Saturday, September 8, 2007
This past week brought a visit from another old friend from Minneapolis, Emily Carter, the author of Glory Goes and Gets Some, a collection of autobiographical short stories based her experiences with addiction, recovery and searching for love. Shortly after I moved to Minnesota in the winter of 2001, I heard Emily give a reading of one of these stories at the Barnes and Nobles on the Nicollet Mall in downtown Minneapolis. This scrawny little Jewish writer with watery green pit bull eyes who looked something like a cross between a hooker and a grandmother stood in front of a room of quiet and much less colorful Minnesotans, and then hobbled off afterwards with a dark-haired boyfriend wearing a black leather jacket.
I felt an pang of longing to trail after them, but instead, bought a copy of her book and took the bus back to the room I was renting in a ranch house in St. Louis Park and read it cover to cover. Reading Emily's stories brought on such an overwhelming set of emotions and an uncanny process of identification with her experiences, I scrawled several drafts until I arrived at an emphatic fan letter replete with my own stories which I addressed to Emily at The Loft, a writing center where she taught classes.
When I encountered Emily again two years later, we quickly became friends. I asked if she had ever received my gushing and delirious letter, which she hadn't, and we laughed at the idea of whose hands it might have ended up in.
Emily is as much of a story-teller in person as she is in her writing, and walking through the streets of New York triggers an endless stream of memories and associations. Witty, sardonic and affectionate, her presence and narrative voice makes the world come alive for me. I think of her almost as the big sister I never had - cooler, wiser, tougher - she reads my thoughts and offers some sisterly advice. This time around, she left me with a piece of advice about romance. She said if I want to make someone like and respect me, I need to stop acting like a shy, sweet puppy-dog and learn to be more of a bitch. Hmmm.
The timing of Emily's visit coincided with the opening of an exhibition of autobiographical photographs by Mark Morrisroe and Friends from the Boston School at Clamp Art, an artist who also lived on the edge in the eighties and died at the age of thirty from AIDS related complications. Morrisroe has been described as a kind of dark luminary of a circle of artists which included Nan Goldin, David Armstrong and Jack Pierson, whose his teenage prostitution contributed to the lore surrounding his persona.
Emily told me a story once about how Nan Goldin tried to photograph her in the eighties in New York and how she refused to participate. She said she was scared of this creepy lady with a camera who was trying to take pictures of all the junkie kids. I guess I feel pretty darn lucky to have had the chance to snap some shots of Emily on a late afternoon in McKarren Park in Brooklyn.