My faithful readers may remember earlier references to my days of wild abandon when I had my studio on North Fairfax.........days and nights of depraved revelry guzzling cheap wine, brewing and dispensing hundreds of pots of coffee to droppers-in (I used to say that if I had sold the coffee and given away my ceramics I would have been a huge success.....this was before the invention of the coffee house, by the way), and, sort of incidentally,was also involved in the endless potching, shaping, decorating and firing of clay works of art in the midst of all this revelry. I know I promised more tantalizing revelations from this period and I am here to deliver.
Before I continue I must properly describe the setting......otherwise it will make little sense, I fear. (Hey....it may make little sense even if I describe the setting in excruciating detail, but, as you know, I am undaunted by that.)
My shop was one of three adjoining shops that had been built onto the front of an old 1930's house. Mine was the center one and I was lucky enough to have the original living room of the house complete with a real wood burning fireplace...........my living/sleeping quarters up 4 steps at the back of the shop area. There was also a mini-bathroom consisting of a toilet and stall shower and, in the shop itself, a sink. I had carved out a samll kitchen area around the sink and had installed some hanging cabinets over the sink and a work counter with primitive open storage beneath, a second hand frig and 4 burner apartment stove. It was really a very efficient working kitchen, but only for one small person and it was here that I often produced nearly gourmet meals for my friends.
One of said friends was a wonderful, brilliant, funny writer named Sasha who came by often for conversation, nourishment, occasional friendly sex and various games like scrabble and all sorts of word games which we both adored. One night I invited Sasha to a special dinner.......I had splurged on a gorgeous piece of steak and intended to grill it in the fireplace (which worked very well as a grill site incidentally) and offer a salad and baked potatoes followed by my marvelous apple pie with cheddar cheese baked right in the crust.......heavenly. Sasha arrived and I had the grill all set up in the fireplace and the charcoal just about ready for grilling. The oinkly (oh another lovely combination that really should be a word) as I was saying, the only glitch was that the salad had to be prepared by me in the kitchen which was about 25 feet and 4 steps down away from the grill in the fireplace so I took the obvious path to solving this problem. I put the steak on the grill and installed Sasha on a chair by the fireplace with all the necessary tools and acoutrements to remove the steak at the proper moment and the instructions to "watch the steak, please while I assemble and toss the salad". "OK" said Sasha with a confident grin.
As I tore up greens with wild abandon I would periodically call out to Sasha ...."are you watching the steak?" and he would reassuringly reply, "Yes, yes I am watching it". Finally the moment arrived when the salad was ready, likewise the baked potatoes and I trotted back and up the steps to my living room with the dinner on a tray.
"How is the steak?", I asked...... And Sasha looked up at me with innocent brown eyes and said "I think it is burnt.....
The New Yorker covers: March 17, 1934
8 hours ago