Monday, March 01, 2010


I knew two people who were murdered. One I didn’t know all that well, and the other I knew very well having lived with him for two years when I first moved to New York in 1967. I myself was almost murdered in the fall of 1981, and I’ve written about it on this blog. you can read it here.
If you like. It’s a terrible thing to have known people who were murdered; it’s a dread that sometimes creeps up on me still even after all these years.It’s ghost like and creepy. I think about their last minutes and the pain they must have felt as their lives were violently taken away from them. The first person I knew was an art critic, uproarious and outrageous who was back in the day a very promiscuous gay man. I met him when I was lovers with Manuel and we would attend the art critic’s cocktail parties that he would have often in his large upper West Side apartment. I didn’t really care much for him, he was a big gossip and thought nothing about writing terrible things in alternative newspapers like the East Village Other about art world people who considered him a friend. But this guy couldn’t have any friends, just acquaintances because he was just too untrustworthy and superficial even though he was a thoughtful and well respected art critic. He once wrote about me and Manuel and about a drunken fight we once had at his apartment and after that we stopped seeing him. He was loud and vulgar and he made me feel very uncomfortable when I was around him. He was murdered in Puerto Rico in 1980; stabbed 102 times by what police said was a pick up gone bad. Very bad I would say. My friend Dennis Williams who was my first roommate when I moved to New York in Oct 1967 was murdered in New Orleans. What he was doing there I have no idea, nor do any of his far-flung friends. I lost touch with him years ago when he picked himself up and left New York City to live on a hippie commune that was located in upstate New York. I visited him once there on a fall day with another friend. I didn’t like it there and could not understand his leaving the lovely comfortable rent controlled apartment in Chelsea that we shared. Back then rents were cheap and people moved alot more than they do now, but still I just could not come to grips with his new life style. Unhappy always Dennis embraced the hippie movement because it gave him the freedom to finally be who he was. He could now let his hair grow, and wear colorful flowing pants and shirts with strands of beads dangling around his neck. However none of this made him any happier than he was before the sunshine came in, he was simply a miserable person unhappy in his skin and unhappy about being gay. He was the first gay man I ever knew and the first person to encourage me in my art. At night we would get stoned, listen to music and he would knit and I would make drawings. He was a kind and generous man but he could also be bitchy and harsh in his opinions about the arts and people. He would make some of our straight male friends feel so guilty about his sadness and his lack of sex and joy in his life that they would agree to have sex with him hoping it would ease some of his pain, it didn’t. After his time on the commune I totally lost touch with him until one day another friend of ours called me to tell me that Dennis had been murdered in New Orleans. He knew very little about what had happened, well actually he knew nothing at all. Dennis was simply murdered and that was that. Peter thought that maybe he had picked the wrong guy to try to pick up. “Where did this happen” “How” “Was there any reports in the newspaper.” I kept asking Peter these questions, which he answered with “we don’t know.” So that’s where it stays “we don‘t know. I keep thinking of that great line from The Third Man” when Trevor Howard tells Joseph Cotton that he was “born to be murdered.” Was the art critic and Dennis born to be murdered, was I born to be almost murdered? I should just let all of this lie, "let it alone" as Peter said to me before he got off the phone with me that day.

The images used are two drawings that I did of Dennis.


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