Friday, December 5, 2014

RIP: Jay Moran - Dec. 5, 1944 - Oct. 28, 1990

  • When I posted a mini-memoir about my friend Jay three years ago, his cousin came across it and wrote: "Jay was my first cousin. I think of him often and miss him so much. He was blessed with a wicked sense of humor. Years ago, I had a brick paver inscribed with his name added to a patio at King's College in Wilkes-Barre, PA. Jay received his undergraduate degree at King's."

  • I don't know when this was taken, or where,
    and I never saw a wider collar.

    This is my favorite picture of Jay, taken in my
    apartment at 801 East Huron in Ann Arbor.
    A man named Bernard wrote, "In 1984, our Union Rep with Actors Equity in San Francisco was a dear sweet generous soul named Jay Moran. He was kind, gentle, caring, generous, sincere, funny, and overworked. I thought everyone in the Union was like him, genuinely concerned, and (as corny as it sounds) willing to make the extra effort to support each of us in our pursuit of our dreams. He was a rare soul in his thoughtfulness. Than you, Jay, wherever you are in the cosmos. "

    Me & Jay on ferry in Seattle, 1976

    Seattle, 1976

    On ferry, Seattle, 1976

    Clambake in my cottage, Provincetown, 1978 ;
    my brother, Bernard, Bill Haushalter, and Jay

    Me, Bill, Jay

    I miss him every day.

    Sunday, November 30, 2014

    Lucky Guy

    I'm a lucky guy. I'd just returned from a cheeseburger and a beer at a nearby bar when my friend Jack from work came in with a turkey sandwich, a piece of pumpkin pie, two apples, a fresh tomato, a pomegranate, and a little jug of cider.  My dinner for tomorrow night is all set. Thanks Jack & Jane!

    Saturday, November 29, 2014

    Wednesday, November 19, 2014

    RIP: Martha Rose Fitzgerald McKinney Gorham - November 19, 1932 - June 6, 2005

    AKA "Sis" … always car-proud back in the fifties; I think this one was a lime-green 1947 Plymouth.  And she could be damn funny -- my brother Bernard and I quote her quite often. If, out on the highway, another car overtook her, she was apt to take it personally. "Where the hell does he think he's going in such a hurry?" she'd ask as she haunched herself forward, her forehead just above the steering wheel, put the petal to the metal, and overtook the offender in turn, "to show him that he ain't the only one that's got someplace to git to."  And, we thought, just because she considered a highway a speedway with -- who knew? -- some reward known-only-to-her waiting at the end of the road.

    And she was wonderful to her "three little brothers" after we'd all lost our dad.  If I needed 15-cents so I could buy a root beer float at Denton's Drug Store on Boy Scout meeting night, I knew where I could get it.  And she'd be so pleased that she could do these sweet things.

    Tuesday, November 18, 2014

    RIP: Marcel Proust - July 10, 1871 - November 18, 1922

    "Everything great in the world comes from neurotics.
    They alone have founded our religions and composed our masterpieces."

    Saturday, November 15, 2014

    The Proletariat

    I liked this bar.  Ellen and I stopped in twice for nightcaps.  They specialize in very small batches from all over, but especially from Belgium.  But if you're really a proletarian you probably can't afford $6.50 for four ounces of beer.  But it was great taste.  And the bartender … well, on the first night it was the guy in the foreground of this picture.  Then I looked at the guy to his left and I thought … no … he was the guy who told me "Pretty Girl" was a great beer.  Now I think they're brothers, maybe twins.

    Wednesday, November 12, 2014

    RIP: John D. Fitzgerald - Aug. 30, 1934 - Nov. 14, 2000

    My brother. Gone way too soon. He and his beautiful wife, Helen, gave me a wonderful batch of four nephews and a niece and now countless great- and great-great nieces and nephews. 
    Brother, I would have given you some of my years if such a trade-off were possible.

