Sunday, June 24, 1984

1984 Clearwater Beach, FL (6/22-24/1984)

Friday, June 22, 1984
After work I went to pick up Kent’s suit from the dry cleaners. A lady was there dropping things off, and when asked how many items, she had to count them, and threw them around in such a way that she had to recount several times. Then she wanted to pick up items, but did not have receipts and didn’t even know what she had left! The girl went in the back and started pulling out things, including a gray suit with a red tie. I wondered, but didn’t say anything. The girl laid out the receipts to add them up, and I saw that the number of one of the receipts matched mine! “Hey, that’s mine!” The girl checked my receipt and said, “Oh! What a coincidence!” So I saved Kent’s suit from being given away!
I went to the airport by 16:30 and sat by the gate to wait for Kent. Then I noticed him in line checking in! So I ran to give him my ticket to check in as well. As we waited to board, we overheard a couple speaking with the stewardess. He was a bearded middle-aged fellow who met this 80-year old woman in St Petersburg and he turned a two-week vacation into four as they became friends. She was in the seashell business and had come to visit a friend in Providence. The guy then turned to us to ask if they had called Row 15. We were waiting for Row 15, and the guy wanted to know what seats. Turned out they had double-booked seat 15F! Kent went to rectify the situation. On board, I sat next to the woman, who got plenty of attention from the stewardess, including a free cocktail and a note that said, “Enjoy!” We didn’t have a choice for dinner, or as Kent said, our choices were dinner or no dinner.
The woman next to me asked for the stewardess’ name and address. The stewardess asked if she wanted the information to write a letter of commendation to Frank Gorman, the president of Eastern Airlines. “Uh, yes,” the woman said. The stewardess said she would give her Frank’s address, plus names of all the flight crew, because they get a free trip to their parents’ whenever someone writes a nice letter about them!
We took off 20 minutes late at 17:40, and arrived in Atlanta at 19:55. The 20:48 flight to Tampa was late in from Miami, and we didn’t depart until 21:50. Kent struck up a conversation with the woman next to him, who had a daughter who was a P.T. Kent remarked that I was one, too, and the woman said she had thought so, something about my hands and that I looked nice…
We arrived in Tampa at 23:00. Took the People Mover to the terminal and found the Avis car rental place. I got a dark blue Sunbird, and Kent wanted to do the driving to Clearwater. We got sidetracked a bit when we missed an unmarked turn to Rte 60. There was a long drive across the Tampa Bay with sparkling lights and stars. We drove through Clearwater and along the causeway to Clearwater Beach, a Riviera of hotels.

