dixon, had far more heft and wild invention than Vineland but sped along more briskly and powerfully than Gravity’s Rainbow. Embedded in it, too, was a far more sophisticated treatment of his American roots—the Pynchons were a long line of surveyors—than his portrait of the decrepit Slothrops. After that came Against the Day, a big and messy novelistic attack on capitalism, written by an author increasingly at peace with its comforts.

The onetime inhabitant of fleabag motels rented an apartment with his family on a major intersection of the Yupper West Side and went cautiously semi-­public. Pynchon had already begun writing for the New York Times: an essay in defense of Luddites; a review of Love in the Time of Cholera; a piece on his favorite deadly sin, sloth. Whereas in the past he’d mostly communicated with peers by letter or phone—calling Harlan Ellison “from time to time,” once to badger him to stop paying income taxes, but never giving the author his number—he now sat down for actual meals with Don DeLillo, Salman Rushdie, and Ian McEwan. When the struggling sitcom The John ­Larroquette Show floated a Pynchon story line, he agreed, so long as it didn’t portray his face and clad his fictional avatar in a Roky Erickson T-shirt. A decade later, he consented to appear on The Simpsons—mainly, he said, because his son was a fan. Showrunner Al Jean remembers a casual, mustachioed figure, son and wife in tow. They discussed private schools and kitchen renovations. Pynchon politely declined a photo-op: “I don’t usually take pictures.” He appeared twice during the show’s run, wearing a paper bag. The first time he didn’t alter a word, but for his ­second cameo he threw in a bonus pun: “The Frying of Latke 49.”

There’s an apparent randomness to his public excursions, but mostly they hinge on ordinary personal connections. Take his decision to write liner notes for—and then do an Esquire interview with—a pretty good indie-rock band called Lotion. Around the time his father died, in 1995, Pynchon went on an alumni tour of his old high school. He and Rob Youngberg, Lotion’s drummer, happened to be visiting the same music teacher. Dr. Luckenbill had taught them 25 years apart. Then Pynchon ran into Youngberg’s mother in an Oyster Bay bank, and she pressed Lotion’s new album on him. Pynchon dug it, and soon he was in their recording studio, taking notes and ­rattling off obscure facts about ribbon microphones.

“I just remember being amazed at how fluidly funny he was,” says Youngberg. His bandmate Bill Ferguson was copy chief at Esquire; the magazine pitched an interview, and, to everyone’s surprise, he agreed. The Q&A ran beneath text so strange Pynchon must have written it: “The reclusive novelist loves rock and roll, and its name is, well, Lotion. He wanted to play ukulele, so the band gave him an interview.” Ferguson was impressed by Pynchon’s knowledge, humor, and intensity—but also the skittish, mercurial quality of the interaction: “He’s somebody who just—you see him and he sees you. The thing I have in my head is Robert De Niro in Brazil. He knows the truth but he’s got to get out of here now: ‘Keep doing what you’re doing, I won’t be here long.’ ”

He wasn’t, but he’s stayed put in the city now for a quarter-century. The problem, for someone so deeply private, is that sooner or later the press catches up, as do letters made public by former friends—like ­Donadio and the Sales. On two occasions—the release of Donadio’s letters to the Morgan Library and the discovery of the Ford Foundation application—Pynchon’s lawyer and agent-wife reacted quickly to have them sealed. Pynchon has always fought publicity, but we look differently upon secrets held by the powerful, and Pynchon has grown powerful. Now that he benefits from mainstream fame, his self-­protection feels less political, more psychological.

“He writes what we’d call the imperial way,” says Kirk Sale, with whom Pynchon broke off contact after Sale talked to a reporter. “He creates a world and he has it operate as he wants it to operate. If it doesn’t, he doesn’t like it … So in that sense you can say that he wanted control over his own life as well as his own fiction.”

