Thursday, March 29, 2007

Rare Henry Miller Snapshots

A while back, I posted about Henry Miller having "his own" MySpace page. Well, it seems there's another Miller MySpace page, this one in French. It's much of the same as the other one, with several "friends" leaving words of adoration and love for Henry. But this particular site also features a bunch of rare Miller snapshots, all seemingly from personal collections.

Henry Miller with Eddie Schwartz and the Henry Miller Literary Society (described below).

The photographs appear on three pages. They don't provide much background information, but the photo tags do imply (I say again, IMPLY) the occassions for which they were shot. Here are the links to each group:

Three snapshots in muted colour of Miller surrounded by students and holding some kind of model rocket.

Link to UCLA 1972.

Two black and white shots of Henry checking out the back of a van and holding a cigarette while chatting with a young man and woman. Probably shot by Peter Gowland. Once thing's for sure: the young guy is sporting a textbook example of a beatnik beard, so I'm guessing this is early 1960s.

Link to: Miller - "Gowland"

On the same page as above are three amateur colour photos: one of Miller speaking to a blonde woman at (his?) table, with his artwork on the walls; two of an almost senile-looking Miller in bathrobe while two dapper young Asian teen boys pose with him and his artwork.

Same link as above.

Here are ten interesting black & white photos of Miller apparently [the photos are tagged "literarysociety"] at a meeting of the Henry Miller Literary Society (of Minneapolis). The society existed from 1955-1967, which gives us a time-frame for these shots.

Link to: Miller & Literary Society.

I assume these pictures are coming from the MySpace operator's personal collection. Whoever this MySpace operator is, please, keep them coming!

Monday, March 26, 2007

Miller Banned From Texan High School

Henry Miller is in the news! Okay, it's only a local story in Terrell, Texas. But who knows? Maybe it will be picked up nationally and Miller will become the exploding elephant that was once the Danish cartoon controversy. Not that this would be a good thing. Anyway, here is most of the article, written by Ian McCann of the Dallas Morning News:

Author removed from school's assignment list after complaint

"Henry Miller was removed from a list of American authors approved for a research assignment at Terrell High School this week after a junior and her parents complained about his novel Tropic of Cancer.

The 17-year-old told her parents she believed the book was inappropriate because of its explicit sexual content, said Pam Stevens, a Terrell school district spokeswoman. She said district officials were trying to ensure that materials used in class assignments meet the standards set by the district and the community.

'We're trying to make sure the content is appropriate for the age level,' Ms. Stevens said. 'This is a literature and research assignment – that's where the focus should be.'

[...] In the school assignment, created eight years ago, each student researches an author using biographies, literary criticism and the writer's works. Ms. Stevens said the two junior English teachers on Monday would begin reviewing the nearly 400 authors on the approved list to determine whether others might be found objectionable.

Ms. Stevens said that the student, whose name was not released, borrowed the book from the city's Hulsey Public Library. She told her parents about content she considered inappropriate, they complained to school administrators and Mr. Miller's name was immediately removed from the approved list of authors.

Rebecca Sullivan, the city's library director, said she had received no prior complaints about the novel.

In her 18 years at the library, she said, there has been only one formal complaint, from someone asking that the library make available a book it had declined to offer.

Ms. Sullivan stressed that the library would not remove Tropic of Cancer from its shelves and that schools – unlike libraries – take on some parental responsibility."

Full article link here.

The Hulsey Public Library has seven Miller items in its collection. Tropic Of Cancer is, needless to say, "on hold" and not due back until April 4th. Becky Sullivan has just become my favourite librarian.

Take a look at the American Library Association's "Freedom To Read Statement." i.e #1 - "It is in the public interest for publishers and librarians to make available the widest diversity of views and expressions, including those that are unorthodox, unpopular, or considered dangerous by the majority."

Terrell High School is, according to its website, "recognized in English Language Arts for Consistent High Performance over the past three years."

I'm actually surprised (though delighted) that Miller was even on a high school reading list, so I don't feel particularly shocked that he's being removed (at least in an official School Board capacity; 17 is not too young to read Miller, in my opinion). But the insinuation that the library is at fault for carrying his work and that perhaps it should be removed is offensive to me.

I would love to see the before and after lists.

In lieu of a message board, I encourge opinions in the Comment section below. If you're interested in people's opinions about this topic but see that the Comment section below is disappointingly dead, check out the messages left at Bookshelves of Doom and NYC Educator.

For an essay about Miller's absence in post-high school education in the US, see Karl Orend's "Making a Place for Henry Miller in the American Classroom" in Nexus: The International Henry Miller Journal #2 (2005).
The local Terrell Tribune covered this story after a parent-teacher meeting early this week. Apparently, the 16-year female student's choices were "slim" by the time she had a chance to select her author from the list of 400 names. The school librarian is said to have recommended the book, saying it was "a good choice" for her. The student was shocked by the language, then told her father (who's running for some kind of office or council position), who was even more shocked. The book is now removed from the list of approved authors and the school Superintendent has "ensured" parents that students will only be issued "age appropriate" literature.
Check out the horn-bucking in the comments section that follows this article on the website. Lots of ranting about freedom versus responsibility, with only a few actual references to Miller, like this one: "As a side note, when I was student at Terrell High School, I wrote a paper on another Henry Miller book. If there was a problem with Tropic of Cancer, he has written many other fine works. "
The Kaufman County Online reported on this as well, adding more details:
1) The teachers claims they were unaware that the works were "unsuitable."
2) The school has been using the same list for eight years. This list was apparently drawn from the Perspectives on American Literature website.
3) The girl is now going to write a report on Robert Heinlein (who seems to enjoy themes of sexual liberation ... wait til daddy hears about this one).
4) And just when I decided this was all over with, it seems that her father is a school board candidate, and said the incident will "likely be discussed during his campaign."

