These very nice journals with my images are only $18.00 each at my cafe press site. They measure 5" x 8" and have 160 white pgs. There are many other designs which you can also view.
The Indelible Kitchen has just posted
4 drawings that I did when I was
a teenager. You can view them
at this link.
When I was 17 my mother decided that I needed some sort of psychiatric help so she called my cousin David who was a psychiatrist to see what he might suggest. “I spoke to your cousin David yesterday and he would like to see you to talk over what’s bothering you.” What was bothering me of course was my unbalanced father. I didn’t need to tell David that when I finally saw him in his Park Avenue office one cold Saturday afternoon in March. He knew the stress I was going through because he had seen my father in action for many years. He had seen his craziness at the family weddings, bar mitzvahs and funerals. David’s father, my Uncle Leo was my father’s brother, and as I sat across from him in his nice office he told me that I definitely needed help and he recommended a colleague of his, a doctor named Daniel Hertz. I was 17 and about to graduate from high school that June. To make money for my commercial art classes at a crap junior college in Brooklyn I would have to work for my brother during the summer. He was the manager of a big warehouse in Long Island City that housed thousands of sweaters for a boy’s clothing manufacturer. Part of my salary would go to pay Dr. Hertz for the weekly sessions at his office that was on east 62nd street and Lexington ave. I stared to see Dr. Hertz in April. He was a nice attractive man and I liked him, but I just could not open up to him. I would sit in one of his comfortable armchairs smoking one cigarette after another while he patiently waited for me to say something. “I don’t know what to say Dr. Hertz.” “Well how are you feeling Ira?” he would ask. “I feel like I’m in a movie.” After a few weeks of this he suggested that I join a group that he was forming for men of my age group. “I think this could really benefit you since you’re having trouble opening up to me, you might feel more comfortable with a peer group of young men.” So on a Friday after working for my brother in Long Island City I took the subway to his office and met my other group members all young men, mostly my age. There was the husky postal worker who was somewhat scary and psychotic (aren’t they all), a young pale man with bad skin who just sat there without saying a word, an effeminate guy who was loud and funny, and Mateus who was a few years older than the rest of us. He was so handsome that I could not take my eyes off him. Tall or at least taller than me, he had beautiful skin that was smooth and lightly brown with a touch of rose to his complexion. Most usual I thought His hair was dark dark brown that was almost black and he wore it a bit long, as that was the style that was taking hold especially among young men. He had large deep brown eyes and beautiful lips. In a word he was gorgeous. His shirt was open and revealed a hairy chest and he sat with his legs spread wide apart. I couldn’t take my eyes off him. We went around the group telling a bit about ourselves and when Mateus told us that he was an artist I was really interested. After the group was over I walked out with him, and he asked about my studies in commercial art. I was tongue tied but got out that I lived in Brooklyn with my family and I would be taking commercial art classes at this shit hole of a junior college in the fall. “Well you should come and visit me at my studio so you can see my work, you might find my paintings interesting.” “When” I asked. “Well anytime really, how about tomorrow? Are you free.” “Oh sure of course where is your studio.” “I live and work in the lower eastside, do you know the area?” “Of course I do.” “Well here’s my address how about 2 O’clock, is that good for you?” “Oh yeah sure of course that’s great I’ll see you tomorrow then.” I was practically floating as I made my way to the subway back to Brooklyn. The lower eastside, where the fuck was that? I had trouble falling asleep Friday night, and was up early to get myself ready for my day with my new friend Mateus. Here’s what I found out that day about him. He was from a large family and he grew up in a small town in Massachusetts. His father was Portuguese and his mother Italian, and like me he always wanted to be an artist. He was four years older than me, and was supporting himself by making frames for rich art collectors and successful painters. He mentioned the names of some of the artists but I had no idea who they were. Later on down the road of my life I would of course come to know these names and could even claim some of them as friends, but at 17 the only artists I really knew were Van Gogh Picasso and Modigliani. He lived in a loft on a worn out street somewhere in the Lower East Side, and the hallway smelled of pee and turpentine. His loft was sunny and pleasant with plants and big art books everywhere. His paintings were hanging and leaning up against the walls. I looked at the paintings that were of semi nude and totally nude men posed against half constructed buildings, empty parking lots and construction sites. They were beautifully painted and erotic and I felt a little embarrassed by them. Did he know something about me that I didn’t know? I guess he did because the next thing I knew we were embracing he