Wednesday, January 11, 2006


Old Boyfriends (The Single and the LP)

“Tho I very seldom think of him, nevertheless
Sometimes a mannequin's Blue summer dress
Can make the window like a dream
Ah but now those dreams belong to someone else”

-- Tom Waites

You’ve got to pay close attention because everything’s edited differently each time. Long-shots become close-ups, temp morts turn to fast-paced “suspense” sequences, as if it were all just a cheap thriller. A long slow track through the rooms of a very large apartment somewhere in the Bronx where people you’ve just met are chattering away wildly, as some Stax-Volt 45 or other thumps the air, conflates into a rapid pan. Then the guy you came looking for staggers out of the cigarette smoke with that big teasing smile of his.
Wait a minute, I’m in the wrong place. He wasn’t there. But who was? And where did it begin? The earliest image is running down the side streets of the Quonset huts in the Bronx. But I’m alone there, all of two. Sex came later. Perhaps in the basement with Ernest, who I never really liked. But we were eight and he wanted me, and (as Frank O’Hara says) I wanted to be wanted more than anything else in the world. Certainly in High School with Cary and his identical twin brother. He was so beautiful it took my breath away. Not cliche, fact. His brother only made my gasping worse. Is that why I didn’t go to visit them anymore? No, it was because of the others. Where are they now? Where’s the guy who ran the bicycle store on Madison near the museum (never asked for his name, nor he mine) who for two weeks running gave me a blow-job as I sipped my morning coffee, standing there in my guards uniform? What happened to that beauty in the pool in Berkeley, inviting me to come down from my hotel room balcony to swim naked with him that hot August afternoon? What happened to the GAA boy with crossed eyes and curved cock who I had in the Firehouse basement? And who was it that I made out with on the Firehouse roof? Nichevo!
Surely there are shots missing. Sometimes entire reels. Maybe I’ll find they’ve been put back some other time. Right now I’m ruminating over that party in the Bronx. What was I doing at there anyway? Oh yes, Peter Blum brought me. And did I meet anyone new? Nope. Seems like I’ve hit a dead end. Only the faint residual lilac smell of unsatisfied desire remains. Only a cue to skip a reel and get down to the business of desire.

Barry Prince
Can’t recall how we met. Nothing formal surely. Like everyone else back then Barry seemed always to be just there, hovering in the half-light. It could have been though Peter or Lorenzo. They certainly knew him, at least as much as anyone else did, which is to say “from around.” -- that great floating crap game of movies, gallery openings, museum jaunts, coffee shop stops, city street encounters. Surely he must have gone to those Sunday morning screenings Warren held at the Bleecker. Was there a shot or two of Barry in The Tenth Legion or Truth Serum ? He was certainly Warren’s “type” -- smart, self-contained, hot. Oh hell, Barry was everybody’s “type.” But he didn’t go with everybody. In fact he didn’t really seem to go with anybody -- at least as far as I could tell then. (“I’m younger than that now.”) Barry didn’t haunt the de rigeur dives of the West Village (“The Ninth Circle”) or the Lower East Side (“Stanley’s”). Maybe my timing was off. I know I never found him there whenever I (ever so cautiously) slipped through, which was fairly often. He was a Museum of Modern Art boy to the manner born. Very East Side. Now I’m recalling coffee with him at the food stand by the boat house in Central Park, only a few steps away from the Ramble. Was I headed for the Ramble that day? Was he? We’d run into each other by chance in front of the Bethesda fountain and drifted over to the boathouse to sit around and talk about Godard. Hell, we were all about Godard back then. Pynchon too. Easier to speak indirectly through movies like Masculine Feminine and books like V, than head-on as in life.. Was that Bethesda episode before or after that day I saw Barry on Madison Ave.? No, it was before, because (Vivian Leigh in That Hamilton Woman), “There was then, there was no after.”