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Miller in the Anais Nin Papers

As I established in my posting about Miller material in the Online Archives Of California, I am now going to list the Miller-realted items found in the Anais Nin Papers in the Online Archives Of California.

The Nin Papers [linked above] include her actual diaries, which makes it an impressive collection. Miller, of course, makes a number of appearances within these pages. I've listed every Henry Miller item to be found in the Nin Papers, and nothing else. To see the actual material, you'll have to contact the OAC or catch a flight to California.
Diary #45 (1934) makes reference to the fact that Anais Nin was carrying Henry's child.

[ Box 16 - Folder 1]
Diary 32 - Mon Journal and Note Book. Book II - June, 1931 Oct. 20-1932 February 1.
(1) With a clipping “La Vie de Boheme” re June Miller written by Wambly Bald tipped in.

[ Box 16 - Folder 2]
Diary 33 - Mon Journal and Note Book. The Possessed, 1932 Feb. 2-[Apr. 15].
(1) Journal, “The Possessed” with photo of Henry Miller tipped into front flyleaf.

[ Box 16 - Folder 4 ]
Diary 35. Mon Journal and Note Book. Henry. The Apotheosis and Downfall, 1932 June 9-Aug.
(1) Photo of Henry Miller tipped in opposite title page. Letter from HM tipped in, p.251.

[ Box 16 - Folder 5 ]
Diary 36. Journal and Note Book. Journal of a Possessed. Henry. Allendy. Ana Maria. June, 1932 Aug. 24-Oct. 23.
(1) Photo of Henry Miller tipped in opposite title page.

[ Box 16 - Folder 6 ]
Diary 37. Journal and Note Book. La Folle Lucide. Equilibre, 1932 Oct. 23-Dec.
(1) Photo of Henry Miller opposite page 1.
(2) Letter from “Fred” laid in between pp.224-225.

[ Box 16 - Folder 7 ]
Diary 38. Uranus. Journal and Note Book. Henry. Allendy. Louise. Andre, 1932 Nov. 24-1933 Jan. 29.
(1) Horoscope for HM tipped in, pp.298-300.
(2) Photo of Henry Miller tipped in opposite title page and opposite p.1.
(3) HM has written in the diary, pp.186-205 on 1 January 1933.
(4) Fragment of letter from HM, p.231.

[Box 16 - Folder 10 ]
Diary 41. Mon Journal and Note Book. Father, 1933 May 7-June.
(1) Watercolor by Henry Miller tipped in.

[Box 17 - Folder 2]
Diary 44. Mon Journal and Note Book. Audace, 1933 Sept. 19-Nov. 8.
(1) Henry Miller business card tipped in title page.
(2) Copies of excerpts of letter from AN to HM tipped in, pp.130-135.

[Box 17 - Folder 3]
Diary 45. Novel of Henry - June. Break with Father, 1934 Feb.-July 6 [7].
(1) ”In this journal AN writes that she is pregnant with Henry Miller's child, p.[187].

[Box 17 - Folder 9]
Diary 50. Drifting, 1936 March-August.
(1) Photos of AN, Henry Miller , Hugh Guiler and unidentified tipped in as well as letters.

[Box 19 - Folder 1]
Diary 51. Mon Journal. Vive la Dynamite. Nanankepichu, 1936 Aug. 31-Dec. 27.
(1) What are you going to do about Alf by Henry Miller laid in.
(2) Reviews of Tropic of Cancer laid in.

[Box 19 - Folder 5]
Diary 55. Mon Journal and Note Book. Maya, 1937 Sept.-Nov. 8.
(1) Beginning, “I am not a pathological liar.” re Lawrence Durrell, Henry Miller, Gonzalo Moré.
(2) Prospectus for publication of AN's diary by Henry Miller tipped in front endpaper.

[Box 19 - Folder 7]
Diary 57. Les Mots Flottants. Mon Journal, 1937 Dec. 12-1938 Jan., March.
(1) Signed Henry Miller on front flyleaf with AN's note, “This was the dummy of the the [sic] Journal I Henry intended to publish. I only collected 2000 frs. The plan failed.”
(2) Reprint of “Un Etre Etoilique” by HM tipped in.

[Box 20 - Folder 1]
Diary 58. Nearer the Moon. Mon Journal, 1938 March-Sept.
(1) 2pp. taped together with letter from Henry Miller tucked in between, before pp.[345-346].

Anais Nin in a bank vault with her journals. I don't know the source of this photo, except that I found it on this blog.

[Box 20 - Folder 3]
Diary 60. Mon Journal, 1939 January-April.
(1) Horoscope of Otto Rank, in manuscript, then covered by typewritten sheets tipped in, followed by letter from Henry Miller (blue ink) and Conrad Moricand(?) (black ink) tipped in, pp.[298]-[312].

[Box 20 - Folder 4]
Diary 61. [No title], 1939 June-October.
(1) Correspondents include Henry Miller.

