Friday, May 1, 2015

George Meets Frida: a Mexican adventure

Jan. 23, 1936
One Thirty-Two East Seventy-Second Street
New York

Dear Elizabeth -
     After much patient waiting I finally was rewarded with an epistle (a very well typed epistle I may add) from you. I find its a very good idea to write letters so seldomly as it works up a been desire, almost amounting to pain in the receiving person, and its a swell idea unless of course the person happens to die waiting.
     It's nice that things whizz for you out where beauties play my music. On the 9th February I'm playing the same frogs with the Washington Sym. - your mother has asked If she could give me a party in Wash. on that evening and I answered a quick "yes". I wish you were there.
     Ira's Follies opens in town next week & it reminds me of a year ago when you had that lovely dress on & we went to the opening of 8:40.
     Hope now you are in the pink, physically, mentally & professionally & affectionately & that you'll write soon to

& talents go to earn an honest dollar. When life whizzes by, one is really living, so drink it in, honey.
     The Mexican trip was fun & educational. No, I didn't fight with Eddie or even the Doc. We all got along 'splendid'. Much sightseeing, travelling for 10 days at an average height of about 7500 ft., seeing all the churches (but no synagogues) looking, but in vain, for the Mexican beauties one hears about, listening to the music but finding difficult to get anyone to play anything away from 6/8 time. Spent a great deal of time with charming fat Diego Rivera & charming lovely Mrs. Diego Rivera.  Made color pencil portraits of them both.
     Here I am back in old New York again, freezing cold. It's 10 above zero today. Night before last I played in Philly with the Philadelphia Symphony, the concerto & a suite from Porgy. It was a major thrill to hear that band

OK, Gershwinites: and are there any of you actually out there? Never mind, nobody reads my blog anyway, or hardly anyone, so I may as well pursue my current obsession (as usual!). One of these days I'm going to change the title of it to Gershwin's Ghost. You see, George himself is beginning to wonder if I am in fact working up to another book, which would be OK if it appears after my death and somebody else does all the slamming-headlong-into-the-cement-wall/humilating failure for me.

It's pretty easy to find samples of GG's handwriting, and the  most interesting thing about these samples is his reference to meeting "charming fat Diego Rivera & charming lovely Mrs. Diego Rivera", the latter now celebrated as an artist in her own right by her real name, Frida Kahlo.

I have to confess that some of this was a little hard to transcribe. That reference to "playing the same frogs" must, surely, be "songs", unless one of the songs was "Hello my baby, hello my honey, hello my ragtime gal". I am not sure who Elizabeth is, or was, and the Mexican letter consists of only page 2 and 3. What interests me - and maybe this was as casual then as an email, who knows - is how open he is about handwriting/answering letters from interested people and "fans". It must have been a thrill to get a handwritten note, not just from a secretary but from the great man himself.

By the way, he refers to playing with the Washington  Symphony on February 9. No coincidence, is it, that the date happens to be my birthday?

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