Category: memorial tributes

George Whitman, bon voyage


Anyone who manages to survive as long and wonderfully as George Whitman did, surely deserves more than a mere RIP when they pass on.

George, the iconic proprietor of Paris’ legendary Shakespeare & Co. bookshop, died on December 14th 2011, just two days after celebrating his 98th birthday!

Here’s the Guardian’s obituary

And for those of you who have not yet read it, here is the story I wrote about my experiences with George, as published in the online magazine Parisiana:
A Place to Change Trains

Along with my condolences to his lovely daughter Sylvia, and his very many close friends, there’s nothing else to say other than:
Bon voyage, mon ami.
When the good Lord made thee,
he certainly did break the proverbial mold!



Shakespeare & Co. website

Mel Clay RIP


There’s not much I can tell you about it. Mel fell ill a some weeks ago and was taken into hospital. The doctors seemed to think it was severe anemia but didn’t know for sure. All the tests were inconclusive. He was apparently unable to make his own blood, so they kept giving him transfusions. Eventually his body stopped accepting the transfusions. There was nothing more they could do. He was discharged and transferred to a hospice. He passed away peacefully at 2:30 a.m. (San Francisco time) on Monday, September 26th. Mel Clay was 79 years old.

Ira Cohen RIP

Friends and Colleagues,

On the morning of Tuesday, April 26th I received the below appended mail from Ira Landgarten. I’d been expecting it for days, but hoping against hope for a miracle.

In due course I shall write at length about Ira. He and I go back such a very long way. And despite the fact that we hadn’t been on speaking terms for many years, I continued to love him as a special kind of brother and to greatly respect and admire his artistic talents and his work. In short, we were connected at the hip. Nor will his passing in any way change that. ‘Speaking terms’ means nothing, it’s what’s in the heart that counts.

Iran hangs Zahra Bahrami

Note What follows is my initial mailing on Zahra Bahrami’s execution. For a revised version of this mailing, which includes both an introduction and an afterword, see  No Man Is An Island

Dear Friends,

In the early morning hours of Saturday, January 29th, the murderously barbaric Iranian regime hanged my friend, and my friend Jane’s friend, Zahra Bahrami. Her crime? To be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Even though the (ugh!) Islamic Republic of Iran would like for the world to believe otherwise. Zahra was 46 years old and a dual Dutch-Iranian national. Only the Iranian government refused to recognize her Dutch citizenship and therefore consistently denied Dutch consular officials in Tehran any access to her. And today they killed her.

Remembering Elisabeth


Today marks 30 years since my dear friend Elisabeth Lemoine passed away. Her story is complicated, and that of her death convoluted. In time I hope to write about both. Just as the late Australian artist Vali Myers had often urged me to, adding: “She is precisely my kind of people.” Elisabeth, you see, was a very talented painter as well as a beautiful and loving whore. She was also a devoted admirer of Vali’s work. Once, sitting on my lap and holding a big book of the artist’s prints, she patiently explained Vaii’s more complex paintings to me, pointing out many fine details that I’d not previously seen.

8-Finger Eddie RIP

I’d heard of him, of course, but we hadn’t yet met. Until Kathmandu 1976. I was walking along whatever street, when a girl calls to me saying, “Eight Finger’s in town!” ‘Nice,’ I thought. ‘Not that I’ll recognize him, mind. I haven’t a clue what he looks like.’ Some days later (my journal tells me it was Wednesday, April 14th) I was at the Spirit Catcher bookshop. Place I’d taken to hanging out in, plus on certain evenings reciting poetry; and where I met many people for the first time who would eventually become friends, colleagues: Ira Cohen (and his then ‘Kali muse’ Petra Vogt), Angus MacLise, Roberto Valenza etc. I refer to what transpired next in my memorial poem for Roberto, Irreverent Homage. Hereunder is the fuller version…