[Box 20 - Folder 5]
Diary 62. Kenilworth & Death of the Mother. Mon Journal, 1939 Oct.-1940 Nov.
(1) Photos of Henry Miller.
(2) With letters from Henry Miller;

[Box 21 - Folder 1]
Diary 63. Mon Journal. House of Death & Escape, 1940 Dec. 8-1941 June.
(1) Correspondents include Henry Miller's father.

[Box 21- Folder 4]
Diary 66. Mon Journal. A la Recherche des Jeux Perdus w/ Martha Jaeger, 1942 Oct. 27-1943 Oct. 3.
(1) With letters from Henry Miller.

[Box 21 - Folder 5]
Diary 67. [No title], 1943 October-1944 March.
(1) Contains letters, including some from Henry Miller.

[Box 28 - Folder 7]
Diary [88]. 1957 - [I], 1957.
(1) AN's writings include her observations on returning to Rupert Pole, Helen and Lloyd Wright, the Malibu fire and Lloyd's anger towards RP, Lawrence Lipton, Henry Miller and June Miller.

[Box 29 - Folder 4]
Diary [90]. 1958 - [I], 1958.
(1) With a letter from Eve Miller (6 November) re a visit from Henry Miller's daughter, Barbara, pp.[495]-[496].

[Box 30 - Folder 6]
Diary [94]. 1959. 1x. 1959.
(1) With letters from Henry Miller.

[Box 31 - Folder 2]
Diary [95]. “106 [sic] May 1959 original.” 1959.
(1) Includes letters from Henry Miller.

[Box 31- Folder 4]
Diary [97]. 1960 I all, 1960.
(1) Includes letters from Henry Miller.

[Box 33 - Folder 5]
Diary [103]. 1962. R. January-April 1962.
(1) Includes letters from Henry Miller (photocopies).

[Box 33 - Folder 7]
Diary [104]. 1962. R x. May-December 1962.
(1) Includes letters from Henry Miller.
(2) With letters from Wilbur Smith re AN's request for an exchange of Henry Miller /AN letters.

[Box 33 - Folder 8]
Diary [104]. 1962. R x. May-December 1962.
(1) With letters from Henry Miller (some photocopies);
(2) With letters from Wilbur Jordan Smith and Brooke Whiting, UCLA Library, regarding an exchange of Henry Miller /AN letters;
(3) Includes a description of her “griefs against Henry [Miller], 8 Aug.,” pp.[234]-[247] and further comments on Henry Miller , pp.[248]-[253].

[Box 34 - Folder 6]
Diary [106]. 1963, R × all, January-May 1963.
(1) Includes letters from Henry Miller (photocopies).

[Box 34 - Folder 7]
Diary [106]. 1963, R × all, January-May 1963.
(1) Includes letters from Henry Miller (photocopies).

[Box 34 - Folder 8]
Diary [106]. 1963, R × all, January-May 1963.
(1) Includes letters from Henry Miller (photocopies).

[Box 35 - Folder 3]
Diary [108]. 1964 - all. Mon Journal. Journal des Autres, 1964.
(1) With letters from Henry Miller (photocopies).

[Box 35 - Folder 5]
Diary [108]. 1964 - all. Mon Journal. Journal des Autres, 1964.
(1) With letters from Henry Miller (photocopies).

[Box 35 - Folder 7]
Diary [108]. 1964 - all. Mon Journal. Journal des Autres, 1964.
(1) Includes letters from Henry Miller (photocopies).

[Box 36 - Folder 2]
Diary [110]. 1965 - all. January-March 1965.
(1) Includes letters from Henry Miller (photocopies).

[Box 36 - Folder 3]
Diary [110]. 1965 - all. January-March 1965.
(1) Includes letters from Henry Miller (photocopies).

[Box 36 - Folder 4]
Diary [110]. 1965 - all. January-March 1965.
(1) Includes letters from Henry Miller (photocopies);(2) With copies of AN's letters to Henry Miller , Hugh Guiler, Daisy Aldan and others.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

The Arcadia Ballroom Theory

This entry is essentially a lengthy footnote to my recent post about Wilson’s Dancing Studio. While convinced that Wilson’s is the location in which Henry met June, I was initially intrigued by the possibility that it was actually the Arcadia Dance Hall /Ballroom. The following is a series of speculations about this theory, which I’d considered while trying to establish primary source evidence to support the Wilson’s theory.

[1]Film locations list for The Henry Miller Odyssey.
[2] Tropic Of Capricorn, p. 208 – ("Amarillo")
[3] HM letter to Harold Clurman [July 18, 1975]. – PBA Galleries: Personal Archives of Henry Miller – Part I: Item 36.
[4] HM letter to Robin Commagere [Feb. 8, 1976]. - PBA Galleries: Personal Archives of Henry Miller – Part I: Item 39.
[5] “Manuscript Notes on Plexus (1947) -- 'Scheme'" Published in Henry Miller on Writing (Edited by Thomas H Moore, 1964).


1. A list of locations relevant to his life in New York was recently posted on Ebay [1] . Written in his hand, this 8-page list [one page is shown at left] was meant as reference for the producers of The Henry Miller Odyssey. The images posted on Ebay are small but mostly legible. While I see no mention of Wilson’s (which you would think was important to him), there is this instead:
“Arcadia Dance Hall (June). The one opposite with (?) Fletcher Henderson's band."

