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franklin in cave -Morrocco

Franklin MacFie-in his cave in Morocco

I n 1970 Franklin met Jean Michel Belluc (a Frenchman working for IBM, living in his brownstone in NYC who should have been a Bishop at Chartes, France , according to his family, an aristocrat who ran off with Alain Robbe-Grillet, the avant guard writer who wrote ” Last Year at Marienbad”.)

From the tapes made with Barbara Stevens talking with MacFie in spring 2008:

Frank says, “I just finished making a film in Vermont ( B Stevens remembers that it was on this film project that Franklin met his long time friend Eileen (now Eileen Vigil) and had a lot of money and was getting drunker than usual and went to a bar in the village and got drunk and fell on my nose and he picked me up -I don’t remember that of course .The next morning I woke up in bed in a strange house filled with French antiques and nobody in the house at all . And I looked out in the window in the back and it was Turtle Bay(?) which is a very smart New York location – 29 th East side. I looked out the window and I saw Katherine Hepburn planting flowers ! I had considered just going and I said whoever lives here, I want to find out who that is. I was starved, simply starved and went downstairs and there was coffee on the stove. Eventually he came in and said Ho, Ho, Ho, you were very drunk last night. That was it. I stayed there. I stayed there for a short while because I hate French antiques.They were all much too delicate for my clumsiness . He was working at IBM- we rented a house in Connecticut for nice weather and I stayed there and I said -not sure of the sequence – I am leaving you . I’m going to Morocco. He said Fine thats wonderful if you like it thats great!”

“So I went to Morocco and I guess we’d been writing to each other and one day I look down the beach and here comes this man with a beard , he had not been bearded before.He said Ho, Ho, Ho, I like you’re life style. Jean Michel arrived and told me he’d lost his job at IBM . We stayed in the cave for a while, not my cave I wouldn’t have anyone in my cave -I got him a cave a couple of doors down. They were caves that were originally carved out of the sandstone cliffs so the fisherman could store their boats in bad weather and then they would go in there to have tea. And then they started to make one for the boat and one to stay in for when the family came from the village. I wanted to live some where on the beach so I found one ( a cave )and sat in front of one of the caves for a few days non-stop and finally I met Ali who turned out to be a very good friend . He offered me a cave and I took it of course. It was the beginning of a wonderful relationship. They were a family of Berbers. They re Indigenous Moroccans not Arabs. They are actually a Caucasian race but they are quite swarthy. In my mind they are much less volatile than the Arabs. Though I am a “semiticophile” -I love Arabs and Jews ,I think the Berbers or more beautiful even than the Arabs.

“X HERE IS A  2015  ADDITION TO THIS STORY:  El Hassan Ahchouch   Ali is younger brother who before Franklin learned to speak Berber was the one in the family who could speak English found this web site:

“Hello everybody. I was very astonished and very happy to see Franklin and Jean Michel on this photo (not sure which one) I can even tell you that my eyes are swollen with tears.This is my story:
  I was born in a little fishing village in the south of Morocco,this village is called AGLOU .For about ten years both men used to come and live in our village(mainly Franklin) he used to read about different topics especially about spirituality, I myself still have books of Krishnamurti .When they left ,they left behind dozens of books in our sheepfold where they used to stay whenever they came to Morocco.I came from a family of ten , and whenever there was a new born in our family, Franklin used to make fun of us saying :”an other mouth to feed”
I wish I could chat with them now to tell them all that. Thanks to them, I fell head over hills in love with the English language and so do my own children who are doing their masters in the States and in Spain.”

and another letter from Hassan “I personally knew Franklin for few years ,though I  was then a teenager.But the last time I saw him and talked with him was in 1983  I was the only person of the family to talk and debate with Franklin because I was the only person of the family  to speak English.He seemed to be proud of me because I was the only student of Ali’s family, but at the same time he criticized my fascination for  the west, he said i was attracted by  things I had never experienced,And I was …(which is NORMAL) for any human being on this planet.I have been living in France for 27 years,and I go back to Morocco frequently to enjoy the beauty and the tranquility of my village, just like Franklin did. Now I can understand him better as  I know both worlds. I lived in Morocco for 27 years and for 27years in Europe.”
and this: “Everybody knew him in the village, he was very kind to other people, he was called by our family name: franklin Ahchouch. He learned Berber to communicate locally.”

back to the Franklin/ Jean Michel story:

I ask about Jean Michel … Franklin says … “He would go back and forth to Paris because it was pretty easy to do. Always some one in his family was ailing. His mother , brother and his father was still alive. Sometimes I would go with him, at that time I still liked Paris.”

