Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Choose Three Famous People



Molly Fisk asked on Facebook: Name three famous people you'e known.

Mine would be a litany too long to post. How do I choose just three?

Then there's "what kind of famous?" Do I choose from writers, poets, actors, musicians, public figures, etc.? By how well I knew them—an actual event vs. a one-off? 

Writers: I shared a wee drop of whiskey with Seamus Heaney in an elevator in Rotterdam with the African poets. Rita Dove was my partner in the Breyton Breytenbach translation sessions. We did not drink whiskey.

I went drinking and sang Irish songs with Tess Gallagher and Raymond Carver at the Port Townsend Tavern in Washington. Let's just say alcohol was consumed and I was a lightweight. They weren't.

I hung out with Maya Angelou and her son Guy at National Poetry Week. We sat backstage with Lucille Clifton waiting for Maya to come offstage. They talked about the gravitational speed of their breasts reaching to their waists.

Andrei Vosnesenski, me & Oleg Atbashian at National Poetry Week, SF
I also spent an afternoon with Andrei Vosnesenski. I wanted to give him a tabloid anthology I had edited with Oleg Atbashian, Soviet Poetry Since Glasnost. But Andrei was more interested in my friend Celia Woloch. So I took photos instead.

I spent an afternoon with Boschka's ex husband, Irving Layton at her wake. The bastard grieved real leonine tears. He, who caused her such pain, gave her fodder for poetry. Boschka's brother is Donald Sutherland. Not Ordinary People. Not Six Degrees of separation. No separation at all. Prima source. All of them crazy.

I chatted with Isabel Allende and Steve Woz over lunch at an arts advocacy caucus in Sacramento. I gave them poetry books which later showed up on AbeBooks, as signed editions.

Tommy and Dick Smothers babysat me in Sausalito. I loved Tommy. Dick was a crabbit.

Sterling Hayden dandled me up to the sky at the elephant fountain. Moses!

Music Circus, Lloyd Bridges , my mom, Maureen Reilly

I spent a week with the Bridges: Lloyd, Jeff and Beau in Sacramento, it was Guys and Dolls—live televised theater in the round, at the Music Circus. My mom made the costumes (uncredited, of course). I sat on Bat Masterson's knee. He gave me a crystal star necklace which I promptly lost. I cried elephant tears.

LBC (Wells Fargo Art Cr) asked me to take pix of Kenny Rogers

I took photos of Kenny Rogers with his friends for his friends, but I was asked to take photos. I did not meet them on my own steam. I got to see him perform too. Not something I normally would've done. But then, my camera took me strange places.

I cooked sweet potato french fries with Tom Waits (he dyed his hair eggplant). I also taught his kids art. I did not take photos. He was paranoid, I was exasperated. The fries with chili powder, cilantro and Lime, were divine.

I spent a weekend backstage schmoozing with jazz greats including Chick Corea, Blossom Dearie, and Dave Brubeck, who wrote a nice letter to the editor about my photos of him and the Russian River Jazz Fest. How many people have gotten a letter of recommendation from Dave Brubeck, who grew up in Livermore, BTW? Does that count?

Take Five. Something my mother always said, but then, she was in theater. She knew lots of actors and musicians, she probably knew Dave too.

I met most of the rock stars who lived in Marin. Not willingly. I had to hitchhike to school and they all gave me rides. Santana, Starship, Big Bro, Dead, Sons, Youngbloods, etc. Sometimes we talked, sometimes we didn't, I was in high school. I had an empty mind. Or I was high, or both hight and empty minded. I lived in the moment.

2 hamsammich: Mike Pritchard, Will Durst & Mo in da middle

I worked for Mimi Fariña at Bread & Roses... So I saw her once a week. I did all the incidental calligraphy signs for her big concerts.

I did not make this Bread & Roses poster.

Robin Williams I went to school with. Eric Idle had the craziest eyes ever. Imagine sitting at a table with Big Mikie—Michael Pritchard, Robin Williams and Eric Idle? Wish my mind wasn't so empty in those days (I wasn't yet a writer), so that I could actually recall what they said, other than remembering that I nearly peed my pants laughing.


Robin Williams & Mike Pritchard
I hitched a ride home with Ken Kesey and got on the bus Further. Farthest thing form my mind to ask for an autograph. He later wrote to me from his 40-acre farm in Springfield, Oregon, and sent me anthologies: Spit in the Ocean. Signed, of course. Gone now. Sweet Old Bob, my ex, took them all.

Craig checks out The Big Tease at Tommy T's.

I met Craigy Fergie (Craig Ferguson)—his uncle introduced us. I did ask for an autograph that time, had him sign his movie, The Big Tease, as our Welsh friend Titch Jones was in the film too. Titch is legendarily infamous, himself, too.

I could choose from a gazillion poets. Jane Hirshfield and Molly Fisk. How do I choose just three?

Stout & stories with Roddy Doyle & Neil Jordan at O'Reilly's Pub.


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