This seems to imply that the hall is significant for relating to June. While June worked in many bars, clubs and cabarets, I’m pretty sure that she is said to have worked in only one dance hall.
b) It’s possible that the question mark on this list is meant to be applied to the word “June,” (due to its proximity to the word) meaning that it’s possible Miller wondered if this was in fact the place he met her, which could suggest that he’d forgotten.
c) Fletcher Henderson used to play The Roseland Ballroom (see my posting on Roseland).

This photograph of the Arcadia Ballroom was taken in 1933. Source: NY Public Library Digital collection.

2. In his free-form notes handwritten in preparation for the writing of Plexus [2] , Miller wrote: “Arcadia Dance Hall – girl from Texas.”

In context, this mention exists within a list of events that occurred after he met June.
b) I could not identify the “girl from Texas” in Plexus or any part of the Rosy Crucifixion trilogy. The closest "girl" incident I could find in the timeline of notes is the story of the Cherokee dancer at Remo’s (in the Village, where June also worked for a time) who miscarried then killed herself. But this does not confirm she's from Texas, nor explain a connection to the Arcadia, which was off of Times Square, not in Greenwich Village.

3. In a letter written in 1975 [3] , Miller wrote the following:
“At that time my wife June was an understudy for Winifred Lenihan's Joan of Arc. I met her in a dance hall (Greek) opposite The Roseland.”

This is the most explicit thing I’ve ever read in which Miller clearly states where he met June; whether it is accurate or not is another thing. The Roseland was around Broadway & 51st, the Arcadia at 52nd/53rd, and Wilson’s Dancing Studio at Broadway & 46th. I should mention, that the Roseland changed location in 1956, to Broadway & 52nd. Miller's letter [3] was written in 1975, so he may have been refering to the location of the Roseland at that time (which would place it "opposite" the Arcadia).
b) Regarding the ref to “Greek”: While the unnamed dance hall described in Sexus is managed by a Greek man, the very word “arcadia” is Greek, unlike the name “Wilson’s.”

1. Amarillo Dance Hall. In Tropic Of Capricorn [2] , Miller tells his tale of meeting June. He calls this location the Amarillo Dance Hall. First, there's the fact that both Amarillo and Arcadia begin with the letter "A." Second, there's the curious coincidence that Miller connected Aracadia with the "girl from Texas" and the fact that Amarillo is a city in Texas.

2. The following is probably just flat-out incorrect, but I'll mention it anyway: in the description for PBA item #39 [4] , the listings writer paraphrases Miller's letter by saying: "He goes on about the orgasmic experience of jazz, hearing Fletcher Henderson at the Roseland Dance Hall in New York (where he met June)." This confirms that Miller used to listen to Henderson at the Roseland, but this is the only place I've ever seen it suggested that Miller met June there as well. Perhaps the original quote was mis-read and actually said he met June "near" Roseland ????

Several images of the Arcadia can be discovered if you zoom and pan into the images tagged as "51st and Broadway" at the NY Public Library Digital Archive.


If Miller met June in the summer of 1923, then this next piece of information will put an end to the theory (ok, my theory ... my self-debunked theory) that Henry met June at the Arcadia Ballroom: The Arcadia Ballroom did not open until October 1924! The New York Times from October 2, 1924, (p.26) reports on the opening of "Broadway's Newest Dance Hall." (here's an internet reference to its origins; the actual article is at left). The Arcadia Ballroom became equal to The Roseland in fame as a dance hall and jazz hall, and sponsored many dances for servicemen during WWII. It later became the Riviera Terrace (ref) then, in 1966, The Cheetah.

So, all Aracdia theories seem off. HOWEVER: before the Arcadia Ballroom was renovated and re-opened as Arcadia, it existed as The Blue Bird. This was another dance hall, managed by one Jack Fiegel (as reported in NY Times, Dec. 12, 1922, p. 7: "Public Dance Hall Owners Organize.").

Henry met June at The Blue Bird? Any takers? Not me, I'm sticking with Wilson's. But do you see where I had cause to investigate? Had Henry actually forgotten the name of the place?

Monday, March 19, 2007

The Roseland Ballroom

The Roseland Ballroom is described by Henry Miller in Tropic Of Capricorn; it may also have been partly the basis for his Dance Hall mezzotint. In later letters, he would mention that he saw Flecther Henderson play there.

The Roseland Ballroom was built in 1919 at 1658 Broadway (ref), near 51st Street. It was the second in a string of three Roselands built by Louis Brecker (the original was in Philadelphia). Brecker envisioned a cheap but respectable dance hall: "home of refined dancing." It became one of America's most famous dance halls, in part due to its booking of upcoming jazz greats such as Fletcher Henderson and Louis Armstrong, in part due to stunts like female prizefighting bouts and law-breaking dance marathons.
After a couple of decades, it jacked up it's refinement factor in order to become "family entertainment": more decor, less taxi dancers, no jitterbugging, bouncers in tuxedos. In 1956, it moved two blocks into a former ice rink at 239 West 52d Street. The older Roseland was demolished. The newer Roseland still exists. (here's a history of that location, though it's not the location Miller had visited).

