Jean Louis Lassez: portraits of hospitality

Catherine & JL,  May ’68  “Vivre sans temps mort!”— the last of the Situationists!

Catherine & Lib

Muleshoe.  First,  the ranch:

Muleshoe headquarters/Lassez’ house

Unloading guns

Holiday crowdCatherine & Libby again

A Yale med school grad and a guy retired from running an  Ohio Audubon refuge (Vince DiMarco , the late Pepe, and  John Wilson).

Jean-Louis with one his satirical pieces (Mondrian)

Jean-Louis in an animated discussion with  John and Carolyn Wilson.

Jessica A, killer skeet shot, Indian water rights lawyer and sheep rancher

Family and local: : daughter  Sarah and Dolly Dawson

Rolf Magener, the constant traveller, who makes me look provincial (MUST POST)

More art

“I thought you said Jean Paul FARTRE1!”Rolf lives part of his  year with a countess in Buenos Aires and half working for Mother Theresa in  Calcutta  and  has been to Tristan da Cunha

US!

Jean Louis Lassez — RIP

My friend  Jean Louis  Lassez died last week at his Muleshoe Ranch, after a long illness .In the usual course of things I would have known he was not doing well; we were close despite our seemingly disparate  backgrounds. Or maybe not so disparate—we were both Catholic school kids,  ambivalent about ‘Old Mother Church’,  but were both interested in Buddhism, and travelled in Asia enough to get in trouble and get out of  it, as every seasoned traveller learns.. He lived on a ranch 20 dirt road miles  from town and  was as deaf as a post, so  he didn’t communicate easily with anyone he didn’t want to (we had some hilarious loud…  discussions, with me finally shouting in French in his good ear.

He was NOT the usual wealthy European, squatting  uneasily in a western habitat, looking askance at the neighbors’ guns. He was something of a gun nut himself — albeit of a certain kind. He loved the well- chosen guns of  the  classic western and adventure movies.  “Zeese” he would say “ees John Vayne’s gun from Stagecoach” Or, for his formidable  big – frame Model 629 Smith, the favorite  gun of Warren  Zevon and  Dirty Harry :”Zees ees Clint Eastwood’s gun, .44 magnum!”.

I would respond with obscurities— : “Zees is Roy Chapman Andrews gun ”  (of a  model 99 Savage that resembled the one that the model  for India Jones took to Mongolia to shoot wolves and antelope. ) And then we would shoot them at some improvised target  in his yard. Somebody inspired said that   JL was @A perfect cross between the  Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and Yosemite Sam@ EXACTLY.

Mostly he and his wife, Catherine,  had  fun. With the ease of a perfect relationship that must have  lasted 50 years and  produced an interesting daughter, and a  modest independent income, they were free  of some of the usual constraints. They were the perfect hosts, and we spent lot of holidays, as well as ate a lot of non- holiday al fresco meals, at Muleshoe ranch. See below..

Despite the name ‘Muleshoe’ the home building was almost comically appropriate. I have written about how some of the early settlers here were  Provencal and Swiss  Italians, including some of my distant relatives. I would guess that the builders of the Muleshoe hailed from the Haut Savoie, further West but under the same “southern” cultural umbrella… anyway it is a perfect Savoyard farmhouse to my eyes, with the addition of the only outdoor swimming pool in the county, done by mostly non resident owners in the movie biz who might have found the place too isolated.(Catherine, do you know?)

Not so the Lassez, who moved in shortly after Jean Louis’ early retirement from Tech. I have a feeling that they didn’t want him to go but he was ready. They were northerners— he a Normand, she a Parisienne of Jewish descent whose family was in the art biz—  but they lived a  @southern@ * lifestyle, of ease and hospitality and generosity, for well over a decade. They were a refuge for more than  the stray dogs they took in. They also travelled hard in Asia, making photo books and giving me a glimpse of an Asia that might be considered part of my Asian habitat- above all Tibet- which is a logical extension of my world,  but which I will never see (that is hard to say!). They had improbable adventures- at the first shocks of the Nepal earthquake they disappeared into Kathmandu and we couldn’t find them for three weeks! They were in their  middle 60s at the time I think..