    Monday, November 10, 2014

    The Day Before Veteran's Day, 2009

    The Day Before Veteran’s Day, 2009

    Lately, I’ve been feeling lonesome;
    I don’t quite know why.
    Maybe because it’s dark when I drive home from work,
    and there’s usually no one to greet me
    but one dog and two cats.

    For most of my life I was all
    the company I needed;
    I coveted quiet.
    I didn’t need a lover; I didn’t need a radio; no teevee.
    I kept my own counsel, I had paper to write on,
    and great books on all kinds of shelves,
    but tonight it'd be nice to sit and chat with someone.

    I drove downtown
    to return some books to the library.
    I checked out a book of Donald Hall’s poems.
    Then I drove on up Main Street and saw lights on
    in the town’s most run-down restaurant.

    I guessed I was hungry. I pulled up out front.
    They’ve made it more of a Sports Bar
    since last I was here;
    a large square of counter and stools are plonked down
    smack dab in the middle of the dining room.
    Four huge TVs are tuned to ESPN.
    I order Alfredo pasta with chicken.

    Some loud-mouthed guy on the far side of the bar
    whines for twenty minutes about the Yankees.
    Their payroll, he says, is a crying shame --
    it’s that Steinbrenner who’s to blame.
    On and on he whines. The World Series
    ended over a week ago.
    I wish he’d get over it!

    I guess he’s one of those die-hard Red Sox fans
    whose hearts have been broken again and again;
    but I don’t want to hear about it.
    I’m trying to read.

    Fat chance they’ll change channels
    for the likes of me. I'd rather watch the news.
    I lowered the flag to half-staff this morning.
    The President attended a memorial at Fort Hood today.
    I was stationed there for four months in fifty-eight.
    I saw Elvis the day after I got there;
    he was coming out of the dental clinic
    and, with a Colonel, got into a white Cadillac.
    Next day he shipped out to Germany.
    My buddies and I, bored in Fort Hood,
    killed rattlesnakes for sport
    on Sunday afternoons in the hot Texas sun.
    Life was empty. I got out of there just in time.
    Like Elvis, I shipped out to Germany.

    I'm done with the pasta.  It was barely edible. A cup’s worth
    of Alfredo sauce remains in the bowl, thin as milk.
    I pay with my credit card. As I’m heading for the door
    I hear that guy say, “A-Rod makes more in one year
    than the whole Kansas City team makes.
    Where’s the sport in that?”

    I turn toward him; it’s my turn at last,
    he’s been motor-mouthing too much
    about last week's loss.
    Why don’t you get a fuckin’ life ,” I yell,
    and shut the fuck up?”
    Well, not really. Only in my imagination.
    No way do I have the guts to say any such thing.
    I’m mild-mannered, I’m meek,
    and at my age I’m comparatively weak.
    I’d be filled with apprehension
    that he might punch me
    into the middle of next week.
    I keep my mouth shut, I hurry on out.

    Back on Route Six,
    heading for the sticks of the sticks,
    I turn onto a lonesome Gross Hill Road.
    After a mile I pull into
    the secluded Gull Haven Lane;
    even Dylan’s Desolation Row,
    where I could buy one of those
    postcards of the hanging”
    sounds like a great place to be.
    There’s certainly
    nothing for the lonely to buy
    on Gull Haven Lane.

    Jodie-Dog is thrilled to see me;
    there’s some wiggles and there’s a prance.
    I rub her haunches, I scratch her ears.
    The cats glance my way and,
    unimpressed, glance askance.
    They have their airs.

    I find my manuscript book,
    the one that Donna gave me in Keene.
    On its cover, in elaborate script, is stamped,
    Discover answers with your pen and a little quiet.”
    I’ve got the quiet down pat,
    and I own a hundred pens.

    I pull a chair up to the table and sit.
    I try to come up with a question
    to see if the book’s cover can answer it;
    I’ve got one: How can anyone give a shit
    about A-Rod and the Yankees
    and a small round white ball?

    My notebook,
    like a poem that doesn’t quite work,
    has nothing to say.
    It's just another fuckin' piece
    of another lousy day.

