May 2, 2005
I've been letting life get in the way of my writing. Karl Marx didn't do that; finding the coughing and crying of his starving and sick family distracting, Marx went to the library to write. I can write through a messy house and piles of untended paperwork, but I'm no Marx.
Anyway, I promise to do better even though today's Saint Report is going to be not much more than a bunch of links.
Marta Beckett is an octogenarian ballerina/painter/writer/visionary who lives in the middle of Death Valley at a place called the Amargosa Opera House. Her incredible story was made into a wonderful documentary, "Amargosa," which is still unavailable on home video. You can catch it now and then on the Sundance Channel. The first road trip I made when I moved to Arizona was to see Marta Beckett dance. It was worth the trouble and then some.
Marta danced with an old man called Wilget. He was Amargosa's dancer/handyman/musician and Marta's longtime companion, though they maintained separate dwellings. Last month, Wilget, Tom Willett, died.
One of the most compelling things about Marta Beckett is that she wears her whole heart on her sleeve. It is in her dancing, the paintings, the buildings themselves...she is almost embarrassingly exposed. Here is the story of Wilget's sudden death, with the intensely personal details that make a Marta story . If you can read it without crying, you are stronger than I.
I don't know what will happen to Marta and Amargosa now. She is surrounded by a small coterie of faithful employees who have attached themselves to Marta's dreams, and maybe they can take up some of the slack. Maybe new people will appear. Whatever happens, I know I'll be taking another trip to Death Valley very soon.
Saints o' the Day include Philip (patron of Luxembourg and Uruguay), Philip of Zell (patron of babies), Alexander, Eventius, Theodulus, and Juvenal.
Niccolo Machiavelli was born on May 3, 1469, and Pete Seeger May 3, 1919.
Ward Cleaver (Hugh Beaumont) died on this day at 73 in 1982.
Columbus discovered Jamaica on this date in 1494 and named it St.
Iago (St. James).
Until 1987, opinion was divided on whether syphilis was introduced
to Europe via Columbus's crew, who had picked it up in the Caribbean,
or vice versa. "In that year...examining fossilized bones of
a bear that lived in Indiana 11,500 years ago, scientists discovered
tiny holes and small...projections exactly like those found in syphilis
victims...evidence reinforced by studies of human grave site remains..."
So we now know: Columbus brought back both tobacco and syphilis.