In 1997, Bill was involved in a car accident that affected his cognition, rendering him unable to focus at length on anything. The accident also affected his senses of smell and taste. I remember talking to Bill about the effects and how he said he just couldn’t write anything creative any more.
Things started to come apart: we blamed each other for things little and large: cracks opened. Staying in the same house got progressively harder for us. I have to take responsibility for doing nothing to change the direction things were going. It really was my fault, and I’d declined a wonderful opportunity and wrecked almost twenty years of our very excellent relationship. Being pig-headed is an expensive behavior form, but I fit the definition, nicely. By mutual decision, I “temporarily” moved into a small campus area rental property we owned. I strayed. I strayed a lot.
The photo above is of me talking on a telephone when telephones were for talking on, not typing out messages to one’s friends with your thumb, or playing games, or getting directions that get you lost anyway. We still use a land line in our house, although my wife and I both have cell phones; or mobiles as they are called in the rest of the world…
Everyone develops a system of rationalizing their more aberrant behavioral issues, I suppose, and I have developed mine. I don’t watch much television. (Here comes the rationalization)….In Maine, I don’t have any means of doing so: no cable, no antenna, and absolutely no interest in turning on the tube even if I had the means to do so. Accordingly, for nearly six months out of the year, I don’t watch any TV at all − as in none!
Joe’s presence was a godsend to many directionless youth seeking someone who would listen to them without being judgmental. If anything, he was the ultimate encourager, listening, sharing, reinforcing the natural and native inclinations, and creativity, of those he knew. The constancy in his own work, and the encouragement he provided others to pursue their own dreams and creative urges, were a cure for their insecurity, and perhaps even his own best medicine for what sometimes must have been an ailing spirit. But spirited he was, and that’s how he is remembered here.
And then he went on telling me how much fun he had had later on that afternoon that stretched into the evening and the night in the company of other poets and artists, a real bunch of bohemians. When I pulled out an envelope from my pocket, stuffed with six or seven of my surrealist masterpieces, he looked at it as if I were serving him with summons to appear in court. I assured him it only contained my poems, he nodded in reluctant assent and stowed the wrinkled package in a thin paperback book he had in his hand. But then he changed his mind and shoved the book in my face.
The historically cold winter has finally left us. As it’s warmer now, we have the windows open; no air conditioning for our 150-year-old farmhouse. One thing my wife and I dislike about Florida is the need to have one’s air-conditioner cranked up all year long. Living on the side of a hill and having twenty acres of woods and fields, surrounded by a 700 acre state park, we enjoy having the windows up to let in a fresh breeze. Unfortunately, the open windows also let in the noise…
After all, everyone knows that in the murky, topsy-turvy world of espionage nothing is what it appears to be; what appears to be an ordinary stray visitor to a layman may indeed be a high-ranking intelligence officer.
I remember back when I was young we looked for “patrons,” rich folks who were willing to put up money for art projects. Unfortunately, I didn’t often find them, so maybe Indiegogo is a better idea; at least it seems more democratic.
Norman Mailer holds a special place in American literature, and not simply because he won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction twice (in 1969 for The Armies of the Night and again in 1980 for The Executioner’s Song), a feat few other novelists have achieved…