Posts Tagged ‘homeless’

Giving the people what they want, 3rd edition — and a special shout-out to a lonely heart

July 6, 2010

Giving the people what they want: in which I glance over my blog stats, spot the trends in what brings you party people of the internet sliding on down to my place, and accordingly and with mutual thanks throw you some bone(r?)s.

Farewell and adieu to you fair Irish ladies.

First, a shocker. With mixed emotions I must report that the rack of Miss Megan Mullally is no longer the sheriff of Googlesearchy Town.* The first two editions (1, 2) of “Giving the people what they want” were dominated by amused-but-puzzled nods to the bafflingly large number of searches for the diminuitive Will and Grace star’s cleavage which lead droves of folks to my door. Megan held her own, beating out for many months running distant contenders such as “Drew Barrymore naked,” and “lesbian kiss,” which I would have thought any such phrases would easily eclipse “Megan Mullally’s breasts,” her “boobs,” her “topless” and variations therein and they never did. Until now.

*(By Googlesearchy Town I mean the searches that people enter in google to land on this journal — wordpress keeps track and ranks the most popular for me)

Top searching honors now rest in the tiny but mighty vintage hands of busty, bespectacled aspiring astrologer, the lovely and talented Fran GerardPlayboy’s Miss March 1967, the self-help loving little looker whose cups runneth over.

The lovely and etc Ms. Gerard. For Science.

With 5,909 searches since her relatively recent appearance on the journal in March, Ms. Gerard beats out Megan at 2,503 since her inaugural boob-airing last September. Well-played, Ms. Gerard!

Sweet, lovely and talented heiress to generations of hot Italian culinary genius, Amber Campisi.

Rising Star Awards must go to three special up and comers. First, the talented family gal Amber Campisi (Miss February 2005); next, beautiful and tragic playmate and poet Marlene Morrow, aka Persephone (Miss April 1974) — whose gripping story has justly been getting attention from a number of outside sites linking in, enough so that her sister Landi was able to find this blog and send us an optimistic update on Marlene’s present condition about which I’m thrilled, check that post’s comments to get the latest — annnnnnnnd Yvonne Craig, BATGIRL!; all of whom are beginning to trend up the stats list with great and deserved speed. I look forward to what the next edition of “Giving the people what they want” will bring!

The very special Marlene Morrow/Marlene Pinckard/Persephone. Please, please read the account of how Paul Zollo found her with notebooks of poetry and an envelope holding her centerfold photo, living on the streets in L.A., and consider following the non-profit links which follow the write-up?

Finally: Quick note to the person who has found this blog by searching google three times in the space of the last two weeks — with “only assholes” in quotes so’s as to make maximal use of boolean exceptors — for the exact phrase “‘only assholes’ fall for me“: In case you ever come back a third time, I’d like to hope you hit this entry.

Vintage hottie Yvonne Craig has suited up!

First, you probably keep landing here because I frequently tag what I consider to be interesting graffiti with the words “only assholes write on walls” a la cult classic Rocky Horror. So I am sorry for the “only assholes” mix-up. But, more importantly, I am genuinely really sorry that you feel like only assholes fall for you and I wish I could make it better. I’m sorry that you’ve felt that way strongly enough to search the phrase three different times recently. I hope the next person you date is not an asshole. I hope that he or she is really nice to you — no, not just nice, because that is mealy-mouthed and hollow. That is a bullshit expression of my actual sentiment and is weak tea compared to the depth of my empathy, here. Okay:

I hope that that next person you date is genuinely amazing to you, like I pray that their very existence makes you believe in a loving God and you see the echo of your love for them in all the shapes of nature, and you don’t just love him or her but admire and value them, and that you curl your toes when you think of him or her even while driving and that they fill you with so much passion and love that you would kill tigers for them without a blink and you stay together until you die in each other’s arms after fantastic geriatric sex.

Scroll to bottom for caption.*

I hope that the grace of his or her presence in your life is like a lightning strike that inspires you forever after always to strive to be a better person, to laugh with surprise at an unexpected joke they make when you are having an argument, to give new ideas a thorough-think-through and peek behind closed doors; I hope in short that he or she deserves every drop of the deep well of love you were created to share and renews your faith in all the anonymous fellow upper primates all over our world with whom we must trek in our stewardship of this nutty mudhole in order to improve our karma and with every go ’round perfect our souls.

ByTim Weber and Sue Noble via environmental graffiti.

Good luck to you.

*Long caption to second to last shot: The dish ran away with the spoon but what can you do? They have opened a comic book store in the City and on rare nights off they like to order dim sum and watch TVLand; the comic shop is honestly not doing so well, their apartment is super-tiny, the bride’s mom won’t take their calls, their used car’s a/c is on the fritz, and they have never been happier.

