Twist and Shout

Twist and Shout
Life is never straight (Joey Kulkin photo)

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Vignettes from Vermont: Trotsky 2.0 (The Lightbulb)

BENNINGTON -- All of a sudden men are making a run on Trotsky specs. And, all of a sudden, Saxtons River folk are making runs into Fiddlehead at Four Corners.

On August 10, it was a Brattleboro Brooklynite by the name of Richard who walked into the converted marble bank and, after a chat with the gallery keeper, walked back out into the Bennington wetness with George and Lennie.

Today, a few minutes before 3 o'clock, another Trotskyite walked into the gallery. His name is Donald Saaf, and he lives in Saxtons River, and his talent is immense and has been on display from New England to New Orleans. His children's books have won awards, and his paintings resonate with a flavor of Picasso.

Here's "Three Stages of Mortality" ...

"Three Stages of Mortality" by Donald Saaf

Donald is the second person in a month from Saxtons River to come into the gallery.

I wrote about a Saxtons River native who rescued a dog that saved her life HERE.

For some reason I never asked the woman her name. But the fact she's from Saxtons River led me to a Google search, and I found out Saxtons River is home to another children's book author by the name of Crescent Dragonwagon.

All of a sudden Saxtons River -- a speck of dust in the sticks and streams of East Vermont -- houses world-class artisans. Five hundred and nineteen people live in Saxtons River.

Donald Saaf said he recognized Crescent Dragonwagon's name.

I told Donald Saaf about the first Trotskyite, Richard, a sweet man, who, after a few weeks of email correspondence bought this piece by Michalopoulos:

Donald Saaf told me about an illuminating day at Trotsky's home in Mexico.

He was part of the Traveling Fellowship in Oaxaca, Mexico, in 1990, and visited the house where Trotsky lived after exiling to Mexico City. He had become a dead man walking in Russia because of his critical opposition to Joey Stalin.

The Mexico City portion of Trotsky's story can be read HERE, but the gist of it is one of Stalin's goons murdered the Russian revolutionary by stabbing him in the back of the head with an ice pick.

One day Donald Saaf the art fellow visited Mexico City to check out Trotsky's casa de la muerte, now a museum.

"A little lady came up to me and asked me to change the lightbulb," the 6-foot-2 Saaf said smiling.

The next Trotskyite at Fiddlehead is going to have a tough time topping that story.

UPDATE: The talent that runs in the Saaf home runs deep. His wife is Julia Zanes, and WOW. Per capita, Saxtons River might be the art capital of the United States.