was kissing me. This was the beginning of my love affair with Mateus and it would change me forever. I was 17 and I was in love. We would have to be very careful about this. I mean it was 1964 and homosexuality was still considered to be a crime and was also seen as a sickness. I didn’t feel sick I felt wonderful, but I could not tell anyone about Mateus. I could not tell Howard, or Marco or anyone. The first thing I did was leave the group, but I continued to see Dr. Hertz on a one to one basis who noticed a change in me almost immediately. “I’m in love Dr. Hertz.” “Oh that’s wonderful Ira, who is she? “She is a he”. His smile disappeared. Well now Ira I don’t know if this is a good and positive thing for you. “I do.” “It’s a very positive thing for me”.” I’ve even given up smoking.” I decided to stop seeing Dr. Hertz. Mateus continued with the group, and I would come running to him on Friday nights at his loft. I would call my mother and lie. “I’m going to spend the night at a friends we’re working on a project for school.” Well it wasn’t really a lie Mateus was my friend and he was helping me with a project for school. Of course I left out the sex. I told Mateus all the stuff that I should have been telling Dr. Hertz. Mateus would smile as I told him all the terrible or what I thought were terrible things about me. He didn’t care. He loved me as much as I loved him. I was 17 and for the first time in my life I was happy. He would cook me marvelous Portuguese dinners and play LPs of beautiful singers that I had never heard before, Billie Holiday and Dinah Washington, and he would hold me tight and tender. We went to museums to look at paintings and afterward Mateus and me would talk about what we had seen. He also took me to see my first Bergman and Antonioni films and we talked about them into the early morning hours. I would bring over my art supplies and as Mateus worked so did I. I started to do drawings with magic markers on textured mat board and Mateus really liked them. This was more important to me than what any of my teachers at school thought. At school I kept to myself. I shared nothing with anyone except Mateus, my gift of God. That’s what his name means in Portuguese, and that’s what he was my gift of God. When I first met Mateus I was a straight-laced Jewish boy from Brooklyn, I was still Jewish and from Brooklyn but my appearance started to change. I let my very short hair grow longer, I lost weight and I started to dress a lot less conservatively. My mother was looking at me with concern, because to her I was getting worse not better. I was spending very little time at home and my appearance was changing and this was very worrisome to her. About one year after meeting Mateus I took the subway to the eastside to spend an evening with him. I told my mother nothing simply that I was going to a friends house and I might spend the night. He greeted me at the door with his usual hug and kiss and I could smell the smells of good food cooking mixing with his oil paints and turpentine and the sweet smell of wood, the wood that he used to make his beautiful frames. “I’m leaving New York Ira.” I was speechless and just stood there. Finally the words came out. “For how long?” “For a very long time, I’m going back to Massachusetts to live. My mother had a breakdown and my father had to put her in a home. He needs me to help with the grocery and also to help care for my mom.” I started to cry. “Come here” he said and I fell into his arms, but my tears wouldn’t stop. “When are you going?” “Very soon, I’m going to start packing up my stuff and I hope to be gone in a week or two at the latest.” “I’ll go with you, I can help in your father’s grocery, I can get a job in a restaurant, I was a busboy one summer, or I can work in a factory.” “Oh sweet boy, how can that be, you’re barely 18, you got to finish school and make a life for yourself.” “You are my life, I have none without you Mateus.” Now I was really crying. “Stop that Ira” “You have you’re whole life in front of you, you’re so talented I know you’ll go far.” “I don’t want nothing but you please let me come with you please.” “No its out of the question, how would I explain you to my family, I can be arrested, your family can make my life hell, It can’t be done.” So that was that, and after that night Mateus disappeared from my life. I was despondent. I cried all the time. My mother thought it was something she did, and my father thought it was his fault. Guilt can be good. I started to smoke again, I stopped eating, then I went on a food binge eating everything in sight and gained a lot of weight, my skin broke out, and I slept the days away. I missed a lot of classes at school, and when I did go, I kept to myself. I cut my hair real short. I was moody, depressed and alienated. I was a real mess. I went back to Dr. Hertz. Some 40 odd years later on a nice fall afternoon I was coming out of the union square. subway station on my way to my usual Saturday afternoon with my friend Peter. Gingerly making my way through all the street vendors that filled the square on the weekend I saw Mateus. He was sitting behind a table with what I guess was his drawings. I froze, and stared but could not bring myself to go over to him. Later at Julius’s over drinks I told Peter this story and started to cry. “Silly” he said why didn’t you go over to him?” “I just couldn’t Peter. 40 years is a long time, and what would be the point.”
