September 1970. Eisenhower High School. I can’t get into the teen spirit of the Hopkins High pep rally. Purple Power! Youth Fever! Sieg Heil! Makes me sick.
I put out a comic book with some other freaks that is sold in the hallways for a dime. The Daily Planet. My mom gets a call from a concerned parent who’d said she’d already had enough trouble with her son without this pornography inciting him to take drugs. Lady on the phone said I had to be on drugs to do the awful things to her son that I did. (IN A COMIC BOOK!?!?) Mom’s scared and shaking. Poor dear. She weakens and tells me I’m missing out on the best years of my life.
But meanwhile, my art teacher Vern says I’ve got it, just do it harder, that I’m on the verge of greatness. He says I MUST devote myself to art, carry a sketchbook everywhere.
Johnny Winter And (with Rick Derringer)
Flying Burrito Brothers
Faces (w. Rod Stewart)
I check in in homeroom each morning before walking across the golf course back home again. The joys of “Modular Scheduling,” which basically means I don’t have to spend much time in school. I usually have the house to myself as dad is downtown being a corporate lawyer and mom is off being an interior decorator. Anyhow, at 9 a.m, I sit behind Laurie Gold who is a heavy-lidded slim Jewish girl with velvet pants and no bra. A spoiled and sultry rock chick whose dad owns a chain of jewelry stores. She drives a GTO and always has good hash. She’s continually looking down to see if her tits are arranged right, then moistening her lips. We have sex together once in a while, but I don’t see her as girlfriend material. She’s got a phony way about her. She’s a real snob and looks down on all these high school jocks and squares. Except me. I’m the chosen one . . . she says she cares about me but I’m impossible to communicate with. She says I have highly developed intuitive skills, including ESP!
“Why don’t you come over and treat me like a whore,” she whispers over my desk, and giggles. “My parents are in Florida, and I’ve got some good weed.” She’s on the pill. Wants to get some use out of it. It’s very tempting but I have a hard time objectifying girls that I basically don’t like very much.
October 4th. Janis Joplin was found dead this morning. I got high with her and Big Brother when they played the Guthrie. Brought a couple buckets of Kentucky Fried Chicken to their dressing room. They were so skanky. The boys said, “Look Janis, your chicken is here!” all laughing at the sweet young fellow in his blue blazer and gray flannel uniform. Janis’s eyes were dancing all over me, smackin’ her lips at the meal before her, ME! She was playin’ the horny chicken-hawk, swigging from a bottle of Jack Daniels, making rude remarks. Nobody touched the chicken, but we stood in a circle in the cramped quarters and passed a joint around. I was trying to act cool, but the dope was SO strong that I came out of some kind of time-warp to see that they were all laughing at me as if I were a choir boy they had just corrupted. She came over and comforted me, smelling of patchouli oil, her feather boa tickling my nose. I blushed. I felt like a real hayseed.
Fifteen minutes later she was on stage, stamping her foot, sweating, screaming. I thought she was tragic even then. Saw her over a year later without Big Brother, liked her even less. Too much angst. Gone now.
Girls: Where is my loony rock ’n’ roll queen? I scour the yellow-tiled school hallways filled with zombie-vibes looking for my soulmate. I need some more carnal knowledge. I saw Performance, so I want someone like Anita Pallenberg or Genevieve Waite or Susannah York or Monica Vitti. There’s a girl in my theater class named Rachel who’s cool, but she’s got a boyfriend already. Although once she did pull me into the dark maroon velvet folds of the stage curtain and we made out for a minute or two. She’s got a dark mane of hair and interesting eyebrows, braless tight t-shirts and hip-huggers, high-heel leather boots. A vixen for sure. Haughty attitude. Our teacher is a wire-rimmed liberal who plays with his beard constantly. Always yacking about Ionesco and the experimental theater. Us kids write a nonsense play called Cincinnati World’s Fair 1936 that came out of improv. Totally stupid but our teacher twiddles his beard and stares at us intently like it’s genius. He has a great investment in being “with it.” He’s a creep.
Nov. 7th. Albert Ayler drowned this week.
Met a girl called Angie Miller who goes to Minnetonka. She’s little. Ninety-eight pounds. Flirty. Still a virgin. Looks like Minnie Mouse. Clucks her tongue a lot. Eats “sammies.” We go to 2001. Even better we go to Borsalino. Marseilles 1930. Pin-striped gangsters. Belmondo and Delon. Great soundtrack.
