HLS - The Letters Of Harvey L. Slatin

Plaza Azul Productions
2954 Plaza Azul
Santa Fe, New Mexico 87505
Office Of The
Executive Director
(505) 473-1954

“Semper Pothoegdus!”

February 3, 1989

Dear Tommy. Fooled you! I waited to answer yours of January 18 until yours of January 31 arrived? In the response that follows. I will probably hop and ship about a bit between the two, and trust you to unscramble stuff.

Your check is hereby returned, with thanks for your thoughtfulness. There is no Plaza Azul Productions bank account into which I might deposit it. Even if there were. I would hesitate, knowing as I do now of your straitened circumstances. Two roofs! Use the funds wisely, and don’t attempt to squander them on a failed enterprise. Thanks anyway.

The thirteen-year-old eighteen-year old resurfaced at a cast party I hosted last Sunday evening. She played my daughter in “THE MAN WHO CAME TO DINNER,“ and she still loves me passionately — at least, in public. We renewed our pledge: When she is eighteen, and I am seventy, we will get together and see what happens. At my age, three years is a moment; at her age, three years is 20% of a lifetime.

Plaza Azul Productions does not have, and never did have, any connection whatsoever with the Santa Fe Community Theatre. SFCT produced TMWCTD, and earned only a modest return. If you want to re-write your check to S.F.C.T., I will see to it that your contribution is properly acknowledged. I would go for roof repairs, if I were in your yellow slicker.

A copy of the videotape of the play will be on its way to you, under separate cover. within a few days. You may return it if you wish, or send me a blank cassette of comparable quality‘ The choice is yours. Please overlook certain glitches in the tape ~~ they are in the original. The annoying hum at the beginning of ACT II was caused by the fucking heater blower, which somebody forgot to turn off after intermission. It goes away pretty soon, so be patient.

Your suggestion about a means for SFCT to achieve solvency is brilliant. passed it along to the Play Selection Committee, and it has been adopted. A new committee has been formed — the Play Writing Committee — and it is already at work on a stage version of ”BIRTH OF A NATION.” There will be at least a hundred speaking parts, plus cavalry charges (plenty of horses here), artillery duels (the National Guard Armory agreed to furnish field pieces and live ammunition), and lots of steamy sex.  A bronze plaque honoring you has been designed, and will be poured at the Shidoni Foundry and Gallery on July 4, 1989. Can you attend?

My printing problem is not a problem, exactly; it is more of a nuisance. I can mix fonts within a line if I want to, but I am restricted to the fonts offered by my Printer Utility. Time was, before I upgraded (hah) my wordrprocessing system, that I could do italics, microfont, subscripts and superscripts. I have a Printer Utility that is supposed to have been tailor~made for my printer to do all that good shit, but it doesn’t do anything but 10 cpi. So, I use the IBMPROPRINTER utility, and IBM codes (DIP switches) at the printer, with the results you have seen. The sonofabitch who wrote my tailor—made subroutine no longer answers my letters, and when I get him on the phone, he tells me to get a new printer. Fuck him.

For what it‘s worth, I use MS/DOS 3.20.

Thanks for clearing up the confusion (my confusion) about the menagerie. I know something about cats and they are, as you say, neat. All but the one that lives with me ~- he poops outdoors or in his litter box, to be sure, but when he wants to pee, he pees on any convenient vertical surface and it runs down and soaks into my carpet. I have several articles of furniture protected by huge plastic trash~bags that I have to remove whenever I have company, and he pees on them. But he also pees on closet doors and the doors between rooms, and I usually don’t find those spots until the aroma becomes overpowering. They are a bitch to clean. If you know how to modify a metal detector to make it into a cat piss detector, share your wisdom.

Why, you might ask yourself. does he put up with this behavior? The answer is really pretty simple. The cat that lives with me is the best friend I have in the world, present and absent company included. He is beautiful, witty, affectionate, demonstrative, warm, gentle, smart, wise, and has a working vocabulary of about 20,000 words. Nuff said?

This deserves a box of its own. The Trial of the Century took place in Albuquerque Thursday, February 2. I came out the clear winner. The Judge, bless his heart, found that Plaintiff {my daughter) had failed to establish ownership of the Certificate of Deposit and that the bank was within its rights to return the money to me. The proceedings went on for three and a half hours, during which time a lot of ugly and painful testimony was presented by both sides. At the end, the issue turned on what constitutes a gift. Under New Mexico law (and possibly elsewhere), a gift is not a gift until it has been given and accepted. The gift I tried to give my daughter five years ago had never been accepted — that was established beyond doubt — so it was no gift. Therefore, I was entitled to withdraw the funds, which I did.

