Honey Glumm, artist, theatre critic, local historian, and beloved author of “Honey Glumm’s Tales for Kiddies”, is an alter-ego of Fran Moyer’s who first appeared in the 1970s. Although sightings are rare, Honey Glumm is still with us.
HONEY GLUMM TELLS ALL
by Fran Moyer, Big River News, Mendocino, California
I feel inclined to begin the report on this interview with an apology. Primed though I was with pertinent questions about Glumm’s work and her ideas about art in general, the whole thing was a debacle from the beginning. No real information was forthcoming as Glumm embarked on a disconnected ramble from one trivial topic to the next.
I presented myself at Glumm’s door at what I thought was the appointed hour. Glumm appeared, scowling like Scrooge, wearing shabby jeans and pulling on a pilling sweater of indeterminate color over a ragged tank top.
Her tone was in no way benign as she said, “I haven’t even had my coffee! Look, could I juth put in my tooth?” Glumm ducked into what might have been the bathroom to accomplish this, then emerged to put on the coffee pot and, finally, her socks.
Glumm’s apartment had a fine view of a large vacant field covered with the pastels of wild radish from a bay window through which one caught glimpses of the sea. It was furnished in garage sale fashion, containing ratty overstuffed furniture. The walls were covered in paintings, all in very bright colors and mostly of nudes, sitting on chairs, at beaches. reclining by pools and watching rather sinister cats. Various pieces of sculpture littered the floor and other surfaces. I did not know what to make of it all except that the work was extremely bright – if not raw – in color.
She appeared more cheerful with a steaming cup before her, and a cigarette in hand. “You know,” she said, “I woke up singing. It was Koko’s song – or was it Nanki-Poo’s? – from the Mikado. ‘In sentimental mood…” Glumm sang. “But it came out, ‘In pestilential mood.'” Glumm sang again. “What do you think of that? Any Freudian insights?”
I should note that, at that time, a local production of the Mikado was going on. Glumm had something to do with making props for the show. Most of them kept falling apart.
She returned to the coffee pot for a second cup. At this point, the resident cat, using its front paw butterfly embrace, seized her leg and bit it. “Dammit, sweet boy, stop that!” she said.
Hoping to get things in motion again, I asked the name of the feline. It fixed me with a baleful stare.
“Amenhotep,” she said, “After that Egyptian king. I forget what dynasty. I always get the dynasties mixed up. Anyway, it was a lousy dynasty for art.”
“Decadent,” Glumm went on. “All those statues and wall-reliefs show pot-bellied folks with skinny arms and legs and great big jaws. I guess Amenhotep looked like that. Anyway, I THINK it was Amenhotep’s dynasty, but maybe it was Akhenaten’s.”
Seeking to break the stranglehold of the Mikado and Egyptian history, I asked Glumm’s opinion of local art.
She rolled her eyes back into her head and said, “Oh God!” She paused and added, “With some exceptions, of course.”
I asked her if she could be more specific. “Look,” she said, “I LIVE here. You want me to ride out of town on a rail?”
“And you want to know what I think of the current art scene? Well, it’s dreck. All dreck.” She declined to define this term. “Minimal. Conceptual. Things are shooting downhill. Fast. Spell it ‘Ort”. O-R-T.”
“What is Art?” I asked ingenuously. Glumm’s response was prompt. “How should I know?” she replied. “I ‘ve been trying to figure that out for 30 years.”
I made a pretense of admiring the paintings covering the walls and asked Glumm how the work was going.
Glumm glowered morosely. “Lousily,” she said. “Lousily. Lousily. That’s because I’m between batches. It comes in batches. I start on a theme, work it through to the end and then there’s a dry spell when I go crazy. It’s bad enough when I’m onto something. And even then, it’s hard to kick my butt upstairs to the studio. When I do, things are fine. You know, color is good enough to eat.”
I asked if her work sold well. “No!” she said with another formidable scowl, “Why, I have the biggest Glumm collection in the world. I think it’s really hot but my stuff sells like Fort Bragg tacos in Oaxaca.”
I rose to leave.
“Remember, spell it O-R-T,” she called after your retreatng reporter.
Honey Glumm Goes to Forty Carats
by Fran Moyer, Mendocino Beacon (2/ 23/1978)
Local artist Honey Glumm buttonholed this reporter after last Sunday’s performance of “Forty Carats.” Glum was peering into the empty punch bowl in the Gold Room of the Helen Schoeni Theatre when she spied us.
“Well, what did you think of that bit of fluff?” she asked. Without waiting for a reply, she continued, “It got a little long sitting on those hard seats. Probably they could havecut more of the script and just got on with the effects. Weren’t they swell? With that bunch who needs a play? I thinkthey made most of it up as they went along anyway.
“I had a kind of hard time keeping track of what was going on. It seemed to have something with people falling in love with people of different sges and sexes – so what’s new? I couldn’t see why the heroine, (played by Antonia Lamb) was in such a flap about the age thing. After all she was only 40 – just a kid, herselg. She sure looked beautiful too.
