All posts by rexmerritt

The Modigliani Girl Occidentals Objectified

Why did the metal sculptor Klanger and I settle on calling Anne “the Modigliani Girl”? Certainly it is at best an obscure reference.

But as we both immediately agreed, she resembled a Modigliani creation rendered in flesh. Amazing how two strangers who slept with the same woman became copacetic from the jump.

We also determined that facile men would not have found her alluring. I use alluring because attractive harkens to some common beauty notion. Or as spoken in these days, “beauty metrics.”

Anne wouldn’t have met those standards.

Her distinctions lured us. Being objective, she consisted of features that shouldn’t have meshed as they somehow did.

Taken separately, the nose resembling a prow, sloppy lips, narrow contours of her figure, her small insignificant carriage should have relegated Anne to one of those categories hard-up horny men turn to when they believe the world ends in five minutes and she’s the sole woman nearby in four.

Anne was some sort of French and Polynesian mixture. She wasn’t exotic in the sense that excites our facile Western imaginations. She wasn’t Eurasian. No White Russian forbearers fleeing the Revolution and finding secure haven in the Orient perfumed her background. Rather some Frenchman disenchanted or even dismayed with his era’s France – that interpretation depended upon which one of us she “confided” – landed in the South Seas, found and was in return fancied by an island girl.

It was so simple. Her parents submerged themselves in what passed for lust. Or the irresistible alien attraction of “the stranger.” Or maybe he thought she would ingratiate him into the South Pacific culture, while she perhaps thought he’d take her to France and there reside.

Anne was so dismissive of her parents. Having heard her one mustn’t listen hard to feel her disdain of them. That stated she never gave reasons for the fissure, gap, chasm between parents and daughter.

Of course, like speaking low so one must press to better hear, excluding such vital details only drew perceptive audiences closer in the hope of having the mystery revealed. Klanger and I admired how an adept manipulator she proved.

Anne was dark complexioned. A part of me wishes mother still lived, and somehow the pair could’ve been introduced. Not that mother would’ve been duly impressed or disappointed or disapproved, but she could’ve uttered a variation of her favorite direct observation.

A propos to Anne: “She’s almost as black as a red Indian.”

Klanger, further than I ever considered, imagined Anne exuded heat rather than shared. Perhaps because Klanger descended from pale Northern Europeans. Doesn’t the myth of the aboriginal, the sexual plaything from southern latitudes, from exotic climes, demand excessive unusual bodily heat along with uncommon sexual voracity?

Except Anne and her stripper alter ego “Shadow” were both aloof. Inside Rick Blaine’s Place, the gentlemen’s club where she plied her trade, Anne didn’t practice hard selling. At Las Vegas’ upper end jiggle joints especially, the girls behaved ravenously in regards to vacuuming dollars from patrons. In these establishments the hard sell quickly crossed from insistent into intimidating. For good reasons.

Beauty only lasts so long in the Mojave. Newer, fresher arriving girls constantly supplied threats. Club fees put all these women under the gun from the jump. Between financial pressures and the capricious demands of being mercilessly judged Tenderloin, sometimes mocked, anxiety kept entertainers’ nerves on edge.

While the same basic circumstances ruled at Rick Blaine’s Place, they were far less onerous. Anne, a younger Anne, could not have been as cool in any platinum club. Also in them Klanger and I never would’ve made her acquaintance, much less found our ways to her apartment. Engulfed in willing flesh and the facile decadence that drew horny men and curious women as we would’ve been, we each shared reserved temperaments which initially kept us at a remove.

Both of us eventually played well with others, but only after a while.

Sporadic describes best the level of contact Klanger and I have maintained. Actually his assistant served as go-between for what few emails we’ve exchanged through these years. Apparently his business has improved immensely while we’ll at best always remain the most casual of confidants.

We’re not Jules and Jim. Having slept with the same woman won’t make us bosom buddies, just fellows whose bodies merely pressed against Anne’s flesh.

