Sunday, August 25, 2013
File Under "Correspondents, Unlikely"
Consider my mind blown, courtesy of the endlessly fascinating Joan Crawford Best.
Oh, I know it's not really him, as it's surpassingly unlikely that he was living on Flatbush Avenue in 1958. Still, don't you adore the image of the 13-year-old future reggae superstar sitting there in the dark of a Brooklyn theatre - watching, given the timing, a second-run screening of The Story of Esther Costello - and writing off to his secret idol? I'm sure he would have been thrilled to gain a little insight into the beauties of Acapulco.
Crawford's letters are remarkable. Not for their content - the very opposite - but for their incredible quantity, and for the even, impersonal, unnervingly mechanical tone, identical in each of all the thousands of them, whether she was writing to the most obscure fan or dearest friend. One imagines her, in one of her immaculate, HarrietCraigische Hollywood Regency interiors on tony Bristol Avenue, busy stuffing the sleeves of yet another outfit with tissue paper as she dictates, in a sharp, smoke- and vodka-inflected monotone, two or three dozen more missives for the day. The hapless secretary (barefoot for the white carpets, clad in my mind's eye in a shapeless blue smock provided for some long-forgotten sanitary reason) struggles not so much to keep up as simply to stay awake as she takes down the steady, implacable stream of words, words, words about the upcoming trip to Paris and the happiness of the poodles and the latest script for Warners or G.E. Theatre or worse.
And off the pale-blue envelope goes, to an eagerly waiting young Jamaican emigré back East in Ditmas Park...