“I wouldn’t say the passion was exactly uunbridled,” Glumm went on, although Tom Burnham cut up some pretty good touches a time or two. But what can you expect – the way they were belting all that ouzo and Scotch and stuff? They spent so much time at the bar, it’s no wonder they never really got near the bedroom. I was afraid they’d run out of ice.
“Then they wanted to get married. Imagine! That play is a real period piece, I tell you. But the cast was great – especially that Mowatt-Biggs lady. They ought to cast her as lead in something big – like ‘Medea’ or ‘My Fair Lady’ or something. That is if she can keep out of jail. She was so real when she heard those sirens. That takes experience, believe me!”
“I really had to see the play after all that talk in the press about armpits. Also, I had a free ticket. I think it’s time we took a no-nonsense stance about armpits. Comparisons are unfair. An armpit is unique, for heaven’s sake! You don’t compare a Rembrandt to a Matisse, or a Leonardo to a Rauschenberg, do you?
“But if they’re going to give points for armpits, I’d like to say that Roberta Whiteside’s were right up there with anybody’s. She was the tall Muse, you know. The short one was Tonna Kutner, and she already got raves for her armpits.
“Those Muses sure held things together during all those ninety-eleven costume changes. And funny! I never once thought, ‘Oh, Gad, here they come again.’
“I wonder what Muses they were supposed to be? Not Melpomene anyway – and not Clio. Probably one of them was Thalia. Maybe the other was Terpsichore. Or Erato. No, not Erato. Maybe…”
Glum was counting on her fingers, and it seemed that her ruminations might run on for some time. So this reporter edged out the door, murmuring an unnoticed, “Goodnight, Honey.”
HONEY GLUMM: LETTER FROM MARRAKECH
by Fran Moyer, Big River News, Mendocino, California
An interior bell of recognition clanged ominously as I removed a fat letter from my post office box. A wriggly scrawl, a foreign stamp, postage due. The bell tolled: Honey Glumm! Honey Glumm!
Irritating, embarrassing memoriesof Honey Glumm flooded in – memories that would have filled Glumm with chagrin had they ever crossed her mind.
But really! Those grisly nights at Pete’s Saloon when Glumm buttonholed perfect strangers to tell them garrulous, often bawdy tales; the Fire Department in full cry to rescue Glumm jammed in a storm drain; tipsy Glumm tangled in the streamers of the children’s may pole; Glumm buried in the sand. It made one wince.
Then there were depredations in the field of criticism: Her weekly columns on the Arts, or “Orts” as she insisted (“ort” being a word Glumm seems to have fixated on ever since she first heard Bill Zacha use it), which the local paper foolishly printed, were discontinued at last after her review of a stunning classic play – a tragedy with everyone in togas. Glumm chose to focus her critique on the armpits of the protagonists.
The nasty shouting match that broke out at the Mendocino Crocodile Conservation Symposium comes to mind as well. There, Glumm, after sounding a prolonged raspberry, raucously proposed Crocodile Reservations and a National Bureau of Crocodile Affairs. “Just like the Noble Redmen!” she shouted as outraged local conservationists bundled her out the door, just one step ahead of irritated Pomo locals.
My relationship with Glumm was, for the most part, reluctant, to put the best face on it. I believe she sought me out simply because I was employed by our local paper, The North Coast Buoy and Horn.
In my opinion, Glumm had a consuming taste for theatrics and publicity. For her part, she felt she had an obligation to set the world straight. Once, in her cups, she said, “Just think of me as Zorro!” and she drew a large “Z” on the bar in her spilled beer.
Glumm had been out of town for some time; no one would admit to knowing where she had gone or why. She herself had been grumbling that she was being driven mad by a gang of children who constantly waylaid her and demanded that she tell them stories. Local wisdom, however, has it that there had been one shameful caper too many . Rumor has it that the “Crocodile” disgrace had been the ultimate straw and that some community benefactor had purchased Glumm a plane ticket.
Readers can well imagine with what reluctance I slit open the envelope.
“Long time no see!” Glum’s opening phrase leapt out at me. How like her to seize on so ungainly a cliché.
“I’m here in Marrakech. Been here for quite a while. Maybe too long! Don’t get me wrong – Marrakech is OKAY. It’s just that I’ve fallen into a pit of nostalgia. I keep thinking of whales.
“I look around at the horizon with all those mountains humping up like Moby sno-cones and all I’ve got on my mind is whales. Believe me, you don’t see many whales in downtown Marrakech.
“I even miss those rotten Mendocino kids who used to trap me into telling stories. I tried telling stories to the tads around here, but they only want to sell me postcards. When it’s no sale, they run off yelling ‘Yahooty! Yahooty!’ And what fun is that? I’m coming home.”
And I’m taking long deep calming breaths in preparation.