Nov. 20th. Listening to the new Velvet Underground LP, Loaded. “One fine morning, she turned on that New York station, she don’t believe what she heard at all . . . not at all.” Also the Zombies’ Odyssey and Oracle is fantastic. Such a rich wealth of music coming out. It’s where we get our messages, our subversive directions. It’s the soundtrack to our lives. The centerpiece to all this action.
The Grease Band
Ian and Sylvia
The Allman Brothers
Mott the Hoople
Emerson Lake and Palmer
J. Geils Band
Johnny Winter And
Magazines say the 70s are gonna be about nostalgia.
January 1971. I’ve been accepted to Bard College, Annandale on Hudson, so it’s the East Coast for me next fall. I’ll put myself in odd situations. I won’t avoid challenges, I will uncover my true grit. I’ll exhaust my resources and keep pushing through.
April 14, 1971. Driving down Highway 12 on my way to the Guthrie Theater I have a premonition that something big is going to happen tonight. Allen Ginsberg himself! There he is doing a soundcheck, dressed in faded blue slip-on boat shoes, new baggy Levis, a blue workshirt, a cheap early flower-power wide pink and marigold tie, and a red lumberjack jacket. A beatnik!
I’m working the show, so I seat the people, the beret crowd, college kids, plus a lot of English teachers and poet-types. I crouch near the foot of the stage, below his podium. Ginsberg’s playing his harmonium, it’s wheezing away. He uses a different voice for each poem. Pushes his black-framed glasses up his nose. Shakes his big yoga belly. Swings his curly black ringlets to the ceiling. His Blakeian songs, his CIA conspiracies, his ganja weed references. Then he recites the Whitman-esque “Please Master,” his childlike ode to homosexual love. He looks down at me and chants it into my wide eyes, like a hypnotist. It’s all about teenage bellies and innocent man-boy love, softly spoken in his faint New Jersey accent. “Please master, make me say, please master . . . fuck me now . . . ” and then it’s over and he’s beaming at me, and I was quite turned on by his sweet brazenness. There is a silence, a tittering of applause, then resounding applause.
Intermission. Some of the straights left.
Part Two: More William Blake songs. Ginsberg is fantastic, mesmerizing. Then the show is over. I climb up on the octagonal stage where the Great Man is talking with radicals and poets and people who are going to modern schools in Switzerland. He looks up at me and puts his arm around my waist and says, “Hello, what’s your name?”
“I saw you in the shadows and thought you were too good to be true.” He is hustled away by some serious people, leaving me grinning at the fairy tale aspect of the magical night. Kurt and I go backstage and I tell him about Allen’s attentions. Kurt says, “He’s trying to pick you up!” Then we run into Allen, who’s trying to escape his fans. He asks us how to get to the Green Room.
“C’mon, we’ll show ya,” and he follows us up a gray stairwell carrying a worn leather attaché case full of poems. He says, “What are you two guys up to, anyhow?”
“We’re just a couple of high school kids,” I say.
“How do you know where the Green Room is?”
“Cuz we work here,” I say, looking back at him on the stairs.
He’s staring at me in an intense way and says, “You’re TOO beautiful, you know that? I suppose everyone tells you that.”
I smile and shake my head no.
“Really, you’re TOO beautiful.”
“You’re the beautiful one,” I say, and poke him in the stomach.
In the Green Room he asks if I want to go to a party. “I don’t think I can,” I said, it being a school night and all.
“Well, come if you can,” he says, sitting down into a full lotus position, about to give a press conference.
Kurt and I adjourn into a corner by the vending machines. “Kurt, what do I do now?!?”
I’m in his love-spell. He IS the king of the beats and I am his designated crush. I watch his press conference in rapture. He’s telling a story about Bill Burroughs, now in England, who is making funny anti-marijuana advertisements. A mad scientist with a huge hypo injects pure cannabis into a buckled-down pregnant rat. The needle is so big that that it pops the rat’s stomach, blood everywhere. “See, that’s what happens,” Burroughs says in his expressionless voice.
Allen is trying to drag himself away from the questioning people. He’s still talking to someone as he pauses at a table and writes something on an 8" by 5" index card. When he finally extricates himself, he comes over and puts his arm around me, gives me the card, says, “Here’s where I’ll be, then afterwards at the Gay Liberation Front . . . if you can make it.”
I say, “It sure was nice to see you.”
Allen says, “It was DIVINE to see you, Duncan.”