"Romp At The Met" (Time Magazine, Jan. 7, 1957)
"Stalin's Anthem" [Roseland's Birthday] (Time Magazine, Jan. 31, 1944.)
"Romance To Roseland" (Time Magazine, June 17, 1929)

On page 94 of Capricorn (Grove Weidenfeld, paperback, 1987), Miller mentions the Roseland. The visit appears to take place in 1923, just before he met June. His friend MacGregor wants to bring him to the Roseland to meet a dancer named Paula. After killing some time, Henry arrives at the Roseland ticket window (page 104): "I enter as per instructions on velvet toes, checking my hat and urinating a little as a matter of course, then slowly redescending the stairs and sizing up the taxi girls, all diaphanously gowned, powdered, perfumed, looking fresh and alert but probably bored as hell and leg-weary...."

"At the rail which fences off the floor I stand and watch them sailing around" (105). "At the end of the floor there is a sign reading 'No Improper Dancing Allowed.'" (105) Miller then launches into impressionitic prose to describe his experience there, much like his brief dance hall portrait in Dance Hall.

In Miller's mezzotint prose poem called Dance Hall (1925), he mentions signs that say "No Improper Dancing," as he does in Capricorn. Of course, these signs likely existed in most of the dance halls (whether they were heeded or not); this is not proof that he was writing about the Roseland.


The main purpose of this post is to establish this location in relation to where Miller will later claim to have met June Mansfield. A post on the possibility of this being the Arcadia Ballroom is to follow shortly. In that post, I will make reference to the letters in which Miller mentions seeing Flecther Henderson play at the Roseland.

The period postcard images of the Roseland can be found at Streetswing.

The Henderson poster (from 1928) can be found the the NY Public Library Digital Archive.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Miller in the Online Archives of California

The Online Archives of California database reveals an extensive collection of Millerania available for research at academic institutions in the state of California. As an online resource, it mostly only offers basic information about collections, such as dates of correspondence with various people.
But a goldmine of Henry Miller photographic images may be found in the OAC's Johan Hagemeyer Portrait Collection [links below]. This collection of eleven photographs of Henry Miller (and a couple of his infant daughter, Valentine [incorrectly identified as his son, Tony]) are fully viewable on your computer as large, high resolution images. Henry was 55 at the time.

Johan Hagermeyer (1884-1962) [at left] was a Dutch-born photographer. His original career pursuit of Horticulture brought him to America. His photographic inspiration happened in 1916. By 1923, he had established his first studio at Carmel, California, which became his home base for over 20 years. On July 7, 1946, Hagermeyer visited Henry Miller at his home on Anderson Creek in Big Sur. The photographs in this OAC collection are all dated from this visit. The following year, Hagermeyer left his Carmel roost due to his dislike of the commercialzation of the area. He died in 1962.
The Johan Hagermeyer Photograph Collection is held at the Bancroft Library at UC Berkeley. Here are direct links to each of the Miller photographs, which I've described in my own words: 1) Henry, with "Tony" as an infant [this is actually Valentine]; 2) Henry smiling at camera [seen above]; 3) Looking serious, at camera [seen in banner art]; 4) Blank expression; 5) Standing at cabin door; 6) Looking off camera; 7) Looking upwards; 8) Looking into the camera; 9) Looking off-camera, hand over mouth [published in Remember To Remember, New Directions, 1947]; 8) "Tony" Miller as a baby [this is actually Valentine].

Other collections at the OAC (spectacular in reality but not much to see from an internet perspective) include (amongst many others) the Henry Miller Papers, Henry Miller Correspondence 1960-1981, Lawrence Durrell Papers, Lawrence Clark Powell Papers, Bern Porter Papers, and the Anais Nin Papers, which I will profile [in relation to Miller] very soon.
The photograph of Hagermeyer is credited to Jane Bouse, the love of his life.

Monday, March 12, 2007

The Annotated Nexus - Page 23

23.0 Stymer brings Henry to an Italian restaurant and indulges in self-analysis.

23.1 "I'm honest with myself."
Stymer [see 21.4] states this as his one good personality trait. One bad trait, he says, is self-obsession, which causes him to loathe himself. Miller suggests that Stymer be more generous: "I mean, with yourself. If you can't treat yourself decently how do you expect others to." It's worth exploring (some other time) how Miller applied this advice to his own life.

23.2 Marquis de Sade
The Marquis de Sade (1740-1814), infamous French aristocrat and pornographer from whom the term sadism derives. Miller had asked Stymer once if he'd read de Sade. Stymer tried, but was "bored stiff."

23.3 the divine Marquis
Having been bored with de Sade, Stymer wonders aloud why people called him this. He was dubbed "the divine Marquis" long after his death, by Guillaume Apollinaire, the avant-gardist. In 1909, Apolinaire published a critique of de Sade's writings entitled L'Œuvre du Marquis de Sade, in which he gave him this title (likely in an attempt to romanticize the Marquis' debauchery).

23.4 Chianti
Italy's most famous red wine. (history: Wikipedia). Miller and Stymer drank Chianti along with their spaghetti. The wine produced a "limbering effect," though Stymer was still unable to "lose himself."

23.5 a mentalist
Stymer defines himself as a mentalist; by this he means not that he has mental powers (as the term may also mean), but (I believe) that he is preoccupied with the cognitive process (see Mentalism). In other words, he thinks too much: "A mentalist who can even make his prick think."

