Saturday, June 22, 2013

the last book I ever read (Richard Hell's I Dreamed I Was A Very Clean Tramp, excerpt three)

from Richard Hell's I Dreamed I Was A Very Clean Tramp:

When I was a young teenager, the clothes in the shops on West Fourth Street were all eggplant and cream and tan colored, like “October in the railroad earth”—horizontal-striped T-shirts and thick dark-leather belts with big brass buckles, corduroy jeans, and boots, and work shirts, and suede and leather sports coats or work jackets. It’s what the beatniks and folkies wore. On one visit I bought a Levi’s suede cowboy jacket, same as their denim version, but suede. Even as a teenager, I still aspired a little to the cowboy.

Her apartment was like Superman’s telephone booth to me; when I entered it I became another person, or the person I was to myself, rather than the person I was in everyday society. I became not only a citizen of Gotham but powerful and interesting, because she treated me like that.

During the first few months I lived in New York in 1967, she had me over to her apartment for dinner every week or two. After those first months I saw her less, and the last few times I saw her, a couple of years after I’d arrived, she was losing the ability to care for herself. I didn’t have the maturity to know how to respond to that. I was spooked and bewildered. Her memory got bad, and the apartment became overrun by cockroaches, and she would fart continuously as she walked around, confused but chiding herself. Soon Aunt Phyllis and Uncle Dick took her in upstate, and a year or two later, when it got to where she needed constant attention, they put her in a nursing home.

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