Sunday, April 17, 2005

Secret Member of the Bikini Coalition


There are many reasons to love these here internets, and one of them is the power of the many.

To your left, you'll see what was one of a set of two original photos recently up for an ebay auction (link is here, which you still may be able to see). You may recognize the woman in the background as Joan Baez. If you're a fan of the early `60s folk scene, or of Bob Dylan, or of Thomas Pynchon, you may also recognize the man in the foreground as Richard Fariña, and the woman in the bikini as his wife, and Baez's sister, Mimi. The photos were found in a flea market, and appear to have been taken in Big Sur in 1964. And to answer the first question that everyone asks: that's a capo strategically stuck in Mimi's bikini bottom.

I'm a Fariña fan from way back, his story tangled up in so many of my passions that I've long forgotten where or when I first heard of him. Pynchon? Fariña's friend in college, who contributed a blurb to Fariña's very funny, very sad novel, "Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up to Me" which has weathered well over the years. Dylan? Friend, or at least associate, of Fariña during Dylan's Greenwich Village days. Fariña would later write a biting "farewell" to Dylan, "Morgan the Pirate," which may have been Fariña's version of "Positively 4th Street." Cornell, my favorite East Coast university? Fariña went there (as did Pynchon, and as I did - kind of - one summer). `60s folk music? Fariña issued two beautiful, haunting albums with Mimi and first introduced me to the sound of a mountain dulcimer, which he played with a style all his own.

I belong to an email list, run by Fariña fan/historian Douglas Cooke, who also runs the comprehensive Richard and Mimi Fariña web site. One of the list members found the photos on eBay earlier this week and posted her discovery on the mailing list. Doug took an early run at buying them, as did I, but both of us were outbid past our respective budgets by someone who seemed to have unfathomably deep pockets. Doug then floated the idea that those on the mailing list interested in the photos all contribute to a fund and let him take one more hack at it. If he won the auction, the Fariña web site would keep the original photos in its archives, and contributors would get high-rez scans for themselves... and well as some other Fariña-related goodies.

And the Bikini Coalition was born.

The plan was all pulled together by email with less than an hour left on the bidding. Doug took his shot in the last minutes, and the Bikini Coalition was triumphant with a winning bid of $113.51.

As much I liked the idea of having the original photos, I like even more that they'll be part of Doug's collection and that I helped put them there.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

See? Now THIS is why Calvin and Hobbes are dancing1 :-) And Mimi, honey, I don't believe the capo goes...there. :-)!!! Viva la Bikini Coalition!