    Wednesday, November 5, 2014

    An Artist in Berlin

    The genesis of the a great time I had recently in New York City was an email I received some four and a half years ago, on Monday, March 8th, 2010:

    Dear George, I am an artist living in Berlin, Germany, and I am currently working on a book about Cookie Mueller.  The book consists of interviews, stories, writings, musings and images all paying testimony to the life and work of Cookie.  I have been researching over the past three years and have met with over forty of Cookie's friends including people such as John Waters, Amos Poe, Gary Indiana, Mink Stole, just to name a few.  I've spent quite a bit of time in Provincetown and remained in close contact with Sharon Niesp and Max Mueller.  I noticed while looking online that you took a fabulous photograph of Cookie at the premiere of Female Trouble and I was curious if you would be interested in contributing any of your work or perhaps your memories of Cookie Mueller.  The book I am producing is an homage to Cookie and has an emphasis on visuals as much as text.  If you have any questions please feel free to ask.  Looking forward to hearing from you.  [signed] Chloe

    It was exciting that someone -- whoever Chloe might be -- that someone halfway across the world thought enough of Cookie to think she deserved a book devoted to her. Cookie was one of the most unique people I'd ever been around. I lived in Provincetown from 1972 to 1984, and during some of that time Cookie did too, and I was Cookie's friend. That does not make me special -- everyone was Cookie's friend. Everyone who knew her loved Cookie. I wanted the book written already but had to wait.

    I told Chloe that I'd be honored to have a picture I'd taken of Cookie in her book. As it turned out, in the process of about fifteen more email exchanges, Chloe ended up using about a dozen photographs I'd taken of Cookie and friends of Cookie.

    I could tell just from her several emails that Chloe was a class act. And then, in this past August, after what was surely a tremendous amount of work, she sent me a copy of the book:

    Later an invitation came for four events in Manhattan in connection with the launching of Edgewise: A Picture of Cookie Mueller. On the first night, I entered the venue -- The Participant Gallery on Houston Street ... approached Chloe and said, "Hi … I'm George Fitzgerald." I got a warm hug, and person-to-person thanks for the use of my pictures.

    She's attractive. You realize right away that you probably just want to hang with her forever. Isn't that what love is? Or was it just a crush? A great big gigantic mammoth super-wide, super-deep, super-high crush. Maybe I just wanted to be her. Seriously … she's lovely, she's cool.

    Chloe in Berlin, biking in high heels just as Cookie did.


    From left: Susan Lowe, Sharon Niesp, and John Waters
    reading "Just Three Sluts" from Edgewise. The organizers had sat up chairs for about twenty people but the large room filled up; there must have been close to two hundred people there.  It got hot. I was sweating.

    Chloe autographing books after the readings.

    If I liked the styles of other attendees I sometimes asked if I could take a picture of them; my skills with my iPad camera suck; only a few came out good.
    I'm a groupie for Michael Stipe so was thrilled to shake his hand and say, "Thanks for a lot of great music in my life." Then I hurried to tell Chloe "Guess what!!? Michael Stipe is here!!!" "I know," she said. "He's my friend! He spends a lot of time in Berlin!"

    Two more whose styles I liked.
    In one of the three vitrines, a b&w still that I happen to love; it's from a John Waters film; in the corner is a photo I took of Channing Wilroy and Howard Gruber on Halloween 1981 at Cafe Mews.