I learned a couple of useful lessons from this otherwise useless expenditure of the taxpayers’ money. First, I learned that my daughter’s major in graduate school (at Johns Hopkins University) is Chemical Engineering, not Physics as I had earlier thought. I congratulated her on her choice of career, and reminded her that my undergraduate major had been Ch.E. I welcomed her to the fraternity. She will have her Ph.D. in Ch.E. in about a year and a half. Perhaps she will change her major to botany.

Second, I learned that any hope I might have had of any sort of reconciliation between us was a dead one.  She said, in direct testimony, that the reason she didn’t know I had sent her the stupid Certificate of Deposit was because she had instructed her Aunt Agnes not to forward any mail from me. Why not? asked the bank’s attorney (with whom I am hopelessly in love, by the way). Her reply: “I just didn’t want to hear from him ever again.“ I will respect her wishes.

Third, I learned that being a third-party defendant and acting as you own attorney is the only way to go, if you can swing it. In addition to being a witness for both Plaintiff and Defendant, I got to ask other witnesses questions whenever I felt like it, and to rebut testimony if I felt it was inaccurate, misleading or incomplete. It was sort of fun, I suppose.

I don’t for one minute believe I have heard the last of this. Jeanne is pissed off beyond imagination — so pissed off, in fact, that on her way out of the courtroom, she called the bank’s star witness a “thief.” The star witness happens to be head of the bank’s legal department, and an attorney, and she knows slander when she hears it. The Judge learned of this dust-up, and sent a bailiff to drag Jeanne back into the courtroom, where he told her to “approach the bench.” I couldn’t stay for what followed, but I imagine she was given a severe tongue-lashing and a warning to behave herself in the future. Throughout the afternoon, I had gotten the impression that the Judge did not like her particularly, and her outburst at the end probably convinced him, as he already suspected, that she was the villain of the piece.

Chances are, she will appeal. After all, she is now stuck with legal expenses, court costs, transportation and meals and lodging for herself an her daughter, and she has had to kiss the thousand bucks goodbye. From what I know about the appeal process, her chances are not too good. Usually, judges asked to overrule a lower court decision are reluctant to do so, largely because of the precedent they might be setting — namely, that everything gets tried twice. So they only hear a fraction of the appeals that are presented to them, and they usually uphold the lower court. But, knowing Jeanne, it is reasonable to assume that she will throw good money after bad and try it, no matter what her lawyer may suggest. If she does, the whole business goes into District Court and becomes a brand-new case, with more legal expenses, more traveling across the country, more meals and lodging, and more court costs. I now believe I can beat her.

That is another lesson I learned. Up until now, I had come to think that she was invincible in court. Every time she has sued me, she has won. But not any more. Let her appeal. Let her come after me in Santa Fe (as she will, you may be sure). I’m ready.

Is the Ramon who listed his cat’s phone number by any chance Ramon Chivas? The pigment chap? I remember a visit to his elegant home on the Camino del Monte Sol, with the baseboard lighting and the pre-Columbian artifacts he had stolen over the years. I also remember that his wife fancied herself a singer of torch songs, and she played us a recording of herself, accompanied by a band she had hired, singing “St. Louis Blues.” It was one of the most painful moments of my career as a record-listener. My heart went out to the musicians who had to try following her key and tempo Changes, without much success. Do I have the right Ramon? There is no Ramon Chivas in the Santa Fe directory, and the only Tom Jones turns out to be a real person. I called and inquired. Amplify.

Just to show you that I have not been idle while you waits for this letter, I have enclosed a copy of one I sent to the local throw-away newspaper. It was published without any editing. Note that you got an Honorable Mention.

I don’t know what to tell you about retirement. I have the feeling you may be screwing it up, going off to Minneapolis for three days a that. Since I arrived here on August 2, 1982 to take up permanent residence and enjoy my retirement, I have not been on an airplane. I have not done a lick of work for pay, and I do not intend to do either one (get on an airplane or do a lick of work for pay) ever again. To retire. you have to really retire!

Your weather sounds like something you deserve. I have no plans to ship any of ours to your ski slope operators, plaques or signs notwithstanding. You chose Stamford, not I. I chose Santa Fe, and have no regrets.

I believe I have covered everything. If not. loan me know.

Fondly, As Always
John K. Hersog
Executive Director

Encl: Check
Letter to the Editor

Santa Fe Reporter -- February 1-7, 1989

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