Sunday, December 16, 2007

A World of Commonality (And Some Strange Coincidences) + Some Elton and Betty White - Who Could Ask For More?

What could a man who grew up on a farm in southeast Arkansas, and a man of Norwegian ancestry who grew up branding cattle (among other things) in western North Dakota possibly have in common with a woman who is a Croatian refugee and a man from Holland who is a software/mechanical engineer?

Read on. This may be of interest to no one but myself, by the way.

One of the aspects of life which fascinates me so much are the strange little twists and turns and the discoveries that perhaps none of us are really so very different. We all have our life experiences and when they entwine with those experiences of others, it's a joy, if nothing else.

I don't remember how I discovered Nicole's photo blog, or what endeared me to it. But I've had her on my blogroll for at least a year. Perhaps it was because she was living in Amsterdam, a city I love, and I enjoyed her photographs of her daily life, the street scenes, and the cafes. Plus I have a fascination with the Dutch culture and language.

When I lived in Denver in the late 80s, prior to moving to California, I had a job at a university bookstore. The university had a lot of students from Holland, and it seemed as if most of the employees in the bookstore were Dutch. Being a language buff, and having studied a bit of Dutch on my own, I began to make friends with many of my co-workers. While they spoke fluent English, they would often converse among themselves in their native language. I began refreshing myself on the language and while I was never able to speak more than a few sentences, I think my friends were impressed that an American was taking the effort, particularly since it wasn't necessary. I was better at reading and writing in Dutch.

After I moved to California, I kept in touch with a few of them for about a year, and I still have a postcard and a letter written to me in Dutch after a couple of them had returned to Holland.

This of course is not the reason I was fond of Nicole's blog because she didn't post in Dutch; it's just a small part of the connection. Perhaps it's my attraction to Virgos. Before I met txrad I knew the love of my life would be a Virgo. So I wasn't surprised that he was one. I tend to get along with most Virgos pretty well. And Nicole is a Virgo. Vincent, her partner, is also a Virgo. Virgos all around! And Vincent is a native of Holland and therefore speaks and writes Dutch. Rather fluently I would assume.

A few months back, Nicole announced that they would be immigrating to Australia. My first thought was that I'd really miss the pictures of life in Amsterdam. Later I was quite excited to learn that they were moving to Adelaide, one of two cities in Australia for which I have always had a strange fascination (the other being Perth) which is odd considering I know nothing about either place, and have never been to Australia. Oh well. Life is full of oddities. But I was certainly looking forward to pictures. (By the way, shortly after moving, Nicole and Vincent flew to Perth to visit friends, so I got to see some pictures there as well, and it did nothing to diminish my intrigue.)

Upon arriving in Australia, I noticed that Vincent had started up his own photo blog, and around the same time, I had been inspired to dedicate my Black Soap blog to personal issues and photography after having enjoyed Nicole's for so long. I began reading their blogs more regularly and leaving more comments, and vice-versa -- in short, getting to know them a bit better.

One interesting fact I learned is that Adelaide and Austin are sister cities. The coincidence is that txrad and I had been together 7 years when we moved to Austin, and Nicole and Vincent had been together 7 years when they moved to Adelaide. Ahhh, you've got to love the numerology! Seven is probably my favorite number.

Nicole also worked for an advertising agency in Amsterdam. I work for an advertising agency in Austin. Surprise! Another coincidence. Now that we are all blogging back and forth, I learned that Vincent has a map fetish. So do I. I also learned that Nicole likes to meander slower through the supermarket. So does txrad. I'd rather wait outside. So does Vincent. But let's get to the larger coincidence.

Carlos Vamos and Andy Salvanos are a couple of musicians. Carlos is a musician they knew from Amsterdam. Andy is a musician they recently saw performing on the street in Adelaide. Here's the coincidence directly from Nicole:

So we tell Andy how much he reminds us of Carlos and Andy actually knew who Carlos was! And then by freak coincidence Andy found my blog and wrote a message that Carlos flew in from Amsterdam and is playing here in Adelaide for about three weeks!

And this reminded me of a coincidence of my own involving street musicians. (Hey, I never said this post was going to be short!)

When I was living in Little Rock prior to moving to Denver, I lived in the central part of the city -- a bit more eclectic than the suburbs. One of my favorite sights was the guy who lived near me, and rode around on his bicycle carrying a guitar and wearing a sombrero. His name was Elton White.

He hooked up with another local eccentric named Betty White (coincidentally; she didn't take his name I guess!) and they married and started performing together.

Fast forward a few years to Los Angeles after txrad and I had moved there from San Diego. I'd been gone from Little Rock for 2-3 years and had no idea Elton and Betty had moved on to some fame.

txrad and I were were walking down the street in our Hollywood neighborhood when we spotted a couple who would tend to catch your attention. It was Elton and Betty! I rushed up to them, introduced myself and txrad, and told them how I knew them from Little Rock. They had moved to LA to pursue fame and fortune and were performing regularly on Venice Beach.

They also were starting to attract some media attention as well. The fact that they briefly ran for political office while in Arkansas might have encouraged the attention. Elton ran for a seat in Congress. Betty ran against Bill Clinton in an Arkansas gubernatorial race. Her one and only issue was to lower the age of consent to 14. She lost, obviously.

I hadn't thought too much about Elton and Betty after we moved from LA 10 years ago. After reading Nicole's post, and realizing the vast wealth of knowledge on the internet I decided to take a look and see if I could get caught up on the dazzling duo. And I succeeded.

Betty White died in 2004. That makes me sad. BoingBoing actually had a post about them in May of this year. So did Honky-Tonk Dragon.

In the early 1980's, Betty was a more or less normal, married secretary in her late 50's/early 60's at a Little Rock law firm (allegedly working with Hillary Clinton) with a slight psychiatric problem for which she took medication. At some point, though, she stopped taking her medication and experienced a psychic and sexual renaissance of grandiose proportions: out with the husband and respectable job, in with the matching hot pink hair-do and spandex pants.

Elton, meanwhile, was a much younger (30 years younger, to be exact!) man renowned in Little Rock for his phenomenal basketball skills until the day he claims someone "put something in his drink." Elton met Betty in a homeless shelter, and it was love at first sight. The two were married and became notable Little Rock eccentrics, playing music all around town while sometimes delivering newspapers on the side.

Part of me wonders if Carlos Vamos or Andy Salvanos ever crossed paths with Elton and Betty. That would be too much of a coincidence. I'm just glad that Nicole's coincidence and subsequent post about it reminded me of my own, and that I am able to share a little more kona magical moments.

Rest in peace, Betty.

I'm happy I got to meet you once upon a time in Hollywood.

No comments: