“I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train.”
“The books that the world calls immoral are books that show the world its own shame.”
Mickey McClain, B.V. (Bachelor of Visual-Arts) was born in the shadow of the Castle of Robert the Bruce, in northern Scotland’s Kemnay Forest, and was baptized in the Wee Kirk of Loch Lorrie. He summered with his Grandmother on Tyrebagger Hill, where he was lucky enough to watch one of the only two televisions in the village, and this instilled in him the dream of living in Hollywood, California.
But that was not to happen for another ten years. First, he followed in his father’s footsteps, and went to art school at the Edinburgh branch of the Academie D’Art D’Ordure, where he learned the styles of Mainland Europe. It was on a summer trip to the Academie’s main branch in Paris that he got his heart broken for the first time. He threw himself into his work.
Mickey finally got to the United States, but only after having his heart broken again, on a cruise liner to America. His disembarked in New York Harbor. Mickey didn’t get to Hollywood right away, but he did buy himself a vehicle made in Los Angeles--a silver trailer home, a vintage 1957 Flying Cloud, that became his pride and joy. In his Cloud, he traveled around the country, painting this great land, always accompanied by his favorite traveling companion, the one great love of his life, Jujubee--a mixed breed terrier, and her son Chuckles. Chuckles’ father does not acknowledge his paternity.
Mickey finally got his big house in Hollywood, but he never gave up his silver Flying Cloud trailer, and he spends most of his time in it. He still spends half of the year traveling this great nation.
His hobby/job is attending and writing articles about festivals in the great U.S. of A., and around the world. Among his favorite festivals are the Louisiana Shemp Festival, Mark Twain’s famous Frog Jumping Competition in Calaveras County, CA. the Coconut Grove Bed Race in Miami, Montana’s Testicle Festival, the Nude Olympics in Flagstaff, the Gloucestershire Cheese Rolling Festival (England), La Tomatina and the Great Fire Festival of Valencia (both in Spain), Thaipusam Festival in Malasia, Costumed Football (Florence, Italy), Wife Carrying Championships (Finland), Hounen Matsuri (Japan), The World Toe Wrestling Competition (roving) and last but not least, Red Bull Flugtag, wherever it happens to be any given year.
Although Mickey is a descendent of William the 4th Earl Marischal, who led the Scots against the British at the bloody Battle of Pinkie in 1547, Mickey McClain has made peace with the enemy, and is now a proud member of the British Origami Society. Mickey does return annually to his birthplace near Aberdeen for the annual Scottish Festivals, where he has been a winner in the Bonnie Knees Competition and the Haggis Throwing Tournament.
Mickey has seen many sights, loved many women in many ports-o-call, has often been homeless, in between amassing great fortunes, and has had much painful opportunity to learn what is what in life. Ms. Ryman feels that he was the excellent choice, to oversee the editing of the Fatman Adventures. (Even though she is in the process of suing him for everything he has, including his damn Flying Cloud that he brags about ad nauseum.)
Neither of them can be contacted.
They have no desire whatsoever to hear from you.
Their lives are quite functional and enthralling, even without either your input or your opinion.
OSCAR WILDE, ON SEEING NIAGARA FALLS DURING HIS FIRST VISIT TO AMERICA:
“It would be more impressive if it flowed the other way.”
“It must be the second greatest disappointment for American brides.”
“Biography lends to death a new terror.”
Eve Ryman did not attend the University of Berkeley, due to financial stresses, but she did live very near Berkeley, in a groovy rent controlled duplex with an astonishing number of houseplants on the porch and deck. Because she was not enrolled there, she could not attend classes or make use of the library, but she did participate in all the protests and sit-ins, which gave her a lifelong thirst for activism.
In between rallies, protests, marches, and sit-ins, Eve eked out a living helping her grandmother (who raised Eve) in her wedding cake business. Known to be one of the best bakers in the country, and having won several awards in the field, Eve thrived in the baking business, although her heart was not in it. She did win top honours at the Grand National Wedding Cake Competition for her fully-functional Three Mile Island cake, constructed for the nuptials of the then-president of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament Organization.
