Sunday, December 27, 2015

Palm Trees and Edmund

Sitting on my “writing bench” with the silvery palm trees off to my right.
I don’t know the proper name for them but they’re the kind whose leaves, or fronds, I guess, catch the sunlight and shine metallically.
That got me thinking about some other palms we used to see from an apartment in Los Angeles. We called them “the lollipop palms” for their straight-up trunks topped with bushy sets of fronds. And that put me in mind of that apartment and someone I met there.

When I called the number in the rental ad, the building owner said the downstairs tenant would let me in to see the place, and that he was a little odd -- “he has a beard” -- but he was alright.
The man would have fit right in to “La Boheme.” The writer/artist/philosopher cast would have been rounded out nicely with that theatrically-dressed and -voiced photographer.
Almost before I had settled in I found myself driving Edmund, in my recently acquired ’49 Ford convertible (that no longer converted) to a location in downtown Los Angeles where a particular derelict wall was peeling apart. The light at a particular time of the day at that particular time of the year made the composition, and Edmund set up his bulky view camera and started photographing it. I stood by, wondering if we might  be trespassing, and whether he really knew what he was doing with that vintage equipment.
Much later I found out his work was in the Metropolitan Museum of Art and several other museums of similar rank.
The only thing I remember seeing him do to support himself was to organize periodic “raffles” of his work. On those occasions I might wake up to find an assembly of 20 or 30 people, usually some of them Pan-like individuals sitting in the tree under my window playing musical instruments. Were they actually pipes?  I don’t  remember, but they should have been. 
Edmund would raffle off prints of his work for $5. They were extravagantly matted and difficult and expensive to frame. I will tell you I acquired a number of them, and they brought handsome prices at auction long after he was dead and I needed money.

I still have some of my amateurish pictures of the view with the lollipop palms, but I should have asked Edmund to photograph it. He’d have made art of it.