A phone call, an actual phone call on my landline, alerted me that Klanger had returned to Las Vegas. The sculptor had scheduled a decent layover in Sin City before pushing onto the most grueling aspect of his profession. Chatting up, grinning and gripping with prospective, okay, likely, purchasers.

Again, not only does Klanger reside in obscurity rather than an art Mecca such as London or New York, but the bulk of his commissions derive from addresses which hardly leap to the mind’s forefront when fine art the subject. Indeed, that’s my Eastern bias speaking.

Detroit, Cleveland, St. Louis, Kansas City, Omaha among cities not named Chicago, Dallas, Miami, and Los Angeles certainly ferment creation and support appreciation. But not to the extent provoked by the more fervid metropoli.

Breaking down why Klanger found outsized favor in less regarded Midwest and Plains cities had occupied me since we first met. I’d downloaded his work, scoured it, then considered his patrons. His sculptures, at least the ones I saw, share a spare aesthete and appeal through pure strength. Maybe it’s too easy a simplification, yet Klanger’s objects reflect the solid virtues other Americans have ascribed to people living the above regions.

Amazing how foreigners see Americans with greater precision than we often see ourselves.

Surely even the modest enjoy seeing themselves admirably presented. So why not let it glimmer under further flattering light in a showcase room’s locus point?

Let’s not confuse modesty with humility, shall we?

Klanger desired a sitdown. The kind involving several cold ones, catching up, bullshitting. Why not? After leaving Las Vegas how many of his upcoming business confabs would be as breezy as ours?

Besides, wouldn’t he want to know about Anne? Human curiosity alone should restore her presence. Agreeing to meet came reflexively. I considered where when Klanger chopped my contemplation. He suggested we resume haunting the site whence our respective promiscuous trails overlapped then knotted.

Rick Blaine’s Place.

(To be continued)

Meet the Strangers

Certainly we’ll all notice Islam has frightened a good portion of Anglo-America. Until the attacks most of those now afraid couldn’t have named a Muslim outside of Muhammad Ali. Today the quivering and trembling can list chapter and verse every depredation Islam has prepared for the Christian West.

Especially the ones which only exist in the most fevered imaginations.

By the way, after the attacks one of the reasons presented for the date chosen was an in your face gesture to the nation’s emergency service responses. Who does 911 call on 9/11?

Islamists are nowhere near as witty. Instead, the date commemorates an important battle between Christianity and Islam. A conflagration more vital than the Crusades and the Reconquista combined. One persevered faith. The other was thwarted for all time. Continue reading Meet the Strangers

Fear Eats Itself

Remarkable, isn’t it, how many Anglos are fearful of a Muslim threat against America that doesn’t exist? At least not in this hemisphere. For this Americans of all hues and creeds can thank the civil rights movement.

All that marching, picketing, and boycotting we may now download and view in digitalized black & white equalized a lot of boats. The movement also brought into the mainstream a good number of immigrants whose origins sat outside what too many of our native born citizens saw as acceptable lands of heritage.

Southern and Eastern Europeans performed their obligations towards integration while assimilating, but having reassuring complexions and religious beliefs somewhere near the country’s predominant Christianity also eased their entry into society. The civil rights movement is the reason why the United States shouldn’t suffer Europe’s same level of random violence nor the polarization between Muslims and non-believers.

American society has yet to impose the same weight of frustration on the Muslim community. But Donald Trump and his gang are doing their damnedest to recoup lost time. Continue reading Fear Eats Itself

Heirs to Death

Congratulations to all those who’ve graduated from American service academies commissioned as second lieutenants or ensigns. Americans are thankful you’ve chosen to be professional military leaders who’ll command forces defending these shores.

While the above is the preferred job description, their profession encompasses the less savory demands of our modern capitalist republic. These United States no longer face adversaries which threaten its being. Therefore, any taking up defense of this super state is a misstatement.