Now we’re at the exit. I give a little Hindu bow and say, “Goodbye.”
He bows double-deep and says, “Shalom.”
That was it. I didn’t go. Even though I wanted to. I wanted more Allen, but not the kind that I was sure would be on offer. I could’ve told him about the animated short I was drawing based on HOWL. I could have given him a copy of my newest comic, Lip Balm Comix. I could have asked him questions about Desolation Angels. But that’s not what he would have been interested in. I recognized in his gaze the same look of infatuation that I too get, when faced with someone whose beauty speaks to me in a personal way . . . as if you’re witnessing some kind of miracle. Even tonight, in the audience, I saw Lisa Friedman, who I’ve met once, and fell instantly head over heels for. Too tongue-tied to even talk to her, dazzled by her looks. So I knew what Allen was feeling, although he was much more forward than me. I bet his seduction success rate is pretty high. I’m sure our paths will cross again.
August 14th. Moonlight 10 p.m. skinny-dipping at Cedar Lake, which supposedly has a sea monster in it. Lainie, Angie, and I silently glide in the cold inky water, pools of love and seaweed, beautiful naked teenage nymph euphoria. Dripping sirens emerge from ankle-deep shallows against shadowy shoreline. Timeless.
Speaking of which, Angie’s virginity has finally been breached. She’s got an apartment on Lake Street with a couple of other hippie girls. A nice room. Bed level with the window, moonlight streaming in. She’s nervous and passive, but she IS nude. That’s a good start. I realize I have to take charge. I put two pillows under her. I put her small fingers on my smooth cock. Her legs go back. I work around the ground gained, a little bit of rhythm, she’s back, I’m forward, and by accident we hit it just right, with an intake of breath and a gasp, the taut membrane snaps aside and takes me in. She fades away just like a heroine in a Victorian novel, eyes closed. I marvel at her pretty face, colored with passion. Ardent tongues and biscuit odors. She kneaded me and rocked me ever so subtly, and then swooned off. Ecstasy! We slept encased with one another.
In the morning, soft light, haystack breath, gypsy hair, rumpled sheets. Angie whispers, “Do you wanna make love?” Once the genie is out of the bottle . . .
On the KLH:
White Light, White Heat, Velvet Underground
Desert Shore, Nico
Rough and Ready, Jeff Beck Group
Looking On, The Move
Electric Warrior, T. Rex
Bard. Fall of 71. Letter from best Minneapolis pal Kurt says he got drunk with Angie and they had sex, because “they missed me.” Then he described it in detail, in faux Kerouacian prose, like I’d enjoy that! True, I am far away. What’s she supposed to do, wait for me? I’m jealous just the same and feel left out.
But it’s autumn, and the leaves are exploding with New England color. I walk to the waterfalls rapt in my fantasy world. I always go to my classes, I only have five or six a week, I try to outwit my teachers.
There’s a sign in our hallway that says, “Whoever ate my guinea pig, thanks a lot! Paul.” Someone has written underneath, “It was delicious.” There’s a sign on my door (214) that says “Sorry, NO visitors, Duncan has contracted a rare ape-like disease which is highly contagious.”
November 10. The sky has rib-cage shaped clouds. Read The Picture of Dorian Gray, gave me some good ideas. Also the Song of Roland and Flowers of Evil.
My drawing teacher Jake Grossberg is angry at me for handing in lazy homework. He says that you don’t express yourself with art, you express yourself with drugs and sex. He says to break through, to attempt what you cannot do. Push! “You’re better than most superstar high school hot-shot artists, sometimes you’re mind-blowing! But then you’re masturbatory and hand in this San Francisco comic book bullshit. Break through it!” He says I’m compulsive. Tells me to look up Egon Schiele. Jake doesn’t like him but knows I will. He’s right. Blows my mind. I am also in the throes of de Kooning worship.
