Born in 1913, Noel Bertram Gerson was one of the most prolific authors ever. 165 titles have been verified, but the figure may be as high 325, according to his Wiki profile. He published under at least ten pseudonyms, including female. Among a box of dusty written matter I found as I continue to clean out the basement of our old house was a copy of The Naked Maja, copyright 1959 under Samuel Edwards. It is the story of the young Francisco Goya during the time Napoleon was at the height of his powers. The title refers to one of the artist’s most famous paintings, which many assumed was of the 13th Duchess of Alba, Maria Cayetana. Although the events depicted are plausible, grounded, the novel is mere speculation. The identity of the model has never been established. It may have been a composite. The term “Maja” refers to lower class Spanish belles, including prostitutes. Edwards/Gerson portrays the hot-tempered genius and royal as lovers. The relationship is rocky, mostly due to Goya’s presumptuous nature. This is historical fiction, emphasis on fiction. Although the prose and dialogue are solid, it is overwritten. The 185 pages of the Signet paperback read like more, given the small print. There is a 1958 movie that bears the same title, starring Ava Gardner and Anthony Franciosa, but it appears Edwards/Gerson was not involved in it. He started in journalism and also wrote radio scripts. He served in Army intelligence during WWII. He began writing books circa 1950. He wrote non-fiction as well, including many bios. His Wagons West series, written as Dana Fuller Ross, was popular.
One aspect of the novel was educational. I assumed the Spanish Inquisition began and ended with Torquemada in the late 1400’s. It lasted more than 400 years, a stain on Spain’s history. Odd as life is, whenever I hear that infamous name I cannot help but think of Mel Brooks’ lampoon in The History of the World Part II (1981):
And whenever I see nudity in art, my diseased mind hearkens to Monty Python’s send up of censorship. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to find a better pic than this one:
From the nypost.com: Gunshot injuries have skyrocketed to 157 from 47 in 2019, a 238% increase. How will this be spun by leaders and the mainstream media? How ‘bout with a quote from Crocodile Dundee (1986)? “Just kids having fun.”
The NBA will allow social messages on player uniforms. In his column of 7/2, sports media critic Phil Mushnick suggested the following: “‘Free the Slaves in Nigeria and the Congo’ would be good. Both African countries still enslave blacks, but the BLM movement and its affiliates aren’t interested.” Kudos, sir.
My thanks to Ann, who bought The Secret of D-Day by Gilles Perrault for her mother-in-law, whose four brothers participated in the landing; and to Neil of madcap cable access show Della Peppo TV, who purchased bios of Larry King and Barbara Walters, and Long Shot by Dick Francis. Having read a blog I did on artist Frank Stella awhile back, he imparted some personal info. Neil’s brother and co-conspirator on the TV show met Stella while they were walking their dogs in their neighborhood, Greenwich Village. Their common bond was/is liberalism. “You can’t be liberal enough,” Stella once said. They had a falling out when he defended Israel, but have since patched things up.
Here’s a fun pic a friend sent in an email:
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