August 6, 2014
As a kid, my parents would take me to Robert Duncan and Jess’ home in San Francisco. What impressed me the most, was that I was always rewarded with a book or two from each visit. In fact, I have a lot of first-edition Oz books by L. Frank Baum, all from Jess and Robert’s library. As a kid, one is drawn into art because it is familiar to their background. For instance I always loved comic books, and I had a thing for “Dick Tracy” comic strip. So when Jess did his famous “Tricky Cad” colleges which were made up totally by cuttings of the original “Dick Tracy” strip, it of course called out to me. I never actually read “Tricky Cad,” but I understood the implications of Jess’s art, because like me, he loved pop culture. The other painting that struck me as being great is his portrait of The Beatles. The oils on the painting were so thick, I felt like I was seeing the Fab Four being layered over with thickness, which to me made perfect sense. Mostly due to the fact that The Beatles held immense importance to me when I was a child. So of course, a magnificent oil painting portrait is totally suitable to its subject matter. Robert was a very charming and out-going gentleman, but Jess was quiet and more reserved. Yet both of them were very sweet towards me, and when you’re a kid, one has that memory for life. The world is very harsh, and as a child I can easily pick up the bad vibes that surround an individual or couple. Jess and Robert seemed to be made for each other, that was natural as breathing fresh mountain air. Or perhaps for them, breathing San Francisco air.
The other time I felt great comfort among grown-ups is when Andy Warhol came to our home in Beverly Glenn to shoot his film “Tarzan and Jane… Regained Sort Of.” Taylor Mead played Tarzan, Naomi Levine played Jane, and I played Tarzan’s son “Boy.” My father played the white hunter, and also Claes Oldenburg was in it as well. The funny thing is I remember that day clearly, but I have no memory of Andy Warhol whatsoever. Gerard Malanga was there as well. I remember everyone except Warhol. Now, I must state here, that Warhol was for sure at the house filming this film, but I just don’t have any memory of him. It was many years later that I saw the film, and it was an odd experience of seeing myself in such a young age, and of course the footage with my deceased father in it. In many ways, it seems like a home-movie to me. As a child, I knew everyone who was in the film: Irving Blum, Dennis Hopper, John Chamberlain, and I felt it was very much of my world as a child. So its difficult for me to see this film as a work of art, or even great importance to others. If they’re not in it, why would they be interested in this film?
The truth is that like all home movies, they expose more than a family's narcissism. One can taste the favor of one’s neighborhood, or period of time, when the separate world was moving closer to each other, but yet, eventually moves apart. But at least for a fleeting period of time, while watching the film, you can gather a world that once exists. I often have dreams, where the present is mixed up with the past, and its odd because I wake up with a craving for French-Canadian bean soup. In my dreams, I have my collection of papers, but it isn’t worth a nickel to guys like us. I really need that G-note. When I look back at the Warhol film, I can clearly recognize the little boy who played “Boy.”