<--- previous page 22 next page 24 --->

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Wilson's Dancing Studio

"1923: Fell in love with June Edith Smith while she worked in a Broadway dance palace."
[Henry Miller, My Life And Times]
"Broadway dance palace." "Dance hall." These are the generic terms that Henry Miller used in interviews to describe where he'd met June, late one summer's night in 1923. While doing some prep work for a future posting about the night Henry met June--who was working as a taxi dancer--, I became preoccupied with the actual identity of this dance hall. Every Miller biography I've seen has identified it as "Wilson's Dance Hall" yet I'd never seen a primary source in which Miller himself has explicitly stated this (no surprise, really; it's not like I've seen every Miller record out there). I thought for a while that maybe it was really the Arcadia Dance Hall. In the end, the evidence is overwhelming: it really must be Wilson's.

This post is not about the night Henry met June, but about establishing the location and description of Wilson's Dancing Studio a.k.a Wilson's Dance Hall.

First off, the address. This NY Times news item from 1921 reports on a raid at Wilson's Dancing Studio. It identifies it as being on the "north-west corner of Forty-Sixth Street" [at Broadway]. Next, I searched the amazing on-line digital archive of the New York Public Library. It took a bit of time to browse, scan and zoom into the vintage photographs of the intersection of Broadway & 46th, but I was eventually excited to find this:

At left of this photo is Wilson's Dancing Studio, located above a clothing store (Park Taylor Clothes). It was shot in 1920 by the Hellmich Brothers. On the website, you can zoom right into the photograph, which almost has the effect of bypassing time and space barriers by allowing you to "approach" the building for closer inspection. Here are some close-up images:
In this close-up, you can see mannequins in the windows and can clearly read the Wilson's signs.

Wilson's Dancing Studio later became the Orpheum Dance Palace. The address here was 1551 Broadway.

Miller's Sexus opens: "It must have been a Thursday night when I met her for the first time--at the dance hall." He returns to the hall on a Saturday night. He mentions that he "mounts the steps" (7) to reach it, placing it on an above-ground floor ("I decided to go upstiars," 185). (In Nexus (169), he very briefly reflects on the night he met June, and describes the "steep rickety stairs" of Wilson's). In Sexus, he describes a "grand ballroom" (7) and makes reference to musicians (8). It appears to be managed by a Greek man. (8; 55) Later, he describes a "flimsy iron rail" of a balcony, from which he can see a "sea of faces" below from a "low height" (51).

On page 50, Miller describes the directions to the hall: onto Broadway, north past 34th Street, elbow your way past the crowds at 42nd street, then "soon" you'll arrive. A big clue to the location follows: "At the Palace opposite." The Palace Theatre [seen circa 1920, at left] opened in 1913 and still does business at 1564 Broadway. The address confirms that it was opposite (though not directly) from Wilson's. From the Palace Theatre the next night, Miller proceeded to "rush across the street and bound up the steps to the dance hall" (54)

Another clue in Sexus in on page 261: Chin Lee's. Miller explicitly states that after he met June, he waited for her "on the street, on Broadway" then proceeded to eat at Chin Lee's. Chin Lee's (opened 1924) was located at Broadway and 49th, only a couple of blocks away from Wilson's. Later, in Nexus (64), Henry and June return to Chin Lee's, to the same booth they occupied that first night they met. [NOTE: See my post about Nexus, page 64, for more details about Chin Lee's, including exact address].

This postcard showing Chin Lee's, circa 1928, locates the address at 49th and Broadway.

In Miller's Paris notebooks, under the heading "Tropic of Capricorn, few memorable scenes," he lists "Wilson's dance hall -- Chin Lee's," which is the only incidence I've seen where Miller mentions Wilson's by name. (Paris notebooks, Book 3, p 126).

In Tropic Of Capricorn, Miller reflects on meeting June at Wilson's, only he refers to it as the "Amarillo Dance Hall." (208). In a short passage, he describes putting his hand on the "brass rail of the revovling door" to enter and leave the hall. At the end of Capricorn, Miller describes it in greater detail:

"The dance hall was just opposite the side entrance of the theatre where I used to sit in the afternoons instead of looking for work ..." (339). "It was Broadway ..." (339). "Sitting on the steps of the theatre I used to stare at the dance hall opposite, at the string of red lanterns which even in the summer afternoon were lit up. In ever window there was a spinning ventilator which seemed to waft the music into the street, where it was broken by the jangled din of traffic." (339-340). "Opposite the other side of the dance hall was a comfort station ..." (340). "Above the comfort station, on the street level, was a kiosk with foreign papers and magazines ..." (340). "I climbed the stairs to the dance hall, went directly to the little window of the booth where Nick, the Greek, sat with a roll of tickets in front of him" (340).

On page 343, he mentions a "chinese restaurant" they ate at that first night, which he says is "across the way" from the dance hall.

Less than two years after meeting June, Miller wrote his series of mezzotints, which June helped to sell. One of these single-page prose poems was titled Dance Hall. Though Wilson's was not the only dance hall in New York (i.e. the Roseland), there's a chance this was at least partly about Wilson's. "On a low dais, with heavy drapes, five perspiring automatons belabor their instruments, producing jazz" ... "Jazz babies with haggard eyes keep up a fierce, relentless pace under signs reading: /'No improper dancing.' "

In Kenneth Dick's interview with June Mansfield in Colossus Of One, he states that June started working at the "Orpheum Dance Palace on Broadway and 46th Street" two years before she met Henry. Wilson's had opened in 1917, but became the Orpheum by the early 1930s. A history of the hall can be found in this New York Press article (Last Dance at the Orpheum), which also explains the taxi-dancing culture.