Not since the Roaring Twenties have our armed forces been so intricately bound with corporate interests. Even during Vietnam there had been some pretense of halting the nefarious spread of nationalism mistaken as communism. It was just right place, right time luck that DuPont and Bell Helicopter reaped fantastic profits. What had once been a straight-forward picket of sovereignty is now far more protection and expansion of the super state’s great overseas mercantile concerns. Continue reading Heirs to Death

The Tragedy of Sonny Liston

Some librettist and composer ought to join forces and create an opera featuring the life of one-time heavyweight boxing champion Sonny Liston. A tragedy, not an operetta. The travails of the long-dead champion contain classic elements the ancients would’ve venerated.

Brutal skills honed in an unforgiving background marked and formed the raw ambition that raised Liston high. Capricious and uncaring fate drove him into the lowest depths imaginable.

Strong and determined as he obviously once must’ve been driven, so did Liston easily succumb, powerless and guileless to thwart what now seems inevitable. The sole question needing asking and answering, whether Sonny Liston understood his plight, and did he submit? Continue reading The Tragedy of Sonny Liston

Swyving and Surviving

Las Vegas evenings into mornings can be arbitrarily unkind as well as exceptionally rewarding. Throughout April 2017 I encountered or heard about five women who had experiences running the gamut from high to low, induced remorse, or whose initial reticence entering an endeavor produced joy.

Not all Las Vegas doormen and valets are lazy, slit-eyed, money-grubbing opportunists. Several might be decent, honest, observant and caring people. Naturally they’ll seldom pass up a chance to make an extra buck, but doing so won’t plunge them into rat-bastard unscrupulousness.

A few of these stalwarts worked the portals during the nights in question. None have yet to ever mind speculating about guests habiting their respective properties.

Fair Play

Nice to have the steel-toed shoe on the other foot. All the better with which to kick.

The Schadenfreude to be enjoyed drops directly from the 2016 election results.

Given a clear choice between vast experience and absolute unpreparedness, between a first-rate temperament for governing or petulance and impatience intolerable in well-run enterprises, between a superior intellect brimming with curiosity and a small mind formed and locked early, less than half of American voters chose disaster. Unfortunately, our no longer great nation remains beholden to the last vestige of slavery.

The Electoral College.

Undeserving though awarded our presidency nonetheless, Donald Trump personifies the least of the United States. In his bloated, billowy, and bloviating presence he is the antithesis of “American exceptionalism.”

He is quite common and surpasses crass. Continue reading Fair Play

Her Persian Voice

Heard the sharpest retort to one of the vilest insults recently. Of greater interest, though, was the woman who launched it.

Nasrin identified herself as “Persian.” Yeah. She’s Persian, all right. As Persian as I’m African. She’s a 20-something Cali girl through and through.

What gained my favor was her having enough pride in self to supplant Persian for Iranian. The former carries nobility stretching back into antiquity.

A Persian background is replete with culture and atavistic figures. Xerxes? Cyrus? Esther? Their respective histories are as current today as their living importance in the past.

Iranians, their inheritors, are poor cousins. Compared against their classic progenitors, they lack stature. Who esteems them? Continue reading Her Persian Voice

All the News That’s Fit to Reap

Could Harvest of Shame be filmed today? And if so, what would our reaction be? Horror? Guilt? Scorn?

In 1960, CBS News produced a documentary titled Harvest of Shame. Migrant farmworkers, the conditions under which they lived and worked, were the subjects. To further emphasize the misery, CBS premiered this episode on Thanksgiving night. Perhaps it hoped the subject matter would pierce viewers deeper on our national okay to gorge day.

I first saw the show about 16-17 years after its initial broadcast. Recently I re-watched Edward R. Murrow and a cast of fellow citizens then likely considered disposable, if better-off Americans bothered considering them at all, discuss who made our nation’s groaning larders possible.

Watching it again after intervening decades, the black & white program has become starker, my understanding of disparities in America clearer, as the chasm between empathy and indifference in Americans has widened. Continue reading All the News That’s Fit to Reap