Judith Lautner (judith) wrote,
Judith Lautner
judith

The day after

Our thanksgiving began after four yesterday afternoon. We followed Steve up to the "Monte Carlo" motel, the one he is renovating. Because it will be a motel dedicated to W.S. Burroughs' enthusiasts and students, it will ultimately be called, probably, "The Beat Hotel" or "The Last Resort" (I think that's the name of the book). The reason: there was a hotel in Paris where Burroughs and many others hung out. It ultimately was destroyed. However, one of the writers who hung out there wrote a book, fictionalizing it, called "The Last xxx" (I can't remember the name). In the fictional version, the hotel was not destroyed, but was instead taken down and moved to somewhere in southern California. The connection was not lost on Steve when he found this little old hotel, so similar to those Burroughs used for writing.

Steve and John have done a lot there. The pool is replastered and filled with water, the spa is working, but not heated yet (needs a vent), some of the floors are painted shiny black, rugs and furniture is in place for much of the lower floor, including three units we looked at. The rooms will be suites, with bedroom, living area, small kitchen, all outfitted in fifties-era furniture, all with a black typewriter on a desk. Original artwork by Burroughs plus photographs of Burroughs will adorn the walls.

Dorothy, Steve's former English teacher from Florida (high school!), was one of the other guests. She and her friend Tai used the other two motel rooms next to ours. Dorothy was worried about insurance covering the paintings. Steve realizes the difficulty, because he used to own a gallery. He said sometimes the insurance costs more than the artwork is worth.

In common areas of the motel are display cases with Burroughs' books and other memorabilia, more paintings and photographs, comfortable places to sit and talk. The office has books, many books, more material.

In addition to Dorothy and Tai we were joined by Jean and Otis. Jean was the last companion to Albert Frey, in his last ten years. She made a name for herself as a yoga instructor for celebrities, has never been married, is petite and still beautiful although probably 80 years old. I had to wonder at her skin - was it real or was it surgery? The lack of lines seemed impossible. Otis, her friend, did not look like time had treated him quite as well, although he seemed sharp for being 89.

Jean and Otis joined us late, because they were driving around for two hours trying to find the place. Finally they went back to P.S. to call Steve, because they did not have a cell phone or his number with them. And he arranged to pick them up at a location near the hotel, so they could follow him.

John fixed an amazing meal. Butternut squash soup with wonderful flavors, with a mushroom stock, a salad with spinach (hot), cranberries (cold), red onions (raw), many other textures, temperatures, tastes, a vegetable lasagne such as I have never before seen - a small mountain of pasta with a beautiful fresh salsa-like sauce, then an apple tarte with banana ice and ice cream. Later Steve broke into some tortone - I'm spelling that wrong, forgetting, it's an Italian christmas bread - as if we hadn't had enough to eat.

a totally vegetarian and gourmet feast that was delicious and felt incredibly healthy as well. That boy has some talent, that John.

After we had all eaten, Jean & Otis by themselves with us watching - Otis took out his violin and played. Not what I was expecting. Many tunes from various American wars, like "Over There". he would quickly describe which war, then launch into several songs written during that one. Then he went into some folk somes, German, Irish, and at Jean's suggestion did a bit from La Boheme.

I got the impression he used to play better than he does now. he certainly had no problem finding these notes, plays, I think, entirely by ear.

The scene was interesting to watch. Different people would laugh when they heard a familiar tune, sometimes sing along with it. jean even whistled like a bird when Otis sang a German love song, and she whistles well. It was surreal in a way, though. I don't think any of us looked closely at the others, or at least to catch their eyes. We were on our own.

I was glad, however unusual and entertaining it was, when he thought to close the concert at almost ten. the conversation quickly shifted to war and to love and started branching, when Elaine managed to break in and say what a great meal it was...and we broke up and went home. SO tired. But what a night! Steve has such a talent for gathering people and obtaining their affection. He is so real, caring, thoughtful. It really isnt' a wonder but it's a wonder to watch. John, too, is a warm and fascinating person in his own right. Elaine and I talked quite a while with him last night, in one of the mini conversations.

We leave today. I had hoped for another day but Mary has to work tomorrow. Mary, too, worries about Joey and his actions and words with adults who do not presently have children or never did. I think she is too worried but she has a point.

I woke to a beautiful sunrise but was unable to frame a shot that really showed what it felt and looked like. So much richness of environment, yet so much manmade ugliness in the way. The windmills with their flashing lights are enchanting, though.
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