Saturday, July 7, 2018

Ruth Ford (July 7, 1911 – August 12, 2009)

Ruth Ford 
(July 7, 1911 – August 12, 2009)

Pierre Balmain and Ruth Ford, photographed by Carl Van Vechten, November 9, 1947.

On this day in 1911, Ruth Ford was born in Brookhaven, Mississippi, with a very exciting life in store for her, as her many admirers know very well. In 2008, just a year before Ruth passed away, a discovery was made in a warehouse in Northeastern Italy: a print of a silent comedy film called Too Much Johnson, thought to be long lost, written and directed by Orson Welles. It was shot in 1938, three years before Welles made Citizen Kane. Ruth has a big role in the little movie, which was never intended to stand on its own, but rather to be part of his Mercury Theatre Company’s staging of William Gilette’s 1894 comedy of the same name, Too Much Johnson. The film was never been publicly screened. In 2013 it was shown for the first time at the Pordenone Silent Film Festival in Italy and can be found online now, having been beautifully restored.  

Too Much Johnson (1938) Directed by Orson Welles

Ruth was a member of Orson Welles’s Mercury Theatre Company and a lifelong lover of the stage. I still have in my possession numerous printed plays, which Ruth read either for pleasure or with interest of playing a part. I wish she could have lived to see herself in this wonderful film, and I think it is a fitting tribute for her birthday to show it here.

Happy birthday, Ruth. You live on in cinematic magic!


-Indra Tamang
07/07/2018


copyright © Indra Tamang 2018, all rights reserved.

Monday, June 11, 2018

BLOG POST FOR THE YEAR

BLOG POST FOR THE YEAR

Tallest Building of the World - Burj Khalifa

I used to make a blog post whenever I took a trip, which was not too often, but this time it’s been a year since my last post, and within that year, my family and I have made a few trips. The last post I made was after our trip to Spain. Since then, we’ve visited Dubai, Kathmandu (by myself, in October, when I saw my extended family), Cancun with my three daughters along with my older daughter’s family, Chicago, and most recently, the Dominican Republic this past April. 

In Dubai, where we went between Christmas and New Year, Radhika’s niece Roshni came to pick us at the airport and took us to our hotel. While I was there, I learned about the huge amount of gold sitting in Dubai, and that gold toilet seats are not uncommon, although our hotel did not have any gold bathroom fixtures. Through Manchhiring Tamang’s recommendation we were greeted by the leaders of the Tamang Samaj U.A.E., Mahesh Moktan, Ram Moktan and Jeetendra Tamang and others who entertained us and treated us all wonderfully. We did lots of sightseeing which included the world’s tallest building, the world’s largest shopping mall, and also did camel riding (I thought we’d go on a little journey riding the camel, but all they did was take us in a big circle). Radhika had difficulty climbing onto the camel, but when she did she saw many wounds in the camel’s neck inflicted by its owners, and she felt very sorry for the animals. We also visited the Miracle Garden, an extravaganza of flowers and design, where a whole retired airplane sits beautifully covered in flowers.
A Golden Car Display at the World's Largest Shopping Mall in Dubai.


One night after dinner we took a boat ride to look at all the glittering lights with some of Radhika’s friends she knew from Nepal. I used to think that New York City had the most beautiful sky scrapers, but after visiting Dubai and looking at the buildings there, New York’s skyline looks like child’s play. Dubai is also extremely clean, with very strict rules about cleanliness. If somebody litters, they get a big fine. Most people seem to obey the rules because so many of them are foreigners, and if they don’t obey the rules they can be fined and deported. So everybody is very conscious of putting trash in the proper trash can. Last year I noticed that Barcelona was trash-less, and I wrote about that. This year I can add Dubai in that list too, at least within the city. We didn’t venture outside the city to see where the workers live, but it is a well-known fact that the huge numbers of laborers are not enjoying the famous luxuries everyone sees in pictures. We saw Nepalese workers everywhere in Dubai, along with lots of others from Bangladesh, Pakistan, Philippines and elsewhere. 
Dinner with Mr. Mahesh Moktan, Mr. Ram Moktan and Mr. Jeetendra Tamang of Tamang Samaj U.A.E. 


