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2137 Tanger Socco

Paul Bowles; illustrated by Ira Yeager.
Berkeley: Del Milion Editions, 2011

Twenty unpublished letters by Paul Bowles with eight accompanying water­colors and an original oil & acrylic painting on canvas by Ira Yeager .

The young, dashingly handsome artist Ira Yeager arrived on the scene in Tangier, Morocco in the early 1960s. In those days Tangier was an exotic mélange of Berbers, French, Arabs, Spanish, libertine American heiresses, Gurdjieffians, artists, drunks, kif smokers, Russian spies, famous writers, Beat poets, and all sorts of riff raff. Yeager called the expatriate community the “Danger Queens” … (another story and possible book).

Tangier was cheap. You could buy a house for $400 or part of the King’s palace for $1000. Ira and his traveling companion Stuart Church frequented a hedonistic crowd of the demimonde—some truly eccentric characters—and caroused with them in the haunts of the rakish Zoco Chico.

Ira soon became friends with Paul Bowles, and much more so with the eccentric and witty Jane, who lived in apartments one above the other in the Immeuble Itesa. During the next two decades, 1962–1986, Ira exchanged some eighty or so letters with Bowles. Bowles’ letters are peppered with bits of gossip about their friends in Tangier and the writers who briefly lived and passed through there: William Burroughs, Peter Orlovsky, Allen Ginsberg, Gregory Corso, Brion Gysin, Tennessee Williams, Gore Vidal, and Truman Capote. He writes to Ira about Tennessee Williams’ arrival and telephone call, ‘I’m in the Minzah, baby!’, and the beatniks, whose particular clothing and unruly attitudes were coming to the attention of the authorities, of delightful anecdotes of his life and travels in Morocco with a beautiful description of a visit to an oasis, of his up and coming book publications, of Jane and Cherifa, of Amed Yacoubi, the Englishman David Herbert, and of the blind Berber beggar woman with whom Ira became so fascinated.

This selection, edited and introduced by Susan Filter, consists of twenty out of eighty unpublished letters written by Bowles to Yeager and spans over two decades. Yeager’s brilliantly colorful illustrations for 2137 Tanger Socco were inspired by his memories and travels in North Africa. His sketchbooks from that period contains drawings and watercolors that he later used as material for his paintings: The Blind Berber Series and Veiled Fatimas.

2137 Tanger Socco was designed and printed in an edition variée of thirty numbered copies by Peter Rutledge Koch with the assistance of Jonathan Gerken and Erin Fong for Susan Filter and Del Milion Editions. Each copy contains eight relief prints—hand water-colored by the artist. An original oil and acrylic painting on canvas has been set into the cover of each box. The paper is 300 gsm Hahnemühle Copperplate and the typeface is Bitstream Courier Bold. John DeMerritt Bookbinder constructed the elegant red cloth boxes lined with aquamarine Ultrasuede. Each copy is boldly signed by the artist, the printer, and the publisher.

Portfolio; 8 prints,    17 x 19 inches    edition of 30.       $4500.00

40 pp (10 bi-folios).