A few weekends after the murder of Martin Luther King I took my first acid trip. Now his murder as horrible as it was had nothing to do with my dropping acid. It was spring and me, peter and Dennis had been going to the various anti-war marches that were being held it seemed every weekend in the city and we also were attending some of the be-ins that were held on the great lawn in Central Park. It was a tense spring in New York and it would be getting a lot worse before long. It was the spring of 1968 and I went with Dennis to one of those hippie be-ins that I mentioned on a bright and shiny Sunday. I brought along the tab of LSD that I had bought from an acquaintance and I was anxious to take it, but Dennis said that I should wait, that I was not ready to take “this step.” It was a lovely spring day, the park was full of color and colorful people and as soon as Dennis said that I shouldn’t take the acid I of course did. He was pissed at me when I told him and he immediately started to pack up our stuff and hustled me off to find a cab. “I told you that you were not ready to take an acid trip, especially out in public what’s wrong with you.” The acid was starting to take affect as we made our way out of the park in search for a cab to take us back to Chelsea. I was starting to feel the effects of the acid when a cab pulled up and out stepped the 1930’s character actress Aline MacMahon. “Wow Aline MacMahon I said loud enough for her to hear. “Good afternoon young man, it’s a beautiful day isn’t it. “Dennis that was Aline MacMahon, we just saw her in one of those old Busby Berkley movies on TV the other night.” “Get in the cab Ira” Dennis said. I could tell he was not amused or happy to be escorting me back to the apartment on such a lovely Sunday afternoon. The usually long walk up to our apartment felt even longer as the steps started to melt. Finally we got upstairs and all the animals as usual greeted us at the door. Tai my Siamese cat jumped on my shoulder and Lisa started to rub herself against my legs. “Peter we’re home” I yelled out. “Back so soon” he said as he came out of the office where he had been proofing a new manuscript. “Ira decided to take a little acid trip so I had to bring him home.” “Peter we saw Aline MacMahon she was getting out of a cab right near Central Park.” He looked at Dennis with a yeah-right look on his face. “No it’s true Peter, we did see Aline MacMahon.” Dennis said. “I think I’ll sit on the couch and maybe do some drawings, my feet are getting smaller by the minute.” “Are you all right sweetie” Peter asked in his mother knows best concerned voice with a Puerto Rican accent.” “Yes yes I’m fine. Boy this acid is strong.” Well I’ll be in the office with Dennis working if you need anything give a holler.” “I will don’t worry.” The sun was starting to go down, and the light was doing strange things to the rug. Lisa the dog was lying at my feet next to the couch, and I could swear she was having a conversation with the cats. I did a few drawings and paintings, and then the strange stuff started. “Peter I yelled can you come in here.” “What’s happening.” He asked. “Judy Garland was just here.” “Oh really that’s nice, and what did Ms. Garland have to say.” “You better sit down Peter.” I made room on the couch for him.” “I need my cigarettes and a beer for this one” he said and was soon back from his trip to the kitchen. “Honey make sure you don’t go in the kitchen, you don’t want to see the roaches in your condition.” So what’s with Judy he asked as he lit a Marlboro. “Well she was very nice, but boy what a potty mouth on her.” “Do tell” Peter said. “Dennis, Ira just had a visit from Judy Garland, Isn’t that nice.” “Better Judy Garland than Deanna Durbin” Dennis yelled from the office. “Who’s Deanna Durbin?” I asked. “Never mind about her what did Judy Say.” Peter was hooked. "Well she was wearing those pretty ruby red shoes, you know the ones from “The Wizard Of Oz” and the cute jacket and hat that she wore in that musical, you know the one we saw last week at the Elgin, the one where she’s fat one minute and then thin the next, when she does the get happy number. What was the name of it?" “Summer Stock.” Peter said. “Yes