Dubai has completely reinvented itself in a relatively short span of time—in which it went from being a little sliver of a country with a small population, goats, and its old national trades of date-growing and pearl diving—to one of the richest countries, thanks to its rich resources of oil. It has the world’s number one seven star hotel Burj Al Arab built on the sea and it has large enough roof to facilitate a tennis court and a Helipad. It is home to the tallest 163 stories skyscraper in the world Burj Khalifa which brings in thousands of visitors and dollars everyday year round and the “largest shopping mall in the world.” Yet, Dubai has no natural drinking water of its own, the water is imported or obtained from desalination. At the same time, while they have no snow, they have year-round ice skating rinks. They also have very strict, and frankly quite absurd rules, such as holding hands or kissing in public can be punishable, and alcohol is forbidden. But of course, anything and everything is allowed for the rich people and people with power, including all the alcohol they want. All in all, Dubai is the city of beautiful buildings which functions as architectural fanfare during the day time and magnificent light show during the night. 
World’s number one seven star hotel Burj Al Arab at night. 

I may praise the tall buildings in Dubai, but here in New York I don’t like the highrises recently popping up all over Long Island City and Roosevelt Island on the South side of the Queens Bridge. When I cross the bridge looking south, I used to see a far distance all the way to the Williamsburg Bridge, but now there are tall buildings sitting in the middle of the river blocking amazing views. I have nothing against the economic growth in general, but these buildings just seem to do nothing but block the view from every direction.

One of the reasons I went to Kathmandu was for the elections of the NRA (Non Resident Nepalese in America) that were taking place on October 2017, I took the opportunity to visit my village to spend time with my extended family while I was there, and I also made a trip to an ancient pilgrimage called Namo Buddha, one of the most sacred Buddhist sites in Nepal. I stayed in Butsugen Hotel right near the Boudha Stupa. One day I went hiking with TSA’s former president Bharat Moktan and famous singers Prem Lopchan and Roj Moktan to Sundarijal, a famous waterfall on a mountain, with a name that translates to Beautiful Holy Water. At the entrance to the trek where we bought the tickets, they had big signs telling people to not litter on the mountain and to bring back any water bottles and snack wrappings with them to throw away in receptacles. I was shocked and disgusted by what I saw on the mountain trail. It was so littered as if people went up to the falls just to throw away trash. I made a video that day which is on Youtube now, to let the government know what I felt about it. I made a few suggestions on how to possibly enforce the rules that are scoffed at. But will anyone listen to me, one person? 

The Dominican Republic was no different. There was litter everywhere. One of the fun things we did on our visit there was take a boat to the little Soana island near Punta Cana where the movie Pirates of Caribbean was shot. It was a booze cruise, where you could have as much rum as you wanted for no extra charge, and at a certain spot the water was so clear we all jumped off the boat and into the water. But I kept noticing lots of trash which took away a lot of the pleasure. The trash problem is no different here in New York. I’ve mentioned the importance of reducing and eliminating street trash to our local politicians, as it seems to me that clean streets should be at least as important as high-rise developments. I think there should be strict rules about trash and it should be strictly enforced, with a fine given to anyone who litters. People who are aware that they will pay fine if they litter are less likely litter, and improvement will start from within each person. 
Soana island, Dominican Republic.


Meanwhile back in the old USA, Donald Trump (whose name I just cannot utter attached with the word that starts with a “P” for the highest office) seems to be keeping himself busy just with hiring and firing people as he wishes. Now he’s giving himself entire credit for the Singapore Summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un that is to be held in few hours (June 11th). The meeting had many ups and downs. Trump cancelled the meeting one time but it was resumed. Many critics believe that Trump is not prepared or is not the right person to be negotiating with one of the nuclear powers. The meeting is scheduled to begin at 9PM ET and I can imagine them sitting together in a bubble bath playing with matching rubber duckies. Donald Trump and Donald Duck! The absurdity of it all is something hard to get over, but there is still wishful thinking and hope they come up with a fruitful resolution of peace and harmony. 

I am looking forward to the summer and whatever it might bring. I want to wish everyone, all my family, friends and well-wishers, a happy summer, too, and one with good health, and hopefully a bit of joy as well. 


-Indra Tamang
06/11/2018


copyright © Indra Tamang 2018, all rights reserved.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Remembering Charles Henri Ford on his 110th birthday

Remembering Charles Henri Ford on his 110th birthday

Charles Henri Ford. 1933

Had Charles been given the chance, he would probably have said yes to living forever because life was an exciting ride for him. Everything he dreamed of or hoped for seemed to come true eventually. On his birthday in 1927, he made a pledge to be famous in two years. And then on his next birthday, in 1928, he added up what he had achieved so far at the age of twenty. He had a poem published in The New Yorker, and he had a few poems accepted by smaller publications. It didn’t seem like much to him, but he still had a year left in his pledge. Charles was ambitious, and he was on his way to being famous. But he had one concern that wouldn’t exist today, and he put it down as a question in his diary: But how, how am I to know if I am famous on February 10, 1929? He then wrote: Plans should be formed, must be formed. Launching a poetry magazine would help immensely.

