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One of my first dips into streaming movies, via Netflix, I just saw My Week with Marilyn. I didn’t care much for it at first but it grew on me. What I have to say about it and related subjects will grow scrapbook style.
by Milton Green
The first of Marilyn Monroe I ever saw was in grade school, sixth grade or so, late 1940s, a calendar picture. Kid handed me a rumpled pic: blond with her bare bosom stretched flat by her elbow over her head, nipple dead center. I didn’t know what it was, couldn’t recognize the image, had to figure it out. Bare tit meant nothing to me around 1948, Marilyn Monroe’s nor anybody’s. I soon saw that photo over and over again. Then: never again, it disappeared. Many other, better, photos appeared, a plethora. So: she became a public icon, the punchline of a dirty joke (I just read someone say, say: correctly). Her cavortings were those of a whore whose syphilus didn’t show yet. Her blond came out of a bleach bottle. She repelled Puritan, Calvinist, but still the pussy-maven me.
But people have generally disregarded my reactions: the way unusual views are always (initially) disregarded. She was huge. Sometimes she blocked the sun. And we all had to hear talented intellectuals — Norman Mailer, for example — attempt a semblance of seriousness in analyzing her and her effects.
Then she was dead, so what: but I continued to have her beamed at me: perhaps a bit more than average. In 1973, broke from launching the Free Learning Exchange, an anarchist internet, I got a job with Circle Galleries. After a couple of hellish weeks as top salesman among seventeen no-holds-barred combatants in their square block monstrosity on Third and Sixty-Something, I was made director of the company’s original presence: a little half-downstairs gallery on Madison, a door or two up from the Whitney, across from Southby’s. Circle published multiple-original graphics. Circle had a well-known Bert Stern Marilyn, a close up of that face, silkscreens onto a choice of colored or metallic papers: gold on gold, black on silver … big damn things, dinged if you looked at them, $100, unframed.
not that one, but that face, monochrome, up close
I sold a couple of them, even delivered one to a stock broker in his science-fiction apartment on Madison Avenue. I was a great salesman by that time, but I never exercised one calorie of effort to sell a Marilyn: if they wanted to buy it, I sold it to them; I initiated no pressure to make them want to buy it. But soon Bert Stern’s Marilyn in a choice of ten papers wasn’t our only Marilyn offering. Suddenly we had a half-dozen Milton Green Marilyns.
all silver on black
The Sterns were like 36″ x 36, these Greens were even bigger! Like 48″ x 36!
I had some memorable experiences in that gallery: including some of Bert Stern walking by, and Woody Allen, and Herbert Von Karijan (I once delivered a graphic to Mother Von Karijan in the Carlyle) (practically next door), and Art Garfunkle … One day I looked up from my Times, sitting at my desk, people’s shoes on Madison Avenue at my eye level, and there was a guy looking at a Marilyn. I had a Green centered in the window, a Stern was clearly visible to the side. The guy had a lopsided grin. By golly, the guy was John Houston! He used Marilyn in her first picture! He used her in her last! John Houston was Marilyn’s bookends!
OK, that should suffice to inform the visitor that I was neither immune to Marilyn nor a fan. My feelings agreed with my overall experience while watching this semi-bio pic. One more detail on the negative side of the seesaw about to be revealed: Michelle Williams’ interpretation of Marilyn, Marilyn the incompetent, the pill head, the spoiled bitch attracted me less than Marilyn herself had. When suddenly our protagonist, the jerk gofer, encounters a really pretty girl: and I think, Ooo, Cheez, it’s that acolyte wizard, that striking child, Emma Watson! What the hell is anybody looking at Marilyn for when now we’re got Emma Watson!?
But then it pivots. The gofer gets MM to relax, and even Sir Larry Olivier gets to appreciate that MM is more than just drugs and rot. This Marilyn vaulted by Emma, whose acting maturity was getting strained by then anyway, and so did Michelle Williams: very good interpretation.
