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Post-Impressionist SF

Sylvia and I were up in San Francisco two days ago. I visited with my artist friend Paul Mavrides, and then the three of us went to see the show “Post-Impressionist Masterpieces from the Musée d’Orsay” at the de Young museum in Golden Gate Park.

[Paul Mavrides outside the Post-Impressionist art show…he selected this pose.]

I mentioned to Paul my idea of having Turing blunder into the fake town set up by an A-bomb test-site, and Paul said this had been used not only in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, but also in a 1954 Mickey Rooney comedy called The Atomic Kid, and in the last episode of the first season of a 1986 TV series called Crime Story. I don’t think I’ll look at either of those, but the fact that the idea’s been used three times makes me feel a little more free about using it again. It’s kind of a standard trope by now.

I loved Paul Signac, Women at the Well, of 1893. Some really great gnarly shapes at the bottom. And Beach at Heist by Paul Lemmen, 1892.

In the evening Sylvia and I went to a reading at Booksmith on Haight Street, and had supper at one of my favorite Mexican restaurants right next door, Balazo (which means pistol in Spanish).

[A guy cleaning the copper trim at Balazo.]

I checked out some big cartoon books at Booksmith, one of which included “Death Sentence,” a comic from Tales of Terror #14, March, 1954, with art by Sid Check. A scientist grows some protoplasmic slime in a glass bottle, much like Alan Turing culturing his skug in my novel. By tweaking his culture with I think radiation, the scientist gets the stuff to undergo “forced rapid evolution of 1,000,000 years,” effectively becoming a creature typical of the far future. Some of the goo gets into a cut on the scientist’s finger and then, “He was a changing, shapeless mass of ulcerative protoplasm.” The goo splits and redivides, eating everyone in sight. Perfect.

While at Paul’s I glimsed Doctor Hal Robbins in his laboratory. He’s gearing up for a new round of his “Ask Dr. Hal” performances.

It was great being in San Francisco at night in the fog. Such a sense of promise and excitement. I hadn’t been on Haight Street for about a year, and it looked a little better than I’d remembered—usually I always just go to Valencia Street these days. There really are some good clothes stores on the Haight, the restaurants aren’t bad, and there weren’t as many gutterpunk panhandlers as usual.

And while I was in town, I checked out the wall space at Borderlands Café on Valencia, planning the arrangement for my art show there in November…next month.

6 Responses to “Post-Impressionist SF”

  1. Justin Patrick Moore Says:

    The movie “Kalifornia” also has a fake town A-Bomb test site. I haven’t seen it in awhile, but I liked it when I did. It’s got Brad Pitt, Juliette Lewis, & David Duchovny. The a-bomb test house scene isn’t until the very end though.

  2. Rudy Says:

    That’s interesting, Justin. So we now know of FOUR movies or TV shows with people blundering into the A-bomb test town.

    I’m thinking there’s something about this situation that speaks to us at a deep, archetypal level. Our dwellings, one might suggest, can seem to us like flimsy props devised by “them” to temporarily calm us while “they” prepare the Big Blast that’ll blow us away.

    If we equate the A-bomb with death, then ANY home is, in some sense an
    a-bomb-test-village structure. And the menacing, mocking “they” are the gods of the cosmos.

  3. Fritz Bogott Says:

    I was in the de Young Labor Day weekend but I didn’t make it to the post-Impressionist show because I never made it out of the Papua New Guinea gallery. I knew (from having seen the Papuan collection at the Quai Branly colonial-nostalgia palace in Paris) that I would be gripped by the forms, but I was slain by the sculptures with Grandpa’s actual skull and/or bones as armature.

    And that’s why I had my cremains made into an inkstone.

  4. Rudy Says:

    Fritz, the New Guinea gallery is maybe my favorite part of the de Young, it’s easy to miss it as it’s dark, and on the second floor, kind of in a corner. Almost all the stuff belongs to one family, and there was some worry about the gift being revoked, but they seem to have worked things out. I posted a few pictures from the gallery a couple of years ago in a blog post

  5. Fritz Bogott Says:

    I keep hoping that New Guinea face-painting will become a trend in the U.S., e.g. sculptor Naui Saunambui seen here:

    Unpainted faces seem so dull in comparison.

  6. Doug Says:

    Another A-bomb test town scene occurred in an episode of Futurama (Roswell That Ends Well).

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