January 8, 1972. I was reading the morning paper and saw an obituary for the poet John Berryman, 58. I’d never heard of him. He was teaching at the U, was depressed, and jumped off the Washington Avenue Bridge on the West Bank side. He missed the water, and smothered in the mud. A semi-botched suicide. There was a picture of him in his black glasses and long beard. The thing is, I recognized him. Us druggy brothers used to see him around the West Bank, after we’d scored our acid and hit the Electric Fetus for albums, rolling papers and Zap Comix. Once when we were all tripping we walked over to him at the foot of the Washington Avenue Bridge. Same place where he leapt. It was snowing, and he had his arms wrapped around him because of the cold, like he was waiting for somebody. We didn’t know who he was, but he seemed to be a cool old guy. Very drawn, like he had really “lived.” So we just started yacking in our disconnected stoned way, and he listened, without saying much. We asked him what he was doing, standing by a bridge in the bitter winter wind. He was noncommittal. We thought maybe he was a lunatic, or a holy bum. Some kind of seer. We had many theories on who this lonely stranger might be. It never occurred to us he was a professor, or a celebrated poet. Although we did think he was touched in equal parts with madness and genius. Just because of the way he absorbed our nonsense and looked into us without judgment. I only knew him as “John.” Poor guy. Now he’s dead.
January 1972. The war rages on. Student deferments abolished. There is a lottery. Thinking about my good luck thus far, I assumed I would get #365, and they’d never get to me. Not so, there was my birthday in the New York Times, #30! Uncle Sam wants me. I met with the local draft resistance organization to plot my dis-qualification, otherwise I’d have to high-tail it to Montreal. They were very helpful, but warned me that the military had become very jaded, and the days of getting out by wearing pink lace underpants were long gone.
For my height (5΄ 9"), I need to weigh at least 120 to pass the physical. I weigh 123. I stopped eating. Kept drinking, smoking. With no food (except for an occasional hard-boiled egg) I lost 20 pounds in two weeks. I got a note from the family doctor which explained that I had Wolf-Parkinson syndrome, with a short PR interval (?), that gave me an irregular heartbeat. Said that military service would be hazardous to my health.
So one ominous gray morning my dad drops me off at the hoary downtown building where the physicals take place. I stand in line in my boxer shorts in a dim drafty corridor with all the farm boys from rural Minnesota. My ribs stick through my white skin. I’d put a little rouge on my cheeks in the bathroom to accentuate my pallor. When I get up to the scale, it says 103. The guy writes down 120. “Look, it says 103!” I blurt out. The jerk chuckles and says, “Maybe I need glasses . . . move, along kid.”
“But wait!” I cry, “it’s not fair!”
“Tough luck kid, now move along!”
Uh oh. My ace in the hole was just removed. We put our clothes back on and sat on benches filling out forms on clipboards. I was frightened and lightheaded. I checked all the boxes, alcoholic, drug addict, homosexual. After a long wait I was sent to an office where a burly man with a crewcut read my chart. I gave him the doctor’s letter. He read it, and said, “Well this is pretty vague. I don’t think we need to concern ourselves with this” and threw it in the wastebasket. One more line of defense gone. He asked me what I drank. “A quart of scotch a day, and a six-pack or two.”
“Mmm hmmm,” he said. “What about the drugs?”
“Anything I can get. Lots of LSD. I suffer from acid flashbacks a lot . . . I’m never sure when the acid will come on again. It’s pretty weird.”
“Mmm hmm . . . well, you won’t be able to get your hands on any of that where you’re going”
Fuck. This is going all wrong.
“You checked the homosexual box . . . what about that?”
“What about it,” I replied flatly.
“I mean, er, are you . . . actively homosexual?” he said with some distaste.
I said, just as cool as could be, “Yeah, sure, I’ve always been queer.” And shrugged.
“Mmmm hmmm. Well, I don’t know about that. I’m going to send you to our psychiatrist so he can evaluate you. He’ll sort this out.” He stamped some papers and handed them to me with a look of disgust on his face. “Go to room 211 and wait outside until you’re called.”
I left his office, and wandered down the hall, past the farm boys who had already been classified 1A, and would be in boot camp in March. They’d be in Saigon by summer! Soldiers! Trying to kill North Vietnamese teenagers! Trying not to step on land mines! Fuck!
I sat on my bench waiting, shivering, actually hallucinating from starvation. What now? I had not prepared for this. The army was taking some homosexuals. Which kind didn’t they like? I didn’t even know. They’d seen it all. They needed numbers. Everyone was gone. I couldn’t fabricate a plan. I was gonna have to wing it. Eventually I was called into the psychiatrist’s office. Sitting at a big wooden desk was a mousey little man. “Have a seat, Mr. Hannah.”
I walked over to his desk and hiked myself up on it, crossed my legs and looked him dead-on through my long bangs.
“In the chair, Mr. Hannah!” he said, unnerved.
I said “I’m fine here . . . why, am I making you nervous?” and laughed.
“In the chair!” he said in a panicky voice.
