Friday, July 20, 2018

Blind Item #8 - Dead Poets Society - A Dancing Boy Blind

The one about strange and sinister goings on in the production of a certain near tv series based on the works of a permanent A list novelist is coming (release is next week, I believe), but here's another one:

On the 21st day of the first month in the year of our Lord, 2008 (as he might say), I and many others lost an important mentor, teacher, and spiritual adviser. He was also a writer, and friend of many in the old elite, penning memoirs about more than one of those friendships. (His obit was published in the west coast paper of record sixteen days later.)

What he didn't and couldn't say in one of those memoirs, largely because of the widow, but also because propriety didn't allow it, is what or rather who inspired one of the several most famous English language literary works of the last century. It was a poem, pioneering in form, with enough allusions to keep scholars busy for decades, and probably longer. It was also what the author's life had become, in his view, after the loss of this one person.

The person in question? A boy, who his friend - my teacher - guesses was probably sixteen at the time they first met. It's unclear when the physical part began (probably two years later, when he had finished school), but not what happened next: he enlisted, as so many of his fellows had, and was killed in a gas attack on the western front before his twentieth birthday.

By the time the friend met him, he was still pious, but drinking too much, and wandering, in that state, to a certain part of the capital city. The young men he picked up sometimes stole from him, sometimes pitied him, but rarely recognized him (it's not like most of them read books).

How do I know?

After I turned eighteen, I was invited to lunch at the famous LA chili establishment, where I met the friend's secret husband for the first time - an old Hollywood man named Maurice. After several drinks, followed by several more, he told me this story, and others (to come)... I immediately ordered a phone (do you remember when you could order a phone at restaurants?), and dialed my soon-to-be college roommate, with whom I'd been coincidentally arguing about this very subject for several weeks by letter. It was at least half-like that scene in the most famous movie by the accused but apparently not so disgraced director his backers won't give him money - the part where they're waiting in line - but for real. 

69 comments:

T. W. said...

I wonder if the blind to come is about Mr. Mercedes (AT&T Audience Network) or Castle Rock (Hulu).

NE peanut gallery said...

Well, with this blind it's time to look ahead to the weekend. I think I'll do the smoked BBQ thing.

sandybrook said...

Haha so true NE.

T. W. said...

This blind is confusing.

Seems like Dancing Boy's blinds set you up for a part 2 that never comes.

nonyabusiness said...

More dancing boy bullshit. How great.

Jennifer said...

I love Mr. Mercedes! I hope season two is as good as season one!

nonyabusiness said...

None of these blinds ever make any damn sense. It's like word salad.

John the peon said...

Hemingway, ha I'm first with a partial answer

John the peon said...

But I wouldn't be surprised I'm wrong

LooksLikeCRicci said...

I was thinking Capote, but I don't think there were any secrets there...

I have no idea. I tried to start with determining who died on 1/21/08, but came up short. Meh.

rosie riveter said...

I think this was written well. No guesses of course, but I think it's pretty well written.
That said, I think I'm going whale watching with my boy(thanks Groupon!)

totaji said...

I was thinking James Joyce or Walt Whitman. Probably way off.

gauloise said...

Its a poet not a prose writer.

Ginsberg, for Howl, which is one of the most important poems of all time

other revolutionary poets: TS Eliot, whose poems like The Waste Land was filled with tons of imagery and references.

Krab said...

The last line is about Annie Hall.

Krab said...

The poet is probably Yeats.

Krab said...

Or maybe Stephen Spender. Don't have time to puzzle it out though.

HeatherBee said...

Carl Sandburg?

Bokolis said...

I don't know the secret husband or literary work, but the mentor/writer/poet should be straightforward to determine.

Cail Corishev said...

I'll try translating again. A writer died on Jan 21, 2008, and his obituary was published on Feb. 6 in a west-coast newspaper (LA Times?). He was a mentor of DB. He wrote the memoirs for several old elites. One of those was an author who wrote a poem full of allusions which is considered a major English literary work of the 20th century. What he didn't write in the memoir was that the poem was inspired by the loss of an underage boy the author had a sexual relationship with (if you believe he waited until the boy was 18, I have a bridge to sell you). The boy enlisted in the military and was killed in Europe at age 19, so that must have been WWII. The author became a heavy drinker and had a habit of picking up young men in the capital city of his state.

DB learned this when he met the secret husband (Maurice) of the memoir writer, who filled him in. He immediately called a friend (who would soon be his college roommate) he'd been arguing about this with, and it was like a scene from a movie. Because of course it was. The movie was made by a disgraced director who is still getting funded, and has a scene where people are standing in line.

Translation over. No luck finding a writer who died on that date. Dunno about the poem, doesn't sound like my kind of thing.

Krab said...

I got the feeling that the mentor/memoir writer was a different person from the poet.

orangesoda said...

Thanks for the translation, Cail. I came straight to the comments in hope of someone deciphering what I already knew would be nonsense so I appreciate the translation into human-speak!

Amelia Phillips said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
nirvana said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Happy said...

e.e.cummings

Beyond EMF said...

Think I found the mentor.

Burton Hatlen

Burton Norval Hatlen (April 9, 1936 – January 21, 2008) was an American literary scholar and professor at the University of Maine. Hatlen worked closely with Carroll F. Terrell, an Ezra Pound scholar and co-founder of the National Poetry Foundation, to build the Foundation into an internationally known institution.

Hatlen was seen as a mentor by several of his former students, most notably author Stephen King and his wife, Tabitha King. In a postscript included in his 2006 novel, Lisey's Story, King said of Hatlen, "Burt was the greatest English teacher I ever had."

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burton_Hatlen

Kimberly Davis said...

gas death..the front...World War One....no idea though...Eliot or Pound wrote obtuse poems...

Beyond EMF said...