Liberated Negative Space o’ the Day: Qui è dove dormo

June 10, 2010

Florence, Italy.

You can see that the homeless person who wrote this had written on this spot in the past, and the building’s owners have painted over several times. The most recent repaint is just beneath this message, and instead of saying it is where he or she sleeps, it says “Qui è dove vivo.” What happened to make his or her “living”-place identity more fluid, so that he or she only associates this clearly well-liked spot with sleep now? I suspect it came as a result of being driven away during the day by whomever keeps painting over the writer’s small and painfully human attempt at address-establishment, some workaday person concerned with appearances and light, complaining to friends at a dinner at a restaurant about how he feels badly for the homeless people outside his building, but they drive away customers or reduce the value of the property so what can you do? and everyone clucks sympathetically; some mouthpiece of empty it-sounds-good-to-say-so pandering about the importance of charity who gives to collection at church and feels kind of good about it but is still secretly freaked out by the different and eager to shunt everything “ugly” off into the night where they don’t have to look at it and contemplate such ugly things’ place in their own life and God’s plan; some brainwashed apologetic dick who buys in to the system and has completely fucking forgotten that the whole world is half night.

That got away from me. Sorry. Carità è veleno. Except when it’s not, because I know that’s not true, and not everyone is false or a liar or hypocrite, they’re just struggling with problems so big that even Eleanor Roosevelt’s small group of thoughtful, committed citizens cannot change this thing. It has to come from the top, who would never choose it for themselves, so must be rushed by barbarians at the gate, as has always happened throughout history to the elite (who get conquered by the rough who then form over time their own elite whose own rough rise against them in turn and on and on, so what’s the point of any of it?). Now I sound like an anarchist. Which I’m not. Mainly. Blargh.

Spring Fever!: Marlene Morrow, Miss April 1974 — or, “Persephone.”

April 20, 2010

The lovely and talented Marlene Morrow was Playboy’s Miss April, 1974.

Photograph by Larry Dale Gordon.

Like fellow 1974 Playmate of the Month and friend Bebe Buell, Ms. Morrow dated Todd Rundgren, and Marlene is related to no less than three different United States presidents: Washington, Monroe, and Madison. But there is much, much more to her gripping and moving story. Let’s start at the very beginning (a very good place to start).

Marlene is also a very interesting person. Born in Billings, Montana, she moved to Osaka, Japan, where her father was a baseball player on a Japanese team. From there, the family moved to L.A., where Marlene grew up. “Believe it or not,” she says, “up until the time I was 13 I wanted to be a missionary.” She gave up that idea and settled on the notion of being a housewife with a load of kids. But that’s been postponed indefinitely, now that her career is spiraling upward.

(“This Year’s Model.” Playboy. April, 1974. )

So groovy. My fave of the shoot.
But for now, Marlene is satisfied with her life in London — visiting pubs and going out with Englishmen, whom she finds vastly different from American men. But does she plan to make London her home? “Someday,” she says, “I’d like to buy a trailer and just travel around the world for a whole year. Is that crazy?”


I’M ALWAYS: Dreaming. Still, I wish I wasn’t so serious about life all the time.
WITH MY PLAYMATE FEE: I plan to settle myself in an apartment in Los Angeles and enroll in acting and dance school.
AMBITIONS: To be successful with my modeling and to study acting, and to have a nice home with about four children.

Now that the things she said in her interview at the time are out there and still resonating in your mind, I’m going to get to the main thing of this entry. Marlene Morrow’s real surname was Pinkard.

In a google search for her, I found an article by Italian-american author Joan “Strega,” in whose mother’s Encino shop Marlene worked after moving to L.A. Ms. Strega had done a similar google search and was meditating on her shock and dismay to find recent pictures of Marlene taken in Los Angeles.

It seems that Marlene did stay in L.A., but she did not become a famous model or actress. Nor is she happily married and settled in to a nice house with about four chidlren. Marlene now goes by “Persephone.”

Marlene, aka Persephone, in April 2006.

Persephone is homeless, and currently missing. She lived as recently as four years ago with a few others on the streets of Los Angeles, where she journaled, wrote poetry, and carried with her in a manila envelope a photo of her former centerfold.

The above recent photograph was taken by Paul Zollo, a musician, journalist, and photographer who was strolling around Los Angeles and met Persephone and some of her friends at the corner of Yucca and Cahuenga. Below are highlights from his very moving story of how their encounter went.

“Persephone and Bert.”

At the intersection of Yucca and Cahuenga I saw her – she was sitting on the sidewalk with a guy named Bert Rental. I presumed at first that Persephone & Bert were a couple because they were sitting alone when I first approached them on Yucca near Cahuenga in Hollywood, very close to where I lived for more than 20 years. They both let me know they were homeless, but that wasn’t really an issue.

