Jim Haynes newsletters

Newsletter No. 63
29 February, 1984

Home again in Paris after almost three weeks in London, Glasgow and Edinburgh promoting the publication of Thanks for Coming! It was a great trip and I think a successful one; (one London magazine listed TFC as No 5 on their "Best-seller" listing). Faber gave the book a great launching party the 14th - St.Valentine's Day! - and about 200 people were there. (I had asked Faber to invite about 500 people, but there was not enough room.) The book received a lot of space in newspapers and magazines and on the whole, the critics were fair. (Although several had better be careful if they ever walk down dark alleys in Paris - G.G. for one.) There were five radio interviews and one for Scottish TV (that ill be broadcast the 13th of March). Ernie Eban was my host in London and Scott Griffith in Edinburgh.

So many good things happened it is difficult to know what to report. Faber were wonderful - especially Greg Hunt who handled the publicity and who journeyed with me to Scotland and to Oxford. I debated a Rev David Johnson in the Oxford Union the motion "That this house regrets the passing of the 60's" with me defending the motion. Ernie, Ulla Larson, Greg and I journeyed up for the debate. We left on the last train before we could learn the results. (Pause to call London to ask Greg and he is not in his office.) Ernie taped the evening and because I am planning to relaunch "The Cassette Gazette", you will have the opportunity to hear it one of these days soon. (The night before the debate, Michael Sissons cooked dinner for Sally Moore and me and gave me useful tips.) Albert Van Dam cooked an Indonesian meal one evening for Arnold Linken, Tuppy Owens and her fella, Robert. Madelaine Frye-Molder prepared another feast. I had lunch in Susan Miles' new Soho Brasserie and flirted with the waitress, Jane Coke, who is Tony Elliott's ladyfriend. (I always fall madly in love with every waitress I meet.) Ernie, David Robins, Dan Topolski and I had tea with Marion Topolski. Gus Macdonald treated me to an excellent lunch (and introduced me to his beautiful assistant, Barbara from Holland). Our waitress, Vanda, from Edinburgh, a delight! Dinner one evening with Fanny Dubes, Jim Campbell and Hilary Davies. (Jim is about to have his book on Scotland published soon. Fanny has made the photos.) Dinner with Ossia and Marie-Louise Trilling, another night with Anne Tilby, Peter Lewis, Tony McNab in a great place in Soho, tea with Sally Belfrage (and her two wonderful co-productions, Eve and Moby Pomerance), tea with Gwen and Victor McDougall (and Lizzie and Rosie) in Edinburgh, etc etc. A people-packed trip! The best kind!

Tonight is a signing-session scheduled for the Village Voice Bookshop in Paris. (Today is also Handshake Editions birthday. The fifth I think.) Tonight Dick Gregory's daughter, Michele, arrives to visit. She is studying at L.S.E. in London. This morning the African Expedition departed, destination Kenya. Their journey is to promote a wooden car designed by Tony Howarth and a film of their trip will be broadcast on Channel 4. One team member, Eliza Mellor, a very beautiful lady, who I hope returns to visit again very soon! The others too: Tony H, Carolyn Hicks, Charles Best, Bob William and Tony Hughes. (Before departing for London, Flanagan Mackenzie appeared with Janice Sperling, and John Hoffman arrived via Kyle Roderick. "Hotel A2")

Not sure what I will have on the back side of this newsletter. Perhaps one or more of the critical responses to TFC; There were good reviews in "The Listener" (Thanks, Clancy Sigal), "Tatler"(Thanks, Gita Mehta), "The Glasgow Herald" (Thanks, John Fowler), "The Scotsman" (Thanks, Allen Wright), "The Edinburgh Evening News" (Thanks, John Gibson), "The Observer" (Thanks, Blake Morrison and thanks, Peter Hillmore, for the item about the party), and a piece in "Accountancy Age" (Thanks, Robert Bruce); "The Standard" ran two articles, one very nice profile by Clare Colvin (We dined in La Coupole.) & a terrible review by ;;; oh I see we are nearing the end of side one. No room to list the bad reviews which is just as well I suppose. Still, as Jay Landesmann suggested: "Bad reviews are better than no reviews..."

As you can see, I am re-printing "The Listener" essay by Clancy Sigal because not only is it a "good" review, it is also a great piece of writing... Jan Kaczmarek, a musician friend from Poland, just telephoned to say he is off tonight for Poznan. We met last "Jazz Jamboree" in Warsaw. I have two of his lp's. Martin Lehberger just arrived from the South of France, full of good cheer, so I must stop and tell him everything about the London launch.. Anna Abbott is cooking a pie downstairs. Alas she is departing for Calif in a few days... Sad for all of us here.. Sarah Haggar and Heather Downs still Jacques Lecoqing.

 

 

THE LISTENER 16 FEBRUARY 1984

 

Clancy Sigal

Karma and smarma

 

 

 

Thanks for Coming!
By Jim Haynes
Faber £3.95

Jim Haynes, photo R.R.