yes that’s the one”. “Anyway she has a real dirty mouth; you should have heard what she said about Louie Mayer and Jack Warner. My God I was shocked” “What did she say, what did she say.” Well she called them both dirty kike Jews, and that they ruined her.” “Please Ms. Garland I said, I’m Jewish and I don’t like that kind of language.” “Oh really, well it was ok for Mayer to call me his little hunchback and fill me up with pills, that was ok.” “No of course not, but I don’t think that Mayer’s bad behavior towards you had anything to do with his being Jewish, and besides didn’t he convert.?” “All those lousy musicals I had to make with that little midget, God how I hated doing those movies” “Peter’s mouth was hanging open in disbelief. “But why did she visit you Ira, I mean of all the people in the world why did she pick you?”. “She said that she wanted to thank me for coming to her last concert at the Palace and to find out if I would like to marry her daughter Liza.” “Oh Jesus Mary and Joseph Ira, you're just hallucinating.” “What else did she say? ” “Well I of course told her that I did not want to marry her daughter, and why would she want me to marry her daughter?” “Well cutie pie” she said “in my family we always married homosexuals so I just thought it might be nice to continue the tradition.” “Hell even my father was a pansy.” “There you go again with the foul language, first of all, I’m not gay, and even if I was, I would not at all be interested in marrying Liza.” “This is unbelievable.” Peter said as he lit his 4th Marlboro. “And Peter you should have heard what she said about Grace Kelly.” “What what did she say about the Princess,” She said “that slut bitch stole her Oscar that she should have won for “A Star Is Born” and the only reason Kelly won was that she slept with every male and some female Academy members, and that that fucking kike bastard Jack Warner cut her movie to bits so that all her best moments wound up on the cutting room floor, and that she and George Cukor had begged, begged that bastard not to do it,” “I told her that her performance would outlive Kelly’s boring performance and that she should just forget it.” “There I was laid up in that fucking hospital after just giving birth with all those TV cameras on me waiting for my name to be announced as best actress. I felt like I was some Goddamn freak. I looked like shit, my womb was killing me, and there was that cunt Kelly walking up to the podium and stealing my Oscar, my Oscar. I hope she dies in a car crash.” “Oh my my Peter said.” ‘There’s more” I said.” “I need another beer, wait until I get back.”. “Ok continue.” “Well now this is really the weird part,” I said. “Oh really and what went before is not weird?” He said. “Finally Judy said that she didn’t have much more time left on this planet and she wanted to warn me to keep away from the village on June 28th 1969.” “But that’s over a year away and why should we keep away from the village on that date?” Peter asked. Well she said that my people would be very agitated that night and there would be lots of trouble”. “What do you mean?” I asked her. “You mean the Jews are going to revolt in the Village.” Why would the Jews be revolting in the Village?” “Not the Jews you twit, the gays, the homos, fairies, fags, drag queens they’re the ones who are going to be very very upset that night, so just keep away.” “Odd why would the gays be upset.” Peter asked. “I have no idea but that’s what she said, then she gave me a big kiss on my cheek and was gone.” “See the kiss is still there.” “Oh honey I don’t know.” “Well it’s true.” I’m pooped from all of this, and the acid has worn off, so I think I’ll go to bed, it must be late.” “Thanks for listening Peter” I said as I went into my bedroom followed by the cats and Lisa. I could hear Peter talking to Dennis in the office as I made myself ready for bed. “Did you hear that story Dennis. “I heard some of it, totally ridiculous, the boy has some imagination especially on acid.” “But what about the lipstick mark on his cheek. “Oh please Peter some hippie chick gave him a kiss in the park today.” “Still Dennis, it’s quite a story.” “Yes I’ll give you that it’s quite a story.
