Another Hollywood Memory

by TerryWalstrom 19 Replies latest jw friends

  • TerryWalstrom


    “Thanks for the pink Chablis, Marta. Who’s that singing? Sounds familiar.”

    “Michael Franks. Have you ever heard Antonio’s Song?”

    We’re both standing in the living room area of her apartment. The light from a dozen candles is dancing with shadows and a faint scent of cinnamon tickles my senses.

    “Wait--the background arrangement--I recognize the style, the contour and colors. I’d bet anything it’s Claus Ogermann.”

    Marta gives me “a look” and fetches the album cover from atop her turntable lid. Her eyes move side to side and a slow smile lifts the corners of her mouth.

    “You always manage to impress me, Terry. How do you know these things?”

    I sip the Chablis and become aware of a certain something in the timbre of her remarks.

    The tone of voice is rather warm. Maybe that warmth is simply the wine?

    “I’m too modest and unassuming to answer such an indelicate question.”
    I feign a modest turn of the head and lower my eyelids with a flutter.

    Marta Boutel laughs vigorously. She snorts Chablis from her nostrils.
    Now I’m laughing, too.

    Uh-oh--we’re having a…”moment.”
    I don’t want to have a moment with Marta Boutel--she’s my frickin’ co-worker. She’s the manager of the Art Gallery where I work as an Art Sales Consultant.

    “Actually, I’m an autodidact. That’s a----”

    -- a person who self-teaches--I know, Terry, I’m a genius too…”
    (Only slightly peevish. )

    “Well, nobody should ever sell you short--that’s obvious. Is this artwork yours--I mean BY you, as we say in the swamp.”

    Marta frowns speculatively for a millisecond and then grins with discovery.

    “I find you to be charming and always entertaining, Terry.”

    Her eyes have caught the candlelight just right. But--I don’t want the candles bouncing off her dark eyes--she’s my frickin’ coworker and...well--I explained that already. Were you paying attention?

    Marta is a sophisticated person. She’s cultured in a way which never suggests elitism nor a show for effect. Bright? Yep. Her mind shoots sparks. I don’t ever have to dumb it down--I should remember that.
    Marta Boutel invited me up to her apartment to riposte in a high voltage bit of repartee. We’re both starved for it. “It” meaning banter, you’re getting way ahead of this story, aren’t you?

    Now Ms. Boutel is poised next to a large shadow box frame made of acrylic-- inside, a remarkable pencil drawing in Prismacolor is suspended and mounted on a textured linen matte. The quality of whimsy and imagination is striking! There is something penciled in around the yellow birds turned this way and that in the composition, “Canary? Canary? Where’s My Canary?”

    She’s quite proud of it. I’m grateful I don’t have to pretend to admire her exquisite touch. I am truly impressed and I tell her so.

    “Wow. Like you, Marta--this is completely original and impossible to ignore. Where’d the idea originate?”

    The color in her cheeks is, as George Costanza would say, becoming a pinkish hue--identical to the shade of Chablis I just drained from the crystal wine glass.

    Her gaze is intense as she locks eyes. She soaked up my sincere compliment thirstily.

    “Allow me to refresh your adult beverage, Terry. Oh, wait! I have something even better on the palette! Hold on just a minute while I find it.

    My first thought is, “Oh shit”.
    I hope it isn’t typical Hollywood hospitality. I don’t do Pot or sniff anything white and powdery and I despise having to make excuses politely and beg off without offending my hostess…

    Thankfully, Marta reappeared with a decanter of Courvoisier cognac.
    “Can you grab two snifters from that top shelf above the sink. You're so tall and won’t need the step stool.”
    I complied, enjoying the relief and anticipating the cognac. I do like cognac.

    “Just how tall are you, Terry?”
    “Standing or lying down?” It’s my typical nonsensical answer to such questions--but--I instantly regret it. I shouldn’t have said, “...lying down…” because it could be misconstrued as suggestive of intimacy.

    “I’m going to guess about six-four--am I right?”

    “Yes, you are accurate. You display as much perspicacity as the Sundance Kid.”
    Her smile crinkles and she shakes her head as if to rid herself of every last vestige of restraint.
    “Come over here. I want to show you something.”
    “My Mom told me to run when strangers say that to me.”
    She ignores this and enters a doorway which my squint informs me is a--GASP!--bedroom!
    Every square inch of her apartment is superbly decorated with incredible taste; all the rich colors, antiques, figurines, a Bruno Bruni copper figure of Teresa. Breathtaking it is.
    She saunters breezily across the hardwood groove and peg flooring and gestures toward another piece of artwork.
    I quickly scan my surroundings surreptitiously for a hasty exit, if necessary. An open window isn’t quite manageable--we’re on the third floor. It’s Los Angeles and the evenings are chilly even in summertime. I can hear an ambulance or fire truck way off in the distance--possibly an omen of things to come?

    Marta is feeding me details about the artwork and her words are bouncing off my brain like machine gun bullets off Superman’s chest. The cognac went straight to my head! I should have had supper hours ago. I can see her studying me the way a moose hunter peers through binoculars from a blind. Now she’s admiring my antlers…

    “What made you decide to run an Art gallery instead of promoting your obviously remarkable work and promoting yourself, Marta?”

    She is sniffing the inside of the snifter with enthusiastic abandon and when she gazes up a multicolored array of twinkles are swimming in her black pupils. I twist my head to look behind and catch sight of the light source--a three-dimensional chessboard arrayed in colored Xmas style lights is winking on the opposite wall. Funny I hadn't noticed immediately.

