One of the first color film screen tests . . .
Imagine walking around New York City seeing your image everywhere–your sublime nudity associated with goddesses and every noble cause. You’re discovered by a photographer and soon every artist wants you, every filmmaker clamors for your presence on their movie set. Imagine you’re sixteen. Then imagine you’re looking out the window of an insane asylum on your fortieth birthday.
Audrey Munson known as Miss Manhattan, The American Venus and The Exposition Girl before the First World War was every artists’ muse. In New York City alone it is estimated that she is the model for 22 statues. Three fourths of the statuary at the Panama Pacific International Exposition (World’s Fair in San Fransisco) was inspired by her likeness.
But then it all went terribly wrong. Most modern girls dream of being discovered, of someone noticing their intrinsic worth or at the very least finding them pretty. A breathless ten year bloom, an extravagant celebration of a single girl’s ability to inspire a generation of sculptors to transcend mere sexual desire and rise to something more noble ends with a killing frost.
Audrey gave herself to the ages but one man broke the spell. He murdered his wife to be with Venus. He hung himself before the electric chair could be readied. The slow creep of autumn when bits of yourself fall away at least gives you momentary, bittersweet pleasures–but killing frosts come unexpectedly when fruit is at its very fullness.
The statues then mock you. The artists feel your taint and want nothing to do with you. Many years pass suffering the icy loneliness of lost fame and with the first grey hairs at your temple you are put in a room like a box to remember the far away city of your youth.
Thanks to http://mbracedefreak.wordpress.com/ for introducing me to Audrey!
The Irish in my family were rogues and dreamers, back stabbers and the kindest people I’ve ever met. They knew how to throw a good funeral, but their parties were awkward with new wealth and old wounds. They were treated as the scum of the earth but knew how to fight. My blood’s been mixed with more civilized tribes, but I still like watching a good scrap and getting together at the funeral parlor with my clan.
Do Irish people really like potatoes? Damn straight. My father ate them every day of his life. He also told police stories so amusing that people came from all over to hear him when he visited his home town in New Jersey. Yeah, and the Irish in my family drank (not my father) and died doing it. Others lived on to make sure their kids would have plenty of hilarity, dysfunction and a sense that no one but another member of the clan could ever fully understand them.
That’s why the NYC parade is so great. You march along with other freckled faces thinking– “What a bunch of misfits we are but we’ve taken over the town.”
Here’s what happens when you visit a military museum instead of going on a Christmas house tour in December: the usual melancholy of a fallen world. I promise next week will be all sweetness and light!