Jim Haynes newsletters

Newsletter No. 50
"What's wrong with the USA and how to put it right."
18 August 1982

Once again I journeyed to the USA, departing Paris the 6th of July (in order to miss the 4th; I hate fireworks), and flew direct to New Orleans. Sure six weeks later I am home in Paris, sitting at my desk and attempting to produce another newsletter for friends. This one is numbered No.50, but in fact many many more have been produced. In the early days I did not number them. Alas I do not have them all, but nevertheless I plan to collect the ones I do have and publish them in a Handshake Edition. If you have any of the early un-numbered ones, please let me borrow them back.

In 4 days I begin another journey, once again to Scotland to the Edinburgh Festival. But before departing, I would like to complete this report on America. Here goes..

What's right and what's wrong with the USA? Lots of creative energy and lots of creative and delightful individuals, plus a sense that anything is possible. This is the plus side of the ledger. On the other side have fear of the other, sexual frustration, extreme standards of living, absurd interest rates and the killer automobile. And a drugged society. Is it a helpless situation? Can anything be done about it? Yes, friends, something can be done about it. No, I do not have all the answers, but here are sure observations and proposals.

One of my best nights in America was spent with Betty Dodson. She read to me (and to Grant Taylor and Jane Da1rymple) two chapters of her almost completed Erotic Memoirs. All I can say now is "hurray for Betty Dodson!" America and the world is about to receive a psychic jolt. Germaine Greer cracked open the door with The Female Eunuch, Betty kicks open the door with her memoirs. I had the great good fortune to know Germaine before the publication of The Female Eunuch and to know that its publication would cause a major consciousness change. I have that same good feeling that another whirlwind is on the way. Write on, Betty! The world needs your book. (I told Betty that I was attempting to write my own autobiography and that it was a participatory one. That is, I am trying to get my friends and lovers to write items, bits and pieces for it. Betty agrees with me that explicit autobiography is where it's at. I hope that I can do it. Anyway we made a wager. The first one to have their autobiography published gets his/her sexual fantasies fulfilled in a party organized by the loser. Therefore if any publisher would like to publish my book, I can undertake to include him/her in my fantasy party Betty will organize for me/us... OK?)

Now, regarding the high interest rates, why don't we insist upon Congress enacting a federal law limiting all interest rates to say a maximum of 10%. This makes sense to me.

And now for a radical suggestion: I feel America needs to re-introduce the draft. Yes, friends, you read correctly. America needs to draft all young man and women for one year' s national service. Everyone, the fit and unfit alike. Throw everyone into the melting pot and stir. Create a national communal spirit. And teach them all to tap dance! Surely this would transform America and maybe even the world! An army of tap dancers! Just think about it for a moment. It makes sense doesn't it? America's great cultural contributions to the world: jazz, tap dancing and musical comedy. Tap dancing produces good vibrations for the person doing it and for those watching. But not only would these lucky individuals learn to tap, they would also learn to swim, first aid skills, as well as perform civic duties like reading to the elderly, picking-up litter, and fullering generally. And what an example this would be to the rest of the world! (I would love to write a film script about this.)

My papa, for reasons of his own, elected to move some six months ago from the delightful city of Shreveport to a small town some 54 miles away. I was able to escape from this small town only with difficulty. These brief reprieves kept me sane. Thanks to Francis Randall (and to his son Stephen), and to Bill and Ann Cook, to Bill and Lottie McGuire...

New Orleans is New Orleans. It is racist, sexist, class-ridden, and hot as hell. But it is also something special, something magic. I always enjoy myself in New Orleans. Once again old friend Meade Evans opened his door to me. Managed to spend a lot of time with Amanda Porter - a friend from Paris - who is living once again in her native habitat. We had a great cat fish dinner my last evening at the Savannah Cafe. Amanda is trying to help produce (our dear friend) Humbert Camerlo's "Space Opera" for the 1984's World Fair in New Orleans.. Also thanks to Brien Hennessey, I met Louis Sahuc and we shared some moments in The Napoleon House... New Orleans, like Manhattan and San Francisco, is one of the few cities in America where one could live without an automobile. I walked and walked - with great pleasure - round the Vieux Carré, the old French Quarter.