I leaned over and picked up a framed photo of a dowdy female and studied it. “Who’s this . . . your . . . wife?” and threw it to the floor with a leer.
“Mr. Hannah, I must insist you remove yourself from my desk and sit down in that chair!”
I slowly got up and positioned myself in his chair, all the while smiling at him with contempt.
“Now, about your sexuality, what . . . what exactly do you mean by this, I mean . . . uh, what is the nature of these homosexual leanings?”
“What is the nature of my leanings?” I answered, laughing sarcastically. And so began my perverse soliloquy on the nature of my fictitious sex life. It was like an out-of-body experience. I could hear my voice, describing sodomy and cocksucking, but I wasn’t aware of composing any of it in my mind. It was like speaking in tongues, it just flowed out unfiltered, describing things I’d never even heard of. As if I was actually enjoying myself in front of this funny little man.
He was very agitated, looking down at my file, fiddling with his pen. “I see . . . and . . . ah . . . does this prediliction of yours ever lead to any kind of trouble?”
“All the time, Doc. You see, I feel that everyone has a little bit of queer in them. Some more than others. My favorites are straight” I cleared my throat “men. If they don’t like it, it often leads to violence, which is fine by me . . . it turns me on. Gets me hard. It’s like I’m on a mission. I don’t take no for an answer. I’m gonna have FUN in boot camp. Those bunk beds, all those boys in their BVDs, that’s like a dream come true for me. I’m gonna . . . ” and I continued with my graphic description of the lewd mayhem I was going to wreak at Fort Bragg or wherever the fuck they planned on sending me.
“That’s enough, Mr. Hannah,” he said, waving me to stop. He reached for a stamp. “I’m afraid, under the circumstances, I find you unfit for military duty.” And with that his stamp came down on my form, leaving a bold red 4F behind it. I kept up my chatter, as if I was now pissed off at this outcome. Railing at the poor little schmuck, clearly out of his depth here. He held out the paper and said, “Please leave my office NOW, Mr. Hannah!”
I made a dramatic exit, slammed the door behind me, then the spell was over. My spirit floated up to the dingy ceiling, looked down on my frail 103 lb. self, standing on the old green linoleum, wondering what had just happened. Was it some kind of divine intervention? Who said those words? Where had they come from? It was the performance of my lifetime.
My dad picked me up in his orange Fiat Spider, and said, “Well, how did it go?”
“4F,” I beamed.
“Was it the doctor’s note?”
“Was it your weight?”
“Well then, what was it?”
“Oh, uh, I guess they just realized that I wouldn’t be much good over there.”
“And how did they realize that?” he asked, now suspicious, ever the lawyer.
“Um, they just sent me to talk to a couple of doctors, you know . . . ”
Long silence. “I hope you haven’t done anything that you’ll regret later. These things are on your record forever.”
“Yah, but it’s not like I’m going to run for president or anything . . . I’m going to be an artist!”
“What did you do?” he asked ominously.
“Nothing! I just saved myself from getting shipped over to Vietnam and committing suicide!”
Summer 1972, Minneapolis. My dad is shocked at my appearance. He says I am a disgrace to Fred Astaire. Says to Mom, “He’s really flipped this time.” They’re worried about drunk driving (rightly so). No more car keys. “We want to be proud of you but we can’t. When you were a little boy we had such high hopes for you, but each year we lower our expectations.” Talking about alcohol with dad over three Scotch and waters in the backyard, abuzz with mosquitoes. “We’re trying to put the brakes on you because you are too fun-loving, it’s abnormal.” He hires me to paint the house, which is covered in cedar shakes, but lots of trim, and screen and storm windows.
June sky is dark and threatening, now raining on the lush woods. I’m alone in my room, listening to Tyrannosaurus Rex (1967), One Year by Colin Blunstone (exquisitely romantic), and Rawlinson End by the Bonzo Dog Band. I feel like I haven’t been alone in ages. I leaf through picture books and paint a little. Calm for the first time in a long time. Here I am in a backwater of Hopkins, once the juvenile delinquent capital of Minnesota. The hoods still bomb down the main drag in hopped-up pink Camaros. On the local scene, Kramer and I ride a bicycle built for two and crashed gleefully into trees, small children and walls. No one was hospitalized.
Calm disrupted by David Bowie’s new album, Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars. He out-does T. Rex. This is the next big step. Can’t stop listening to it. Makes me freak out in a moonage-daydream!
