“Americas ‘true romantics will be the jazz musicians and jazz writers, living by their lyrical emotions, senses.”
From The Diary of Anais Nin volume Six.”
The throw of the dice this week lands on mysteries of character. We all have our closet of masks that we reach for when we need to camouflage our fear, insecurity, disdain, or judgment.
I wore a mask the day I went to pick up Jim Marshall at the Albuquerque airport. I didn’t want to appear unprepared, inexperienced, or effusive. As soon as I recognized Jim taking his last step off the escalator, my mask cracked. I ran to him, hugged him, and clichés poured out of my mouth: I’m so happy to see you, how was the flight, welcome to New Mexico. He nodded, smiled with closed lips, and asked,
“How long does it take to get to Taos?”
“An hour and a half.” Jim’s lips tightened.
In the car, Rudy and I whisked up conversation, but the results were drippy. Jim stared out at the window. We were in the valley of lunar like scrub rush, broken down sheds, and absentee human life.
“WHERE THE FUCK ARE WE?” Jim growled
“We’re almost there, another half-hour.”
“WHERE THE FUCK ARE THE PEOPLE?”
I tried, unsuccessfully to assure Jim, there were lots of people in Taos. I read his mind; why did he make the decision to exhibit his iconic rock and roll photography in a gallery in boon-dust Taos. How much longer before he can unwind with a scotch, and call home for a taste of civility. Who are these morons driving this car anyway?
Inside the B & B suite we’d rented for Jim, I breezed across to the adobe terrace, and opened the curtains, “You like it?”
“THERE’S NO FUCKING HAIR DRYER?”
“You can borrow mine.”
“Are you hungry Jim?”
“I have a bottle of your favorite scotch.” He picked it up, and looked for a glass. I ran to the bathroom and brought him a glass.
“See you tomorrow. “ He growled.
The next day, I waited for Jim’s call. Instead I heard from Dave Brolan, Jim’s operator to the world; friend, translator, mediator and stabilizer.
“Dave, is Jim all right?”
“He’ll be all right. He’s tired and cranky. He’ll be fine tomorrow night.
“What can I do anything?”
“No, just take care of your opening business. I take care of Jim.”
I sighed deeply, and returned to the chaotic events preceding the grand opening of our gallery. Jim agreed to exhibit along with Baron Wolman and Michael Zagaris, because they hadn’t been together in a long time. I was about to ease-drop on history, with three distinguished rock and roll photographers.
My heart raced ahead of me, until 6 o’clock when Jim and Dave walked into the gallery.
“How are you Jim?” I followed behind him as he viewed the exhibition.
“Looks good.” He said. Then he was swallowed up into a crowd of guests. He stood patiently for photographs, greeted strangers with a boyish smile and brotherly handshake. He sat down at my desk and began to sign books for a tickly line of buyers. I filled his glass with scotch and he said, “Thanks sweetheart.” My heart returned to my chest. The evening transcended into a kinetic overture of rock n roll music, reminiscing of the sixties, and feverish excitement. Around midnight, after being the center of 250 to 300 Taosaneos, Jim said, “Let’s eat.” It was snowing and pitch black outside.
Our party of seven charged in and rearranged the vibe of the banal atmosphere. Once inside the dining room Michael Z, was exhibiting impersonations of Jim, while we all laughed. Marshall didn’t twitch, or sneer; he accepted being the force of raucous laughter.
A young professional looking man approached our table.
“I apologize for interrupting. When I got to the opening, you all were leaving. I’m really sorry I missed it; I’m a huge fan of your work Jim.
“How did you know we were here? I interrupted.
“I followed you.” He said.
That night and the next three nights, Jim was host to a crowd of fans that followed him around. I watched the mystery of his character, revealed, untouched, in focus, on what the photographs brought back to him. He was anointed by their admiration, without becoming inflated.
At the airport, Jim took me into his arms, “You did good LouLou.”
Two Years later.
I am in Santa Fe, and my social life is Camus strange. While I try to sell my photographs and write, my life is stifled by the absence of friends and parties. Jim called one afternoon.
“Loulou, my friends just moved to Santa Fe. Take down their number and call them.”
I called these new friends of Jim’s, and a week later, a man drove up, and leaped out of his car.
“Hi LouLou, I’m Jock.” He sat down, but his spirit was an unbolted kinetic burst of energy.
“I brought this for you.” He handed me a beautifully hand crafted book of his Cuban Series photographs.
A month or so later, I received a party invitation from Jock and his wife, Annaliese. The evening was lyrical, as friends circulated between the portals, while Jock mixed molita’s and Annaliese served Cuban food. That night, I was introduced to their friends. Now, a year later, I consider them my friends.
I called Jim after the party.
“I called to thank you.”
“What for baby?”
“For introducing me to Jock and Annaliese. Now I have friends.” Jim chuckled.
Jim passed away March 23, 2010. He was a romantic and lived by lyrical emotions and senses.