“The foursome attempted to evoke the Zen-like closeness of artist and subject. Might such representations of the wish to perpetuate intimacy express at once the confines and yearnings of the singular self?” Carolyn Burke, “Foursome: Alfred Stiglitz, Georgia O’Keefe, Paul Strand, Rebecca Salsbury.”
Foursome usually refers to golfers, as in this joke by author Bruce Lansky: “Some golfers fantasize about playing in a foursome with Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, and Sam Sneed. The way I hit I’d rather play in a foursome with Helen Keller, Ray Charles, and Stevie Wonder.” Foursome can also refer to group sex as in this proclamation by a character in a Jeaniene Frost fantasy novel from the Night Huntress series, who says, “I’ll become a swinger. That’s right – threesomes, foursomes, and more. Bones knows about a thousand chicks who’d love to hop into bed with us. It’ll be kinky, we’ll get our freak on.”
Stiglitz and his 1918 photo of O'Keefe
I’ve long been fascinated with photographer Alfred Stiglitz, a pioneer of modern art instrumental in photography coming to be accepted as a legitimate art form as well as a patron of artist Georgia O’Keefe, his model, muse, lover, and wife. For most of their marriage they lived separate lives with O’Keefe preferring to be in New Mexico, especially after discovering Alfred’s affair with another model. Stiglitz preferred New York City and summers at Lake George. I’ve read elsewhere that both had trysts with Rebecca Salsbury, but I’m not yet that far into Carolyn Burke’s book. I’m still in 1916 when Georgia was teaching in Texas and likely still a virgin but writing passionately to both Stiglitz and his protégé Paul Strand after meeting them at 291, Stiglitz’s gallery. To Paul she wrote: “I wanted to put my arms round you and kiss you hard.” To Alfred she described painting a self-portrait in the nude from reflections in the mirror, adding: “I couldn’t get what I wanted any other way.” He replied: “I’d like to kiss your body from top to bottom and then enjoy a long, long sleep – entwined.”
During the nineteenth century John Humphrey Noyes founded a utopian community, Oneida, based on a theory of perfectionism and the practice of complex marriage that permitted members to be sexually intimate with a variety of partners. The 1969 comedy drama “Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice” was somewhat of a cop-out, as when the two couples finally share a bed together, the swapping does not advance beyond passionate kissing, at which point the action stops and the couples return to their spouses. In recent times foursomes have experimented with living together as poly families. Kathy Labriola, a counselor who describes herself as involved in a polyamorous community, found that few such arrangements last for more than a year or two. She wrote:
I’ve seen several households with a primary couple who add another couple and eventually end up as a threesome. It seems quite rare that all four people are compatible and flexible enough to handle the demands of a poly family, and eventually one of the four opts out. I’ve also seen some group marriages where two or even three of the partners stay together for many years but the fourth or fifth partners leave and are replaced by new people every year or so. It’s certainly possible that there are successful foursomes or moresomes out there, but my data is empirical.
Photographer Cindy C. Bean noted on Facebook that I used some of her work in Steel Shavings, eliciting this reply from Diana Rudd:
So proud of you. Steel Shavingsis a marvelous collection of history of the region. Professor Lane was one of Jennifer's instructors when she attended IUN. One of the pieces he assigned her class to write focused on 1970, the year I graduated. She interviewed me for her paper and it was excerpted in a Seventies edition. I talked about the fluff of that year.. so many others contributed memories of the really important stuff.. Vietnam, the steel mills, politics. But even fluff memories have their place, I guess.
I replied: “Diana’s memories of Lew Wallace and downtown Gary in 1970 are historically important.” She mentioned her post-prom party at Tiebel’s in Schererville (still in business) with the live band World Column and getting a 1962 blue Chevy as a graduation present. Here is an account of Diana’s first job after high school:
I began as secretary for a two-brother legal team whose office was located in the old Sun Building at 475 Broadway. I made a hundred dollars a week, not bad for someone with no prior experience. I received a Christmas bonus equaling a week’s pay. Relying on public transportation was inconvenient at times. I had to drive to work on Fridays so that I could run errands. I began to feel unsafe after a rape occurred during business hours, two doors down from my office. My days working in downtown Gary were numbered. My bosses seemed unconcerned with our safety. There were two secretaries in our office, myself and a girl from Portage, who were expected to work alone on alternate Saturdays, finishing up work left over from the week. When our bosses wouldn’t rearrange the schedule, I began looking for another job.
At her next job as a claims secretary, she met claims adjuster Henry Farag, who sang with the doo wop group Stormy Weather. “They were cutting their first record at that time,” she recalled.