The Orphuem shut down in March 1964. "Today what remains of the Orpheum sits inside a peeling three-story building awaiting the wrecker's ball," states the article. In 1959, the Times Square Howard Johnson's opened up beneath the former Wilson's and became a New York landmark until closing in 2005, followed by the demolition crews. Below are two photographs of the place where Henry met June, not long before it was pummeled to make way for modern, boutique retail space:

Two views of the remnants of Wilson's Dancing Studio, photographed by Christina Wilkinson and found on the forgotten-ny website (visit it to see more photos).

Monday, March 05, 2007

Henry Miller in 'The Nation'

The Nation magazine has been active since 1865 (here's some history) as "America's oldest and most widely read weekly journal of progressive political and cultural news, opinion and analysis." All 142 years' worth of The Nation is available on-line through their digital archive. This is a paid service, but the database is still searchable for free. Though not as generous as their Time Magazine counterparts in providing free content on the web (see Miller articles in Time: 1, 2, 3), the search hits contain abstracts of the articles in question.

The following is a collection of links to abstracts in The Nation archive for--you guessed it--Henry Miller:

NOV 4, 1939. “The Traditions and Henry Miller” (by Paul Rosenfeld)
Analysis/review of Tropic Of Capricorn.
Abstract excerpt: “Its verbal pattern is a contrast between two selves and existence presented as autobiography. If possible, even more shockingly than in Tropic of Cancer, a load of partially inevitable, mainly superfluous obscenity befouls many pages. The spirit of the excessive, orgiastic and eruptive troublingly suffuses even the cleaner one.”

SEP 7, 1940. “Hamlet Is Not Enough” (by Paul Rosenfeld)
Combined review of Michael Fraenkel’s Death Is Not Enough, Miller’s The Cosmological Eye, and the Miller-Fraenkel collaboration, Hamlet.
Abstract excerpt: “Fraenkel is an original American member of the late Parisian group. With an aristocratic mentality, a vein of poetry, irony, erudition, and the faculty of analysis, he possesses a number of fresh ideas about life and art.”

AUG 16, 1941. “We Want Fortinbras” (by Paul Rosenfeld)
A brief review of Miller-Fraenkel’s Hamlet II.
Abstract excerpt: “The first quartet of the chunky white volume is relatively slack-and without his punch and fire Miller is hardly himself.”

NOV 4, 1944. “Notes By The Way” (by Margaret Marshall)
A general critique of Miller’s works, prompted by the release of Sunday After The War.
Abstract excerpt: Tropic of Cancer was published in Paris, France and found its [way] to the U.S. some years ago. It had terrific vitality and was very funny. It could not be published in the U.S. and probably never can be because it is what is known as ‘pornographic’ literature. When Miller goes ‘straight’ and serious, he gets prosaic and wordy.”

NOV 5, 1955. “The Neglected Henry Miller” (by Kenneth Rexroth)
A boosting profile of Miller.
Abstract excerpt: “The people Henry Miller writes about, read him. They read him because he gives them something they cannot find elsewhere in print. It may not he precisely the real world, but it is nearer to it than most other writing, and it is certainly nearer than most so-called realistic writing.”

MAY 26, 1956. “A Kind Of Genius” (by William Bittner)
A general profile of Miller, with focus on My Friend Henry Miller and The Time of the Assassins.

JUN 8, 1957. “The Millennium Of Henry Miller” (by M.L. Rosenthal)
Critique on Miller, with focus on his guru status in Big Sur.
Abstract excerpt: “Miller's claims as a spiritual influence remain open to hilarious question. His qualifications for sainthood are his genuine intimacy with despair, his infinite candor and unconcern for appearances, and his conception of property as the subject matter of the science of panhandling.”

JUL 1, 1961. “The Empty Zone” (by Kenneth Rexroth [photo below])
Review of Tropic Of Cancer.
From another website about 20th Centruy American Bestsellers, I found this lengthy quote from Rexroth's review: "This review is a bit late because I have been collecting clips of the response ny newspaper book reviewers aroung the country. It has not been good. Few have minded the bad words, some have even reviewed the book without mentioning their existence. Most of them have had deeper moral reservations. They object to Miller's windy generalizations and empty profundities. A couple quote Nelson Algren's remark that the big trouble with Miller is that he thinks he thinks. Several point out that the sexual encounters bear unmistakenable signs of fantasy rather than empirical knowledge. The most fundamental objection occurs again and again - there are no people in the book. It is written without sympathy or insight. Miller doesn't like people, in fact he doesn't know that they are out there. He is antt-human and anti-humane. What it all adds up to is the judgement that Miller is a barbarian within the gates, an uncultured and unculturable man, one of Toynbee's Internal Proletariat."

NOV 18, 1961. “Miller: Only The Beginning” (by Terry Southern)
Abstract excerpt: “Miller's work is in the tradition of romantic agony. Romantic agony, in the classic Baudelairean form from which it derives, may be likened to the manic-depressive syndrome in psychology; it is characterized, in its effect, by spontaneity and it contains both the lustiest affirmation of life and the most severe denial of it.”

SEP 15, 1962. “Absolutely Crazy And Chaotic” (by Warrington Winters)
Review of Tropic Of Capricorn.