I was on my way to one of those little bookstores that used to dot Madison (we’re talking years before Arthur Loeb set up shop) when I ran into him. Or rather I suddenly became aware of the fact that Barry had loomed up “out of nowhere.” Could he have been following me? Too romantic. What was the book I’d been looking for? Something by Laurence Durrell maybe, though I know we were most recently talking about was V, which I was convinced would make an ideal Losey movie. It was a conversation I know we’d had before -- ritual chatter in place of what we really wanted to say and couldn’t because we didn’t know how. Or maybe we did know how but were just too scared to try. I know I was in a good mood that day. So much so, that I didn’t really recognize how little Barry (uncharacteristically) actually had to say, or realize that he was steering me towards his apartment which (like him) loomed up seemingly “out of nowhere.” How convenient.
It was a late afternoon, shafts of light cutting through the dusk. We were going to stop by to “have coffee.” Or was it just “a drink”? Meaningless preliminaries really, for the minute we walked through the door he pulled his face up close to mine -- giggling. I can’t recall reacting then as I’m reacting now (aroused). What was I not thinking? Was I that naive to suppose we were just there for coffee? For some reason I “didn’t see it coming.” We sat on a couch where I continued to talk -- as if the “face off” at the door never happened. But in mid mot juste Barry kissed me. Suddenly. Sweetly. Repeatedly. Then he began to undress me. I was being “seduced,” as the paperback potboilers would say. But was I really? Hey, I was taking Barry’s clothes off too. The “seduction” was mutual.
How very odd, I would think to myself days later. It was as if a wish unvoiced until just that very moment had been granted. Was there been even a hint of this before? “There was proximity but no relating,” as Nichols and May would say. Barry “wasn’t for me,” I’d thought (just the shadow of a Larry Hart lyric there.) And part of the reason was there almost always was a girl in Barry’s general vicinity. Or seemed to be. I wasn’t attentive enough to realize what the presence of said girl may have actually meant. Was I attracted to Barry?. Yes of course, but not actively, not consciously. I’d never really “pursued” him because I thought sure he’d say no. I felt so little of myself. I had no body that I could see or respond to. No face to woo and win. I was just a voice. Why court rejection? File Barry away with “flirtations” like Jonny (who kissed me) and Charlie (who didn’t) ? Shove him back into the attic of the “unconscious.”
But what did I know of the “unconscious”? Consciousness was all I cared for. With all the semi-discreet drinking of those days (and we were making love right around “cocktail time”), sometimes accompanied by select narcotics (opium, mon amour) more than anything else I wanted to be "awake" as much as possible. It seemed vitally important that I “stay up till dawn” or I’d “miss something” (a habit that continued well into the 80’s) And yet for all such temporal scrupulousness I nearly missed Barry; his big Modigliani face, with Ninetto Davoli curls on top, and that fuzzy hedge-like mustache over the smile. A mustache, mind you, in place just before the de rigeur “Mark Spitz” arrived. Barry’s was unruly, unlike his manner. That was hesitant, quiet. "Too quiet" as they say in the 40’s programmers. And that was why I was so surprised when he kissed me “just like that.” A suddenness that delighted. A delight I can feel even now. More than I did then in some ways.
So there we were, spooning. We rubbed up against one another, getting hard, looking at our hardness and laughing at its absurdity (sex is nothing if not absurd) , and kissed some more. And then Barry took me over to -- of all things -- a waterbed. It was my first and last time on that great silly 60’s-era contraption. Funny to find one in his apartment. He never struck me as susceptible to "trends.” But what did I know? Was it even Barry’s apartment anyway? He could have been “minding” the place for friend or relative. No reason to ask, for by then we’d started fucking; a long, slow tender fuck, quite different from the furtive late night violence I’d been used to up till then, and largely enjoyed. Sex was something to be consummated (consumed) with total strangers, not friends. Quickly, vertically, and in the dark -- not savored like this when it was still light.
Barry cooed, and we rocked gently to and fro with the flow of water. How corny. How lovely. Then we lay back, almost falling asleep, then stroking and kissing some more in anticipation of the next round, and then some rest and then some more. Then quiet as we just lay there looking at each other for the longest time. And then there was a knock at the door.