Jesus what a rump!
And I went back to Google, back to galaxies of Milton Green’s Marilyn and Bert Stern’s Marilyn, and … I’m ready to worship this goddess of tush along with everybody else.
But wait: one more point: back to the first illustration above: Marilyn, mucho makeup, sitting in the midst of a weed: a Milton Green study. Green was a schmuck in the movie, obnoxious, a pushy Jew: no wonder Marilyn’s a junkie. No, no, that can’t be right. Look at this photograph! It’s great! Great composition, thought, color: a masterpiece. And Marilyn herself is essential to the pic’s depth.
Even in high school, in the Fifties, already I recognized Bert Stern’s artistry: in Woody Guthrie’s phrasing:
|Mighty thin stew though
I really mean
You could read a magazine
right through it
Look at pictures too
Purty whiskey bottles
Yep, that’s commercial photography:
Milton, Bert, Marilyn: maybe they were whores; but they really could dish it.
PS So, as told above: the first dirty picture I ever saw was Marilyn. The first ad photographer I was ever aware of (New Yorker Magazine) was Bert Stern. Milton Greek I never heard of until the Green Marilyn’s were delivered to the gallery for me to sell. Till seeing this movie I knew zero about the photographer. But I don’t just watch movies, DVD or streaming: I use them as platforms from which to look everything up: at IMdb, at Wikipedia. Marilyn lived with Green! and his family! His young bride! Come on, give the guy some credit. Maybe he was busy, maybe he was a putz as well as an artist …
Bert Stern I had a couple of experiences with thanks to Circle Gallery: then another when I was tooling around the Apple in my PKFineArtsLtd-mobile: a VW van with silkscreened curtains of Gail Bruce images. I’m bopping down one of the Avenues when I spot Bert Stern trying to flag a taxi. I pull up: “I’m going downtown: want me to drop you somewhere?” Bert gets in. Mumbles when he wants to get out. Did he say thank you? or goodbye? I don’t know: it was just mumble and mumble. He was a pill head too. Was Milton Green also? I wasn’t, I assure you.
2014 02 04 Decades of saturation, and my current resaturation is grinding me through reappraisal. All those Googled Marilyns, I’m loving Marilyn as it were for the first time. At thirty she could look like the little school girl from across the street who’d take her clothes off, suck your dick, let you come all over her, in utter innocence.
Years ago I responded to some emailed porn and my son realized, correctly, that I had no idea who Brittany Spears was: so he helped me saturate with her. It all related: here was a media icon, bleach from a bottle, a behind straight from god, strong facial features made up like a whore, the whore dressed like a little girl: brought out the child molester in everyone. Now I also saturate myself with Googled Emma Watson images. The face transfixes me, the skinny legs, the meagre bottom, the toothpick thighs repel me: but again, she’s concocted, choreographed, scripted, coached to goad the child-molester to leap the fence, cavort, berserk.
You look at that face you think Pauline, getting raped by the landlord. You also think tumescent pussy, a venus mound that would inebriate you. Then Google the images: her crotch is as skinny as her thigh! Nothing there. What are you going to go down on?
You look at Marilyn’s face and you hallucinate female fluids from all orifices saturating everything; you look at Emma in her panties and … glunk.
2016 02 11 I’m in the middle of streaming River of No Return, 1954 Marilyn: and a young Bob Mitchum, from the years when I couldn’t stand Mitchum, the years before I can to adore, near worship, him. It’s the Marilyn in didn’t like much, the 1954 Marilyn. Funny: ’cause I’m also just reading Gay Talese on Joe Dimagio! So Marilyn is all over. I came to K. today to write about Marilyn: and lo I find that I’d already said all I wanted to say: right here, just forgot that I had.
The single thing I want to emphasize on this accidental return is: Marilyn, however she achieved it (with Bert Stern’s help: and Greene, and Houston: is the perfect icon for Hollywood sex. Perfect.
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