June 17th. The nice thing about having a lover is that it makes you think about everything anew, the rest of your life becomes a kind of movie, flat and rather funny. “Inspirations have I none, just a touch of flaming love . . . ” sings Bowie. My mom notices my shredded back, which came from Lainie Powell’s fingernails. How I got my stripes goes like this. Lainie (Kramer’s ex) called me in the afternoon and said wait until you see my new haircut, you’re going to love it, we’d make a perfect pair. OK. She said she’d meet me later at a party in an empty house in Hopkins. There she is, busty Lainie in lederhosen, with her new Ziggy Stardust haircut. She looks like a super-sexy Swiss tomboy. We have instant chemistry after the icebreaking flirtatious phone call this afternoon. It is on!
September 5th, 1972. First day of sophomore year at Bard after a month in London.
I woke up in the morning fully dressed with no idea where I was, or even what country I was in. I looked in the corner of my room, and there was a naked boy crouched with his back to me. Oh god, who is it? What have I done now? I said “Hello?” tentatively. He didn’t move. I got up and walked over to him, and gently touched him on the shoulder. He slowly turned to face me, and looking up into my eyes with a forlorn expression . . . was ME! Ahhhh! I raced out of the room wondering if I had somehow suffered a psychic split. A bad omen. I was shuddering with the shock of it all. My pores were secreting booze. I need a lobotomy. Welcome to a new term of higher education.
Weekend in New York: Parents staying at the Waldorf. Dad hands me a double Scotch and says, “Here, maybe this will loosen your tongue.” We went to the Rainbow Room and Top of the Sixes. Dad’s eyes twinkling at all the attractive girls. I held my Mom’s hand on Avenue of the Americas, told her she was beautiful, and kissed her on the nose.
Down to Manhattan with my best pal, handsome Rob duPrey, to see the American debut of David Bowie. Carnegie Hall no less. The joint is packed, decked out in full glam regalia. This situation calls for Pernod. Angela Bowie is swanning around with some Warholian riff-raff. Eric Li is dressed as a droog, all white with black boots and suspenders. There’s twenty-year-old Johnny Thunders, lead guitarist with the New York Dolls, swathed in multiple silk scarves, white leather jacket, and rooster cut. DuPrey goes over to Johnny, puts his arm around him, smiles threateningly into his hawk-like face, and says, “Hi pal.” Johnny loses his cool composure.
It’s all about to happen. DuPrey and I have our chins onstage, the Clockwork Orange soundtrack is blaring, the strobe-lights going, and out comes carrot-top Ziggy, spacesuit sleeves rolled casually to his elbows, “snow white tan,” so pale he’s luminous, holding a dozen roses. “I’m an alligator . . . ” he sings, holding his fingers up to his different colored eyes like goggles. “Do it again, do it again.” He gives snarling Mick Ronson a passing caress, he blows his lines with laughter, it’s sharp and menacing and cruel fun. “Look at those cave-men go . . . ” A tear runs down his face and leaves a mascara trail. At the encore autographed photos drop from the ceiling that say “I love you, David xxxxx.” Oh, that this night would last forever.
TROUBLE! A panicky long-distance phone call tells me that a complication has arisen in my charmed life. Lainie is 9 weeks pregnant with OUR baby! On August 7th her parents dropped her off at my house about ten. She wanted to have a farewell fuck so I could remember what I was missing when I was in London. We went up into the loft and turned the tv up so my parents couldn’t hear us. Lainie told me her period was starting tomorrow so she was safe. My mother interrupted in her nightgown (she couldn’t see us), saying, “Don’t stay up too late.” Anyhow, it WAS a special shag, unlike anything we had experienced before. We both came together, and both heard bells ringing. It felt momentous. Lainie said she remembered thinking, “That one did it!” Now our pleasures have caught up with us. Time to pay the piper.
Of course the poor girl is scared to death. Says she’s “in hell and filled with bad thoughts.” She was brought up Catholic. She’s still in high school! She’s depending on me to get her out of this mess. My responsibility. I need $250. I got $45, borrowed $60 from Browner, $25 from duPrey. Jesus Christ! A human being! DuPrey said he’ll take the baby and have him playing guitar in a couple of weeks. I think of Carol Lynley in Blue Denim. I think of Steve McQueen and Natalie Wood in Love with the Proper Stranger. I contact Planned Parenthood about abortion clinics (against the law in Minnesota). I eventually wire Pam $150. She borrowed the rest.
