Hi folks. I’m here in the Seychelles. Repiblik Sesel. Only a week ago, Duke and Duchess of Cambridge stayed over. Indian Ocean is lukewarm today. The sand is hotel ashtray white. Climate is between 24° and 32° C forever and always. My swim trunks are faded blue dolphins cavorting on a orange ground. Feast of the Assumption is coming up, followed by the South East Monsoon Sailfish Tournament. I guess I care.
I’m staying at the Berjaya on Beau Vallon Bay. Creole food is so-so. Too much coconut cream. Turtle flesh in dishes is restricted by law. Fuck that. We’re all going to die. I tried a parrot fish steak fried in butter and garlic. Piquant. Like scrambled eggs, you can’t ruin it. I’m alone here so there’s no one to block the enjoyment. Stupidly, I brought along Kilvert’s Diary, which is way too heavy, and a few WWII Penguins, Eric Ambler and such. Oops, now I’m inside my own body, very near these tiny titanium mesh tubes, which neither hinder nor help. Hello, here’s an aneurysm (just passing through, no worries mate). I’m on my way east to my lungs. Dr. Garafano, my pulmonologist, says “don’t change a hair for me.” Now in Apt. #18, I shift the big chair and smash my knee. The greenblack bruise will last for months, weeks anyway. Kate Thompson is coming over tomorrow to rule the world with me. We’ll start with Luxembourg, easy enough. Last time I was there (1954) I thought I was fluent in platt but Lenz’s epic poem in old Letzeburgesch flummoxed me. Lunch at Chez Nicholas is soup, trout, veal cutlets, fried potatoes, creamed cauliflower, pancakes, and a large pitcher of dry white wine. There are some excellent concert bands in the area, but no nightclubs. We’ll fix that. Start one. Then it’s on to Mindanao. Kate will look cute in leaves. Of course, the “discovery” of the “stone age” Tasaday tribe is the bunk, mostly perpetrated by Lindbergh, Gina Lollobrigida, Harris Schiff and especially John Nance in his bestselling book, The Gentle Tasaday. Turns out Tasaday wear Perry Ellis, drive Maseratis and drink Chateau Lafite Rothschild Paulliac 1996. Hey, we’re already there!
Connecting with the separatist MILF (Moro Islamic Liberation Front). They fight but they don’t eat. Kate found a Clark Bar in her bag and we both pounced on it. 100,000 people have been displaced. Us, too. We hopped over to Luzon, where the Allies have been in control since June of ’45, long after Japan’s unconditional surrender. We passed through Bongabon and Bulacan, and slept the first night in a damp culvert on the outskirts of Bessang Pass. Lots of shelling. The jaunt to my sister’s place in Orange County took only a few minutes. Bingo. Costa Mesa. After a breakfast of Arnold’s oven brick (white) toast with Knotts boysenberry jam and a pitcher of iced goji juice, we took off for a communist picnic in Mission Viejo. For entertainment they had Pete Seeger (“Home on the Range”) and Paul Robeson (“Water Boy”). Ran into David Meltzer and his sidekick “Inhuman” Schuman, the flamencoist manqué. They brought us paper plates of ethnic eatables from the food bazaar, but when we bit into some black bean couscous, it turned out to be gravel from the parking lot doused in vinegar. Great fun! No teeth! After a few days of listening to my sister’s “ideas,” Kate suggested contacting her third cousin, Al Gionfriddo, the old Dodger, who robbed DiMaggio of a home run in the ’47 World Series. Kate said Al could get us booked into the tip-top suite of the Burj Khalifa, world’s tallest building (830 metres) in Dubai, for only $90/night.
We enjoyed the “shower spa” with heated floor on our Emirates Airline A380 flight from JFK ($220 rt). In Dubai we visited the unfinished Maritime Museum and saw a blue tailed skink on our 160th story window ledge. You tell me.
Dinner was black bean couscous. Kate got into a kingsize punch-out over the Jews with an Alawite family of four, and was put on a plane home. I hung around to swim and drink beer (they had Brew 102!). I met a Portuguese girl named Nama and we played around in the pool with an inflatable horse. We took in the new Cronenberg movie (about God) and had a nightcap at Club 7. Nama told me she had nightmares about Las Vegas, but her spirit was light. It was time to head back to the states. I gave Nama a Marie Antoinette night light as a parting gift. The next morning I woke up in Nick Dorsky’s screening room, just off Golden Gate Park. Nick showed me some new footage with people in it. Interesting. I walked all the way to North Beach to see some of my old apartments and boarding house rooms, and tried the goji juice on tap at Vesuvio’s. SF hasn’t changed much since the Barbary Coast days. Some electrical installations were new to the area. Jerry Hiler drove me out to Point Pinole and left me there to walk around alone. I saw skinks, rabbits and deer but only one person off in the distance—a man fishing. He might have had a baby with him, so that would count as a second person. I had a French lunch in my pack—baguette, gruyere, Maillard Eagle Sweet chocolate, and a demi of Chateau Lafite Rothschild Paulliac 1996. I wolfed it down and read two chapters of Byron in Geneva (what a guy!). That got me thinking. When Jerry brought me back to town, I telegrammed Kate in Moscow, where she was teaching American idioms at an exclusive Jewish middle school, to join me at the Villa Diodati in Cologny on Lake Geneva. In 16 shakes of a lamb’s tail we were boating across the lake a la Byron and Shelley, following the trail of their hero J-J Rousseau. After nearly capsizing while trying to enter the French port of St. Gingolph, we pushed on to Villeneuve, at the head of the lake, and back into Swiss territory. Villeneuve was still a “wretched old town,” but very near is the château de Chillon, which figures importantly in Rousseau’s Julie. After rowing a few more miles, Kate stowed her oars and confessed she had to agree with Voltaire about Rousseau. “The guy is a horse’s ass, phony from head to foot. His mind and soul are completely plastic.” That was Diderot’s opinion, too.
Still, we pushed on to Clarens and, finally, Ouchy. It was too dark to go back to Cologny, so we camped out in tall grass, drank muscle recovery tea and played 20 Questions before conking out in a nearby culvert. The next day was Kate’s birthday. I gave her a Britta Bauer silk blouse, a quarter ounce of Chloe, a swanee whistle, a sock monkey, and a pop-up bird book.
Word got out that we were staying at Villa Diodati, and visitors began to show up: Johnny McGovern, the voice of Little Beaver on the Red Ryder radio show; Woody Woodruff and Vera Reynolds, whom I hadn’t seen since third grade; John Polidori, who had been Byron’s personal physician; Chris and Amy Edgar of the U.N. on their lunch break; and some nice people from the American Consulate.
Kate stayed in her room reading the American Mercury, “where all the blue-noses, bigots and two-faced killjoys in the land of the free are getting a going over they’ll never forget.” In any case, it was time to go back to the 48 states, I to my students, Kate to her market research. Sailing from Liverpool on the troop ship U.S. General Hodges, in mid-ocean we passed the great drummer Dave Tough going the other way.
Larry Fagin is of Hungarian-Russian-Polish stock. He has lived in Hollywood, Salzburg, Vienna, Wiesbaden, Paris, New York, San Francisco, and London. He edits Adventures in Poetry books and was the founder and artistic director of Danspace at St. Mark’s church-in-the-bowery in Manhattan. His latest books are Dig & Delve (Granary Books) and Complete Fragments (Cuneiform Press). He teaches privately. Prospective students go to larryfagin.com