Thanks to Marianne Brush, I purchased four third row tickets to see Dave Davies, formerly of the Kinks, at the Art Theater in Hobert. Alissa and Josh came down from Grand Rapids, and son Dave completed our foursome. Beforehand, we met Marianne and daughter Missy at Montego Bay Restaurant, which served Caribbean food. Marianne knew the waitress and her husband, the cook and owner, who came out and greeted us. Everyone congratulated Dave on being named East Chicago Central’s “Teacher of Excellence.” Corey Hagelberg, also going to the show, stopped by our table to say hi. It was a beautiful spring evening. We had time to stop by Green Door Books. Much to my delight, it was still open and IUN Fine Arts major Casey King was inside, along with the owners. Casey talked to our group about his work that adorned two walls. Nearby was Tom Lounges’ Record Bin, which also included a small studio for Lounges’s radio show and a seating area for intimate live concerts. I found a favorite Night Ranger album on vinyl, “Midnight Madness” (1983) that contains “Sister Christian” and “(You Can Still) Rock in America” but the price seemed steep at 18 bucks.
Alissa selfie and photo, below, by Sam Love
Dave and I had seen the Kinks at the Star Plaza over 30 years ago when he and brother Ray hardly spoke to one another but put on a great show. Josh said that when he and his friends wanted to play the guitar, Kinks riffs were the first they mastered. Looking grandfatherly at 71, Davies, on Rolling Stone’slist of all-time greatest guitar players, could still play and had a serviceable voice. He seemed delighted at the enthusiastic audience and mixed in Kinks hits such as “Till the End of the Day” and “All Day and All of the Night” with recently recorded numbers. At one point he asked if a woman he’d met when he’d played in Merrillville was in the audience. “I remember, she was from Hobart,” he exclaimed. We all had a great time. Though I didn’t see them, Sam and Brenda Love were in the house. Afterwards, she posted: “Finally a concert where I’m not the oldest in the audience.”
Back at the condo, I played for Josh the Weezer song “Take On Me,” which we’d seen the band perform earlier in the month, and “Billie Jean,” also on the Teal album. I introduced him to the Beths’ CD “Future Me Hates Me” after he said he’d been listening to Australian punk bands. The Beths are actually from Aukland, New Zealand.
After having prepared breakfast for Alissa and Josh, Toni hosted a Spring Solstice dinner for Angie and Dave’s family, including her dad and a very pregnant Tamiya - ham with all the trimmings plus mussels and scallops. Everything was delicious. Afterwards, we played the dice game Qwixx and Pass the Pigs where you score points or get wiped out depending on how the piglets land. Before dinner I watched an exciting 76ers victory over the Brooklyn Nets, as Joel Embiid not only had 31 points and 16 rebounds but a key assist while falling to the ground to enable Mike Scott to score the game winner, a three-pointer from the corner.
I watched the first episode of a series called “Punk,” hosted by Iggy Pop, whose Detroit band The Stooges were pioneers of the genre. Iggy claimed the Kinks 1964 song “You Really Got Me,” with its famous guitar riff by Dave Davies, was an early inspiration, the only Top 40 hit, in his words “worth a shit.” The distortion sound came from Dave Davies slicing the speaker cone of his amplifier and then sticking it with a pin. Iggy’s mentors were the Motor City group MC5, whose trademark song “Kick Out the Jams, mother fucker,” roused crowds to a frenzy.
CBS Morning Newsco-host Gayle King made one of six covers for Time’s 100 Most Influential People issue, primarily from staying calm while interviewing singer and accused pedophile R. Kelly. Adorning our copy in the mail was Taylor Swift - seemingly a poor choice since she hasn’t recorded an album since 2017. She was on a Timecover last year for suing a radio host who groped her ass; I suppose her image sells magazines and in any case. the choices seem pretty arbitrary. No literary figure made the list. On the cover of New York magazine: Peter Buttigieg. A sidebar listed Mayor Pete’s favorite books; they include Ulysses by Irish writer James Joyce and Le Petit Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.
A package arrived from the Abraham Lincoln Association. Ken Anderson, a fellow book club member, gifted me a membership. With a cover letter came a copy of the Association’s Winter 2019 journal, which contained an article by IUN professor Chris Young about the 1887 dedication of Augustus Saint-Gauden’s 12-foot statue of Abraham Lincoln in Chicago's Lincoln Park and its replica in London’s Parliament Square, unveiled in 1920. In 1861 the 13 year-old Saint-Gaudens observed the President-elect standing in a carriage and bowing to a crowd of supporters. Four years later, he was among the thousands of mourners who viewed Lincoln’s body lying in repose at New York’s City Hall. Saint-Gaudens designed monuments to other Civil war leaders, including William Tecumseh Sherman. His bronze of the Roman goddess Diana is on display at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Senator Elizabeth Warren wants to begin impeachment proceedings against Trump and proposed wiping out almost everyone’s student debt, causing IUN grad Amanda Marie Board (below, in middle), who recently passed the National Registry EMT exam, to write: “Okay, you may have just become my front runner.” I’m still for Klobuchar/ Buttigieg – or maybe Buttigieg/Klobuchar.