Franklin says-“I think I went in to Morocco 1959 for the first time. I saved my money because a woman came down -who obviously couldn’t speak English only Italian…. and was pretty disturbed and I went up stairs – it was a leaky faucet or something-and I just thought Ive got to go to Italy -its such a beautiful language she’s speaking.”

“I saved my money and took a Yugoslavian Freighter. It left from Brooklyn and the first stop was Casablanca- Northern Morocco. Tangier is directly below Spain (Gibraltar ) Casablanca is not at all a romantic city or like the movie, it offers very little. But I immediately fell in love with the whole country- I just realized in fact what I wanted, but had not been to Europe so was anxious to get to Europe. So I could stay only a short time or I would loose my ticket, so that s what I did -So I didn’t go very far south -stayed in Tangier most of the 1959 it wasn’t a totally open city but still you sat around on the streets at the cafes smoking (kief ) and drinking liquor -which was not banned like it is now— then I went all through Europe and stayed quite awhile..don’t know how I managed. well I sold rocks first of all from the coliseum ..then the same thing at the Parthenon and also did things like go into a restaurant – and said Hello, I’m an American and am willing to wash dishes if fed and most places would feed you and not ask you to wash dishes, occasionally they did after they’d given you a large plate of oily beans. I of course loved Europe , went through it all. But one time in Athens I had only 100 dollars and the fare was 300 dollars and I got the air line to call John ,my brother would he back up my ticket and I went there the next day and the reply was you got there you get back for which I have never forgive and remind him. So, I couldn’t, so I hitchhiked to France -in France I got on the channel boat and when I arrived Dover and they asked how much money do you have, (… it was like $15,,,) so how are you going to live and I said I’m gonna get a job and they said no your not,essentially we are not letting you off the boat your going back to France. That wasn’t bad – Paris , panhandling, a cheap Muslim hotel -“–Then he says “so ends paragraph six -Ive gotta go–got a doctors apt….”.

Franklin traveling

-B Sevens says -I remember you telling me about a terrifying Bella Donna trip somewhere…. Franklin says” That was in Morocco – that was Belladonna. well there used to be a man who sold cookies. and you could go to him and tell him I want the good ones and he would reach in, there was this stand he can walk with, and there was a second shelf that was covered and there was these cookies that were supposed to made of hash only hash was more expensive than Belladonna but he would use Belladonna- they were bad men. And I being greedy took about 10 or 15 at once and suddenly everything was going wrong,everything I was wearing was coming off- people were grabbing things and taking them off me. and I was fleeing – the Place de Glass du Forma – a very large Place in the middle of Marikesh – El Forma – I bought the cookies and then I was hopeless -it came over me, I was running up to the trees and telling them to get out of there- I meant that there were people hiding in the trees, they had up swept arms – like Walt Disney horror scenes -does Snow White go in to the forest?- whoever was frightened by the trees – it was just what it looked like. Finally I went to a policeman but he wasn’t too helpful. Then I went to a hotel and I demanded — they were very rude. I said I just want my room back, I left my stuff in my room. and they said no, no! the room is rented.It went on and on and finally I burst into the room that was mine and found out it wasn’t my room and it wasn’t my hotel and they threw me out of course and I don’t know what happened after that – I must have just wandered about for hours and hours and until it wore off. It was a horror it was ghastly…”

my bread came wrapped in this

my bread came wrapped in this

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One Comment

    • El Hassane Ahchouch
    • Posted December 10, 2017 at 3:21 pm
    • Permalink
    • Reply

    Hello and thank you very much for all thèse mémories about Franklin.He really deserve it.
    I see that the site is updated and more photos were added including the one I sent you of Ali ,who also passed away four years ago.Our father and another brother.
    When you were talking on the vidéo, you Spoken about a boat house .It s really surprising because I visited that place in 2011 to.. see my nephew who is a nightguard in the marina.He went to the states in 2010 thanks to.. the green card lottery and he became an American citizen Last year. ..he works now in Manhattan and my elder daughter studied one year in San Luis Obispo and did six months internship in Manhattan. ..Franklin would never have imagined that !!!!
    The many mouths to feed he talked about have Children who are doing well. Thanks God or thanks Buddha to please him.

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