Being near history, but not quite in the center of it, has been a recurring theme in Ms. Ryman’s life. Her great grandmother, Enid, was actually in Times Square during VJ day, and was almost kissed by that handsome sailor in the famous Life Magazine picture, but the sailor saw that she was very pregnant, and so chose Enid’s roommate instead. The excitement of the moment sent Enid into labor, and so Eve’s grandmother had the auspicious honour of being born on VJ day. Enid named her daughter (Eve’s grandmother) Ellie, (Eleanor) after the President’s wife.
In another strange twist of fate, decades later, Evelyn’s grandmother, Ellie, was in Dallas, near the Grassy Knoll on that tragic day in 1963, when the President’s motorcade was parading down Elm Street. A very pregnant Ellie had been up all night, working her swing shift job as stock girl at the Piggly Wiggly, and so had been drinking Dr. Peppers non-stop to stay awake for the big parade. She had to go to the bathroom very badly, so she handed her movie camera to the guy standing next to her and asked would he hold it for her. Abraham Zapruder said yes, and the rest is history.
Again, the trauma of the event sent Ellie into premature labour, and out of that tragic day came a beautiful event: the birth of Evelyn’s mother, Eydie, the child being so named because the child was conceived during a stirring rendition of Eydie Gorme’s “Blame it on the Bossanova.”
And indeed, Ellie did.
The decades passed.
And who do you think was coming down the elevator in The Dakota Building in Manhattan one brisk night in December, December 8th, to be exact? Eydie was coming back downstairs, after having tucked herself in for the night, to see if she had dropped her copy of “Catcher in the Rye” on the sidewalk outside the luxury apartment building, as she was planning on finishing it in the bathtub that night during a good long soak. While in the elevator, she heard gunshots ring out, and kept hearing people screaming the name “John Lennon.” The trauma of it sent her into labour; as she pushed all the buttons on the elevator panel in a panic, she jammed the elevator and it froze between floors.
Everybody was in such a panic about the shooting of the Beatle that nobody noticed the elevator problem until after Eydie had given birth. Eve Ryman thinks that is a pretty damn cool, albeit tragic way to come into the world.
The trauma of the event undid Eydie somewhat, she began doubting her mothering abilities, and so she turned Evalyn over to the care of her grandmother so that she, Eydie, could go serve in the Peace Corps and find herself. That is when tragedy struck again, but this time it was not yet another assassination in yet another crowded, cold city, but a sad anonymous little death that took place in the shrubby hectare just outside of Praia do Xai Xai: while Eydie was teaching villagers how to effect stream diversion for their crops, a marauding herd of charging dik diks, angered at having the water supply tampered with, trampled Eydie and left her clinging to life. Tragically, the nearest doctor was hours away, and Eydie died there in the African shrublands, reportedly singing John Lennon’s “Imagine” as the life drifted out of her. Even the primitive tribesmen knew that tune.
Although she was only a toddler at the time, Eve Ryman never recovered from her mother’s untimely demise, and has been particularly scarred by the fact that every time she tries to explain the circumstances of her mother’s death to people, they invariably crack up, and think she is making it up.
Eve’s mother’s body was cremated and stirred into the mortar used in the making of the village watering trough.
Eve inherited her mother’s love for activism, and has spent most of her life going from rally to rally, doing her share. She founded the website PausesforCauses, which keeps a rolling list of protests, rallies, marches, sit-ins, and other assorted protests all around the country, and offers information about a festive bus which spends 365 days a year on the road transporting people to and from them: it is primarily a site patronized by young people who can attend the rallies because they do not have to work and hence have inordinate amounts of spare time, and who feel guilty about their inherited wealth.
Eve married during this time, but the marriage was quickly annulled, with Eve Ryman-Stimme citing “irreconcilable political differences.” “He just let me go on and on about Obama the whole time he was courting me, and he never let on. Never once even hinted that he was a closet Republican. And how I found out--it will scar me for life. I was snooping through his things, going through his stash of porn, which I am fine with, by the way, being sexually liberated and all, but under the porn I found. . .his collection of Ann Coulter books. I instantly became nauseous. A Republican. And a hard core fundamentalist Republican at that. It’s like a venereal disease. You tell someone. You tell someone about it before you marry them. . .”
Because her grandmother raised her, Eve finally left the west coast and moved out to Appomattox, where her grandmother wished to spend the remaining years of her life, out of respect for her husband’s people, The Lynch’s, who were responsible for the founding of Lynchburg and all that that implies.