Saturday, June 23, 1984
It was after midnight when we went to check in to the Adam’s Mark Caribbean Gulf Resort, and we were told that the hotel was full and that the couple in our room decided to stay another night and they could not be legally kicked out. They would put us up in the Holiday Inn Gulfview for free that night. Kent left some things at the desk for Ralph, and drove over to the Holiday Inn. Our room 202 had a view of the parking lot, with a queen-size bed, a TV with movies you could rent for $5.75, a clock-radio with the wrong time, safety bars around the toilet and in the bathtub, a door that I had trouble opening, and freezing cold air-conditioning! We went for a walk along the beach, and dipped our toes in the Gulf water; warm!
I was awake at 6:00 and looked out to see ominous clouds. At 7:00 it was better, but still cloudy. I woke Kent up at 8:00, saying he could always sleep on the beach. He didn’t seem to appreciate being awakened when it was completely gray outside! But he jumped up, got dressed, and wanted to know what my plan for next was. Breakfast. We drove over to Clearwater to Robby’s Pancake House for a breakfast for $10 with tip.
We returned to the hotel, changed into bathing suits and checked out, leaving our things in the car. We thought about walking to the Adam’s Mark beach, but were stopped by a wall perpendicular to the shore. So we climbed the fence of the condominium and walked to the public beach beyond Adam’s Mark. It began to sprinkle as we walked in the surf. People were beachcombing. We noticed kids sliding odd-shaped boards about 3x5’ in the surf, then running like crazy to hop on them to skim along the water.
There was a crowd past the fishing pier, for the skimboarding championships! We watched a while, then it started raining in earnest. We went to the Adam’s Mark to check in, but no room was ready. We wanted to wait for a gulf view anyway, so left to drive down along the coast. We went over a 35-cent toll bridge, and soon left behind the hotels and motels. Passed waterfront homes and condominiums. Kent pointed out that most were boxy Bauhaus architecture, but one looked like an extra-tall Cape Cod house with white siding and green-tiled gables. Went through some small towns including Indian Shores with a tacky Tiki Gardens.
At Madeira Beach we crossed over to St Petersburg, and went in search of the Salvador Dali Museum.
Salvador Dali brochure 1
Salvador Dali Museum brochure 2
The Morse family had the collection and Kent had seen it several times. They wanted to give the collection to the Cleveland Museum of Art, who wanted only a part of it. All or none, so it ended up here in a new museum built for it on Tampa Bay, but in an old neighborhood. Admission was $3 each, and we paid 15-cents for a guide. We joined a tour in progress which was fascinating and informative. I hadn’t realized that Dali was such an excellent draughtsman. With the advent of the camera, the artist had to go beyond presenting realistic images, and Dali made an art of that. The Morses were actually friends of the Dalis, and we received good explanations of several of the paintings, having missed the part of the tour with his earlier works. They apparently show he was a precocious painter and able to master any style. There were photos of his home area, portraits showing the influence of Picasso and Renoir, and a pre-Surrealist “Apparatus and Hand” that already showed some of the symbols that would recur in his paintings. There was a realistic painting of a basket of bread.
The transition period showed the influence of Picasso (cubism), Prague, Max Ernst, Joan Miró, and Yves Tanguy, using various materials (sand, collage, decals, etc.). This break from the norm alienated him from his father, but often in his paintings, a man and a boy are representing Dali and his dad. The fish is sometimes seen as an ecumenical symbol, and often as a phallic symbol. The rocks of Cape Creus are often seen in his paintings, rocks near his home, that can be interpreted as many different things. One set of rocks was seen by Dali as a self-profile standing on its nose, and it recurs in many paintings. Also a mountain whose shadow looked like a grand piano. The influence of architect Antoni Gaudi and Parisian artist Robert Guinard is seen in undulating strokes. Among the Surrealist paintings was the “Profanation of the Host” with rock profiles, and grasshoppers that Dali feared as a child.
Dali went beyond Surrealism, to his paranoiac-critical creative method. He was interested in Sigmund Freud, and would doze off with a spoon in his hand and when it fell and clattered on an awaiting plate, he would wake to remember dream pictures, which he would then immediately paint. The “Average Bureaucrat” showed an empty head. He also had some erotic figures, one female flowing pink vastly deformed figure. There are fried eggs which he claimed was a memory from the womb.
Dali’s wife, Gala Éluard, was also a great influence on Dali, who painted her into his pictures and signed them “Gala Salvador Dali.”
Pillars in the center of the museum held miniatures done by Dali, with Catalan landscapes in the background. “Myself at Age Ten When I Was a Grasshopper Child” may have been Dali’s way of ridding himself of the fear of grasshoppers. “Gala,” a very mini full-length portrait of his wife was superb in detail, but did she really look like that?
Dali decided to go classic and went to study in Italy, as first seen in “Geopoliticus Child Watching the Birth of the New Man” (1943), emerging from the New World! The watching figures looked Renaissance-like. Dali began using zigzag strokes likened to images left by atomic particles on slides, and using a lot of ecumenical/mystical symbols. Mark Tobey was an influence on “Dionysus Spitting the Image of Cadaques” (1958-1960). Here Dali took pictures from a primer book, added figures, atomic zigzags, and copied Jean-Francois Millet’s "Reapers" to show his concern about the gap between art and physics!
At the far end of the museum was the “salon” of Masterworks, with Dali’s largest paintings and some of his most involved ones, which really show how he took art beyond photographic realism. His “Nature Mort Vivant/Still Life Fast Moving” is based on principles of Werner Heisenberg of uncertainty, symbolizing objects in space and the unpredictability of intra-atomic motion. Dali likened his moving cherry to the Russian Sputnik. He used the spiral, which he felt was the true form of nature, and correctly predicted DNA would have this form. He used the rhinoceros horn (with spiral form) in several paintings, and here a botanical cauliflower. Fragments of color represent particles left over from abstract expressionism. It had the mathematical proportions based on the Golden Section by Matile Ghyka (like a square that is dented on all four sides).
