Hsieh on Frank


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On the "Lindsay and his 'take' on Zionism/Israel" thread on SOLOP, Diana Hsieh wrote:

"Leonard Peikoff has said that he saw Frank slightly intoxicated just once. He overtipped the waitress at the restaurant they were at -- and Ayn grilled him about it rather persistently. LP's comment was something along the lines that an alcoholic would have had no chance around Ayn Rand."

MSK,

With your experience and knowledge of addiction, would you say that the fear of being grilled persistently by a strongly moral spouse would prevent a person from drinking heavily on a regular basis, or is it much more common for a person with a serious drinking problem to do his best to hide his habit from such a spouse, as well as from her friends and admirers? Might such scolding play a part in driving an addict to confine himself to drinking in a place where he can be alone for hours or days at a time?

Btw, I was looking for the post here on OL in which Barbara named names of those who claimed to have seen Frank drinking or intoxicated, but I didn't have much time to search, and couldn't find it at quick glance. Could you point to where it is?

Also, if you haven't already, you may want to quote Hsieh and add Peikoff and Rand to the list of people who are said to have seen Frank intoxicated.

J

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Jonathan,

Here is a discussion of Frank O'Connor's Drinking in PARC Fallacies which includes Barbara's identification of her sources. In the thread you extracted that quote from, there is a story by George Smith that I included.

What amuses me about Valliant in that thread is another example of his little games where he feigns honesty but is actually being deceptive. These sources from Barbara have been up for some time. He obviously knows about them because he and Fahy keeps tabs on her, with Fahy and other PARC hearkeners constantly reporting on her OL posts on SOLOP. One person on the thread where Valliant is now posting mentioned (twice) that Barbara has identified other sources for Frank's drinking other than what she gave in PAR, but he rambles on as if he did not understand that person and repeats that she only had one or two sources. See Cathcart's posts here and here. Then see Valliant's posts here and here.

This isn't the first time he has done that, either. I would have to dig for other examples, but they are online. I remember Brant Gaede even opened up a whole thread on SOLOP called, guess what?, Frank's Drinking. Cathcart even linked to Barbara's post on that thread. Comments from the PARC peanut gallery were loudly absent. The thread was opened last March and the link posted in May. That link is now broken because of OL migration to a new domain from a hacker attack in July, but it worked for a couple of months.

The first time I saw Valliant's feigned reaction, I didn't understand it, thinking that someone would e-mail him to keep him from making a public mistake like that. But it kept repeating and after a while, I thought it would be impossible for someone not to e-mail him, seeing the fuss he made over the whole issue. So I finally figured it out.

How this game is played is that until someone actually posts a link to Barbara's OL post giving her sources, or a quote from it, right where he is active, right in his face, he will keep feigning that he did not see it. Notice in this round that he even asks for a source. "Something. Anything." Once someone finally does post that, he will then swear up and down that he missed it somehow. Meanwhile, he spreads a little more dishonest image (like with the feigned book sales he and his supporters used to do until a method became available for checking and I checked). He must be aware that this game has a limited time, so he must be aware that his publicity gain is small.

If all this seems petty on Valliant's part, that's because it is. Still, he put a lot of work into his book and this point became a banner of his legitimacy. It must have been quite a disappointment when it was blown out of the water with Barbara's public disclosure of her sources - with signed statements and tape recordings on file. I can understand why he would not want to own up to it yet. But this is also a neat form of blatant lying while trying to cover it up on a "technicality."

Once again, I point out that when Valliant lies in public, he lies to every honest person who reads him, not just his "enemies."

In terms of me - living with women who deplored drinking when I was actively a lush, I always hid my drinking. I hid it well. The people I worked with also had no idea how serious my problem was. I once lived with a very smart woman in an extremely small apartment. She was the one who was most against drinking of all of my exes. I regularly kept 3 bottles of vodka hidden in that apartment at all times and she never found them.

It's pretty easy to hide intoxication if you are a quiet type who hardly says anything like Frank was reported as being. People just don't pay any attention to you. You can discreetly go to where the liquor is, take a slug and go back, sit down, stay quiet and nobody is any the wiser. God knows how many times I did that, except I had to feign being in a quiet mood since I am usually more outgoing.

