A L O H A !
to the dreams
of your youth. "
Farewell Noodle (what it is here: LINK )
" A loving person
lives in a loving world.
A hostile person
lives in a hostile world.
Everyone you meet
is your mirror."
" You can't build joy
on a feeling
of self-loathing. "
Every August I post a tribute
to a great friend,
a lifetime friend,
that I lost a long time ago.
I never fail to think of him during his birth month,
and smile at his "issues" about sharing it
with National Clown Month!
You were no clown Carl.
I'll never forget you.
I was 15 in a new neighborhood.
The High School I attended was a big, modern red brick factory, a "good" school. But I found it rather dehumanizing.
While the Beatles sang, and I attended the first Earth Day in Philadelphia's Fairmount Park, my school was run by crew-cutted, career educators who believed in instilling certain values in the boys and girls in order to stem the tide of psychedelic social rebellion that they abhorred.
Criticism had not yet been supplanted by "self esteem."
Then I met a boy
who lived a couple of miles away
and attended another school,
where he was the butt of abuse
for being dark and quiet
with amazingly expressive brown eyes.
Carl's House, Google Street View
The bullys loved to see
in those eyes
and they called him
He was actually Jewish,
with a grandfather who had escaped
poverty, sanctioned abuse,
and a forced 20 year stretch
in the Russian Army,
by leaving Russia on horse back;
and who had a picture of himself
smoking a hookah with some sepia
"Fuck the Czar" he always began
when asked about those days.
I cannot hear anything about the Czar
on the History Channel or anywhere else
without muttering "Fuck the Czar"
under my breath in tribute to the old man.
One time, Carl (my friend)
tried to shock grandpa
by inviting him to smoke
some hash with us.
"Hashish?! He asked incredulously.
"You want to smoke hashish!? -
Hashish you EAT!!!!!"
We laughed about that for years.
Heck, I still do!
We were both carrying some baggage, OK,
full baggage-cars FULL of baggage.
We hid out together in his bedroom
and he taught me everything
about classic films, though people called them
"old movies" then,
and they papered late night TV
clotted with commercials.
He showed me the classic movie goddesses and heroes.
We learned about history, sociology, and culture.
Together we gasped at Busby Berkley's choreography,
and Cagney's style.
We especially loved the film noir of the 50's
which spoke well to the lingering, sooty
Philadelphia that we lived in.
Our lives entwined.
Sometimes we'd drive to Chinatown
in his mom's Mercury at 3 am for Wor Shu Op
(Pressed Duck) at the old South China on 10th street.
One night, Jerry Stiller (Frank Costanza LINK) walked in
to get take out; he was performing in town
with his wife: Stiller & Meara.
Their kid, Ben, was in footsie pajamas -
not comedy movies - back then.
Carl and I learned about life together.
We grew up
We grew up
"Your boyfriend's gay"
my helpful parents pointed out.
my helpful parents pointed out.
Eventually, Carl graduated, went to college,
and moved to New York City
as he had always dreamed.
He was a professional sign language interpreter
in the courts - learning everything
about a fascinating reality.
He was free of his abusers,
and had learned to respect
It was the best time ever
to be a gay man:
The 1970's in Manhattan!
He was so excited
when they asked him to be
one of the first sign language interpreters
to perform on the front
of the Broadway Stage.
There he was in the playbill!
Chopinsky had been shortened to Chopin.
He was beautiful, sought after,
and sharing the stage with Tommy Tune,
Honey Coles and
in "My One and Only."
Just one of many productions
that featured him.
the hearing audience
was buzzing about how they
couldn't take their eyes off
the guy signing.
And Tommy Tune
was dancing at his peak then!
Then lots of guys started to get sick.
Carl's kidneys failed and he went on relief
and on dialysis.
His outer beauty (so important to us then)
dimmed - but his soulful eyes
grew only richer and deeper.
I can close my eyes
and look into them still.
I visited him before moving to Hawaii.
But we would always stay close.
So much of each other,
so many memories and landmarks
shared. . . .
Carl died in the AIDS epidemic.
A famed psychic
once told me that two friends
who have passed
accompany me through life.
Perhaps I'll tell you about
the other friend on another occasion.
But I know the one of them
We used to say:
"If I close my eyes, you are still there.
There is more to our friendship
than what can be touched or heard."
I often wonder how middle-aged me
looks to forever young
and handsome Carl.
Some day we'll laugh about it.
If your friend(s) of adolescence
are still in this world,
call them today.
Tell them Carl and I
You can read more about our times here: LINK
A L O H A, True Friend