The last thing we should get straight about Thomas Pynchon is that, “classicism” aside, all of his books are in some way autobiographical. Inherent Vice, for instance, starring a perma-stoned “gum-sandal” detective, owed a lot to the characters Pynchon knew in Manhattan Beach. Maybe it speaks to his special fondness for the book—or just the bucket-list dreams of a movie-mad author—that it’s soon to become his first novel adapted for the screen. It’s currently being directed in L.A. by the “imperial” auteur Paul Thomas Anderson, with Joaquin Phoenix in the lead.

But no book is closer to home than Bleeding Edge. It’s impossible not to read into it a grizzled wanderer’s wary truce with New York, conformity, and life in public. It’s there in the teasing epigraph, a quote from crime writer Donald Westlake that describes the city as “the enigmatic suspect who knows the real story but isn’t going to tell it.” There’s a chase scene across the very same intersection where, in 1998, a South African reporter pursued the author, took an awful photo, and tried to shake his hand. (“Get your fucking hand away from me,” Pynchon said.) There’s also a lyrical flashback in which our heroine spies on a building across the street that’s obviously the Apthorp. His son grew up looking out on that same landmark—from that same window. These feel like mildly dangerous games for a “reclusive author” to play—though the family did move out of that apartment four years ago. (They’ve also bought a summer home—on Long Island, an hour from Oyster Bay.) Bleeding Edge begins and ends with Maxine, an accounting-fraud investigator, tending to her precocious son, Ziggy. They repeatedly mock Collegiate, the high school where Jackson Pynchon went.

It’s a fun-filled, pun-filled thriller, close in spirit to Inherent Vice and surprisingly blasé about its own conspiracy theories. Maxine jokes that “paranoia’s the garlic in life’s kitchen, right, you can never have too much.” September 11, the putative turning point, is treated with the distance and numbness a local feels today—as a catastrophe quickly drowned out by the noise of pop culture and unjust wars and the city’s endless appetite for construction.

The novel’s Pynchon stand-in is Maxine’s on-again-off-again husband, Horst, who confesses at Ikea that his “ideal living space is a not too ratty motel room in the deep Midwest, somewhere up in the badlands.” A wanderer come home to roost, he spends much of the novel watching biopics on Chi Chi Rodriguez and Fatty Arbuckle. The real Pynchon still gets out a lot; one acquaintance sees him on the avenue with almost alarming frequency. But he clearly spends some time indoors. A partial list of the novel’s pop-culture references: Ace Ventura, Ally McBeal, Battlestar Galactica, Beanie Babies, Britney Spears, Furbies, Geraldo, Hypnotiq, Jamiroquai, “More cowbell,” Pokémon (a West Indian proctologist, get it?), the “Rachel” haircut, Warren G., “Whoop There It Is,” Wolfenstein, Zima.

Beneath the mockery, the light skewering of just another community, is an undertow of longing—especially poignant in lyrical descriptions of two places. One is a tiny isle off Staten Island, and the other is virtual—a noncommercial patch of the Internet, still anarchic in 2001. Pynchon compares the two: “Like the Island of Meadows, DeepArcher also has developers after it. Whatever migratory visitors are still down there trusting in its inviolability will some morning all too soon be rudely surprised by the whispering descent of corporate Web crawlers itching to index and corrupt another patch of sanctuary for their own far-from-selfless ends.”

The “departure”/DeepArcher pun is explicit. The pleasure of a Pynchon novel, now as ever, is the conflict its author has always felt between wanting to swallow the world and holding it at bay, celebrating and mocking it, devouring it and protecting himself, and now his family, from being devoured. The novel ends on that note, with a plea for the protection of innocent children from “the indexed world.” These untrammeled spaces really aren’t so different from Minstrel Island, that retreat from IBM he sang about at Cornell in 1958. He still hasn’t found it, at least not outside fiction.

*This article has been corrected to show that Pynchon has said he wants to “keep scholars busy for several generations,” not “keep scholars busy for generations.”

About Royal Rosamond Press

I am an artist, a writer, and a theologian.
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1 Response to Star Rover of The Rose of the World

  1. Reblogged this on Rosamond Press and commented:

    I will build The Falcon Fleet Forty Five with the help of the Black Mask, Jack London, and other Science Fiction authors – including Homer!

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