Johns writes to actress Ruth Ford using red felt tip pen on the address side of the card as well as the message side. He draws a wavy line down the center as if to cover the vertical type separating the two sides. "Dear Ruth, I've just got back into the city & find things a bit confused - I may be moving into a new place this [month crossed out] week. I'll call you about 'the Beard' next week. I would love to take you to see it if my housing problem is not completely out of hand by then. I hope it will not be but I try to learn to be like Mayor Lindsay, 'Neither optimistic - nor pessimistic.' As ever, Jasper." The post card was mailed in an envelope addressed to Ford by Johns in the same red ink. John Lindsay was Mayor of New York at the time.
Michael McClure's play, "The Beard," first opened at the Actor's Workshop Theater in San Francisco, December 18, 1965 and was regarded as highly controversial. When the play moved to the Fillmore in New York for the 1967–1968 theater season, it won two Obie Awards. In the letter offered here postmarked 1968, Johns clearly refers to the New York performance. McClure (b. 1934) was a Beat writer based in San Francisco. Ruth Ford, Johns' correspondent whom he wants to take to McClure's play, was a Broadway actress, married to Zachary Scott until his death in 1965. She then lived in The Dakota, in Manhattan, with her brother, Charles Henri Ford. Charles was a poet and photographer, known as America’s first Surrealist poet. He was the editor of “View” magazine. Charles was a friend of Andy Warhol. Michael McClure, the beat poet who wrote the play Johns mentions, “The Beard,” was also a friend of Warhol’s. The circle of beat poets, American Surrealists, and Pop artists in the 1950s and ‘60s arts scene in New York included all of these people as well as Robert Rauschenberg and his partner, Jasper Johns.