It was Gypsy. She was a member of The Living Theater, just back from its world tour. And she was totally prepared to make amends for our lack of volubility. Amends hell -- she ignored it. Full of talk she was, all about Europe and America and how things had and hadn’t changed since she’d last been to New York -- a perfect interloper aperitif. Her timing couldn’t have been better, for it was clear we were though with fucking for the short run. Now it was early evening. and Barry and I were on the edge of restlessness. Gypsy raided the refrigerator and cooked us something. Or did we just open a few cans of this or that “delicacy” and down a few glasses of wine? Here’s a missing reel for you. Not important. We were in such a rush to keep up with Gypsy--physically as well as mentally. We had to go dancing, she commanded us, and she knew just the place. Barry smiled -- a far different one from those he’d flashed before. It’s taken me all this time to really see that smile. He knew where we were going all along. Not that any of this was planned Certainly not meeting me. And he hadn’t been expecting Gypsy’s arrival either. But put those two chance events together and he knew there was only one place to go next.
"You can’t live if you don’t have money!" was one of the many Paradise Now! watch-cries that Gypsy had been shouting out all over Europe. And like any true-blue member of “Le Living,” she wasn’t just mouthing a text that Julian Beck and Judith Malina had handed to her. She lived anarchy. Or rather she lived with it. “Let’s take this cab,” she said striding right out into the street and stopping one, as if for an emergency. Clearly the drive would have stopped anyway. But what did he think of the fare he’d just picked up? He gave no notice of Barry and I needless to say. Gypsy was in complete command of the situation With her long dark brown hair and bangs covering her forehead in a style Nico made her own (did she copy it from Gypsy or vice versa?) with lovely pale white features peering out from underneath she was a cabby’s dream of a “beatnik/hippie” girl/woman. He was dazzled from the start, and clearly ripe for the picking -- which in this case constituted giving us a free ride.
“These pieces of paper are meaningless,” Gypsy told him. “Don’t let them control your life. We should all do things because we love each other. We love you, you know. Do you love us?” The cabby chuckled. Had he heard this spiel before? He didn’t say. But there was no way for him to say anything. Gypsy was doing all the talking -- seizing every molecule of air that rushed thought the open windows just as she did the more easily dominated stasis of the apartment. Not that the cabby cared. This would be a story he could tell his fellow cabbies later at the diner. And so we arrived at wherever-in-hell we were going. It was on the West Side somewhere in the 50’s. Gypsy kissed the cabby and we all got out. Had Barry seen Gypsy do this before? Not important really. He was as giddy as I was with the thrill of “getting away with it” And so with this distaff embodiment of Melville’s Confidence-Man we strode up to a front door of a club -- yes it had to have been somewhere in the lower West 50’s -- and went inside. Now what was it’s name? Never looked. Never asked. Never mind.
It was enormous; decorated in (Gloria Grahame in The Big Heat ) “early nothing.” But it truly didn’t need anything. It had women. Or rather it had lesbians. A literal sea of lesbians. Barry and I were the only men in the place (perfectly evoked in Living Out Loud. Had Richard LaGravanese been there that night too?) Gypsy vanished into that sea, never to be seen again, leaving Barry and I to dance by ourselves --swimming with the sapphic tide. And swim we did, dancing together yet alone. For Barry being here was an exercise in perfect solitude. I was along for the ride. His ride. Like me, Barry adored the solitude of crowds. And the crowds he adored were lesbian. The sisterly-maternal warmth they provided had an intoxicating effect on him that was palpable. It was as if he were drunk on air.
Barry was a lesbian-hag. Like Proust. A singular breed of gay man, not easily found, and not easily held. Oh I could hold him for a few hours, but surely I could expect no more. In the wee smalls we left and went back to the apartment. Night and the city and we rocked in each others arms (in a regular bed, not the water one.) Time stops and the world goes away. And in the morning ? Smiles, kisses, coffee, and good-bye. No, maybe not even anything voiced. Just a kisses -- as sweet as all the others. Maybe sweeter because we would never see each other again. Not by design of course. We were swallowed up by the city. We spun away into its space and time. I don’t know what ever “became” of Barry, a l’ombre des jeunes filles en fleurs. But hey, no tears now, no regrets.