And then, although I was slow to realize it,  JL taught me about the virtues of staying home and working on your  art.

He will be missed, first by Catherine and their daughter Sarah, but also by many others.

*”southern” when referring to things French tends   to mean the following. When I was in the Vaucluse- northern Provence, but defiinitely Provence- we had dinner one night with the local postman, He was a Provencal patriot , but he had been born  in Italy. He told me, @oYou were lucky to have your work down here rather than in the North. WhenI first worked for the Post Office  I had to  work way up north, and it was TERRIBLE.  It is hard for happy southerners like us—  all those  gr:ey, sour- faced people goimg around snarling about their grey, grey weather and their grey, grey  lives.@

He gave me an incredulous look , as though some things were  too horrible even to contemplate @Non , m’sieur—  LYONS! @!

Which if  I read a map right is all of forty miles north of where we were  speaking,…

“Dystopian Science Fiction”?

When  Malcolm Boyd (Painted Horses, Cloudmaker) saw the article ” All You Can Read” by Parul Sehgal in the November 1 New Yorker , his reaction was  “It reads like dystopian science fiction!”

Further: ” .., the book ( his recent Cloudmaker)did not garner a single meaningful review in any significant outlet, nor did Grove put any effort into publicity or promotion, which just seems bizarre after the initial investment. Probably some of it is pandemic fatigue, but I think a lot of it has to do with the identitarian politics of media in general at this point. My editor’s former assistant (who happens to be an enrolled Kiowa!) told me there was some concern at Grove that the book would be interpreted as endorsing “American exceptionalism,” which is a baffling assertion in any case, but may explain why they tried to publish as quietly as possible. Crazy times!”

I think the problem is in the system and is bigger than that, affecting books as disparate as mine, Malcolm’s , and even Michael  Gruber’s  (why he is forced to self -publish these days). Amazon is just not set up for sale of our books, which tend to start by  selling slowly and whose virtues are spread by word of mouth.

Consider:

“On 2018, some 1.6 million books were reportedly self-published — all of this on top of the tens of thousands released by traditional publishing houses. How can a writer work within this flood? It’s not an entirely new quandry. One of the “women of the inkiest description” from “New Grub Street” surveys the deluge of her own era with dismay: “When already there was more good literature in the world than any mortal could cope with in his lifetime, here was she exhausting herself in the manufacture of printed stuff which no one even pretended to be more than a commodity for the day’s market. What unspeakable folly!”

Good Quote

“I prefer a simpler and less fashionable version, which admits that a badger has a real sense of self, and real pleasures that it judges as outweighing its pains. Badgers are philosophers. They have an idea of the Good Life, which presumes there is a self that can lead that life. This is a self that doesn’t want to lose the neurological joys of nuzzling cubs, or the smell of wild garlic, or the smack of earthworms against the tongue. Insist if you like that all these things are the payment given by the genes for the mercenary services in their defense of the strong-jawed phenotype. That’s fine. Your insistence doesn’t dispose of the self, or the Goodness of the Life that self leads.”

Charles Foster –  Being a Beast

Jean Louis Lassez – RIP: apology

Sorry — I have not been present for days. Not entirely my fault: between the effects of having no meds for a week and a severe attack of rheumatoid arthritis in my foot, and the continuing absence of any kind of secretary, I have not been up to doing much. In the next few days I hope to get back to bits of entertainment, information, and laments. Searun has been doing a splendid job. I’m pleased — I just need a little more visibility.

Isaac Asimov’s Foundation

The Decline and Fall of the Galactic Empire

I saw this today and thought it was worthy of posting.

​I knew nothing of this series, or Asimov, other than being aware he is held in high esteem.  I saw a movie, or two, but I don’t think I read anything by him. It was eye opening to see the background in the article. The author seems to know a lot about it, and Asimov. I don’t have any thoughts on it but the series sounds interesting for the production values, at least. Maybe Steve has some deep thoughts?