Haynes: "love of the cosmos"

Jim Haynes, the Johnny Appleseed of the Sixties counter-culture in London, Edinburgh, Amsterdam and Paris, disarms criticism by dedicating this 'open newsletter' to me —and several thousand named others, from Abbul to Zwerin. Haynes actually knows this number of people (and more) whom he counts as personal, contactable friends. He is amazing, a true nature's child of the arts with extraordinary 'green fingers'. Almost everything he touched, from Edinburgh's Paperback Bookshop which developed into the Traverse Theatre to London's Arts Lab and beyond, burst into wild and glorious bloom. It is hard not to be swept along in the swift current of this Charles Bronson look-alike's vitality and sheer love of the cosmos.
Jim and I were around, solo and together, in those prehistoric days, the fabled Sixties, when the structure shook a little. (Did it, or were we just tripping out?) We recall it differently, of course. I almost became a victim of all that dope, booze, karma and smarma, alternative blues and politically-inspired schizophrenia, not to speak of my own drugged stupidity. I came to know the dark side of the mad moon. It wasn't so hot, Jim-boy. You could get hurt, badly. And hurt others. The American or Yankee-inspired 'Swingin' Sixties' ego was terrifying to behold in action. Like Donovan's Brain or Jaws in 3-D, it swallowed everything and everybody in sight. Some never did come up for air, while Jim and I hardly paused for breath, in our fruitful imperialising of the local culture—which needed it, to be sure.
I hope nobody ever draws up an accurate balance sheet of that period—the dead and walking wounded versus noteworthy productions of multimedia events. Jim certainly isn't the person to do it. His autobiography (and I use the word loosely for this entertaining and bitsy collage) reads like an avant-garde Elsa Maxwell's guest list for the longest party of the decade, which in some ways it was. It's also slightly depressing to be reminded it happened such a long time ago, and how bureaucratised or extinct so many bold experiments of that period have become. Part of me yearns for that strange time; part of me hopes I never see its like again.
So, although Jim Haynes drops okay names like the social climber he never really was, and salts his meandering narrative with enough naive enthusiasm to power the next Space Lab, I'm really glad to be reminded of how it all looked from the Chief Operator's viewpoint. He had a hell of a good time hobnobbing with Sir this and Lady that and the cream of the Western European artistic establishment-to-be. His solemn, genial tolerance for artsy-fartsy phonies is legendary. It doesn't matter to him as long as they're saying the Right Thing: screw the puritans, it's party time!
Haynes did well by us. Louisiana-born, he came to Britain in the early 1950s with the US Air Force. Even while in uniform, at Kirknewton AF base, he attended nearby Edinburgh University, where he started his fabulous paperback bookshop next to the campus. It burgeoned into an all-in meeting place which Haynes parlayed into the spectacularly successful Traverse Theatre. It was very exciting, introducing talented writers like Heathcote Williams, putting on Pinter and Beckett before it was fashionable, and laying the groundwork for much of today's better dramaturgy. Haynes had shrewd instincts and even better contacts. His list of friends in the arts-favouring Harold Wilson regime is impressive: Jennie Lee was his darlin', Arnold Goodman his protector (until Jim began defending evil dopesters); there was Ken Tynan, Arnold Wesker, Uncle Tom Cobley and all ('... many, many quiet little dinners with Jennie...', a 'warm relationship' with His Holiness the Goodman, etc).
But Haynes has always hated routine. (And domesticity: one shudders to imagine his present sexual arrangements.) When something is successful, that's a signal to fit off and begin anew. Bored with the Traverse, he came south to London and started ITInternational Times—with its famous Theda Bara logo (it was supposed to be Clara Bow but they used Theda by mistake)—and the immortal Arts Lab. With some justice Haynes can claim to be the midhusband of at least the chic, artistic end of London's underground at the time it was the world's psychedelic capital. I remember him hawking IT copies outside the Aldwych, serving coffee behind a bar, lazily leading squats. Jim did everything himself, seldom stood on ceremony, and asked only if it contributed to his Emersonian ideal of a community of kindred spirits. An aristocracy of talent—Monica Vitti, Peter Brook, Antonioni, the Beatles—fluttered around him. Respectability rose like a beast from the depths to devour innocent Jim. The US ambassador's lovely wife platonically fell in love with him, he got phone calls from Buckingham Palace, and once he even escorted President Johnson's daughter to a do.
Jim isn't terribly political, even though little of this would have been possible without an infrastructure of protest to support his experiments. Partly because he's into sweetness, light and the bisexual revolution, he does not appear to understand the complex relationship between the volcanic outpouring of creative energy in the Sixties and the essentially square radicalism which was its natural manure. But no matter. The Arts Lab brought people together. You never knew what to expect. Underground film, futuristic theatre, 'happenings', chats by the lady next door—'It was like an enormous party night after night.' Great fun, and it probably produced more changes in more people's lives than many if not most of our marches. Well no, there I go again, borne downstream by the man's alarmingly open personality and restless generosity. The Arts Lab may have changed nothing at all. But it was wizard at the time.
Today, anticlimactically, Jim is in his 14th year as a professor (a what?!) at Vincennes University outside Paris. He keeps his hand in with magazines like Suck and playing around on the wilder shores of sex. A perennial 16, it's hard to believe he's fifty. More power to his arm, he did us a lot of good when the going was good.

 

Well another newsletter rolls off the press...

There will be a book-signing here in A2 soon for Thanks for Coming!

Love and kisses and hugs,

Jim

 

Jim Haynes
29 February, 1984

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

 

 

 

Jim Haynes' newsletter