To the writers and photographers who live here just a few months of the year, New York is the axis of the earth — where the publishers are, where asments originate and where all the checks are ed.
The steamroller of progress has made slow headway in Big Sur. In some spots, in fact, it has bogged down altogether. Ironically enough, Miller came here looking for peace and solitude. Some of them, depressed by the influx of tourists, have left for other, more isolated spots — Mexico, the Pacific Northwest, or the Greek Islands.
In reality, Big Sur is very like Valhalla — a place that a lot of people have heard of, and that very few can tell you anything about. And if justice were done, a whole army of tourists and curiosity-seekers would perish, too. For that matter almost everyone in Big Sur looks like either a farmer or a woodsy poet. Big Sur is full of loneliness. The coast from Carmel to San Simeon, with the green slopes of the Santa Lucia mountains plunging down to the sea, is nothing short of awesome.
Her husband, the late Dr. Murphy, conceived of this place as a great health spa, a virtual bastion of decency and clean living. When all Miller wanted was a little privacy, they struggled up the steep dirt road to his house on Partington Ridge; if there was a fornication carnival going on up there, they were damn well going to be in on it. Like artists everywhere, many do odd jobs to keep eating and pay the rent. The exiles are hard to locate, and even harder to drink with.
Big sur: my time as a nudist
And once the checks are cashed, Paris is the next stop. To see Big Sur is one thing, and to live here is quite another. When he arrived in he was relatively unknown. After that there was no hope. Mornings on Partington Ridge I would often go to the cabin door on rising, look out over the rolling velvety hills, filled with such contentment, such gratitude, that instinctively my hand went up in a benediction.
In their minds, San Francisco is a bar, Monterey is a grocery store, and L. Others, primarily the painters and sculptors, look north to Carmel, with its many art galleries, craft-centers and wallet-heavy tourists. After a few months of this he moved up the coast to Monterey.
If you come here looking for something to or to Big sur and nudist. on for support, you are in for a bad time. They finally overwhelmed him, and in the process they put Big Sur squarely on the map of national curiosities. After living here a few months you find it increasingly difficult to take that mass of threatening, complicated information very seriously. Compared to the rest of California, Big Sur seems brutally primitive.
As his fame spread, his volume of visitors mounted steadily. The house he stayed in is still here, high on a ridge a few miles south of the post office. The list of tenants re something like this: one photographer, one bartender, one publisher, one carpenter, one writer, one fugitive, one metal sculptor, one Zen Buddhist, one physical culturist, one lawyer, and three people who simply defy description — sexually, socially or any other way. The highway alone is enough to give a man pause. There are people here without the vaguest idea of what is happening in the rest of the world.
The special irony of all this is that Miller has written more about Big Sur — and praised it more — than any other writer in the world. There are no hotels here, the motels are small and devoid of entertainment, and the only night-life revolves around Nepenthe, which is close-d five months of the year. People are always taking Emil White, publisher of the Big Sur Guide, for a hermit or a sex fiend; and Helmuth Deetjen, owner of the Big Sur Inn, looks more like a junkie than a lot of real hophe. This is the way life goes in Big Sur: waiting for the mail, watching the sealions in the surf or the dim lights of a ship far out at sea, sitting in the tubs at Hot Springs, once in a while a bit of drink — and, most of the time, working at whatever it is that you came here to work on whether it be painting, writing, gardening or the simple art of living your own life.
Miller, in one of his rosier moods, said this coast would one day be the Riviera of America. Those who come from the cities, hoping to a merry band of hard-drinking exiles from an over-organized Big sur and nudist., are soon disappointed. Time was when this place was as lonely and isolated as any spot in America. In Europe, where he had lived since the early Thirties, he had a reputation as one of the few honest and uncompromising American writers.
My wife and I want to rent a cheap ten-room house for weekends, Could you tell me where to look? Today the population of Big Sur is smaller than it was inand just about the same as it was in Hundreds of people have tried to settle here since the end of the war, and hundreds have failed. Some of them lived in hollow trees, others found abandoned shacks, and a few simply roamed the hills with sleeping bags, living on nuts, berries and wild mustard greens.
Big sur vacation planning
When no orgies materialized cultists drifted on to Los Angeles or San Francisco, or stayed in Big Sur, trying to drum up orgies of their own. Miller did his best to stem the tide, but it was no use. The people who live there — and some of them own whole mountains of virgin land — are still using gas lanterns and Coleman stoves. It is still possible to roam these hills for days at a time without seeing anything but deer, wolves, mountain lions and wild boar.
No subdivisions mark these rugged hills, no supermarkets, no billboards, no crowded commercial wharfs jutting into the sea.
Visitors in Big Sur — those who are actually invited — are more likely to be artists, foreign journalists or world travelers than, ordinary vacationers. Until recently the shining light of this community was Dennis Murphy, the novelist, whose grandmother owns the whole shebang. Maybe so, but it will take quite a while. Soon the silence becomes ominous; the pounding sea is too hostile and the nights are full of strange sounds.
Text: Hunter S. If half the stories about Big Sur were true the vibrations of all the orgies would have collapsed the entire Santa Lucia mountain range, making the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah seem like the work of a piker. Miller tried to drive his visitors away but nothing worked. But no longer. A fifty mile stretch of the coast is still without electricity.
And a few are genuine deviates, who live here because nobody cares what they do as long as they keep to themselves. What — and whom — you find here depends largely on where you look. There is no doubt in their minds that any place Miller lives is bound to be some sort of sexual mecca.
Big sur: the tropic of henry miller
This place is a real menagerie, flavored with everything from bestiality to touch football. But when the Nazis over-ran Paris his income was cut off and he came back to the United States. And on some weekends it seems like all seven million of them are right here, bubbling over with questions:.
It climbs and twists along the cliffs like a huge asphalt roller-coaster; in some spots you can look eight-hundred feet straight down to the booming surf. Some are ranchers whose families have lived here for generations.
Not that Henry Luce has anything against solitude — he just wants to tell his seven million readers about it. Old Mrs. Murphy lives across the mountains in Salinas, and, luckily, gets to Big Sur only two or three times a year. Today they are still coming, even though Miller has packed his bags and fled to Europe for what may be a permanent vacation.
On some days the only thing to do, besides eat and sleep, is walk up to your mailbox and meet the postman, who drives down from Monterey six days a week in a Volkswagen bus, bringing news-papers, groceries and beer along with your mail. At times it seemed like half the population of Greenwich Village was camping on his lawn. And all but the first of these still are. There are plenty of artists here, and most of them exhibit at the Coast Gallery, about halfway between Nepenthe and Hot Springs.
It is only natural to find them gravitating towards such places as Big Sur. But there are others, too. Visiting luminaries are usually quartered on Partington, and when they sit down to eat they are not likely to be served wild mustard greens. In his book on Big Sur, Miller describes the people he found here when he came.
But many are still living here the same way they were before. Many of them had not even read his books. In the entire eighty mile stretch of coastline there are only five gas stations and two grocery stores. P of Big Sur remain as wild and lonely as they were when Jack London used to come down on horseback from San Francisco. In the period of Big sur and nudist. which will ensue they will lie up in the dark like snakes or to and chew each other alive during the endless fornication carnival.