In 1960 on the 300th anniversary of the death of Diego Velázquez, Dali created “Velázquez Painting the Infanta Margarita with the Lights and Shadows of His Own Glory,” with Willem de Kooning-like splashes showing an overwhelming figure of the Infanta, covered by diagonal and vertical light and dark strokes, the vertical being beams of a wall and you could pick out the figure of Velázquez painting his own Infanta. Anti-matter is shown as an exploding rose in the de Kooning-like Infanta. The face is spiraling like a rhinoceros horn, and in the upper left was a gallery referencing the work of Pieter Breughel. The integration of old masters and modern science typifies Dali.
In the larger “Dream of Christopher Columbus” we see Gala on the banner of a giant standard. One can make out the figure of Christ on the Cross, as seen from above in the painting. Dali also did a sketch of this that we saw on one of the pillars. “The Lances of Breda” by Diego Velázquez is venerated in the many vertical lines. Archangel Raphael is carrying the banner; he was known for saving cattle from disease (he is known as a healer of humans and animals). Christopher Columbus (symbolized with a ship) was known as cattle (he brought cattle to the New World, is that why?). In the forefront was a huge sea urchin banded in two directions, somehow predicting the Panama Canal!
“The Ecumenical Council” is full of nuclear mysticism with the zigzag of atomic particles. Gala is shown as the central of three figures of Queen Mary. Dali is self-portrayed in the lower left. A cross divides the painting into quadrants and the Trinity is shown (perhaps in unusual fashion!).
Most of Dali’s symbolism is seen in “The Hallucinogenic Toreador” (1969-1970). Here Dali acknowledges Op Art with his colored balls in the cape draped over the toreador’s shoulder. The balls are supposedly arranged like the twelve towers of Antoni Gaudi’s Cathedral of Barcelona. The Dalmatian dog at the pool shows Dali’s fascination with the scientific work of R D James, who removed details from objects until near invisible. A chair in the lower left salutes Cubism and Juan Gris. Venus de Milo figures (inspired from the logo of that brand of colored pencils) and corporeal shadows make up the shirt and face of the toreador. A tear is shed for the dying bull who is shown in the rocks of Cape Creus. Below is the Mediterranean Sea and a tourist on an air mattress. There is a small boy with a hoop representing Dali, and brightly colored shadows of Venus de Milo faces represent the Crucifixion (?). This painting is supposedly Dali’s greatest and most successful double image. Another that fascinated me was the “Bust of Voltaire” made up by two Dutch merchants at a slave market!
A special exhibit of watercolors done by Dali was set up for the 25th anniversary of the State of Israel, titled “Miyah.” Also on display were some pictures that Dali has done over, such as the picture of the sheep in a field is made to look like sheep in a woman’s boudoir! There was a Nieuw Amsterdam bust sculpture of an Indian, which Dali did over with the eyes being two heads of two Dutch merchants sitting at a table (Indian’s chin) with a basket of fruit (the lips), and the nose is a “Premonition of the Coke Bottle.” Also painted plates, medallions, glass sculptures, and other items. A tribute to a man’s imagination and creative powers! A genius likened to Leonardo da Vinci.
We went into the gift shop, and Kent filled out a questionnaire to enter a contest to win a Dali-designed scarf.
It was still raining when we left and we and others were skidding when trying to accelerate from standstill. Kent found the Fish House on US-19. He had a martini sans rocks, and then a white wine; I guess he is on vacation. He had the salmon special; a pastry shell filled with salmon, spinach and Monterey Jack cheese, that came with a salad, a pair of hush puppies, and fries. He was given a baked potato, which he gave to me after he then got his fries. I had the seafood medley of shrimp, clams, oysters, and scallops, and a second baked potato! The bill came to $14.
The sun was coming out when we went to check into the Adam’s Mark, so after parking in their garage and taking our things up, we put on bathing suits and went to the beach. Just in taking off my shirt I almost lost the bikini top, so I was cautious in jumping the waves. Decided to lie in the sun until Kent came out of the water to watch our things. I ran back to the room to change to a one-piece bathing suit. Our room had a gulf view right down on the strand, and a balcony, too.
View from the hotel
We did some more jumping the waves, until about 17:30. When we entered the hotel, we heard steel drum music and went to investigate. A band was playing by the pool, where we met Ralph and his wife. Kent had a drink with them. We weren’t hungry for dinner, and watched a movie on HBO, “Spring Break.” Then Kent sat on the balcony to smoke and he had at least four beers. I knew I had lost him for the evening. So when I decided to go for a walk, I was surprised he decided to come, too. We walked to the fishing pier, but you needed to pay to walk out on it, and we didn’t bring any money. We walked out on the causeway and sat on a bench, but Kent was falling asleep. Back in the room we found a basket of fruit, compliments of the manager for the inconvenience of being put in the Holiday Inn last night.

Sunday, June 24, 1984
We went out to the beach from 10:30 to 12:00, then drove to ChiChi’s for lunch. Kent wanted a Margherita, but it was too early for the bar to be open. Munched on nacho chips with a cold (as in very mild) sauce, and a mild hot sauce. We both ordered the Chihuahua dinner with three flautas, refried beans and rice. Kent remarked it was plain. The Mexican music was a bit overbearing with the speaker right over our heads. Kent filled out a feedback card, and we paid the bill of $15.
Returned to the hotel at 14:00, and I had to leave for the Tampa airport. Filled the rental car with gas, and checked it in, trying the new express return computer system. Took the People Mover to the gate to check in for the 16:15 flight to Atlanta. Left only a few minutes late. Arrived in Atlanta at 17:40, and checked in for the 18:50 flight to Providence. It left a half hour late, arriving in Providence at 21:30. Got my car for $7.50 and drove home.

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