It was a good first marriage.

Tom Dillow
“Let’s get out of here, Tom whispered down my ear quite suddenly. “OK,” I said. And why not? I was being seduced again, wasn’t I? Well maybe, sorta, kinda. With Tom who could say? I had just been introduced to him (though I knew of him well before ) at this perfectly lovely party -- winter of ‘67, right around New Year's, somewhere on the east side in the 80s. And who was seducing whom anyway? A very open question.
I’d been thinking about Tom for some quite time prior to this. He was in Warren's first film, Amphetamine where he shares one of the longest most intense screen kisses ever with Tommy Mitchell. They were both high as kites, and Warren was doing a rapid hand-held 360 around them -- a homemade homage to the climax of Vertigo. Oh to be inside that shot.
“So who was that blonde kissing Tommy?”
“Oh that’s Tom Dillow.”
“(knowing chuckle)”
Of course Warren was at the party. So were several of the other people we both knew, like Vivian. Vivian and I were cinematic soulmates, strung out on Demy’s Lola , going to see it every time it played The New Yorker or the Thalia. (“I just knew you’d be here,” she said to me one afternoon floating out of the theater just as I was floating in.) Andy Meyer (hushed and slightly withdrawn as always) was there too. He wanted to make Vivian a star. So did Bruce Conner. But Vivian’s taste shifted to eastern religion until she discovered after years of study “I don’t want no Rimposhe romance.” I could have chatted with Vivian all night if I hadn’t been distracted by Tom -- that huge lock of hair falling across his face in the classic manner of 60’s-era bombshells (Terence Stamp, Richard Warwick and all the schoolboys in If. . .)
Tom was very loud and very forward and very drunk and very hot. Flirting stealthily with great panache (sidling up alongside me, talking in calm, hushed, deliberate tones about this person or that) he was “feeling me out” -- learning what and who I did and didn’t know. As if I’d so much as considered lying to him. Then suddenly he proposed, right out of the blue, that we up and go to the movies. Ordinarily I wouldn’t want to leave a party as lively as this one. But Tom was ever so much livelier than any party. So we left, and went to the Regency to see The Chelsea Girls -- which, needless to say, we'd both seen many times before. Tom knew everyone in the cast, particularly the Boston crowd (Ed Hood and Patrick Fleyming) and began dishing away cheerily -- all the while making out with me. It was a delirium of talk and smooch. “Well you know what Rene said?” and “Oh she’s such a slut!” and “Oh I must show you Boston!” and “Well that night at the Casa B. . .” Plus good old-fashioned movie theater balcony necking, quite intense. I came very close to coming several times. And every time I reached the brink he whispered down my ear to calm me down and hold me off -- which I did until we got back to his hotel room for what turned out to be somewhat anti-climactic in context. We were both too distracted by then -- essentially already spent. Naturally I never saw him again. No point. I'd gotten more than I'd asked for.
