Trici Venola – Book 18 – January 1-November 1 2005 – To draw something is to own it – OWNING IT—–Furnishing an empty apartment with a job that paid spit. Living on the edge of the Old City, near the water, with no money and no language, speaking English to my cats. My few possessions treasured. Grimly recalling the movie Castaway, seen in my palmier days in LA. There was even an actual shipwreck. I’d not only moved to Turkey, I’d also moved to the Country of the Poor, and had to get used to it. I’d made such a hash of my life that I was damned glad to have my little aerie refuge. The job- illustrating children’s books for a Turkish outfit- was fun, I’d made new friends, & I was madly in love with Istanbul. Under all the fear & frustration was joy.
It still scares me and I don’t know why. I spent all day drawing this once I got something down I could work with. Drawing it purged much of the nameless fear, and when they hauled it away I quite missed it. The building that replaced it is generically swank, but nothing I want to draw. It looks like a million other places. But I had never seen anything like that shipwreck. I find it absolutely horrifying.
SHIPWRECK: EARLY TAKES
-Shipwrecked eleven years before and left to rot near the Lighthouse on the Marmara Sea, hulking huge and horribly wrong, it recalled HP Lovecraft’s stories of an “alien geometry.” It was the scariest thing I’d ever seen, so I had to draw it. But did the people care? Young men swam about, imperious to the doors swinging open on a hold filled with jellyfish. A man took snapshots of his pregnant wife smiling in front of this rusted-out, filthy, graffiti-scrawled horror as if it was Niagara Falls. I guess they’d seen scarier things. Late in 2005 a fire broke out, smoke pouring out of the derelict smokestack jutting up at a 45º angle. Firemen and police played backgammon, news crews wandered around. Finally a salvage crew arrived, broke the thing down and carried it away. A bulldozer leveled the little cafe there, the owners bitter in the wreckage. Then some group erected a huge modern view-blocking building. I don’t know what it is; I don’t care.—Trici Venola 15 September 2012
BULENT ECEVIT PLAYS THE PALACE
-Backstage at the Pera Palace Gala New Year’s Eve 2004-2005 – As one waiter berates another – Bulent Ecevit, former prime minister of Turkey—–He looked like I felt so I drew him. New Year’s Eve, and I was functioning: employed and almost solvent. After weeks of drawing at the Pera Palace Hotel, I was invited by the owners to draw their New Year’s Gala. Somebody forgot to tell the staff, so I was barred by two snotty Turkish girls, who demanded a whopping entrance fee. And me all dressed up, having walked there from Sultanahmet through snowfall because I was stone broke. They wouldn’t let me in, but allowed me to sit over behind the piano piled with dirty dishes, and draw. As I was immortalizing the fight between the two waiters, a dour-looking man paraded in with a large entourage. All around him rioted people in party hats and bonhomie, but he would have none of it, sitting at the outer edge with his back to the party. Right in front of me. That’s how I got what’s likely the last hand-drawn portrait of Bulent Ecevit, former Prime Minister of Turkey, shortly before his death in 2005. Thanks to one of the many staff members I had drawn, I did eventually dance at the party.
NEW YEAR 2005
-Black, black, black, There is no blacker black than my black velvet gloves shown on a white tablecloth. Drew for 2 1/2 hours & danced for 3. My anger dissolved in the gorgeous hilarity of the Pera Palace, surely the gala of all galas. 2005 – And they said I might never walk again – The last dance belongs to ME!! – Kadir at 4AM
Celal improbably swimming in the opaque grey February Marmara-—-A miserable cold day and here’s Celal doing laps in the frigid Marmara before going to open his restaurant. He grew up in Van after all…
MY NEIGHBOR’S SONS
-Onur, Ozan 1/1/5—–She had a restaurant and lived downstairs… she was getting over a terrible divorce. I wonder where these kids are now.
The view from the top of the Sphendone, the rounded end of the Hippodrome. This spectacular view of the Marmara would have backed the topmost seats of the crowds watching the chariot races. Now the area is a school.
“Tell me, do you think I should stay a virgin? I’m 35.“—–Who am I to say?