My last ten days in Manhattan, in the West Village, on 7th Avenue and Bleeker. Indian dinner my first evening with Lynne Tillman and her fella, David Hofstra and their friend, Jody Harris.. Katherine Hilliard journeyed up from Philadelphia (bringing Heloisa Souza Silva from Rio with her) and we three wandered about SOHO and the West Village.. Jane Dalrymple took the train up from Baltimore and spent two days and one evening with me! I wanted to visit with lots of friends, but for various reasons it was not possible to do it this time round. I did get to see, albeit briefly: John Flattau (we dined in Little Italy and he gave me a copy of Space Images published by his company Lustrum Press), Mike Mallens (we share an admiration for our aunt, Mildred Almand; Mike is an actor), Catherine Kellison (starting her own video company), Michael Parman (who showed me video tapes of his successful Welches Grape Juice ad campaign and played his wonderful songs from a musical in progress), Irving Stettner (who published a short essay of mine in his magazine, "Stroker"), Barbara Hodes (who cooked dinner for Joan Juliet Buck, Alex Weil, and yours truly), Lenny Green and Ronnie Schloss (we dined One University Place), Kyle Roderick (we lunched in a Japanese restaurant and she is as lovely as ever), Harold Willis (who gave me a copy of his new play, "Blindfold", to read), my old Paris-pal Joan Juliet Buck (who gave me a copy of her newly published novel, The Only Place to Be - and it is wonderful!), Al Goldstein (who added my name to "Screw's" subscription list), Arnie Baskin (we had bagels again - just like last year), Maria Marin (my hostess - who arrives in Paris tomorrow to guard my house while I an in Edinburgh), Vickie and Andrew Makowsky (well she is soon to be Madame Makowsky! - Andrew gave me three audio cassette recordings of Henry Miller), and dozens of wonderful waitresses (like Maria and Francoise at Café Sha Sha), etc etc

I did manage to talk on the telephone to a number of friends: Jane Alexander (who invited me to visit her and Ed Sherin in Nantucket), Titus and Susan Patton (who invited me out to San Francisco), Victor Herbert (who promised to look after Catherine Goyhex), Jackie Byars (who invited me to Austin), to Steve McVicker and to Roni Stalica (who invited me to Houston) and to Sarah Bean (who said that she was happy with the new Handshake Edition of her stories.

The TWA f light to Paris was pure pleasure. Talked all the way with my steward, José Vasquez , who is from San Juan and New York City. We both share a love of the theatre. Later we dined in Paris with Stas and Valerie Pruszinski and their three wonderful kids.

I know that I must be the last one on my block to have one, but I purchased a Sony Walkman in Manhattan. All thanks to Akio Morita and the Sony Corporation for this great contribution to our listening and learning pleasure! (To read an important interview with Morita, get a hold of the August 1982 issue of "Playboy Magazine".)

I arrived home in Paris just one week ago. Paula Klein and her beautiful sister, Mercedes, were my welcoming committee. Paula and I have had a crazy (but positive) relationship that dates back to Easter 1981 when she knocked on my door. Paula wants to be an actress. I have only seen her on stage once, in Robert Cordier's "Hamlet" - just before I departed for the USA - and she was superb! (Speaking of "Hamlet", Anna Köler telephoned me from the south of France a few days ago to tell me that she is going to New York City soon to play in Stuart Sherman's "Hamlet".) Paula in Stuttgart for a few days, but back in Paris tomorrow...

Several years ago, I wrote a letter out of the blue to Merritt Clifton, the editor and publisher of an underground American magazine called "Samisdat". Merritt lives on the Vermont-Quebec border with his wife, June Kemp. We have been corresponding ever since. In the past few days Merritt (and his sister, Nicole) has been visiting atelier A2. He is a delightful fellow, an original in the American grain. We had a number of probing, exciting conversations. I feel that I must mention one of Merritt' s good ideas: to transform America's relations with Cuba, Havana could have a major league baseball franchise, and by playing baseball together, relations would automatically improve. I think he has an excellent idea! (I guess that I will have to send this newsletter to the new Secretary of State, George Schultz.)

I can see that we are almost at the end of another newsletter to friends and as always I have dozens of things still to report, to say. Therefore I suspect another one will be forthcoming after I return to Paree from Scotland (and before I go off to Frankfurt for the Book Fair in October)... Spread joy - write a letter to a friend today! I am still raising money to buy food and clothes for friends in Poland...

Love and hugs from Jim

 

 
Jim Haynes
18 August 1982

Atelier A-2,
83 rue de la tombe Issoire,
75014 Paris

 

 

 

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