1928 was a time when meeting influential people was easier than it is now, even without the internet or reliable telephones or jet travel. Charles had a talent for sending letters to very famous people—such as Ezra Pound and Gertrude Stein—and getting not just replies, but submissions to the poetry magazine he launched. And that little magazine, Blues, went a long way to helping him become famous—not in 1929 perhaps, but within his lifetime for sure.  No twenty-year-old today would have to wonder how they would know if they were famous. All they’d have to do is look at their phone. But at the same time, it is not so easy to meet and befriend famous people now a days, the way Charles was able to 90 years ago just by writing a letter. 
By the early 1930s, Charles was in Paris, living with Djuna Barnes and writing, surrounded by the most exceptional creative people his day. 

On February 6th, 1933, just before his birthday Charles wrote to his mother from Paris:

Mother dearest,

You’re a lamb to send me the money for my birthday. It came this morning and I don’t know what I would have done had it not. Djuna is quite broke too since she didn’t plan to stay over here so long and no longer has her column in the Theatre Guild magazine. She is working on a story for The New Yorker, an article for the Theatre Arts Monthly on the French stage which is not as good as the New York stage…I have been working on the novel and it is just about completed.

At the Dome the other evening I saw James T. Farrell, a young writer from the University of Chicago—Kay Boyle introduced us but I had been the first one to publish him (in Blues) over two years ago and since then he’s had two novels accepted.

Charles had a lot to do with helping others have success over the years, by publishing their work in Blues, or later on in View, or by introducing people to one another. All of that made him very happy. I think his legacy, in addition to all of his art, is the lesson of perseverance. Keep working, keep trying, and eventually, usually, dedication pays off.

Happy Birthday Charles, wherever you are. You are not forgotten and missed every day.
Charles Henri Ford, 1934 by Carl Van Vechten

CHARLES HENRI FORD
February 10, 1908 – September 27, 2002




-Indra Tamang
02/10/2018


copyright © Indra Tamang 2018, all rights reserved.


Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Thinking of Charles Henri Ford on the anniversary of his departure

Thinking of Charles Henri Ford on the 15th Anniversary of his Departure

Potrait of Charles Henri Ford by Pavel Tchelitchew. 
Every year on this day I remember his last days, leading up to his final one in the hospital in New York City. I’ve told many people about the way that Charles continued to make his art even in those very last, fragile days. Collage was always one of his favorite forms of art to make, as everyone who knows of him will remember. He published countless works of collage, showed them in galleries, and published them in books. Some of the greatest collage artists were his friends, in particular Man Ray, who Charles introduced me to on my very first trip to Paris more than forty years ago. 

Charles taught me that form of art as well, and for a time I too made collages and saved photos and magazine cuttings to use later. The best collage Charles created was the life that Charles lived. He pasted experiences onto the pages of his life in a way most people never do, and he started doing that at a very young age. He observed everything and everybody. Everything he saw was a little cutting that he could use later in some artistic way. He liked cities and he liked nature, he loved the company of other people and he loved being in places with hardly any people, too. He loved music and poetry and film and theater, and he liked people with a daring spirit. He was not afraid of the world, he embraced it whole and wherever he we went, he brought his notebooks, full of his thoughts, drawings, and ideas. 

I think that he would be pleased, all these years after his departure from this world, to see that scholars continue to write about him, and about his art. Galleries still want to show his work, museums are still interested in his films and photographs. People from around the world contact me for permission to reproduce his art as books and articles. I feel privileged and honored to have the stewardship of his work and his archives full of historical treasures. Wherever you are, Charles, you are missed, and forever appreciated.

CHARLES HENRI FORD
February 10, 1908 – September 27, 2002


-Indra Tamang
08/12/2017


copyright © Indra Tamang 2017, all rights reserved.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Remembering Ruth’s Passing, in good company

Remembering Ruth’s Passing, in good company


Painting of Ruth Ford.
With only 365 days to choose for birthday and day of dying, there is a good company for everyone sharing these special days, it would seem. Ruth passed away on August 12th 2009, and the most famous person to share the date of demise is Cleopatra, the last active ruler of Ptolemaic Egypt. I’ve mentioned that one before, and there are of course many more, lots of long lists of people who share the same date of demise, such as the Japanese pop singer Kyu Sakamoto, who sang the song called “Sukiyaki” in the United States. He died in a spectacular plane crash in 1985. In 1988, here in New York, Jean-Michel Basquiat died on August 12th, leaving behind all his paintings. Isaac Singer got a patent for his sewing machine on that date in 1851 which has been used by countless people. Is there a significance to sharing these dates? It’s a mystery, all of it. How can anyone know the answer? For me, this date has a meaningful importance in so many ways. I always think of Ruth on this day. On this day on 2009, my life changed, an era came to an end, and I carry a little bit of Ruth Ford’s influence wherever I go.