    With Sharon Niesp. Though I never met Cookie's husband, I like to think that Sharon was Cookie's best lover. Sharon is also a great actor and a great singer (even Aaron Neville, I hear, was impressed by her voice).
    A picture of Sharon in her younger days, taken by photographer David Armstrong (whose obituary just happened to be in Saturday's New York Times).
    I loved running into Dennis Dermody and Susan Lowe, two friends I hadn't seen for a long time.
    Sharon Niesp with Chloe's mother; the latter's height, chic attire, and extraordinary poise were a sight to behold. I went up to her out front and told her I understood that she was Chloe's mother and that she was absolutely beautiful and had reared a remarkable daughter.  She said, "Thank you ... so you know who I am, but I don't know who you are?" I said my name and that I'd given Chloe a dozen pictures for her book. She took both my hands in hers and said, "Let's go -- you must show them to me."
    I led her to another of the vitrines, all of which contained Cookie memorabilia, and said, "These … all the colored ones … are mine. Look, she even saved the envelope in which I mailed them to her back in 2010!"
    More of my photos in another vitrine which are in Edgewise: A Picture of Cookie Mueller.
    Just after the 9pm closing, as my friend Ellen and I were waiting for a friend, I looked at a woman off to the left and said "That's Nan Goldin!" She's a famous photographer. Ellen went up to her and asked, "Are you who you used to be?"
    Inside, Nan Goldin and Chloe Griffin had a .. uh.. chat?
    Lots of pictures on the walls, mostly of Cookie.

    Cookie's son, Max, showed me how to take a selfie.

    OCT. 16th - Thursday: No Credit, Cash Only; Cookie in Film and Video

    Bradford Nordeen

    On the night following the opening party, clips from several movies Cookie appeared in were screened.  Many more chairs were set out than had been the night before, but there were still not enough, and the room was jam-packed again.  Fortunately, though, the heat had been turned down.  The presentation was written and read by Bradford Nordeen, the young man pictured above.  He was interesting and clever and funny.  He knew Cookie's writing inside-out and he knew her acting inside-out.  You can out more of him at ….

    OCT. 17th - FRIDAY

    On Friday, way over on Tenth Avenue, the Edgewise event was of filmmaker Amos Poe interviewing Chloe.  Ellen and I didn't go because we'd been invited to dinner by a friend.  This friend made it an absolutely delightful night!  His stories are astonishingly entertaining; he's lived a very eventful life, and knows everybody and everything!  His apartment is like a museum!  Who but he would own, and have nicely framed, the original Sears & Roebuck receipt for the $25.00 down-payment on a freezer sold to a guy named Jeffrey Dahmer?  His stories are way way way entertaining.

    OCT. 18th - SATURDAY

    Saturday seemed like a day off from the fun of joining Chloe in the launching of her book.  I met two friends at one p.m. at the Whitney Museum for the Jeff Koons exhibition. (Ellen, booted from foot surgery, could not have handled all the walking we'd be doing.)  I was interested only in Koons' salacious work involving his Italian girlfriend/wife; only two pictures fit that narrow category so I wandered around five floors of art caring very little about 98% of it.  But there were lots of reflecting things so I could take lots of weird pictures, and it was fun hanging out with Scott (short) and Patrick (tall). 


    OCT. 19th - SUNDAY - "ANOTHER BORING DAY -  A NIGHT OF READINGS FROM COOKIE MUELLER'S WRITINGS" -- a return to The Participant Gallery on Houston Street.

    Chloe Griffin

    Richard Hell - After the readings I told him I had seen his punk group Richard Hell and the Voidoids at CBGB in 1977.  "Thanks for remembering!" he said.

    Max Mueller reading Cookie's story about giving birth to him.

    Sharon Niesp


    Max Blagg

    Linda Yablonsky

    And so it went … from an email four and a half years ago to a great time in Manhattan just a couple of weeks ago.  All because I posted one of my favorite pictures of Cookie on my blog in 2009 and a cool woman in Berlin came across it.

    Edgewise: A Picture of Cookie Mueller is a great accomplishment.  I loved Cookie and you might end up loving Cookie too just from reading this book.  You can become the book's friend on Facebook!  You can follow it on tour at  You can order it on Amazon.  You can ask Santa to bring it to you.  You can do lots of things.  But I don't know if you can get a Chloe Griffin kiss on your cheek unless you have the good luck of meeting her and the nerve to ask for one!

    Thanks Chloe and Ellen and Dennis and Scott and Patrick!