EDIT - I just saw Hsieh's reaction to your interpretation, Jonathan. Dayaamm! Those people sure don't like it when you do to them what they do to others. How does it feel to be a cockroach? At least her fuss is so big that maybe Valliant's game will be blown this time.

Michael

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As far as an alcoholic being no match for Ayn, that is beside the point. Whoever says that doesn't understand much about the spousal dynamics involved where one of them is an alcoholic.

I guess it depends whether you go with the disease model or the choice model, as to how shrill you will be when trying to pointlessly protect someone's good name. I totally don't get that. If Frank was a heavy, quiet drinker (which I could totally see- shit, AR was running a sanctioned affair and he was complying!- hell, that alone would make me think about just hiding in my studio, and doing art and swilling. Totally demoralizing!).

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Those people sure don't like it when you do to them what they do to others.

Oh MY! Those poor stunted children..won't someone please think of the children? Where is Sally Struthers when you need her?

RCR

Edited by R. Christian Ross
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That's why I give out little love taps like I do- I like knowing that they just can't slide by without at least a little bit of discomfort. It just seems like the cosmically right thing to do.

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Frank's drinking -- along with the events that led to it -- was a tragedy. In my biography, I treated it with the gentleness and sympathy it deserved. I have been sickened to see the people on Solo using the issue, and using Frank, as a poker chip in their game of "get the Brandens." It is not Frank they care about; it is the Brandens they hate, and they will dissect Frank endlessly -- stooping so low as to make him ridiculous with their idiotic pretense that he mixed paints in empty liquor bottles -- in order to justify their hatred. It's a disgusting spectacle.

Barbara

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LW Hall just did the magic deed in his post: Since this subject has already.

There it is in Valliant's face. Let's see what he says now, if he says anything at all. And let's see what he says the next time he gets the itch to harp on his glory cry that Barbara made a baseless allegation about Frank's drinking and didn't have proper sources.

The fact is, she did the kind of research that he didn't do. He preferred to rely on Rand's journal notes and The Ayn Rand Cult by Jeff Walker. Despite its many faults, The Ayn Rand Cult stands next to Ayn Rand: The Russian Radical by Chris Sciabarra as one of the two the best researched works on Objectivism of the entire literature. Valliant helped himself heavily to the footnotes so he would not have to do any real research work himself, especially interviews.

(In the future, he still could pretend he never saw LW's post and see if it flies with the acolytes. But it won't with the public anymore. Thanks LW.)

Another form of lying to manipulate information disclosed and another silly Branden-bash game blown out of the water. There's still a lot of work to do to disclose the extent of the dishonesty of that one. But it will be done.

Michael

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Nice job by LW.

Lordy, what a free-for-all over there. Tiring predictablity, though.

Hsieh is fast on her way to becoming a Class-1 Female Curmudgeon. I love her indignance, and freakish yapping about her words being twisted. And how she calls people "cockroaches." Yeah, rock on, you sexy bitch!

Sometimes I do wish for the existence of hell, since no punishment on earth is enough for people like Barbara Branden and her little cockroach helper Jonathan.
Yeah, you go , girl. Oops, though: you can't do the Hell thing, but that of course won't stop you from invoking some nice, ol' timey Angry God smiting. No punishment on earth ? Jeepers! Do you download canings off the 'Net and watch those too?

Fahy just goes off per usual with the shotgun on some kind of non sequitur - driven tear that pretty much has nothing to do with the matter at hand, but does upright himself long enough to, yes, get in his mantra - "read PARC." Indeedy, his A-number-one motherload of all non sequiturs - no matter how much engineering is required, he always manages to ram that bad boy in there, Vegas odds! Fahy, I'll gladly make an exception to my endless attempt at self-imposed niceness: you are Valliant's prison bitch , you are his Jerry Mahoney effing ventriloquist dummy . And, from what I got from MSK's research, your "read PARC" carnival barking isn't getting nearly the traction needed. Please get your elevator pitch tightened up- I need a cheaper price on the doorstop, and it's on you to jack the volume, my brother!