Decades later, I read Savage Grace; the oral history of a real-life incest and murder story that Tom Kalin has been trying to turn into a movie for years. Compiled Edie style it recounts what came to be known as “the Bakelite Murder; how the rich and twisted Brooks and Barbara Bakeland destroyed Tony -- the gay son that Brooks ordered Barbara to "ungay." She elected to do so by sleeping with him. Obviously not a good idea. Mother-son relations went from worse to Worst Case Scenario. While on a visit to England he slashed her throat in what can only be called a fit of pique. Sent to a local loony bin Tony was thought to be successfully rehabbed enough to get shipped back stateside for care in a nice expensive clinic. But due to an unaccountable screw up he was sent to his grandmother instead. He pulled a knife, stabbing her several times. She lived. He went to a U.S. prison where he eventually killed himself. Minus the murder and incest, Tony Bakeland struck a familiar chord -- an Arthur Loeb gone wrong as it were. But there was something more that popped upright into my face on page 59 -- Tom Dillow. He was describing how Barbara Bakeland told her seduction of Tony “happened in that house they had in Mallorca. . .a real spooky place. . .She didn’t give men any details. Oh no. Barbara was a lady.” Then on page 366, Frederic Combs part-time actor/model (best remembered as one of The Boys in the Band) part-time drug dealer (and supplier to Dominick Dunne) mentions how Tom introduced him to Barbara and Tony. But the big payoff is on page 409 where Tom reports “Tony asked Bart for my number, and Bart called to warn men that Tony was trying to find me. I mean, I was in the phone book, but, you now, for the Bakelands a telephone number didn’t exist unless they got it from someone. Bart said Tony told him, ‘T-t-t-tom n-never understood why I m-m-murdered M-mummy.’ ”
Was Tom afraid that Tony was thinking of killing him? Obviously the book identifies his as a friend of Barbara’s more than Tony’s. But what would that mean in context? After all this was a woman who on the one had pursued gay men (she’s reported to at one point desired to have Sam Green’s child) and on the other called her son a “homo.” The detail about getting a telephone number form a third party rather than the phone book is most fascinating in that it truly evokes that class and their lives. It was a class Warren slipped though easily, but never truly lighted on. Tom it appears was Nick Caraway to Tony’s Daisy. Or better still a player of note in the failed schemes of the Tony the Ripley wannabe. But that was long ago and far away in 1985 (when Savage Grace was published, nanoseconds before the full-frontal impact of the AIDS epidemic hit), and as Thackeray says “They are all equal now.”


I see it all as one swift continuous motion. Run up the stars, knock on the door, throw him on the floor, peel off his clothes, fuck him. Could it all have been that easy? Surely not. Surely there was some slight tremor of resistance (either real or feigned, it doesn't matter) on his part. Not on mine. I wanted to fuck and he wanted to get fucked. Afternoons were best. Always. We were both awake and alert by then and just bored enough to ache (ever so slightly) for a soupcon of physical release. There was no emotional release -- either sought or achieved.
Allen was pretentious. Hell, I was pretentious too, but no quite so much as he. Oh hell, it was a photo finish. Allen insisted that Jean-Paul Sartre was gay because Simone de Beauvoir used to pass her girlfriends on to him. "So who was his boyfriend?" I'd ask. Allen would never say. He'd just laugh his “What a stupid question,” laugh and gloss on. He was always one for great vague pronouncements about one thing or another. And when he spoke to me he always seemed to be looking every so slightly away -- as if he was trying to attract the attention of someone else in the room. But there wasn't anyone else in the room. Not much in the way of furniture either -- which was typical of the lower east side in those days. ("But a chair is not a house.") Just a big and well-swept ( the equivalent of "clean") space.
Allen chattered away almost incessantly. Only sex would shut him up. It was as if someone had left the bathtub running and I'd rushed in to stop it just before it overflowed. Rather proud of myself for being able to do so. Then ever so slightly annoyed. Then truly annoyed. No, this couldn't go on. It couldn’t. It didn't.
In some ways Allen wasn’t all that special. In point of fact I recall him as “one of a set.” He was like that guy who lived in a townhouse on the upper east side -- right on the first floor with a view of the park. Just as insolent. Just as semi-involved. He wanted it, then hesitated, then took it, then withdrew, then moved forward again. And by that time I’d started to dress and leave. All told it wasn’t half-bad. Just half-memorable, like a quickie at the Baths. Complete strangers can (sometimes) be so much more satisfying than friends. Especially "friends" like Allen who didn't need me. Or maybe he did. I certainly thought I needed Allen. From time to time. In a manner of speaking. In a manner of fucking. So I kept going back, maybe in the (vain) hope of breaking through to something more, something other. Somewhere along the way I gave up and stopped. And further along Allen vanished. Nowhere in the streets, the bars, the clubs. Then I left New York --my own vanishing act. Now all that remains is Allen’s smile -- hovering Cheshire Cat-like in the remembered air.
I still want to smack him.