    A slight shrug of her shoulder laced with a feint of melancholy preceded her words.
    “Oh, I’ve tried all the major studios. My heart’s desire is to be a set decorator. My dream job! As it is with all things Hollywood--you have to KNOW somebody to get a foothold. I came up empty-handed.”

    A sudden inner gust of inspiration swept up through my center core and I blurted,
    “No, but I do.”

    For the next fifteen minutes, we sat across from each other at her glass top dining table in the kitchen as I unfolded an improvised plan for her dream job to become a possible reality.

    “Marta, I’m good friends with two set decorators at MGM Studios. Mel Johnson and Joseph Kroesser. I can ask them to help spirit you into a Producer’s office and you can show what you’ve got to offer.”

    “You mean, my tits?”

    She burst out laughing.
    “The casting couch! Don’t you get it? Oh sorry--you're being serious now--I shouldn’t have said that.”
    I grapple with my embarrassment for a moment and continued.
    “Do you have a portfolio to showcase your--”
    “Terry--of course I have a portfolio, silly man! I’ve been in every studio schlepping for the last six months but I couldn’t get past the front desk. If you think your friends might help me...well..that would be amazing.” She stopped suddenly.
    “I’m a little drunk--we need to eat something.”
    And we did.
    Off we teetered straight into an Italian restaurant, Anna’s, my favorite--across from actor Victor Mature’s TV Repair shop on Ventura Blvd.

    All my insane worries vanished. We had a delightful evening. She was filled with the bright spirit of hope which can die so quickly in L.A.
    A month later, Marta was gone from Billy Hork Galleries in Westwood, hired as an artist at MGM. I lost track of her completely.

    So, why am I tell you this awkward remembrance this evening?
    I’ll splain.
    I was searching out her name on Google trying in vain to find her among credits for some movie or television show so I could feel good about myself this evening all alone in the kitchen with all my roommates gone.
    I was about to give up when I found her. Or should I say found her obituary?
    She died as we all must eventually. At that moment I was reminded--”Terry, you are a 70-year-old man--how old do you think she’d have to be--and how long do you expect your old friends to live?”
    So, to memorialize Marta Boutel the only way I know how--I thought I would recall this silly story and it will have to be her epitaph.
    She liked me. I liked her. She was incredibly bright and talented and she did achieve her dream job in Hollywood.
    I guess I should console myself I played a small part.
    I don’t have any cognac to sniff but I can play Michael Frank’s song Antonio so we

    who remain alive can savor something from a long, long time ago in a lifetime far away…
    Antonio lives life's Frevo

    Antonio prays for truth

    Antonio says our friendship

    Is a hundred-proof

    The vulture that circles Rio

    Hangs in this L. A. Sky

    The blankets they give the Indians

    Only make them die

    But sing the Song

    Forgotten for so long

    And let the Music flow

    Like Light into the Rainbow

    We know the Dance, we have

    We still have the chance

    To break these chains and flow

    Like Light into the Rainbow

    Antonio loves the desert

    Antonio prays for rain

    Antonio knows that Pleasure

    Is the child of Pain

    And lost in La Califusa

    When most of my hope was gone

    Antonio's samba led me

    To the Amazon

    We sing the Song

    Forgotten for so long

    And let the music flow

    Like Light into the Rainbow

    We know the Dance, we have

    We still have the chance

    To break these chains and flow

    Like Light into the Rainbow.

  • Iown Mylife
    Iown Mylife

    Terry, thank you for the story and music, i enjoyed them both♥

  • Pete Zahut
    Pete Zahut
    Interesting story as usual...

    Marta died rather young in her fourties....did you ever find out why? I'm seeing things that make it sound as if foul play was involved

    Is this her photo and artwork?

  • TerryWalstrom

    Pete Zahut--you found more than I found!
    I can't really identify Marta from the fuzzy photo above and my familiarity with her work is pretty much confined to very few things hanging on her wall that evening in 1981.

    I have uncovered no details about her death--I'd love to get a link from you.
    Thank you!

  • Pete Zahut
    Pete Zahut

    I have uncovered no details about her death--I'd love to get a link from you.
    Thank you!

    The arizona republic has quite a few articles that include her mostly about her art but you have to join their site.

    Here's her high school year book but you have to join to see her photo

    Father: George B Boutel AZ

    Mother: Carolyn Smith Sydney Australia

    Richard John Karsten 65 AZ( 2nd Husband?)

    Jeff G Boutel Seattle (Brother?)

    She was also known as "Martha" Boutel Irvin and was married to a Kevin Irvine

  • TerryWalstrom

    Thank you SOOOOO MUCH! I really appreciate this. I do.

  • tiki


  • LV101

    You've met some very interesting people and thanks for sharing.

  • under the radar
    under the radar

    Another great story, Terry! Thanks. I know some folks find it hard to believe that not EVERY fun and relaxed interaction between a man and a woman HAS to end up with mattress thrashing.

    I really liked the song, too. It now proudly resides in my walking-at-the-mall playlist. Some kinds of (what passes for) jazz sound rather frantic to me and can be tiring to listen to, but this was just right. Thanks again.

  • TerryWalstrom

    I've made myself really sad the last 24 hrs after having written this. The FINALITY of death is insuperable.
    Why didn't I keep up with Marta and find out how she was doing? I guess my own life was just too much in my face. The excuse doesn't change the fact she is out of reach.

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