Perigo is having a "lower than low-lifes" moment on the Brandens, and prior to that also manages to wedge in one about his favorite topic, the difference between power pounding and flat out al-key-holic. Idea: switch to beer, you'll be in Greco-Roman wrestling shape in a cool 90 days, you righteous stud! It is pure fascination to still be able to witness the residuals from the infamous "Kilbourne Maneuver<tm>". Two words, king of all that is curmudgeon: Milk Thistle. If you're going at it, a couple of these every day with some distilled water will give you a reasonably good flush- you don't have to trust my American ass, the Europeans have been using it for years, especially those powerful French swillers.

All in all, a spectacular outing, a Boss Hoss display of raw, unfettered curmudgeon-craft! Yes!

Edited by Rich Engle
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I'm going to stop now, but finally the game is officially up!

In post entitled LW, Valliant acknowledged the four sources. Of course he did his gobbledygook stuff, he lied again by saying he was actually referencing Barbara's post in his previous posts (and if you believe that, there is the Statue of Liberty going for cheap), and he conveniently left out the signed statements and tape recordings on file, but he finally threw in the towel.

He practically admitted that Barbara's account in PAR of Frank's drinking was not arbitrary and soley authored by her imagination as he formally accused her of doing. She did have credible sources on file from her research. Look at the accusation.

In the end, there is no reason to suppose that Ms. Branden is not the true source of this urban legend herself.” (p. 147)

Well, there are four good reasons not to suppose that and they are documented. With George Smith's account, there are five good reasons and that is documented. With Hsieh's mention of Peikoff's account, we even have another, although it was not intended that way, but that is documented.

There is no way on earth Valliant can claim that Barbara made all this up - an "urban legend" - and still claim rationality. Maybe Wendy McElroy should see some of this stuff in light of her own review of PARC.

I agree with Barbara. These petty people are making a circus out of the memory of a kind, gentle man and the suffering he tried so hard to hide from the world. I find great nobility in Frank's silence and restraint. I can see why Rand loved him and used him as an emotional pillar.

Michael

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I find it highly amusing to see how George Smith now is creating a rampage on that forum, showing that with all their malice, their sniping and silly "kass"-shouting the juveniles there are no match for him. He squashes them easily with his calm and intelligence. Even the head-windbag has retreated, licking his wounds. It's really great fun!

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Frank's drinking -- along with the events that led to it -- was a tragedy. In my biography, I treated it with the gentleness and sympathy it deserved.

How true. Barbara did handle the very delicate subject very well. She never in her book directly said that Frank was an alcoholic and I think that she painted him as a man of good character and her admiration of him shows throughout the book. Yes, it is obvious that he drank to excess at times and she may have been the first to say so publicly in a printed work. She certainly did not condemn Frank. She probably knows better than anyone what that man went through. She understands.

Kat

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MSK wrote:

In terms of me - living with women who deplored drinking when I was actively a lush, I always hid my drinking. I hid it well. The people I worked with also had no idea how serious my problem was. I once lived with a very smart woman in an extremely small apartment. She was the one who was most against drinking of all of my exes. I regularly kept 3 bottles of vodka hidden in that apartment at all times and she never found them.

It's pretty easy to hide intoxication if you are a quiet type who hardly says anything like Frank was reported as being. People just don't pay any attention to you. You can discreetly go to where the liquor is, take a slug and go back, sit down, stay quiet and nobody is any the wiser. God knows how many times I did that, except I had to feign being in a quiet mood since I am usually more outgoing.

Thanks, Michael. I don't have a lot of experience in dealing with people who have had serious problems with chemical abuse, but from the few instances that I've seen or directly heard about from those who have had such problems, I've gotten the sense that it's not uncommon for them to be pretty successful at hiding their drug or alcohol problems from others, including hiding it from extremely intelligent, observant spouses who would "persistently grill" them if caught in the act.

Thanks for the link to Barbara's post.

J

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For a bit more completeness regarding Barbara's sources for Frank's drinking, here are excerpts from two e-mails she sent Brant Gaede in September 2005 that he published on SoloHQ with her permission. This was before he got peaved at her and stopped communicating. However, in light of new information about signed statements and tape recordings on file ("new" in terms of comparing against that time), these e-mails read a lot differently today than when they did in the middle of the intense hostility against her back then. (I have not included references to the former site owner. The full e-mails can be seen on the links.)

