Wednesday, May 28, 2014

128b. More Eccentrics.

     One of the followers of this blog sent this comment, after viewing post #128 on Village Eccentrics.  It is too charming not to be included in a post, albeit a short one, a sort of postscript to #128.

In the mid-Sixties, I experienced an interesting period at WBAI that began when my secretary handed me an old-fashioned calling card introducing an imposing, smartly dressed septuagenarian who called himself Lord Rosti, and claimed to be the Grand Maître de la Cour for his Serene Highness, Prince Robert de Rohan Courtenay, Grand Duke Sebassto of the Byzantines. WBAI attracted many memorable people in those early years, but these two gentlemen—who played their roles to the fullest and had apparently been doing so since the 1920s—were the most interesting of the self-generated variety.

They came to me in 1966 for help in meeting certain requirements for a seriously overdue coronation. These included fifty Vestal Virgins and a rather large number of rare flamingoes from Japan's Imperial Gardens. We were unable to help meet those specific needs, but we did the next best thing by staging a coronation at Cheetah, New York's first discotheque. The year was 1966 and the actual crowning was performed by Andy Warhol, with incidental music by an obscure Tiny Tim, writhing by a barely clad lady and her boa constrictor, and the title ape from "Gorilla Queen: swinging from the rafters. I wish we had thought of taking photos, but we were a radio station and we didn't even broadcast it.

     This brings to mind another eccentric whom I almost met back in the 1970s.  His name was, I believe, Maurice, and he professed to be the founder and chief celebrant of the Old Catholic Church of Brooklyn.  I never met him, but heard of him through friends, and once visited his apartment with mutual friends in his absence.  My partner Bob recalls a grandiose painting of him in full ecclesiastical garb, a long robe that reached to the floor.  What I myself distinctly recall is a framed letter on official Vatican stationery acknowledging with gratitude the receipt of a letter of consolation from the Old Catholic Church of Brooklyn following the death of Pope John XXIII in 1963.  Was this concoction a joke, a sort of hobby, or a deep plunge into the misty realms of fantasy?  I have no idea.  I never met him, but Bob did, and he assures me that he was no nut, but a very sophisticated person.  The Internet informs me that there is indeed an Old Catholic Church that has split off from Roman Catholicism, but I suspect that the Old Catholic Church of Brooklyn had nothing to do with it, being the private fantasy of its founder. 

     Coming soon:  As announced, more ethnic groups, with prayer flags, burqas or the lack of them, and workers walking narrow girders at perilous heights.  In the offing: The Gentle Art of Pickpocketing: An Old New York Tradition.  And another remarkable woman: Ayn Rand.

     ©  2014  Clifford Browder