Back to the Buyuk Londra, an odd insitution--I've described it to friends as a "Kemalist hotel," for it's apparent loyalty to Republican ideals and the portrait of Kemal Ataturk centrally placed above all others in the lobby (not to mention another stationed near the elevators as if to monitor the comings and goings of the clientele.) A painting of goats ambling off the canvas to somewhere (the perspective puts us at the end of the line), then another featuring pine trees lakeside, then a waterfall, a Degas, then Peter Hristoff's cutouts... St. Celcelia is on a wall in the lobby's midsection. Who are these people? Kemalist Armenians? Kemalist Alevi? Just plain interesting Turkish people?
Someone has gone apeshit with gilt paint, painting the upright portions of the bannisters with gilt paint, as well as any trim the painter could apparently find.
In the lobby, on the huge wooden sideboard below the main portrait of Himself, is a small reproduction of Michaelangelo's Pieta next to an old "National" cash register, a scales, centrally located, various other oddiments, and then another cash register. Old ceramic stoves line a few walls. On the tele at the street end of the lobby, far, far away, an Olympic weight lifter struggles with a huge set of barbells, then one, then another, with varying degrees of success and failure. The parrot, also in that part of the room, whistles a wolf whistle, then a car alarm, then a cell phone tone, then chirps sociably but with no particular pattern. People come in to go up to the rooftop terrace, while the concierge hovers anxiously, as the elevator will only tolerate four persons at a time.
The TV switches to a breast stroke competition; and across from me, a giant fan whirrs on: the heat has abated--or seems to--only because outside this evening there is a breeze.
This afternoon lunch with one translator and poet, Mel Kenne, and had a lovely conversation. Then, alas, moved on to a literary agent whom I suspect of filching work not under her wing to promote work that is (as well as pushing some really ineffective translations.) The other literary agent I work with was right: something is rotten in the state of Denmark with that agency and I don't trust 'em at all.
Later, in a rather pointless bye-bye dinnerat Asmalı Cavit with J., who wavers--blotto--over his meal and several rakıs, in walks the suspect agent only to nod a cursory hello then plop herself down with two would-be glamourpusses who have annoyed everyone in the room by asking that the AC be turned down because it is blowing on them. I believe I am correct to assume that if our earlier meeting actually meant something she would have come to my table and said a warm hello. Since she did not, I suspect she was only hoping I would be of use, not of interest; and, egad!, the more I look at thosse translations, the more I think, ix-nay, o-nay!
The greatest living contemporary poet in the English language vacillates between deafness, focus, and hearing--I am beginning to believe that the alcohol--in addition to giving him the shakes--has done damage to the nerves that affect hearing...and all I can think, uncharitably, but probably in my own best interest, is that I want this part of the day to end. NOW. Mel and I have already discussed this--when will one of us receive that phone call? We cannot intervene--he is indeed dying in that slow and exasperating way that drunks do; nothing can be done, except to remember that this was once a human being with compassion and great gifts. Is there such a thing as distant compassion in return?