The first:

10/09/05 05:00 MST

______________

Brant, if you have questions about PASSION, you are always welcome to ask me about them. I say this because I saw your comments about Frank and his drinking. I did not say he was an alcoholic when the collective was reading ATLAS. It happened much later, only beginning in the final years of my relationship with Ayn. And a number of people are fully aware of it, including the Blumenthals and Elayne Kalberman (and Barbara Weiss, who was Ayn's secretary in her last years, but who has since died.) Also very aware of it is a sculptor friend of Joan Blumenthal's (and mine) who lives in New York and, himself an alcoholic, was Frank's drinking buddy in bars.

It was easy not to be aware of Frank's excessive drinking. He did it mostly in his studio, where he was alone -- and where the piles of empty bottles were found after his death. And he did not grow loud or raucous when he drank; he simply became quieter, more withdrawn, and usually fell asleep or went into the bedroom to sleep. Both Elayne and Barbara Weiss told me, separately, stories of coming to the apartment mornings, on business, and finding Frank drunk in those last days just before his final illness.

The second:

11-09-05 00:33 MST

_______________________

(...) After Frank's death, Eloise, their maid, found a great many empty liquor bottles in a closet in his studio. (The studio was a separate apartment in their building.) Leonard has never disputed this fact -- and gave the unbelievable and embarrassing "explanation" that Frank used the empty bottles to mix his paints! I don't believe that in the history of art anyone has done this before. Leonard's statement was greeted with hoots of laughter by every painter who heard of it.

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Here is the part dealing with Frank's drinking and mental decline from Barbara's 1992 Full Context interview conducted by Karen Reedstrom, now posted on her web site.

Q: Leonard Peikoff said that Frank O'Connor was not an alcoholic, that those bottles in the painting room were for mixing paints, but booze bottles are not for mixing paint.

Branden: Of course! Who ever heard of a painter mixing paints in a liquor bottle!

Q: Hellman's mayonnaise jars are what everyone uses.

Branden: It's ridiculous, of course. Toward the end, I'm sure Leonard had to know that Frank was drinking.

Q: How could you tell?

Branden: It showed! I've heard from too many people that they came in to the apartment and the first thing they smelled was alcohol, and Frank clearly had been drinking. It might even be in the morning.

Q: That must have been terrible for Rand.

Branden: Terrible.

Q: Did she ever talk about it, how she handled it?

Branden: One of the really awful things that would happen is that Frank would fly into rages over nothing, this gentle man who would never willingly cause pain. She would say, in effect, pass the salt the wrong way and he would blow. It was excruciatingly painful to her. She knew in a way that he couldn't help it. It wasn't just liquor; it was senility. I don't know if it was Alzheimer's, but something was very wrong with his brain near the end. He was forgetting everything, really losing contact in the last period.

Q: Was it like a couple years?

Branden: Much longer. As a matter of fact, I saw it beginning to happen. Even before I left. I was seeing something physical, as well as something psychological, by 1968 and even a little before then. I would see Frank being in the room for conversations that he should not have been present at, Ayn's conversations with me, for instance, about Nathan, and what was wrong with Nathan, and what was wrong with Nathan and Ayn's relationship. It could only have been terribly painful to him.

Things got worse and worse, and the conversations became more and more passionate and unhappy and Ayn's suffering more and more apparent. I began to see Frank emotionally and intellectually retreating from the room. You could almost touch it. I felt that each week he was understanding less of what he was hearing. That was his only way of protecting himself. He simply could not cope with what was happening to Ayn. It was a terrible time, and he had no means to handle it.

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Michael,

Thanks for reproducing part of the Full Context interview.

Karen Reedstrom (now Minto) should know something about paint mixing, being an illustrator herself.

The interview helps to answer another question I've had for a while, namely when Frank O'Connor started showing signs of dementia.

Robert

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Due to what I perceived as the direction the thread was heading and because of what I had read on here by BB concerning O'Connor's alleged drinking I felt it was a good time to bring it up and try to get some input by James V and maybe others.

As I mentioned on the SOLO thread I was not trying to make a big issue out of it myself, but I did want to introduce Barbara's post on the subject into evidence so to speak.

I am hesitant to make judgements on other people's drinking problems when I am not totally armed with a lot of facts, but I am genuinely concerned with trying to discern the truth whenever these types of issues are being debated.

