Saturday, April 19, 2014
April 19, 2014
April 19, 2014
As a child, I lived not that far away from the legendary and iconic “pink” residence of Jayne Mansfield. The thing is, even though close to my home, I never seen the place. I have read about it, and people around me talked about it, but actually seeing the home never happened for me. I also believe the house was right on Sunset Boulevard. Where I must have passed numerous times, but I have no recollection of seeing the place. Now come to think of it Jayne Mansfield, herself was like a phantom figure through out my childhood.
I used to have dreams about her when I was a child, which was strange, because I knew who she was, mostly through looking at movie magazines at the time. There were quite a few publications in the local market, so while my parents were shopping, I would dip into the world of fantasy, knowing very well, that is what it was. I knew the difference between the life in front of me, and the life projected on a huge screen or on my portable black and white TV set. I think throughout my knowledge of Jayne Mansfield, I thought of her as a fictional character, which is probably why I didn’t ever see the pink palace. I probably thought it was a made-up location, and often people used Sunset Boulevard as an address, but nothing exists there. For example, “77 Sunset Strip” is not a real address. I knew that, so I just presumed that Mansfield and her pink palace were just the work of those whose job was to make illusions.
I was shocked one day when someone told me that Eliot Ness actually existed, where for sure I could just swore that he was a fictional character on the great TV show “The Untouchables.” At the time it never dawned on me that the show was based on a true story with real characters from the rolling 20s. I lived a life that had a hard time telling what was illusion and what was true. For instance I always admired the westerns I saw on TV, especially Wyatt Earp. It was a shock to me that all cowboys were not dandies! So, it was a weird position to be a part of life, where one had to decide what was real or not real. As you can gather, I kept getting the names and stories mixed up. To me, Mansfield living in a pink palace seemed totally unreal. Yet Hugh O’Brian as Wyatt Earp was totally realistic to me. Go figure!
For the past two years, I have been looking high and low for an album by the Dudley Moore Trio, which I thought, perhaps this record doesn’t exist. I was never a huge fan of his films he made in Hollywood, but I did see some footage of him and Peter Cook together, and that got me interested in his music. I have been told that he was a serious musician and jazz composer. Yet when I went to a record store, I could never find his music! I started to suspect that perhaps this was an imaginary or fictional aspect of the Moore narrative. Or maybe it was a part he played in a film or TV show, and people just presumed that he was also a talented musician? Today, someone sent me an actual copy of one of his early albums, and presto, he is a musician and a damn good one at that! So he does exist in that role, and I was wrong about him not playing music.
Identity confusion is very much part of my personal make-up. It is one reason why I don’t participate in national or local politics, because I can’t trust my judgement, when it comes to voting for someone or not. I’m totally swayed by a commercial and I’m often proven wrong by me being so gullible.
Funny, but the one thing I have seen that cuts through the idea of illusion for me is Bas Jan Ader’s conceptual piece “Broken Fall (geometric).” Here in stark black and white, you see the artist trying to fall on a little stand somewhere in a rural area of Holland. Unless you’re a professional stuntman, it is very difficult to actually fall down on purpose. Here I see Jan Ader struggling with the idea of falling, but of course, he stops himself, because it is natural to do so. Finally he does topple over, and watching this short film makes me feel emotional, but not only that, but I also feel I am watching something that is very real. The thing is I have to basically trust what is in front of me, and allow myself to be driven to another landscape - whatever that is real or not is just something I have to cope with on a regular basis.