Persephone was crying, weeping profusely in fact, and explaining that there was a suicide, and she had a grandson she loved, and she had a husband who had disappeared, and “many contracts” that she was ignoring. She didn’t explain what kind of contracts they were.

I asked many times to take her photo, and she said, “No, I’ll GIVE you a photo — a good one — because I look like shit now, because I’ve been CRYING FOR TWO WHOLE WEEKS.” She repeated this like a sad mantra. She started crying intensely, and Bert seemed very uncomfortable with this, and I told her it was cool to cry, and she said, “NO — it’s NOT cool.” And I said all I meant is that it’s okay to cry. And then she wept openly, and then wiped the tears away and laughed with pure joy. And then alternated between laughter and tears.

[She] did show [me] a Playboy centerfold from the Sixties of a blonde woman named Morrow who she said was her. And it did look quite like her, and I believe it was her, and she said that now she dyed her hair dark. I asked her if she knew Hefner, and she looked at me with an expression that said, “How could I not know him?”

[She said] that everything was terrible – she’d been waiting for her husband for days, and he had yet to appear. That she had a grandson she hadn’t seen in too long. Then embraced me with all her heart and told me I was “precious.”

Then she opened a journal of her reflections and poetry, written in a florid script, and asked me to read it aloud, which I did to the best of my ability, as it was hard to make out, but it was about the mythical Persephone, the Goddess of Innocence and the Queen of the Underworld.

I received a message from a fellow flickr-artist [who] had looked her up on the net and discovered a photo of former centerfold Marlene Morrow, at some former centerfold convention or something, taken in 2002. He sent me a link to the photo. I didn’t think there was any chance it could be her.

But then I saw it. And it was haunting. It hit me like cold water in the face first thing in the morning. Because it was her face. Unmistakably.

This is the picture of Marlene at Glamourcon May 5, 2002, to which Mr. Zollo refers.

[I have been] receiving messages from Bebe Buell, who also was a Playboy centerfold – and a good friend of Marlene’s. Together we are hoping to find her. Last I saw she was on the street. If you can help us find her, let me know.

Bebe added more to my tale of Marlene, which follows — Bebe said both she and Marlene dated Todd Rundgren, and that Todd wrote a song about her which is on his “Something/Anything” album, called “Marlene.”

Bebe called and said, “I couldn’t sleep all night after reading your words about Marlene. I am ready to get on a plane to come and find her.”

A final entreaty and heartbreaking epilogue from Mr. Zollo:

I had hoped her life would improve. Sadly, I was wrong. Received a long and sad message from her daughter today telling me Marlene has been attacked on more than one occasion and has lost all her teeth.

Why the world treats some of its children like this is beyond me. She is someone beloved by many. If you know where she is, or have seen her, let us know.

Mr. Zollo is on the myspace and the flickr.

The irreplaceable Ms. Bebe Buell, Miss November 1974, sweet and loving model, actress, and singer in her own right (not to mention mother to equally cramazing and talented Liv Tyler — they are beautiful inside and out), is still seeking to get in touch with Marlene, with whom she was close in the 1970’s. Ms. Buell said that she was told in the early 2000’s that Marlene was looking to talk to her and she lost track of time and did not follow up. She is understandably guilt-stricken about that now and is hoping fervently to find Ms. Pinkard. If you know how to find Persephone/Marlene Pinkard/Marlene Morrow and Ms. Buell has not already heard from you, you may contact her through her website, Please. Contact Mr. Zollo or Ms. Buell any time with any information you have, really.

*(Also, if you follow the link to Ms. Strega’s thoughtful and poignantly articulated story about discovering that Marlene had become Persephone, Ms. Buell’s comment is the first: it includes an email address where she can be reached if you have info about Ms. Pinkard/Persephone. I didn’t want to put it in this entry without her permission.)

If this story has had an impact on you the way it did on me, I’ve hit the charity rating websites pretty hard and come up with a good solid list of some non-profits that you can volunteer with or donate to. Most are national and international so that you can help from no matter where you live, but I made sure to particularly include some charities that may directly affect Marlene’s everyday life, headquartered in LA and environs. All of the charities are top-rated, up-and-up organizations.

Alpha Project for the Homeless

National Alliance to End Homelessness

National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression

Feeding America (formerly Second Harvest)

Habitat for Humanity

Mazon: A Jewish Response to Hunger (don’t forget that besides outright donating, you can alternately buy the Nice Jewish Guys calendar that I spotlighted way back on Calendar Girls day to support this great organization)

Salvation Army, Western Territory

This one is my personal favorite, and has several different ways you can help Marlene and people in similar positions to hers.

Homeless Health Care Los Angeles 213-744-0724
online donation

Okay, so think about all that? Thanks!