OCT 20, 1962. “Mr. What’s-His-Name” (by R.A. O’Brien)
Review of Stand Still Like The Hummingbird.

APR 20, 1963. “Pain Of Brooklyn” (by Warrington Winters)
Review of Black Spring.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Henry Miller On French TV

Wanna hear Miller speak Brooklynese French? I found this just the other day: footage of Henry Miller on French television from the late 1960s, viewable on-line with Quicktime.

There are several clips of interest on the INA website ("Archives for all" is their slogan), but I'll start with the one most easily accesible and most directly about Miller. This 3+ minute segment is from 1980; an homage in reaction to his death. Besides a montage of stills, staged shots, footage of Montmartre, and some scenic clips from the Danish film Quiet Days in Clichy, we can see an interview with Miller, shot in 1968. Miller speaks entirely in French; a rough French devoid of any true attempt to use French inflection. It's fantastic; I'd never heard him try it much, other than a few sentences heard in French on the documentary The Henry Miller Odyssey.
Here are a few roughly translated things Miller says:
* "I always write as I speak."
* "Love is the most important thing in life. Without love, life is nothing."
* (Miller is soliciated for advice for young writers and artists): "Don't choose to be an artist. Do something else."

This segment is viewable for free (as long as you have Quicktime installed) and may also be purchased for a couple of Euros. For longer segments (i.e. some of the full-hour programs), you can only see the first ten minutes for free (otherwise, you can buy it). Tip: When searching for clips, use both "Henry Miller" and the French spelling, "Henri Miller."

The INA is an archive of both television and radio; the following are listed as being one or the other.


{Radio} Program: Radioscopie. March 23, 1976. (57:30)
The comedian Marcel Dalio talks about his life, including an anecdote about meeting Miller.

{Radio} Program: Radioscopie. November 11, 1976. (1:04:15)
Christian de Bartillat, editor of Stock Publishing since 1969, discusses publishing Miller, as well as Miller's personality and thoughts: his views on the U.S., humanity, philosophy and religion.

{TV} Program: Apostrophes. October 15, 1976. (1:10:19)
Round-table discussion on "Et si nous parlions de quelques grands ecrivains?" in which Rilke is the main topic. Later in the show, Christian de Bartillat introduces the subject of Miller by way of his book Flash-back, entretiens de Pacific Pallisades [aka Flash Back: Conversations with Henry Miller]. Claire Goll detests Miller and offers an anecdote to back this impression up.

{Radio} Program: Radioscopie. February 6, 1978. (56:00)
Brassai interview, in which Miller is one of his topics.

{TV} Program: Apostrophes. Novemebr 9, 1984. (1:18:12)
The round-table this week covers the subject of "Liberated Women," and includes Erica Jong as a guest. Within this conversation, Jong has some positive things to say about Miller.

{TV} Program: Apostrophes. June 17, 1977. (1:19:22)
This week: erotic and pornographic books. Maurice Girodias, one of Miller's publishers, is one of the guests.

{Radio} Program: Le Masque et la Plume. June 14, 1970. (49:00)
Anais Nin discusses her diaries.

{Radio} Program: Radioscopie. February 17, 1982. (55:00)
Interview with Lawrence Durrell. (his French sounds excellent, by the way).

And, if you keep digging, you'll find people like Blaise Cendrars and other French personalities whom Miller knew and/or was influenced by.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Miller Art Showing In Berman Exhibit

Two watercolours by Henry Miller and a rarely-seen photograph of him are apparently on display in New York City until the end of March. His work is but a footnote to the exhibit's main subject: Wallace Berman. I've had no luck finding anything published about Miller and his connection to Berman and Semina magazine; all I have are the internet items I describe below.

Semina Culture: Wallace Berman & His Circle is currently showing at NYU's Grey Art Gallery. The online guide describes Berman (1926-1976; seen at left) as the "quintessential West Coast visual artist of the Beat era," and his Semina magazine as "a hand-printed free-form loose-leaf art and poetry journal published in nine issues from 1955 to 1964—which served as a brilliant compendium of the most interesting artists and poets of the time."

The show has been traveling since September 2005. The reviews of this exhibition don't explicitly state that Miller was ever in Semina magazine, but the show also includes "rarely exhibited works in a variety of mediums by 48 artists, friends and collaborators in Berman’s artistic projects" (quoted from this review). "The show is laid out with a simple recipe," says this LA Weekly review, "a newly printed Berman photo portrait of the artist or poet in question, followed by a selection of their work." "Henry Miller was represented by two spirited watercolors," says an Art In America review.

Miller's actor friend Russ Tamblyn [seen below, left] once threw a party for Henry, at which Russ met Wally Berman (ref.). The meeting with Berman inspired Tamblyn to pursue collage art. This party must have been around 1964 (the year that the final issue of Semina was printed) because this is the year that Tamblyn cites as the time when he made the venture into visual art. It's probable that this was when Miller met Berman as well. In fact, 1964 is the date written on the one letter from Henry Miller to Berman in the Wallace Berman Papers at the Smithsonian [ref. only]. As a matter of trivia, Berman was arrested by the LAPD in 1957 and charged with exhibiting "lewd and lascivious pornographic art"by the same judge who had declared Miller's work obscene. [ref.]
The Semina Culture exhibit runs until March 31, 2007.

The above image of the exhibit was found on this blog, which also includes a recent review of the show.