A few years back I was stopped cold when I learned that Maria Callas had died. I might even have sobbed a bit. Today I had a similar reaction when I read that Lawrence Ferlinghetti had died.
I recently was reminded that not everyone shared many of the experiences I mention on this weblog. Specifically visiting City Lights Bookstore and the entire San Francisco experience I enjoyed back in the 1960s. Just today I was pointed towards an excellent introduction to City Lights and San Francisco available on YouTube, This is part 3 and it really takes me back to my college days, Jack Hirshman, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, and the City Lights Bookstore.
Gary Indiana had an unusual career, as a writer, filmmaker, visual artist, actor and playwright. He briefly studied at UC Berkeley but dropped out to help a friend make pornographic films. After soaking up the sunshine noir and punk scene of 1970s Los Angeles, he moved to New York City and settled into a cheap East Village apartment — the same one he lives in today. Since 1987, Indiana has published novels, nonfiction, plays, short stories — all with an unmistakable, sardonic voice embedded in the text, and all experimenting with the traditions of form.
The title of his latest memoir, I Can Give You Anything but Love is “really about disconnection between sexual desire and love, in my life,” Indiana says. A graphic and funny memoir, it finds the author reinventing yet another genre — this time using his own personal narrative. He becomes the connective tissue that binds together a diaspora of subcultures: the beatnik-era experimental writing and happenings of downtown New York, the 1960s co-opted counterculture gone awry, the punk movement that followed, and the art and intellectual circles of the Reagan ’80s, when the AIDs crisis was wiping out a generation of young gay men like him.
(revised from the introduction to an interview with Indiana by J.C. Gabel in the L. A. Times.)