to himself never joining in the playing between Sam and Lisa. I think Lisa must have thought she was also a cat. If I forgot to close the door to the bedroom, the cats would climb on my bed and weigh down my blankets so that it was hard for me to toss and turn. Lisa would lie near the bed, and I would always step on her when I would get up in the middle of the night and stumble to the John to take a pee. Poor thing would let out a yelp that would wake up Sam and Charlie who would hiss and spit before falling back to sleep and would shatter the night’s silence. “Good Morning Dennis” I said poking my head in the doorway of the office where Dennis was hard at work. He gave me a morning greeting without looking up or stopping his typing. “Peter up and out already?” I asked. “Yeah you can say that, he hasn’t been home yet, out all night.” No sooner had Dennis said this that we heard Peter at the front door his key in the lock.” “Lisa get back” I could hear Peter telling the dog, as he tried to move into the narrow hall and avoid Lisa’s poop that sat on the newspaper that had not been picked up yet. “Good morning” Dennis and me said at the same time. Peter looked disheveled, as if he hadn’t slept. “Oh God what a night” he said, as I started the coffee brewing. “Where the hell were you?” I asked Well I went to Julius’s and picked up this luscious Jewish boy. We spent the whole night at a friends apartment who was away for the day.” I just stared at him. “Luscious Jewish boy, what are they growing them on trees these days?” He laughed his hearty laugh, well my friend you have met your match in Jewish lusciousness.” Oh really, Listen Pedro, there is only room for one Jewish prince in this apartment, and don’t you forget it.” Again he laughed. Well you’ll get to meet Mark tonight; I invited him to my dinner party. “Oh how nice, I can hardly wait. “Listen babe I have a big favor to ask, can we use your bedroom tonight.? I asked him to spend the night”. “Oh fuck”I thought, that means that I’ll have to sleep on that lumpy uncomfortable convertible with Dennis. “Well Peter do I have a choice.” Don’t worry pet, I’ll make it up to you. “ You bet you will, I thought to myself. “So tell me, is this Mark, just Luscious Jewish or Pretty Jewish?” “Oh no Ira, not again with the pretty Jewish thing. I’m going to lay down for a bit, before I have to start getting ready for this dinner party, which I regretting minute by minute. My head is killing me. I was due at the Museum of Modern Art, where I was to be interviewed by the owner of a performing arts summer camp. I was to meet him in front of the museum and he would get me in for free since he was a member. The interview was to be in the café. “What a nice place to meet for a job interview” I thought. I had done the summer camp counselor thing two years before, but I was a much different person then I was back in 66, and I thought it might be a good way to make some money for the summer and get the hell out of the city for a few months. “I’ll see you later. “ I said as I made my way out of the apartment. “Ira” Dennis called out as I made my way out. “Don’t forget Bob is bringing Tai with him tonight to dinner.” “Oh right” I said. Tai was not a friend of Bob’s but my new Siamese kitten that Bob was giving to me. Bob had asked me last week if I would like to have one of his new Siamese kittens, and I told him I would have to check with Dennis and Peter. “Oh why not, what’s one more cat.” Dennis said, and Peter agreed, so tonight I would be the owner of a cat, a first for me. “You know Ira, Peter had said, Siamese cats can be difficult.” Yes so I’ve heard, but he’s such a sweet little kitten, and so beautiful.” “Yes they can be beautiful, but I hope you won’t have your hands full.” I would soon find out how full my hands would be. When I got back to the apartment the wonderful smells of Peter’s cooking greeted me as soon as I got in the door. . He looked rested and asked me how the interview had gone. “I guess he liked me, but we’ll see.” “How’s the dinner coming, need help? “ “No everything is under control here; you might want to see if Dennis could use your help” The apartment was all neat and tidy, and we were all hoping that the roaches would be on their best behavior. “What time is luscious Jewish coming?” I guess around 7:30 or 8 the same as the rest of the guests. “Listen Ira, I really appreciate you giving up your bedroom for tonight.” “No problem Peter.” The smell of incense hung in the air along with air freshner and the glorious smells of rice beans and pork. Some wine and pot was in order as we waited for our guests to arrive. Happily the first guest to arrive was Bob with Tai in tow. “Well we made it” Bob said, as he put down the traveling cat