Joe Drexel
Is love necessary? No seriously. So much trouble. So much bother. Sex, on the other hand is necessary. Some of the time. In any event it's a whole lot easier to navigate than love. You know where you are, where you’ve been and most important of all where you’re going. Right there. That’s where Joe was -- the there.
One thing's certain -- it started with a lot of talk. Joe loved to talk. a fortiori he loved to argue. I loved to argue back. So "conversation" consisted of long, quasi-stream-of-consciousness monologues on his part punctuated by the "additional dialogue" by me.
“I really can’t agree with you on that,” I’d say. He’d fume. And then we'd fuck. Intense angry fucks. A struggle for dominance surely Yet more like clearing the air. Fucking was a way of saying "I don't love you." Fucking was a way to keep warm in his cold water flat. All painted white and clean it was, cozy. Joe was a dancer. No, more than that. What’s called a "performance artist" today. They had no name for what he did back then. He didn’t care. He had plans.
An original member of the Byrd Hoffman School of Byrds Joe appeared in Wilson's very first spectacular The King of Spain. But then Joe moved on. Wilson moved on too, though when I met Wilson decades later and mentioned Joe he flushed with excitement. Who could forget Deafman Glance at the Brooklyn Academy of Music with the tropical forest, Egyptian pyramids, dancing mammies penguins and bunny rabbits, and Jack Smith fighting his own appearance in the thing every step of the way and screaming about the penguins. No room for Joe in that crowd. In its wake Wilson was taken up by Jerome Robbins and was off to the Big Time never to return to such baroque primitivism.
Joe was (is) elsewhere. The last time I saw him I was invited to Baird Searles and Martin Last's place for a party around Christmas/ New Year’s. They had been toying with the notion of an orgy, but really didn’t have the nerve for it. Everyone was supposed to come dressed for the beach. But they weren't really serious about it. So Joe and I didn’t' bother bringing bathing suits. After lolling about for a couple of hours stark naked, unable to strike up a conversation with anyone else there (clearly we had scared them off) we fucked in the shower, and then left.
I'm not sure why I never saw Joe after that. We hadn't quarreled. People started to recede in New York 70's as the city had begun to take on the aspect of a vast stage spectacle -- far more complex than any Wilson could devise. Odd none of his plays ever evoked the piers, like Bernard-Marie Koltes (who I do believe I did one hot afternoon.) New York itself began to recede. So I brought down the curtain and left with Bill for California. All gone now, save for happy thoughts of angry fucks.

Los Angeles circa 1977. Different landscape, different men, different mode, different drinks. (beer and whiskey in New York, gin and tonic in L.A.) Then there’s the stark blue-gray flatness of the of it all. In New York I was all scurrying about and doubling back -- little circles jutting up and down across the lower West Side. Through the West and East I floated when stoned. In L.A. movement came as a straight semi-continuous line in either direction -- either down to the ocean and the edge of the world, or back the other way to Silverlake, and the “Swish Alps.” Most often by bus. Sometimes (the kindness of strangers) by car. No rush in any case. Time slows, and sometimes stands still. And so I drank at a different rate Slower. I’m not looking for anyone in particular anymore -- or anything really. If sex happens, so much the better. But it’s no longer immanent. It’s cruising without object, perfect for solo flights.
But then you’re never entirely alone. Bar friendships are struck up here and there with “regulars” at the Spike or those equally “butch”-named clubs in Silverlake. But again the limits are built into the landscape. Space is applied to time. For we are in an eternal present here. No “then” or “when.” Just the spacio-temproal contours of a drink. And into this drink Camille came loping one Sunday.