Burton Hatlen Obituary:

https://web.archive.org/web/20080302041533/http://bangornews.com/news/t/city.aspx?articleid=159261&zoneid=176

Krab said...

The poet being Ezra Pound, the fascist? Great.

plot said...

Eliot isn't so bad. Pound is damn near impossible without a full degree in Pound (which was probably his egotistical intention.) Pound was also a Fascist, so there is that.

MyTwoCents said...

Word salad - LOVE that description!!!

Krab said...

I love Eliot but I've hardly ever been able to get into Pound.

Cail Corishev said...

Good find, @Beyond EMF. Hatlen was married twice, but I guess that doesn't rule out a "secret husband." So the next question would be whose memoirs he wrote.

gauloise said...

@Beyond EMF sounds right. Hatlen / Pound.

"Pound was deeply affected by WW1 He was devastated when Henri Gaudier-Brzeska was killed in the trenches in 1915. He published Gaudier-Brzeska: A Memoir the following year, in reaction to what he saw as an unnecessary loss."


Also thanks @Cail for the translation!

LJNDawson said...

If you study Pound, you're going to study Eliot to some degree, and vice versa. Eliot, however, converted to the Church of England, lived in a capital city, and was a heavy drinker. He (with The Wasteland) fits the description of the poet to a T. Scholars have speculated that he was bisexual (and afraid of being so). So I'm leaning there, and to Burton Hatlen as the writer.

japcap said...

thanks cail,its much clear now

LooksLikeCRicci said...

He certainly seemed to cover a lot of Pound's work, that's for sure...

Cail Corishev said...

Looks like I had the wrong war. I was assuming WWI was too long ago, but should have done the math.

Pound spent his final years in Italy, so the capital city where he picked up "young men" may have been Rome.

Beyond EMF said...

Thanks @Cail. Took some work, for sure.

Curious about Maurice.

Perhaps Maurice Evans?

http://gayinfluence.blogspot.com/2012/01/maurice-evans.html

Cail Corishev said...

Or if not Rome, maybe the capital city of a province or state, whatever they call them over there.

Pilot Gal said...

Wonder if this is Burton Hatlen? Hmmmm....he wrote only one book of poetry called "I Wanted to Tell You."

Krab said...

Hatlen wasn't the poet, nor was he the secret husband. He wrote a memoir about the poet.

hhstarr said...

Thanks Cail. I wonder if the UN needs you as a translator. At least DB used some commas, for once.

Joe said...

I can solve one: the famous L.A. chili establishment was Chasen'S!

Not interesting said...

Stop posting these blinds. Dancing boy blinds are incoherent shit.

T. W. said...

@MyTwoCents

Word salad is a symptom of schizophrenia...

Walter Aske said...

Gas wasn't used in WW2. Only WW1.
Jean Verdenal? (except he was 25 when he died)

Elfhaus said...

"It was what the author's life had become.."- "The Wasteland".
But Jean Verdenal was killed at the Dardanelles aged 25 so perhaps not Eliot.

travis said...

Eliot, I guess. His life became a Waste Land" after the loss of his beloved.

gauloise said...

It could be referring to the time Pound spent in Washington DC where he was institutionalized after ww2, before returning to europe

Itttt said...

Ezra PoundMeToo #MeToo HASHTAGMeToo jibber dee jooooo, yet another incoherent DB blind whoop a dee doo!

More Cowbell said...

Definitely "The Wasteland" because of the mention of all the allusions that would keep scholars busy for decades. T.S. Eliot.

Geeljire said...

Ezra Pound my curry hole

just sayin' said...

I haven't read the blind, just the comments, but if we're looking for a 20th century writer who was a soldier and had gay affairs, Gore Vidal may fit.

PapayaSF said...

I like the Ezra Pound/Gaudier-Brzeska guesses, but as far as I can tell, Gaudier-Brzeska was not killed in a gas attack.

Col. Darryl Harrelson said...

sorry Joe...the famous chili restaurant would be West Hollywood's Barney's Beanery

Sara, Making It Work said...

I've never had California chili. What's in it? From the name, Barney's Beanery, there must be beans.
I'm not a chili purist in any way, but many believe that "real" chili is made with meat and NO BEANS. At least in Texas.

Brayson87 said...

@Cail, thanks for the translating the word salad!

pixiegothy said...

You're the best Cail, thanks for the translation

Large Marge said...

This is TS Eliot.

Fairylights said...

T.S. Elliot, maybe the Lovesong of J. Alfred Prufrock? The rest of it, I have no idea.

Unknown said...

Written to suggest T.S. Eliot / The Wasteland .. . . After reading his biography, I would believe he was closeted.

Tiff said...

Sorry Sara but Joe is definitely right with the famous Chili restaurant which was Chasen's -- absolutely without a doubt.

JL said...

Thought Ginsberg and Howl too.

JL said...

Wow, good work.

ardleighstreet said...

Robert Frost and poet Edward Thomas both were married but spent a lot of time together between 1913-1917. Frost talked about the relationship calling 1914 "their year". Seems a strange phrase for just friendship.

Edward Thomas died in the Battle of Arras in 1917. Frost and his wife were friends with Thomas's widow Helen but Frost became displeased on Helen Thomas's book about Thomas. The first where she seemed to defend Thomas's love for her AS IT WAS and her 2nd book WORLD WITHOUT END brought Frost's scorn.

Cree said...

Cail, if you post on every DB blind from here on out; I'm going straight to the comments. Thank you.

Paul Saint John said...

Eliot.

Riles said...

Robert Frost. https://www.theatlantic.com/video/index/555959/robert-frost-road-not-taken/

BlimpBabyPrez said...

Another Dancing Boy blind, more like another too long piece of dancing garbage.

Advertisement

Popular Posts from the last 30 days