box and slowly coaxed Tai out. The spitting and hissing began the minute Bob took Tai out of the box, and poor Lisa went and hid in my bedroom until the coast was clear. I bonded with Tai right away, he was mine and I was his for better or worse. Soon all the animals were playing and scampering through the apartment as more of our friends arrived. Dick and Kathy, Sal and Carol, Bob and a few others were sitting around in the living room, smoking, drinking laughing and chatting. They all admired Tai who already was being possessive of me. Peter was acting weird and nervous I guess because he was excited about pretty Jewish coming over. I was having a good time, when suddenly our bell rang, and Peter jumped up, scaring Lisa and the three cats. He disappeared to get the door, and came back with his new luscious Jewish boy. I took an immediate dislike to Mark, “he’s too chubby” I said to myself, I’m cuter, what does Peter see in him. Of course Mark was totally intimated by me but we all tried to make him feel as comfortable as we could considering that I couldn’t stand him. Suddenly Peter and Mark were gone, and the bedroom door closed. I could not believe what was happening. We all looked at each other, and started to laugh and make snide remarks. Dennis was not amused by Peter’s rudeness, but everyone else just accepted the fact that Peter was being Peter. Every so often he would bless us with his company and join in the conversation that was getting more and more uncomfortable and strained. Dennis got the dinner on the table and we all helped ourselves to the marvelous Pork rice and beans that Peter had cooked. What was really odd was that Mark stayed in the bedroom. “I’ll just bring him in a plate, Peter said. Well don’t get any on my sheets I yelled out, and I got one very dirty look from across the room as Peter went back into the bedroom. This time he didn’t come back out until everyone was leaving. It was not a fun evening except maybe for Peter and chubby Mark. Well at least I had my new cat who was already taking over my life by following me around the apartment like a dog as I started to tidy up a bit. Dennis is it normal for a cat to act like a dog I asked as I started to tidy up. We could hear moaning and groaning coming from the bedroom. I’ll never be able to sleep through that I thought. “Well let’s get the couch open Dennis said. And I was right, I couldn’t sleep. The springs of the mattress were digging into me, and the “noise” from the bedroom was keeping me up. When I finally did fall asleep I suddenly woke up unable to breathe. Tai was sleeping on my face, and the other two cats were on my stomach. Lisa was moaning and farting in her sleep and Dennis was snoring to beat the band. I was upset. I would have to examine my feelings about this situation the next day I told myself. My mind was swimming with images. I was still a little drunk and stoned. The apartment was stifling, too much heat, too much heat I got up and open the window in the living room to let the cold February air in. That should help I thought. Tai kept trying to sleep on my face, and Sam and Charlie were now playing on my stomach. Was I jealous of Peter, of Mark of both of them, was I freaked out by the gay sex happening under my nose, in my bed on my sheets that my mother gave me. Let me out of here. I looked at the clock 4 o clock, I got up and dressed and left the apartment for a nice cold walk to the village. I must have been half crazed to wander out at this hour, but the young know no fear. I walked to Greenwich Avenue and then down to 6th ave where I found an open 24-hour diner. I felt like I had walked into an Edward Hopper painting. I sat down at the counter and ordered some coffee and a buttered roll. My head was swimming with terrible thoughts of confusion. Across the counter a middle age couple were having a heated argument when suddenly the man picked up the bowl of oatmeal that sat in from of him and dumped it on his woman friend’s head. The other night owls and me just stared. The poor woman just sat there with the bowl on her head and the oatmeal running down her face. She finally took the bowl off her head, and with all the dignity she could muster, slapped the guy in the face, and went off to the ladies room. I paid my check. By the time I reached 8th ave, the winter sun was coming up and there were tears streaming down my face. Was it because of the cold? Who were the tears for? Were they for me, the lady with the oatmeal bowl for a hat? I made my way slowly up the stairs and opened the door where I was greeted by the three cats and Lisa. Well at least someone is happy to see me I thought. TO BE CONTINUED.Pictures used in this post: Tai, Charlie and Sam, Me in the village and Tai again