A Date With Charlotte
Crap. I said I wasn't. But no. I see a book...and, crap, I resist, but not for long. Soon I'm opening it. Maybe to just the frontispiece. I read "Nelson Doubleday & Co." That's interesting to me. Doubleday is Doubleday. Nelson just died last year. He owned the New York Mets. [Am I writing like Mr. Met?] Anyway, Nelson Doubleday, 1950, the 3rd edition, as noted in the preface of the original 1847, hc copy of Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre. I don't know what I was expecting but dammit, I got hooked like a hungry bottom feeder after the first sentence in which Jane Eyre states how much she hates a daily walk; she'd rather be hiding in a curtained breakfast-room nook reading a book on the birds of Great Britain (Bewick's History of British Birds). Jane was pretty sharp for a 10 year old, to which she herself confesses, saying it was because she read books and trumpeting a bit about how she'd read the Lives of the Caesars--especially intrigued by the evilness of Nero and Caligula.
I once worked with a woman who had a role in Bob Guccione's ultra-sleazebag Caligula movie--this lanky model-like woman who'd lived in Italy and was continental as hell said she was nude throughout the whole movie--in one scene she's being mauled by four little Caesars, midgets--oh boy! Midgets! Little People! Little People sounds sort of juvenile to me. Like talking to and toying with a puppy. Coochie-coochie coo shit. Dwarfs? That's suppose to drive Little People as far up a wall as they can go. Still, I don't know, Little People makes me wanna barf. It's suddenly thinking of this chick naked in a month's shooting of a Bob Guccione sleazeball production of the moving picture life of Caligula, who, I assume, Bob Guccione might have had a hard on for. What a piece of crap that Bob Guccione was, though millions of young teenage goofball hypertestosteronic male morons love Bob Guccione, the man who gave them vagina, sprung open like a blossoming rose right in their palpitating little hard-on faces--ohhhhhh, pussssssy--Great movie: an Italian movie, Carlo Ponti I think, starring Ursula Undressed, er-ah, I mean Ursula Andress, as The Sensitive Nurse, one of those kind of male jack-off movies they used to show on HBO after dark--nonpenetration movies they called them--as if a lot of sex isn't acting anyway--but this one has a sense of great Italian wit to it--the dying don who is seemingly dying from an unknown condition that has him bedbound and bitching and moaning--god, I hate getting too deeply into describing movies--
Mid--jets--hey, how 'bout Midjets?--that's not bad, is it? Why should I be concerned? Something better than "Little People." Midjets. "Yo, man, down here, you son of a bitch." "Sorry, dude, I didn't see ya... oh, er-ah, you're one of them thar...."
As Lester Young told Peewee Marquette (speaking of Midjets), the MC at several old 50s New York City 52nd Street (Jazz Alley) clubs, MC-ing at Birdland when Prez's quintet came in for a stint. Peewee was notorious about hitting on musicians for money before their sets so that he'd guarantee them a great introduction, you know, mention all their latest albums, etc., but if they didn't pay him a tribute, he'd just give them a nothing intro, like "Here's Lester Young," a blah intro like that--so sure 'nuff here came Peewee over toward Prez before the start of his set. Before Peewee got there, Prez suddenly leaped up and said, "Get away from me, you little half'a motherfucker."
There ya go, Prez, Guy Warren, and Peewee Marquette.
And from thinking about Little People I tumble back down the hill with Jack and Jill to break my crown in the arms of Charlotte Bronte, by God, and then I was hooked on reading Jane Eyre and suddenly I was inside Charlotte's web, getting into her famous novel, turning it into daring fun, especially juicy when young Jane Eyre is discovered in the breakfast nook reading by Master John Reed, her fourteen-year-old nemesis--a privileged little piggy boy as Charlotte describes him, "...large and stout for his age, with a dingy and unwholesome skin; thick lineaments in a spacious visage, heavy limbs and large extremities. He gorged himself habitually at table, which made him bilious, and gave him a dim and bleared eye and flabby cheeks."--pretty damn good writing, eh?--and Master John Reed shows his mastery over young Jane (she's the daughter of the sister of the deceased John Reed, Jane's uncle who obligated his heirs, his wife, Mrs. Reed, and his son, the imp Master John Reed, and two spoiled daughters to raise Jane, which they do, raising her though as a servant rather than a member of the family) by beating the crap out of her--punching her in the face twice and then throwing the book (Bewick's History of British Birds) he caught her reading, his book, he said it was, at her, knocking her down with it and she falls, hitting her head hard against the floor when she cuts herself and begins bleeding. Then Master John Reed's wimpy mother rather than punishing her asshole son, locks Jane in the mansion's infamous Red Room, where the elder John Reed was laid out after his death and a room in which his ghost is said to reside--gettin' Gothic as hell on me, and I'm beginning to be unable to resist it. And damn if I'm not honestly getting into this book. I'm surprised even how clever Charlotte is in her writing, how transcendental, speaking American, how nattily witty she is, too, how in the face of Jane being beaten silly by a little fat privileged rich boy she manages to keep her bitter resentment about her even to the point of pestering her "masters" with quipy questions they hate her asking.
So, now I'm involved in reading Jane Eyre (for "eerie") and I'm afraid reading Jane Eyre is going to make me horny to read Emily's Wuthering Heights--Emily intrigues me and I haven't read a lick of her yet. I was tending to push Charlotte into the background; yet here I am right in the big middle of life with Charlotte Bronte and her little Jane Eyre character--and don't tell me, Jane is modeled after Charlotte's own life, and maybe Master John Reed is based on her own worthless drunken and doped-up brother or even her heavy-drinking parson father. I'll find out--though the journey is a long one--the Bronte babes had plenty of time on their hands to write and write they did, hundreds and hundreds of thickly worded pages--I feel creepy reading 19-century novels--and I'm sure I'm gonna feel creepier the deeper into Charlotte's novel I get.
for The Daily Growler