Ruth Ford. Photo by Francesco Scavullo

Ruth Ford
July 7th, 1911- August 12th, 2009

-Indra Tamang
08/12/2017


copyright © Indra Tamang 2017, all rights reserved.

Friday, July 7, 2017

In Memory of Ruth Ford on Her Birthday

In Memory of Ruth Ford on Her Birthday

Ruth Ford in her apartment at the Dakota 1972, NYC. Photo by Barbara Waterson
Ruth Ford, a great actress, a fashion model, a writer, an artistic muse, and a salonnière was born on this day, July 7th, in 1911, in Brookhaven Mississippi. And like her brother Charles Henri, Ruth lived a charmed life in every way. Thanks to Charles, who kept diaries starting at a very young age, I can tell you that on this day in 1924, she and Charles went to the movies on her 13th birthday. They saw a lot of movies and live theatre shows, and on this particular day they saw Scaramouche, starring Ramon Novarro (https://youtu.be/rbotp0iXqtE) at a movie house in San Antonio, Texas. I don’t know what Ruth or Charles thought of the movie, because Charles didn’t say, nor did he mention that it was Ruth’s birthday. All he wrote for July 7th, 1924 was: “Sister and I saw ‘Scaramouche’ at the theatre here today. I don’t know what I’d do if it wasn’t for her. I sure would be lonesome.” A couple of weeks later, on July 25th Charles went to see Anna Christie, starring Blanche Sweet, who he called his favorite. He thought she was wonderful in the movie, but wrote that Ruth didn’t think much of it. You don’t hear many people talk about Blanche Sweet anymore, probably because six years later Greta Garbo played the same role in Anna Christie and after that all other versions might as well never have been made. Garbo later befriended Ruth, and became a favorite guest at Ruth’s legendary salons at the Dakota. All kinds of important connections were made in Ruth’s living room during those famous gatherings, and she could not have been a better hostess.

Ruth and Charles both lived a life surrounded by fascinating and often famous people, but I think that without each other they both would have indeed been very lonesome, as Charles mentioned in his diary on this day in 1924. Throughout most of their lives they wrote to each other almost daily, even when they were on the opposite sides of the earth. They saved every letter they received from each other. A lifetime of letters full of details of their days, and diaries that Charles wrote his whole life. would be enough to fill rooms. Every important event and achievement in each of their lives Ruth and Charles ran by each other, as well as a lot of mundane things.  Even during the periods when they both lived in the Dakota, they often wrote to each other. There are little notes that I’m still finding in boxes of papers, telling each other about leftovers to find in the refrigerator “that must be eaten today” or book reviews clipped out of the Times with notes attached asking, “Have you seen this?” 

Mart Crowley & Ruth Ford with Harold Stevenson. Feb 21, 1973 at dinner party Ruth Ford gave for Mart Crowley at  La  Goulue Restaurant, NYC. 
I know that Ruth must have missed all of those letters and notes from Charles in her later years after Charles passed away. It seemed to me like a long time without him, all those days when I went to the Dakota to take care her. The salons were long gone, but Ruth’s rooms still held a rich feeling of all the famous people who spent so much time with; William Faulkner, Greta Garbo, Tennessee Williams, Truman Capote, too many to count. I don’t recall Ruth ever talking about whether she believed in any kind of afterlife, but if there is a way to meet our loved ones in that next place, I’m sure that Ruth and Charles will find a way to do it, and I’m sure that they’re seeing all those other people too. It’s not hard to imagine Salvador Dali, dialing Ruth’s number on his lobster phone, to invite her to some magical happening.

I want to wish Ruth the best 106th birthday, wherever she’s celebrating it. You’ll never be forgotten, Ruth. Happy birthday to you.
Ruth Ford in Dakota Apartment, NYC. 7/1/1965. Photo by The New York Times.
-Indra Tamang
07/07/2017


copyright © Indra Tamang 2017, all rights reserved.