Late afternoon had given way to early evening. Some of the “regs” trotted off to dinner, others (like myself) stayed on and continued drinking. Slowly. “nothing” happening. Therefore odd to see the entrance of someone who clearly had “an agenda” of some sort. His face scoured the patio as if he were looking for someone specific -- as if he were there to keep an important appointment. But he was just cruising in the aggressive New York manner redolent of “sidewalk sale” time. I know he talked to me because I noticed him. No other reason really. He needed an audience, and wasn’t he lucky to have found an appreciative one. So many things and people in common -- though Camille rode in limos that had only rushed past my line of vision in the wee smalls. He was sharp-tongued like Ondine, almost as withering. Yet he had the air of “class” remindful of Philippe de Montebello, albeit louche. Just what you’d expect of a petit ami of Egon’s. So why wasn’t he in New York then? he never said. Trying his luck in Hollywood, perchance. Trying to translate his book The Power Look into a movie, maybe. The next American Gigolo ? Made sense. After all he wasn’t staying at a hotel. He had a furnished apartment in Beverly Hills just on the edge of WeHo. Half furnished, really.
We did it on the floor. Neither of us enjoyed it much, yet we wanted each other’s company for that space of a night -- waiting for a subject to arise that might bring us together more than a shared series of references. The ritual phone number exchange arrived with a sense that while we’d never call we’d be sure to chat again if we “ran into” each other somewhere, likely soon. No not The Spike. Somewhere more “socially acceptable.” A screening perchance.
And in this Camille evoked what the “second act” I never had with Tom Dillow might have been like. Lust followed by politesse.
Sex is just so fucking absurd.

Arthur Evans 2
And sometimes it isn’t.
New York again, just for a few minutes. That’s all it took, really. The image
(his smiling little furry face) appears to be clear enough, but the sound's too low to hear -- like a TV set whose volume knob you can't reach to turn up. That's how it was with Arthur Evans 2 -- as we all called him.. Arthur Evans 1 is a figure of historical import now -- the Gay Liberation movement's fiercest firebrand. Loud, brusque, taking no shit from anyone whatsoever, Arthur Evans 1 was in the front line at every demo; the first row of every meeting, or press conference. And that’s because he belonged there. Arthur Evans II was someone quite else.
He was a GAA. member as well -- hence the numerical distinction. He went to all the meetings, served on several committees, and joined in any number of dmos or "zaps." But you couldn't mistake Arthur 2 for Arthur 1 if you tried. Easy to recall this small, soft-bearded, long-haired, figure in floppy clothes standing at the edges of everything, smiling. Arthur 2 always seemed happy. And as far as I know he always was happy -- at least until AIDS took him away like so many others. But that was years ago, back in the 80's when I'd lost track of him. The Arthur 2 I'm talking about is the boy who was born to make love. Not expertly. Not “experimentally.” And certainly not “dangerously.” Making love to Arthur 2 was as comfortable as curling up on a sofa. He'd keep chatting away. Lord only knows about what -- just a constant stream of happy verbosity through all the kisses and caresses. The voice was well above a whisper, but not quite as loud as standard speech. Almost like an interior monologue that had elected to make itself slightly heard.
I remember being up at Arthur 2's apartment one night. (Was it really his or just a "friend's" place he was staying in?) Nothing specific about the interior. It's just that it was on the West Side -- very high in the New York air. Not the sort of place you'd expect to find Arthur -- a Lower East Side boy. It was a tad more (but at the last not quite) suitable to that other Arthur, Loeb. But that Arthur was an East Side sybarite, not an object of either romantic fixation or political note. But what I'm trying to remember, and can't, is what Arthur Evans 2 was saying -- as much to himself as to me -- as we made love. Maybe I can't remember because it wasn't anything "special." The lovemaking certainly was. It was as if he had no body at all. It was as if he were just pure feeling -- an embrace producing a kind of tenderness that once expended swiftly eases into sleep.
“We should do this again,” I said.
“What?” he asked dreamily.
“We should do this more often.”
“Oh yes, let’s. If you want to.”
“Of course I want to.”
Of course I did. But I didn’t. You can’t repeat a dream, as much as you try. You just find yourself drifting off again. And in that memory of sleep I find myself dreaming wide awake. And in this dream I remember something else. We were dancing.
We were swaying back and forth in a kind of stoner waltz to (of all things) Buffalo Springfield’s "Expecting to Fly." But in my waking memory I hear another tune with a different refrain:

Soave sia il vento
Tranquilla sia l'onda,
Ed ogni elemento
Benigno risponda
Ai nostri desir

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