By all accounts, life did not go well in Appomattox. Neither her politics nor her bumper stickers sat well with Appomattoxins, and she ran afoul of the law several times.
The first time was in 2008, when she was caught using nail polisher remover to try and remove the KKK graffiti that had been spray painted on Obama signs. She was charged with defacing public signage.
Twice she was arrested on obscenity charges: the first time for cycling in Speedos publicly while en route to a bicycle race in Rustburg, and the second time for baking a large penis cake. Local attorney Michael Brickhill argued Entrapment, however, and got all the charges dropped, as the cake had been ordered by the head sheriff’s brother for the sheriff’s bachelor party.
Once, neighbors called the police, reporting what they said could only be the stench of a dead body coming from Ms. Ryman’s trailer, only to find, when the police burst in, that Ms. Ryman was hosting her night with the Preserving Club, teaching the ladies of Appomattox how to make Kimchi.
And as far as that Restraining Order goes, it is true that Mickey McClain took one out against Eve because of the excessive baked goods she gave him, over and above his protests, but they are working it out, which is crucial since she is his editor. (They met long ago in Los Angeles, by the way, and had a brief romantic tryst when they mistook what they thought was really great sexual chemistry for what was really a very ordinary shag that happened during the 6.6 Northridge quake of ‘94.. They dated briefly, but the romance fizzled quickly. But some good came out of it. She realized she was not creative enough to write fiction, and he realized he was far too lazy to proofread; out of this blossomed a now famous partnership.)
Her most recent arrest took place when she was taken into custody for failing to carry a concealed weapon in an Appomattox public woodland where “HUNTING ONLY” signs were prominently posted. “I was just looking for morels under the tulip poplars,” was her lame defense. She was sentenced to a week in jail, however as the Appomattox jail had just been closed due to overcrowding, she was instead incarcerated in the local animal pound. She looked on the entire experience as a positive one, overall, as she adopted a white mixed terrier mutt at week’s end, naming it, appropriately, Mugshot.
Ms. Ryman has now removed herself from Appomattox and relocated to where her true heart lies, in Woodstock, New York, where her grandmother’s body is now buried … because it was in Woodstock that Eve’s grandmother experienced that happiest time of her life: she was not able to actually attend Woodstock, but she did go to a really good Sigma Pi Phi kegger just down the road.
“The only thing worse in the world than being talked about is not being talked about.”
Author, Activist, Artist, Curator, Publisher, Speaker, Teacher, tired.
“It is what you read when you don't have to that determines what you will be when you can't help it.”
Meg has worn many hats in her life:
After leaving behind a few brief years of living in Panama City and dallying with equestrianism (English dressage, jumping), because of the heartbreak of watching her horse die of colic, she transferred her energy to becoming a Madison Madrigal under the brilliant tutelage of Grammy winning Robert Shafer. The Madison Madrigals were, as Meg puts it, “simply the best damn choral group in the country.”
But Meg did not have perfect pitch, and she lacked the native talent of some of the other Madrigals, so she moved on and found her niche in the world of competitive intercollegiate forensics at George Mason University. Not content with being on a team that was in the Top Ten in the Nation, and further restless with merely being the Number One Pentathalon Speaker on the East Coast, she continued to push herself until George Mason University was the Number One Forensics Team in the Nation, and she herself had been named Number One Pentathalon Speaker in the Nation--two years in a row. This record has never been beaten since. “We were simply the best damn speech team in the country,” she says with no false modesty. Langford abhors false modesty.
Her first brush with authority and publicity came during that period while she was pursing her doctorate, when she found herself going up against Lefty Driesell and the entirety of the University of Maryland Athletic Department, after finding it her unpleasant responsibility to flunk Len Bias, and to turn in Tony Massenburg for cheating. The incident exploded into a larger tragedy following the cocaine overdose of Len Bias, an imbroglio which eventually brought the wrath of the NCAA down on the unfortunate Terrapins, and led to the humiliating resignation of Lefty. Meg was elated at Lefty’s demise: “Almost all of the black players on the basketball team used up their eligibility without graduating, without even having the grades to graduate with a ‘C’ average in Phys. Ed. Driesell graduated those kids without them even having a shot at teaching high school ball. He was, in essence, a slave owner.”
