“The Scarlatti Tilt,” by Richard Brautigan
‘It’s hard to live in a studio apartment in San Jose with a man who’s learning to play the violin.’ That’s what she told the police when she handed them the empty revolver.
I have been working on new drawings, paintings and collages. These paintings illustrate the novel, ‘Sombrero Fallout’ by Richard Brautigan, written in 1975. I am fascinated by this book and I wonder if you will be too? Fill your mind with it’s colours, characters and conversations.
My first painting of the series illustrates, ‘The sky was blue. The blue of human eyes waiting for something to happen’, Chapter 1, line 3, page 1. I love the way R. Brautigan jumps between worlds. I relate strongly to his choice of turning towards the fields of his imagination when life around becomes too much. This is why I spend my time reading and painting his story; so that I can leave behind the worries of life and feel less lonely by reading his words.
The watercolours explode across the page. I can swim in the colours.
Notice three small figures talking within the landscape. There stands The Mayor, The Mayor’s Cousin and A Man Out of Work.
Sombrero Fallout, Chapter ‘SOMBRERO’, Page 1 – 2.
”Is that a sombrero?’ the mayor said. Mayors always speak first, especially if it is impossible for them to rise to any other political position than mayor of a small town.
‘Yes,’ said his cousin, who wanted to be mayor himself. The man who had no job said nothing. He waited to see which way the wind was blowing. He didn’t want to rock the boat. Being out of work in America is no laughing matter.
‘It fell from the sky,’ said the mayor, looking up into the absolute clear blue sky.
‘Yes’ said his cousin.
The man who had no job said nothing because he wanted a job. He did not want to jeopardize whatever faint possibility he had of getting one. It was better for everybody if the big shots did all the talking.
The three men looked around for a reason for a sombrero to fall out of the sky but they couldn’t find one, including the man who had no job.
The sombrero looked brand-new.
It was lying in the street with it’s crown pointed toward the sky.
‘Why are hats falling from the sky?’ said the mayor.
‘I don’t know,’ said his cousin.
The man who was without a job wondered if the hat would fit his head.
Now both eyes were crying.
___CLICK ON IMAGES BELOW TO ENLARGE__
The drawing below is of Yukiko and her Cat. I love reading about Yukiko’s dreams of Kyoto, her cat and her long hair. I wish more than anything that the very well known American humorist would pick up the phone and call her, but like so many of us his worries and shyness get in the way.
Sombrero Fallout, Chapter ‘SUBURB’ page 15.
Yukiko rolled over.
That plain, that simple. Her body was small in its moving.
And her hair followed, dreaming as she moved.
A cat, her cat, in bed with her was awakened by her moving, and watched her turn slowly over in bed. When she stopped moving, the cat went back to sleep.
It was a black cat and could have been a suburb of her hair.
The scene below depicts the development of the war scene. Once you read the book you will notice all the characters within the mayhem. Babies scream, limbs are flayed, clouds filled with tears loom overhead. Norman Mailer stands tall ready to document the destruction surrounded by tanks that I cut from 1970′s airfix magazines.
The central image of the Sombrero is a postcard that I found on eBay from the 1970′s of a sombrero restaurant, sent to me from California.
Sombrero Fallout, ‘DEAD’. Page 105
As the riot raged around the sombrero it remained safe in it’s little sanctuary in the middle of the crowd with it’s three companions: a crazy mayor still shouting his license plate number and two sobbing men who had been crying so long that they were like huge babies. They weren’t even aware that they were crying anymore. They didn’t even know where they were at or what they were doing.
Tears just flowed up through underground springs directly into the bottoms of their feet and went up through to their bodies and came out their eyes…or so it seemed. Nothing else could explain where they were getting all those tears to cry with.
Those tears had come from someplace, so it might as well be from hidden crying springs that came from deep in the earth and flowed great distances, originating at cemeteries and from cheap hotel rooms decorated in loneliness and despair.
Sombrero Fallout, ‘MAILER’, page 151. line 19.
Norman Mailer’s arrival was sixteen hours away. He would look tired when he got off the airplane at a nearby town. It had been a long hard flight.
‘What’s going on here?’ would be his first words when he touched ground.
There would be a couple of reporters waiting to interview him. They were nervous because they were young and liked Mailer a great deal. Then Mailer would look at them suspiciously. He wondered why they were interviewing him instead of being at the town writing about what was going on there.
‘Are you Norman Mailer?’ one of the reporters said nervously, even though he knew that it was Norman Mailer. He stood there with a pad and pencil in his hands waiting for Norman Mailer to say that he was Norman Mailer, so that he could write it down.
‘Got to get to work,’ Mailer said and walked over to a waiting car that was to take him to the town.
‘Was that Norman Mailer?’ the young reporter would say to his colleague. Even his colleague was put off by that and looked around in embarrassment.
‘That was Norman Mailer,’ the young reporter would say to himself now because Norman Mailer was gone and his colleague looked away.
‘Norman Mailer,’ the young reporter wrote down on his pad.
That’s all he wrote.
At the moment, I am working on a drawing of the Mayor, The Mayor’s cousin and The Man Out of Work with his berry stained hands. Oh how hungry he is!
Here below are my beginnings, for the moment kept secretly in their black box.
I will continue to explore the book with an aim of creating a series of eight paintings and a small edition of hand bound books including prints of the paintings within.
P.S A KALEIDOSCOPE SKETCH
KALEIDOSCOPE , Sombrero Fallout, pg.103 R. Brautigan
The American humorist sat on his couch suffering thoughts of her, trying to figure out how to win back her affections, wondering what had happened between them or just tumbling head-over -heels down into romantic oblivion where the image of a remembered kiss provokes bottomless despair and makes death seem like the right idea.
He experienced the basics of love ended. Of course in his case these emotions were being played through a kaleidoscope of goofiness and insanity. But still he suffered genuinely and realistically as any other person. After all, he was still human. It was just that his mind translated this into a twelve-ring circus with most of the acts not worth watching a second time. After a while non-stop brilliance has the same effect as non- stop boredom.
It was now 10.45 in the evening.
The night would be long for him.
He has been suffering from insomnia, so that when he tried to sleep it was like having a brain full of barbed wire.
Phantoms and fantasies of love raced back and forth across his mind, galloping as if on horses frenzied by snakes with no place else to go.