Montalvo morning

Stuck in my mind on waking, a notable placename in California — there are Montalvo Streets in San Diego, Los Angeles, and Palm Springs, and the Villa Montalvo and Arts Center in Saratoga is not far from Palo Alto — and for good historical reasons, going back to the inventor of California, the 15th-century  Castilian author of fantasy romances Garci Rodríguez de Montalvo (Montalvo ‘white mountain’).

On Saratoga’s treasure:

(#1)

The Montalvo Arts Center is a non-profit center for the arts in Saratoga, California, United States. Open to the public, Montalvo comprises a cultural and arts center, a park, hiking trails and the historic Villa Montalvo, an Italian Mediterranean Revival mansion nestled in the foothills of the Santa Cruz Mountains. The mansion and estate were constructed from 1912–14 by California statesman and businessman James Duval Phelan. After Phelan’s death, the entire estate was donated to California as a park and then a cultural and arts center as it exists today. The arts center maintains the estate in partnership with Santa Clara County. The mansion is a historic landmark

… In 1911, James D. Phelan, a three-term mayor of San Francisco who would go on to be California’s first popularly elected US Senator, purchased 160 acres in the Saratoga countryside and foothills.

Phelan began construction of the mansion in 1912 [and it was completed in 1914].

During his lifetime, Phelan hosted many celebrities and notables of the era as guests at Montalvo. Jack London, Ethel Barrymore, Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks, and Edwin Markham were among Phelan’s many guests.

… Phelan named Villa Montalvo in honor of the popular 16th-century Spanish writer Garci Ordonez de Montalvo. Montalvo coined the name “California” in one of his fables. In it he described an island rich with gold and jewels, peopled by Amazons ruled by a queen named Calafia. The Amazons in the fable employed griffins in battle. Images of griffins [part lion, part eagle] can be found throughout the arts center grounds, “standing guard”.  (Wikipedia link)

On the writer:

Garci Rodríguez de Montalvo … (~1450 – 1504) was a Castilian author who arranged the modern version of the chivalric romance Amadis of Gaul, written in three books in the 14th century by an unknown author. Montalvo added a fourth book of his own and also wrote a sequel, Las sergas de Esplandián (The Exploits of Esplandián or The Adventures of Esplandián) (oldest known printing, 1510), in which he tells the life and wandering of Amadis’ eldest son.

The saga was continued by books by later authors. The books were the sixth novel, Florisando (by Ruiz Paez de Ribera, 1510), followed by Lisuarte of Greece (by Feliciano de Silva, 1514), Lisuarte of Greece (by Juan Diaz, 1525), Amadis of Greece (by Feliciano de Silva, 1530), etc.

In the sequel, Las sergas de Esplandián, Rodríguez described a mythical Island of California as being west of the Indies:

Know, that on the right hand of the Indies there is an island called California very close to the side of the Terrestrial Paradise; and it is peopled by black women, without any man among them, for they live in the manner of Amazons.

The novel was highly influential in motivating Hernán Cortés and other explorers in the discovery of the “island”, which they believed lay along the west coast of North America. In 1539, Francisco de Ulloa, sailing under the commission of Cortés, explored the Gulf of California and the coast of Baja California peninsula, determining that it was a peninsula, not an island. Nevertheless, the cartographic misconception of California as an island persisted on many European maps well into the 18th century. (Wikipedia link)

Alas, the Great Seal of California has the goddess Minerva / Athena — warlike, but otherwise not faithful to Montalvo’s legend — instead of a phalanx of black lesbians, and features a grizzly bear instead of the state’s seal, the Pacific harbor seal (Phoca vitulina richardii):

(#2)

The seal features the Roman goddess Minerva (Athena in Greek mythology), the goddess of wisdom and war, because she was born an adult, and California was never a territory ; a California grizzly bear (the official state animal) feeding on grape vines, representing California’s wine production; a sheaf of grain, representing agriculture; a miner, representing the California Gold Rush and the mining industry; and sailing ships, representing the state’s economic power. The word Eureka (εύρηκα in Greek), meaning “I have found it”, is the California state motto. (Wikipedia link)

Sadly, the Great Seal bears no trace whatsoever of the diverse Native American peoples of the state, once numerous, or even of the chain of Spanish missions that helped to exploit them while working to destroy their cultures in the name of civilization, commerce, and the Catholic Church.

Coincidental bonus. This morning’s home playtime treats were The Best of Dean Phoenix and The Best of Eric Hanson. DP I’ve posted about recently, and here’s EH at the height of his porn stardom:

(#3)

Fit and lean, strikingly handsome, and with the requisite porn equipment.

While I was gearing up to savor the porn dudes, I chanced to notice the address of Channel 1 Releasing / Dirk Yates, the prodigiously prolific gay porn firm: 1301 Montalvo Way #7, Palm Springs CA 92262. A nondescript office building:

(#4)

A business address for C1R/DY, possibly just a mail drop. Also in the building, and apparently doing actual business from there: Palm Springs Pest Control (Terminix) in #1, a PEP (Pool & Electrical Products) outlet in #5, and Palm Springs Hydroponics in #8 (good customer reviews).

I know, I know, I started with a reasonably elevated topic, digressed to a rant on society and culture, and finished off wallowing in wanton carnal pleasure, under the hot SoCal sun. Hey, it’s cold and rainy here, and all week workmen have been demolishing significant chunks of my building, with ear-shattering noise (I’ve gotten earplugs), just outside the window by my worktable, and the political news continues to be alarming. So I’m edgy. Dean’s rod and Eric’s staff, they comfort me.

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