Monday, February 7, 2011

What a Beard!

Last fall when I was all a titter about the gubernatorial election, and terrified that Whitman might take it, I became preoccupied with Don Bachardy's portrait of Governor Brown (Governor Brown... ah, it feels good to say that).

In researching Bachardy I came across details about his relationship with Christopher Isherwood which then led me to read Isherwood and now I AM HOOKED!

So far I'm about 2/3s of the way through "Down There On a Visit," and am loving it. His meanderings remind me in some ways of the characters I have chosen to spend my adult years with, eccentrics and intellectuals who sometimes might make poor or reckless decisions but at the same time are pert near always engaging and fun. I dare say my exploits have been a deep shade tamer all things considered, however.....

By page 15 I was down the rabbit hole as a result of the following passage:
"The most arresting of Mr. Lancaster's photographs was a large one showing a vigorous, bearded old man of perhaps 75. What a Beard! It was the real article, no longer obtainable, made of sterling silver; the beard of the genuine Victorian paterfamilias. It roared in torrents from his finely arched nostrils and high big-lobed ears, foamed over his cheeks in two tidal waves that collided below his chin to form boiling rapids in which no boat could have lived. What a beard-conscious old beauty - tilting his head up to be admired, with an air of self-indulged caprice!"

A beard-conscious old beauty indeed! This sort of lovely metaphor matched with tales of drinking, travel, debauchery, homo-eroticism and WWII make for a quality read if you ask me.

My edition of the book has a sketch of Isherwood on the cover similar to the one above by Bachardy.

The first edition cover is also by Bachardy and is quite jaunty.

This image of the two of them in Bachardy's studio is the best.

The more I read about Isherwood the more intriguing he becomes... Friends with the likes of E.M. Forster, W.H. Auden, and Truman Capote, adapted Waugh's The Loved One for the screen with Terry Southern, had two books developed into film including Cabaret and A Single Man, edited Vendanta magazine for two years and sat on the advisory board for the publication with Aldous Huxley, etc. etc. In short he was an insanely interesting dude.

Lastly, in google image searching Isherwood you come up with a fair amount of John Waters pics. This one in particular was worth a repost.

Amen brother!


undercover caterer said...

Books are cool!

yolkie said...

That may be my favorite quote of all time.