October 27, 1972. Lainie flies into NYC, takes the train up to Rhinecliff. I spy her gorgeous self sitting on a bench in the waiting room, under the yellow insect lights. Off to Adolph’s, then back to my room for our last night of fornication. Finally a temporary room of our own, not a laundry room or a locked bathroom or a briefly borrowed bedroom. She’s twelve pounds heavier, with swollen tits laced with delicate blue veins that weren’t there before. Our lovemaking goes through three records on the turntable, Roxy Music, Space Oddity, and a Blue Note LP. We climaxed during an Art Blakey drum solo.
Abortion morning, raining of course. Leave at dawn. Lloyd has agreed to drive us down to the Central Women’s Center on Lafayette Street. I squeeze Lainie’s hand on the two hour ride in Lloyd’s blue Beetle. When we delivered her, they herded her and the rest of the unwed mothers in like cattle. “We were wrong, we were wrong, but sooo in love” flits through my mind. We picked her up at 2 p.m. Her uterus completely vacuumed out. Much relief all around. After the 50 acid trips this girl had taken from 8th grade on, what would she have given birth to . . . a fish? Stan Laurel? Dear thing, I ouch for you.
Halloween party in the gym. Lainie went as “the Kid,” backward newsboy cap and blacked out front tooth. I went as Egon Schiele. We went back to my room and lay around talking. She wants to be an anesthesiologist or a Vogue model. Finally we have a room of our own with NO parents. We can’t have full-on sex, so we try out the moves adolescents do. We want to make the best out of this unfortunate situation. A 2 a.m. blowjob, followed shortly thereafter by another, lots of thrillingly dirty acts. A whole week of heavy petting (as the high school guide book calls it).
When asked what abstraction means to him, de Kooning tells a story about an old Armenian man who used to pick up free stale bread. De Kooning followed him to his house to see what he did with it all. Peered in his window. The guy crumbled it onto his floor to use as a carpet. De Kooning said, “I remember he had a very abstract look on his face.”
January 29th, 1973. Back at Bard for my last semester before I transfer to Parson’s School of Design in Greenwich Village. DuPrey flunked out! Now he’s working in the kitchen and staying with his girlfriend Sheryl.
The Academy in Peril, John Cale
Filles des Kilimanjaro, Miles Davis
Nefertiti, Miles Davis
Jack Johnson, Miles Davis
Earthspan, Incredible String Band
Aladdin Sane, David Bowie
For Your Pleasure, Roxy Music
Raw Power, Stooges
Urban Spaceman, Bonzo Dog Band
Led Zeppelin 5
I want to be a movie actor so I can get my screen life mixed up with my real life and can’t even remember who Duncan Hannah is anymore.
Somebody’s nuts. Is it me?
When I was about twelve I wrote J. Edgar Hoover a letter explaining that I wanted to be a G-Man. He wrote a personal letter back, told me what a fine young lad I was, signed with a big flourish from his fountain pen. I’ve had a change of heart since then.
All the love letters I get sound like T. Rex songs.
Down to the Mercer Arts Center for a Valentine’s Day party featuring the New York Dolls. Also featured is Wayne County, Eric Emerson, and Suicide. It’s like watching the birth of a wildly frantic and perverse new subculture, bordering on mass transvestitism. Where do all these kids come from, with their teased hair, their gold lamé, their plastic charm bracelets, their dyed rabbit’s feet, and their cap pistols in their studded holsters? “Trash, pick it up!” sings David Jo. At 5:30 a.m. we went to the after party in Jungle Red Hair Salon, filled with painted ladies of both sexes, platinum blondes with black roots, and everybody preened in the endless mirrors.
Our Lady of the Flowers, Jean Genet
A Man and a Maid, Anon.
Maurice, E. M. Forster
My Life and Loves, Frank Harris
Wuthering Heights, Emily Brontë
Bonjour Tristesse, François Sagan
Vile Bodies, Evelyn Waugh
Pan, Knut Hamsun
Aubrey Beardsley, Brigid Brophy
Lady Chatterley’s Lover, D. H. Lawrence
I received a letter from my mom today. A pair of pink silk panties fell out of the envelope. Mom writes, “Speaking of Deep Throat, I found the enclosed item under your bed. Perhaps you can return it to it’s rightful owner, poor thing, whoever she is.” Does she mean because the poor thing is going around without any underwear, or because she had the misfortune to meet me?
