The Man Behind The Trifocals Pays Me A Social CallWednesday, March 25, 2009
Dear friend now in the dusty clockless hours of the town when the streets lie black and steaming in the wake of the watertrucks and now when the drunks and the homeless have washed up in the lee of the walls in alleys or abandoned lots and cats go forth highshouldered and lean in the grim perimeters about, now in these sootblacked brick or cobbled corridors where the lightwire shadows make a gothic harp of cellar doors no soul shall walk save you.
Sutree, Cormac McCarthy, 1979
I reminded the man behind the trifocals facing my camera, that he had borrowed and read and, returned my entire Cormac McCarthy collection. The man behind the trifocals acknowledged this. "My fave," I told him, "was Sutree." "Mine, too," said the man behind the trifocals.
It was sometime shortly after the Berlin wall fell in 1989 when science fiction writer William Gibson was in a hotel in what had been West Berlin. He was going on a tour of East Berlin but could not get himself out of the room because of a book. Gibson was reading a most remarkable novel. He postponed his tour so he could finish it. When Gibson returned to Vancouver he gave me a call, "Alex I read this book in Berlin and...it's called Sutree. Read the first two and a half page preface. It is beautiful." Gibson was right.
I am not all that sure that the man behind the trifocals will be able to manage a guitar tomorrow night. He is in too much pain. Perhaps the excitement of being on stage with an electric guitar will give him the impetus to play and forget the pain. He might sing.
The voice is still unmistakable, the warmth is there. The thick trifocals cannot mitigate the penetrating intelligence. The man behind the trifocals has made me a social call. Can I be so lucky?
Perhaps some day when he is not feeling too well (worse than he was feeling today) I will suggest:
we'll get together
learn how to relax
we'll get together
and have a relapse.
The Hospital Song, Art Bergmann
I think that would be lot's of fun.