L W

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The [Full Context] interview helps to answer another question I've had for a while, namely when Frank O'Connor started showing signs of dementia.

He was definitely showing signs of some form of dementia by the time I first met him, which was during the reception following a piano recital given in New York City in early 1970 by Allan Blumenthal (a gala event, amonst the attendees of which were Capuletti and Pilar). Joan had some of her art on display, and people were talking in the display area after the performance. I attempted a bit of conversation with Frank but soon gave it up since he seemed not able to track. At the time what I suspected was that he had a drinking problem and was showing signs of alcohol damage. Years later, when I mentioned this to Marsha Enright, she raised the suggestion that what I was seeing was early signs of senile dementia (albeit possibly combined with effects of alcohol abuse). I wish I'd thought back then, after I got to know Allan in subsequent years, of probing Allan about Frank's condition, but I didn't think of it, given my presumption that drinking was the source of his vacantness. Still later, in the second half of the '70s, it was becoming a common observation, at least amongst O'ists I knew, that he was exhibiting signs of senility.

Ellen

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A friend of mine who worked with Mary Ann Sures has told me that Mary Ann seemed to have a job as Frank's bodyguard. She told me that Miss Rand had come down with Nathaniel and Frank for a NBI opening in DC. Mr O'Connor came down after the lecture had started. My friend went over to engage him in conversation and was shooed away by Mary Ann.

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Does anyone have an idea of how many paintings Frank O'Connor created, how many survive, and where they are now? I've seen print or digital reproductions of only five or six. There's the painting which was on the cover of an earlier edition of The Fountainhead (I'm drawing a blank on its title), there's "Diminishing Returns", and I've also seen a few paintings of nudes/semi-nudes, at least two of which have the figures facing away from the viewer and looking out of a window or other structural aperture.

Also, how long was his painting career? Did he ever show his work in a gallery or otherwise try to sell any of it? Had the NBI, Rand's estate, or any other organization ever sold reproductions of any of his paintings other than "Diminishing Returns"? Was there ever a calendar or "coffee table book" collection of his work, or anything like that?

J

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There are a couple of Frank's paintings shown in PAR. NBI sold a couple of other although NBI did not sell 'Man also Rises' , the painting on the cover of the Fountainhead. There was never a coffee table book. I think there are some reproductions in the Sures book. I think the only show Frank had were shows with Joan Blumenthal and shows at his art school.

Edited by Chris Grieb
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  • 1 year later...

I've thought for a long time that alot of you 'type folks' are just gossipers.

Stop doing it. Who cares. It suits none of the parties well and speaks ill of all of you. This is what disgusts so many 'casual Objectivist' observers.

It's of interest to the people that were physically there and emotionally involved with all of these people but none of it matters in ultimate importance to the rest of us.

Seriously, you people continue to gossip like school girls or like Paris Hilton tabloids. It's disgusting. Has anyone analyzed THAT?

Make yourselves more important than that. Quit it. What purpose does it serve? None, of course. Save yourself the breath and go and defile graves of the dead while you're at it. You'd save us all the trouble of listening to it and the distractions to boot..

Many people have just shook our heads in disbelief for years...years!

Play cards or canasta or whatever. Get over it.

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Does anyone have an idea of how many paintings Frank O'Connor created, how many survive, and where they are now? I've seen print or digital reproductions of only five or six. There's the painting which was on the cover of an earlier edition of The Fountainhead (I'm drawing a blank on its title), there's "Diminishing Returns", and I've also seen a few paintings of nudes/semi-nudes, at least two of which have the figures facing away from the viewer and looking out of a window or other structural aperture.

Also, how long was his painting career? Did he ever show his work in a gallery or otherwise try to sell any of it? Had the NBI, Rand's estate, or any other organization ever sold reproductions of any of his paintings other than "Diminishing Returns"? Was there ever a calendar or "coffee table book" collection of his work, or anything like that?

I own a print of "Diminishing Returns" sold to me by Mary Ann Sures, number 6 of 100, signed by the artist. The prints of Frank's paintings sold earlier by NBI apparently didn't hold up very well colorwise. I don't know what it's worth, maybe 5g. I'd sell it for 250g or give it to Barbara, if she wants it.

--Brant

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