Monday, October 10, 2011

"PEOPLE WHO DIED" LIST

I was walking through our local park on this beautiful Indian summer weekend when I realized I wasn't holding my shoulders back and my head up like in the good posture lessons I've read...

...and so I did it and instantly thought of Ted Berrigan, the way he walked down the street with his head held high, and I missed him more than I have in a long time even though it's been almost thirty years since I last saw him.

And then I thought of his poem, "People Who Died," which inspired Jim Carroll's later song by the same name (I too found Ted's poem inspiring, but Jim's song a little morbid), and I thought maybe I could make a list, while I was walking, of my own "people who died"—but..

...as anyone who's read this blog for a while knows, I was a compulsive listmaker (often alphabetized) in my head—and outside it in poems and columns and blog posts etc.—for as long as I can remember until brain surgery, almost two years ago now, after which that compulsion completely evaporated and every time I've tried to make a list in my head since, I get two or three items on it and totally lose interest (a word popularized in the 1960s by Ted—"totally").

The same thing happened with this, until I thought, okay, don't make a list, just free associate one name with the next of people you've known who have passed, and viola!—the first list I've made in a long time and one of only a few in the past two years!

Ted Berrigan (poet)
Ed Cox (poet)
Tim Dlugos (poet)
Joe Gloshinski (cop)
Robert Lally (cop then postmaster)
Joan Lally Gloshinski (saint)
Tommy later Campion Lally (Franciscan friar)
John Lally (passed in infancy, so saint too)
James ("Buddy") Lally (musician and h.s. principal)
Kathy Lally Frietas (business woman)
Lee Lally (poet and actually Carol lee Fisher Lally)
Ed Gross (lawyer)
James Schuyler (poet)
Joe LeSeur (writer and one of Frank O'Hara's muses)
Cookie Mueller (actor/writer)
David Blue (singe-songwriter)
John Carradine (actor)
Gloria Grahame (actor—I was in her last movie, a horror movie—"The Nesting"—with John Carradine and her in bit parts and me as one of the "stars"(!) and got to know them sitting around on sets before or after "Action!")
Tom Bosley (actor)
Mary Wicks (actor—I got to know her and Bosley on the sets of "Father Dowling Mysteries" where they schooled me on their early days on Broadway and in Hollywood and made me feel not just welcome but on their level!)
(my parents and aunts and uncles and grandparents et. al.)
Ralph Dickey (poet)
Frank Polite (poet)
Barbara Guest (poet)
Allen Ginsberg (poet)
John McCarthy (actor/comedian/raconteur)
Jim Haining (poet)
Robert Trammel (poet)
Etheridge Knight (poet)
Eldridge Cleaver (activist)
Rosemary Lally Ciavatti (older cousin who lost her father early and thereafter spent a lot of time with my family when I was growing up as almost another sister)
(and other cousins who lived nearby when I was young and are now gone, like Raymond and Richard and Jackie et. al.)
Darrel Gray (poet)
Bob Callahan (writer)
Steve Shrader (poet)
Buddy Arnold (musician)
Michael Gizzi (poet)
Arnold Weinstein (playwright)
Joan Baribeult (producer and what may be called my "common-law wife" at one time)
Joan "Bambi" Robinson Hartgens (writer/social worker and first true love)
Chris Alport (actor/musician)
Elizabeth Murray (painter)
Darragh Park (painter)
George Schneeman (artist)
Cal Johnson (street humorist)
Mel Johnson (spellbinder)
Cliff Heard (entrepreneur)
"Indian" Larry Desmedt (motorcycle artist)
Merilene M. Murphy (poet)
"Sharma" Sandy Oliver (sex activist)
Chris Penn (actor)
Ron "Liam" Rector (poet)
Scott Wannberg (poet)
James Fee (photographer)
Robert Penn Warren (poet/writer)
William Saroyan (writer I only met once but whose books I loved and had been reading since I was young so I felt like I knew him when I interviewed him—and Warren previously)
Hubert Selby Jr. (writer and mentor)
George Starbuck (poet)
(and accidentally the last three are alphabetical and all changed my life in ways they didn't know, except for Selby, who knew, and was my best friend in LA the almost twenty years I lived there)

(and all those I couldn't recall in this hopefully not morbid exercise—at least not morbid to me because my time with each of them, no matter how limited in a few cases, still lives in my consciousness, as though they were here with me in the moments I think of them, which I find reassuring and even comforting)

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

actually
not morbid at all
as it is encouraging to not see my name on your list
OR
in this morning's local newspaper's obituaaries

(which is first thing I check each morning (no pun intended) to see if I am still among the living !

just got a bulletin from my 1950's class keep-track-of-things guy
who relates the Penny H just died ! she was the very first girl that I felt up back in 1958 ! DAMN she was old when she died !

Anonymous said...

Why not remember....I'll add a few names:

Larry Rivers
Glen Epstein
Lukas Foss
Paul Sills
Viola Spolin
Hamilton Camp


...suzanne

harryn said...

I believe, with intuitive certainty, that the consciousness of these remembered people flow through our own in the phenomena of memory.

A kind and poetic tribute to the many family and friends we can all benefit from by remembering those that run through us.

Thank You.

p.s. Much can be learned about being human from this simple opening of the heart - where the tribute makes us more aware of the building blocks and lineage that form our own self awareness.
As stated in "The Culture of Narcissism" - it is the 'not remembering' that limits our future.

Anonymous said...

what are we but not for our memories (of our individual experiences)?

tpw said...

Don't forget Paul Violi.

Lally said...

Of course, Paul, how could I have forgotten him. I've gotten a lot of emails on this post where folks have added other names as well as those in the comments here. I suspect a thorough list is impossible off the top of my head. I think of my high school friend who died in Viet Nam, or friends from the service who passed, or all the people I met in my Hollywood years besides the ones I mentioned who came to mind because I'd recently seen them in movies on TV. Too many. But that's part of growing older, more and more losses. On the flip side, more and more appreciation for life and for those still here in the physical realm. Have I told you all how much you mean to me?