I saw the Dune movie, a month ago, and I have been meaning to post about it but, as usual, time burns away. I had mixed feelings about it. It wasn’t as I expected. The story was very compressed and I had trouble following what was going on, despite having read the book many times. It did well showing the scale of the planets, worms, etc, but many characters were reduced to bit parts.

The Expanse

I saw this trailer Wed and I am mentioning it because it is one of the best Sci-Fi shows I have seen. I have seen the first 4 seasons. The first 3 were great but the 4th was a little dull. I read many of the books and the first was good. The latest seemed to be running on filler.

Live Die Repeat

I have been watching this, this week. While it doesn’t offer any grand visions, like Asimov’s work, it is a very well done Sci-Fi movie I think will become a classic in the action Sci-Fi sub genre.

 

On the Edge of the Wild

On the Edge of the Wild

Steve did a good book on one of his favorite themes that being where humans and the wild intergrade and interact.

Wild Amur Leopard

Hang Lee of the College of Veterinary Medicine, Seoul National University, and founder of the Tiger and Leopard Conservation Fund in Korea (KTLCF), said, “The study shows that it is important to examine the examples of coexistence between humans and big cats around urbanized environments, both in a spatial and temporal context. On top of this study, which focuses on the late 19th century, there are records of sporadic coexistence for more than 500 years in Seoul, from the 14th-19th centuries and throughout the whole Joseon dynasty of Korea, showing that big cats and urban citizens can live in very close proximity if certain conditions are met.”

Urban Leopards

This bit on Amur leopards in Seoul, Korea seems a good fit for that idea. Amur leopards are one of my favorite cats and were down to 30 in the wild, at one point. If given a chance, they would likely do well in Korea again. The DMZ has already proven to be a wildlife haven.

They likely would do very well in deer rich Saskatchewan, or even here. The trouble is they would not likely stay in place.

Scout , RIP

Patrick Porter  (the best  writer you have never read)  on “The best bird dog east of the Mississippi”, Scout,  from Berwick, Maine.

  It didn’t go unnoticed that all the orange maple leaves had fallen on our lush green grass.  Above us….above my entire family after the sun had set, a million stars showed their way through a clear autumn evening towards the new winter and a spring yet to come.

     Upon those colorful leaves and under that sky, Scout Harriett Porter, wrapped in her favorite puffy quilt……said good bye to us…..for now.  Our hands held her body and we felt the peaceful passage because we are that kind of people.  My wonderful vet came over so she wouldn’t be frightened.

  She’s been deaf and blind for 8 months, following old paths and maneuvering her way through our unchanged house using just her nose.  If one of my boys walked in, she’d light up with barks and whines until they knelt against her for hugs and kisses.

  Eventually she grew very tired and could do no more.

 As Scout’s body failed, my own spirits seeped down towards a deep ancient stream fed by 35,000  year old glaciers from back when dogs joined man because man needed dogs.

 

     It will be a week or two before I climb from this primitive hole.

     Her sight went first, as did my ability to discern or care about the incandescent trees swaying beneath black October clouds, though I always look forward to this time of year. 

     When her hearing gave out, I quit listening to the unimportant things that didn’t include roaring fires or beautiful hunting dogs.

   Finally, Scout couldn’t use her back legs and began to soil herself, so I laid my dirty stripped body against hers, trying hard to up the memories of camps and beat up oiled shotguns and dead grouse and dominion over the land we hunted together when the feathered, hooved and clawed beasts fell before us.

    We’ve been inseparable  for 16 years and it shows.

   I have nothing in my ledger….no credibility in the Vermont woods as of today.  I’m outranked and outflanked by our former prey and the forest that keeps them, tired and old and slack jawed, drinking whiskey not wine because half of everything beneath my rib cage went with her.

Thank you, Scout Harriett Porter from Berwick, Maine….the best damn bird dog east of the Mississippi.

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