She left the world of academia and began penning novels and producing audiobooks. They are around, if you are interested in taking a look or a listen.
After optioning a couple of screenplays in Hollywood (“. . .but I never caught the brass ring” she says wistfully, which is Hollywood speak for she never actually has a script produced.), she changed careers once again, becoming a 3-D miniature artist, developing a technique for making canvases come alive in three dimensions. “I take stereotypical painters like Kinkaid and Wyland, and do to their landscapes what we as a species are doing to ours--I ruin it. But I have fun doing it. It makes a point.”
Meg has had shows in Topanga Canyon Gallery, and at the Santa Monica Fine Arts Studio. She attributes her inspiration to Michelle Jacinta Pagan, a dear friend who was killed by a drunk driver on Christmas Day, after seeing the premiere of “Titanic.” She gave a show in Michelle’s honour, and also has a show featuring all 9-11 pieces rendered in miniature; both shows were featured on ABC, CBS, and NBC news.
She has several dozen dollhouses and miniature scenes, all of which tell a story or show a slice of Americana (including such unorthodox dollhouses as Bubba the Bootlegger and the House of Hoarders), but her favorite pieces are her more irreverent ones, including her 3-D paint-by-numbers of the Last Supper and the Crucifixion. She even has done miniature scenes of illegal immigration, but her naughty favorite, hands down, is the “Men Are Pigs” Theatre, a 4 foot by 8 foot portrayal of the dissolution of American neighborhoods, featuring a miniature burlesque house-turned porn movie theatre, complete with neighborhood protestors outside. Only twist: the seats in the theatre are filled not with men, but with teeny, tiny pigs. The porn playing on the screen (yes, it has that too) has been supplied by the United States Department of Agriculture Swine Reproduction Division, for which she is eternally grateful. Your taxpayer dollars at work.
Finally, Meg had known quite enough of partying in the troubled City of Angels. (And she denies quite emphatically that Mickey McClain’s trilogy “Adventures of the Fattest Crimefighter in the World” is based on her life in Hollywood, just with the gender changed.) Meg returned to her roots and moved her Dollhouse Museum to Appomattox, Virginia, where she was shocked at the amount of racism oozed to the surface of everyday life. She is currently in the process of suing the town for being generally bigoted, racist, homophobic and anti-Semitic, although she is doing it under the rubric of Virginia Code Section #--well, we don’t want to say too much. She considers the lawsuit a piece of performance art tinged with guerilla marketing, thank you Michael Levine. And no thanks to Michael Brickhill.
Parting Thoughts: Meg Langford has been lucky enough to travel the world, and so if she comes across as a little too worldly, that is probably why.
She has climbed to the peak of the Chichen Itza Pyramid, the topmost tier of the Leaning Tower of Pisa, and the heights of mist-shrouded Machu Picchu, where she was spit on by an errant llama.
She has wended her way through the ethereal Shenandoahs, the Great Smokey Mountains, the Isthmus Rainforests, and the Swiss Alps. She has explored the ruins of Persepolis and the catacombs in Rome. She has watched the machinations of both the Panama Canal elevation locks and the Tower of London torture racks.
She has seen the ball drop in Times Square and watched the 4th of July Fireworks on the National Mall outside the White House. She has eaten rattlesnake and haggis and fried turkey blood, and gone dumpster diving as a card carrying freegan.
She has stared in awe at the Sistine Ceiling and at the David. She has been moved to tears by the jutting towers of Notre Dame Cathedral, Westminster Cathedral, Sarum, and the awe-inspiring stained glass of Chartres Cathedral, St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, St Mark’s Basilica in Venice. She has cackled at tourists of both genders having their picture taken with the David, and at the absurd comparison implied therein.
She is in awe of the world, and thinks that those living in it should be humbled by its vast majesty. She suggests you spend just a little less money on Direct TV Bundle Plans and 3D plasma TVs the size of Milton’s cottage, and a little less time playing Farmville and watching Dancing With The Stars, save some coins, get off your Snackwells ass, and go see some of the world for yourself.
By the way, the grand triumphs continue: only recently, Meg was inducted into the NFA Hall of Fame. Google it if you don’t believe me.
“ The public is wonderfully tolerant. It forgives everything except genius.”