I got home late tonight, which in this case is a good thing. After work, I continued to fight against the inertia that’s set into me over the past few years by attending the opening night reception for the new Harry Benson exhibit at the Staley-Wise gallery in Soho. This is something that I used to do on a fairly regular basis, but it’s been several years since I did so and it was good to be there again.

Harry Benson is a photojournalist from Scotland who’s done a lot of work here in the U.S. He’s famous for his photo of the Beatles romping on a bed in a hotel room back around 1964 or so, but he also told me that he’s photographed every U.S. president from Eisenhower onward. He was there when Bobby Kennedy was shot and took a famous photo of an anguished Ethel Kennedy with her hand reaching out to block him.

At the gallery I spent quite a bit of time speaking with a woman, originally from northern England, who said her name is Lynette Asquith. She told me that she was a model back in the 1970’s, and that she was photographed by Bob Guccione for Penthouse magazine. She said she was in the magazine in 1971, so I just did a web search and indeed, she was on the cover of the November 1971 issue (shown here). I guess it just shows that you never know who you’ll meet somewhere.

I asked her if it would be okay if I mentioned her in my blog, and she said yes. She also said that I should mention that Guccione was basically a creep and that he would insist on massaging his models nipples in order, he claimed, to get them to stand up! (Well, that was his excuse, I guess.) She told me more stories about her modeling days, and we talked about people like Julie Christie, Charlotte Rampling and Dusty Springfield, too.

After this gallery reception, I had planned to go down to the monthly opening night at the cooperative gallery in Tribeca I’m thinking of joining, but after staying so long at the first gallery, I just didn’t have time for the second. So, maybe next month.

Well, the presidential election is over and I am, like many people, happy that Barack Obama won. Any time a new president is elected it’s a historic event, but obviously this one is even more so. I thought that John McCain was very gracious in his concession speech – more like the old McCain than the one who showed up during this campaign. I hope he’ll go back to being an independent-minded Republican who’s interested in what’s best for the country and not just for the Republican base. With the Republicans left in the Senate now balanced more to the far right, we could use him.

Obama’s acceptance speech was, as some commentators described it, sober and solemn. With his knowledge of history, I think he was genuinely humbled by the events of Tuesday. Fireworks were originally planned to celebrate his election, but he cancelled them when he found out about it. With the state of the nation being what it is, there really isn’t a great deal to celebrate right now, and his speech reflected the long road ahead.

Of course, we should celebrate that we’ll be finally getting rid of Bush, Cheney and co. Eight years has been way too long, so getting someone like Obama will be a much needed change. I think of Barack Obama as the anti-George Bush, as the two men seem to be diametrically opposed in so many ways: Bush came from a family of power and privilege, Obama from a family of commoners; Bush is a simpleton, Obama is sophisticated; Bush has no intellectual curiosity, Obama is intellectually curious; Bush says “nucular,” Obama says “nuclear’; etc.

So, I wish the president-elect good luck in dealing with the tough times ahead. He will need it – and so will we.

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