My painting teacher Murray Reich (a color field painter) studies my new Diebenkorn influenced painting. He talked about Matisse’s affinity for the color blue. “You have a natural handling for paint, and terrific taste,” he told me in confidence. Except I’m drawn to the Pre-Raphaelites like Millais, Gerome, Burne-Jones. That’s bad, he says. I feel lazy when I think how good Schiele was at my age. Then I think how much better I am than most of my contemporaries. It’s all relative. I scored 590 in English SAT test, 550 in Math. That’s not so hot.
Shadow of the Thin Man
Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow
The Assassination of Trotsky
The Garden of the Finzi-Continis
Chloe in the Afternoon
McCabe and Mrs. Miller
This Man Must Die
A Fistful of Dollars
Such a Gorgeous Kid Like Me
The Day of the Jackal
I’m flunking Medieval Art class, I thought it was gonna be knights and stuff, but it’s about buttresses and boring tapestries. Not my bag. I find it almost impossible to learn things I’m not interested in. But today I painted for 12 hours, my mouth watering the whole time. It’s a continuous struggle to incorporate good drawing with good painting.
Moderation evaluation by my art teachers (Phillips, Reich, Sullivan, Grossberg). Whereby they assess my progress at the halfway point of my Bard education. I laid out six canvasses, some drawings, twenty-five slides. They said . . . I had great vitality, a great sense of design and composition. Jake said that I am, and will be, an artist and occasionally make very beautiful paintings. My hand is consistent. My work meanders through style and quality. I don’t do follow-ups. They say by painting a de Kooning-esque nude, and then a television set, I cancel myself out.
I replied that I was curious, open-minded, and only 20 years old. We all start out by aping somebody.
Phillips said (puffing on his pipe) that I have a crappy high-school hangover, with a tendency toward illustration (dirty word around here). He said I needed a world view, a stance toward the universe. “Do you think that anything you do is good? Huh?”
I had asked them what I would do upon graduation and they said bartend, drive a cab, construction. All that for my $24,000 education. “Why don’t I just work as an illustrator?”
“Because if you do you will never be a fine artist,” they answered.
“What about Homer, Hopper, Warhol? They were all illustrators.”
They shook their heads in woe. They’re mad because I’m leaving. I want to learn to paint like Manet, if only to reject it later on. If I move into abstraction, I want it to be through the gateway of representation.
May 1st, 1973. Fred Astaire turned 75.
Down to the city with duPrey to see King Crimson at the Academy of Music on 14th Street. Many of their fans are stumbling around on quaaludes. The band was lit by blinding silver light, like the blitz, expertly executing their colossal science-fiction psychodrama like a pack of deadly scientists. I gripped the arms of my seat in terror.
There’s a freshman dance major named Jordan. Very pretty. Very clean, like a Swiss miss. Big gray Madonna eyes. She has a half-moon smile, crooked teeth, lustrous light brown hair. She wears a delicate gold cross around her neck. All the lesbians are crazy about her. At closing time one night, we’re all about to leave. “I like you, you know,” I say to her casually. “Yes, I know,” she says. “Are you still going out with Crystal?” I ask. “Not anymore,” she says, smiling. “Then why don’t you come home with me?” I ask. “Okay, I will.” She’s got an old green Triumph convertible with Jesus on the dash, smells like old leather. Drives us back to my little room. Candles. Undress. Urgent mouth. A lithe dancer’s body, the curve of her stomach all toned and smooth. Beautiful breasts, with aureoles that were the same color as her unpainted lips. Is this falling in love? We press close and look at each other in the eyes. We get horizontal, a nudging cunnilingus, she tastes like the sea, she clasps my hard-on, she says don’t come in me. I won’t. The gush from the cap of my cock arches over her taut torso to her breasts, filling up her belly button with liquid life. We’re sticky and happy, listening to “The Girl From Ipanema.” Entranced with our delicious secret.
So begins a new liaison, forged in lust, absorbed with each other’s bodies and minds. She has a bottle of quaaludes, which only make me fall down stairs, but then, I’m always drunk. I take nude pictures of her, underneath the posters of Jesus she’s got on her wall in her sunny room in Manor House. I don’t understand the Jesus thing, it’s a first for me, but her faith doesn’t seem to inhibit her carnality one bit. She dreams of Nijinsky. We hunt for a cat under the covers, only find each other. I did some ink drawings of her vagina, very carefully, really looking hard. She’s very acquiescent.
Goodbye, Bard College. You were good to me. I learned a lot, in a roundabout way.