Nizam & me dancing——- Done from memory a year later, crippled, at my sister’s kitchen table. We very little in common but we had this.
Book 6: ROUGH PASSAGE — At any given moment it all turns to shit and then back into ice cream again – Trici Venola – Istanbul – Side 2000—— June of 2000: I left Los Angeles for Istanbul after detonating my life: sold the house and ended a happy fifteen-year marriage. This was hard on everyone. I’d realized that my hard-earned great life was never going to change, and I flailed wildly at what I saw as my last chance at an adventure of the soul. I was going to go to an alien place and draw it, like Gauguin. Everybody said I was crazy and they were right. My love affair with Turkey included a toxic romance. Why I didn’t wind up drunk in a doorway was because of constant drawing and 25 years of sober conditioning. The frenetic mood of this time shows in the drawings. The beauty of the landscape contrasts with the mounting horror of having burnt every bridge and found a dragon on the other side. Processing these images is painful but since the fires and other changes, much in this book is no longer visible, so I share it with you.
…In Long Beach on a day in April, 2000, when my old life was still intact and this new one only the topic of conversation that day — So long ago — 10 weeks—— Uncle Guy, forever young, was plenty concerned about what I was doing but has never deserted or judged me. And he’s come to visit.
Sounds & voices echoing all around me — The echoes spread like these cracks in the floor—— Hagia Sophia has the best acoustics in Europe. Now they are smothered by the enormous peacock-green carpet that covers this floor and all its artifacts, as Hagia Sophia is presently a mosque. This floor, I am told, is its fourth. From the graffiti, it dates from before the Fourth Crusade in 1204. Under the carpet, tombs and wells silently wait. And laugh.
UP & AWAY
10 June 2000 7PM New York time…Here we go… Misty distances of airport everywhere — Fell asleep & woke up again, we are still taxiing — WE’RE OFF — “You are artist? You paint that? You are my Special Guest!” — Giant flawless Turkish supermodel — FIRST CLASS — Flying out of Kennedy in the gorgeous dusk —- The evening sun slides in in glowing rectangles about the cabin — The sky fades from peach to dusk — A wing — A prayer —
BACK AT KYBELE WITH CLAUDIA
Kybele — Istanbul — Elvis/Taner: “I go be marry!” — The Bosporus teal blue in the late afternoon — Claudia has been here teaching Yoga for five weeks —7PM meeting Marmara Hotel 8PM Taksim Square—— The only hotel for me was Kybele in Sultanahmet, where I knew everybody. Claudia was a close friend from LA. She still is.
MIKE IN THE GRAND BAZAAR
Mike — Bronze bracelet, 2-2500 years old? Don’t know where it’s from but it’s on my arm forever — Persian c350 AD Bronze – Byzantine c350 AD Pewter —- 600 years old / 40 gates / 400 shops / 1,000,000 people a day / But only 4 know Mike / We follow behind, chattering like the wives.—— The rings turned out to be fake antiques, but I think the bracelet really is old, probably Roman. Mike owned Kybele Hotel with his brothers. He took us shopping and held court upstairs in the vast tassel-hung space filled with tribal and Ottoman artifacts he called his Museum.
Claire kisses the dice before she throws. “Sorry, Darlin’,” she says, and then she wins. — Claire from Ireland lived in Taksim and had talent. She moved away and eventually became a poet. Bruce, at left, wound up a university professor here in Turkey. Claudia at center is one of the most respected Yoga instructors on the planet.
AT KYBELE WITH ALI SANCI
Kybele June 2000 — Bruce — Ali Sanci—— Kybele in those days, with its antique-filled lobby lit by lamps like fantastic hanging fruit, and Mike’s fabulous tassel-hung tribal art Museum, was like a Merchant-Ivory production of Arabian Nights.
KITTENS & LOOM
Belgians who bought milk for these Water Pipe Cafe kittens – and a bottle to feed it to them – Fierce little beasties scratching & clawing & meowing at the bottle – Baby Turkish Cats**They later got very fat from fatuous Americans feeding them every night—
A year and a half later I went back to Istanbul to find this baby white kitten a mama cat with kittens of her own, exactly like her, spots & all! — She ruled the Water Pipe Cafe—— And she was likely my Pinkie-boy’s grandma. He’s now 17.