Saturday, July 5, 2008

David E’s Fablog Makes Me Cry

My I get personal for a moment? Of course I can, it's my site. It's an interesting story, and you can check the named site, when I grow up I hope that I can include links, but I can't yet.

David E’s Fablog Makes Me Cry

David Augustus Ehrenstein seems to have established himself in one of the nether circles of the pundit-underworld as a social critic of matters of homosexual and/or racial politics. I know David very well, well enough to have seen his [redacted] on several occasions, outside of the gym (without ever having used it myself for an improper or unnatural purpose, not that there would have been anything wrong with that). He was, in fact, an usher at my wedding, not only because he was one of my best friends but also because he was one of the only two of my friends who owned a suit and a tie. It was quite a fuss, a big surprise to me, I can be a bit dense about such things, but it was a big fuss, based upon the fact that David is Black, and homosexual.

My mother, may god have mercy on her soul, and not send her back for any reason whatsoever, she cried easy, so it was no great accomplishment to make her cry. Her discovery, on the day of my wedding, that David was to be an usher, made her cry, and my assurances that I had never wanted a church wedding in the first place, and was doing it as a courtesy to her, and if David went, I went, that only made her cry more. I was used to it by then, and the fact that the epoch of her ascendancy was coming to an end made me magnanimous. My family, bless or damn them accordingly, had to put up with being seated by either David or a White, long-haired friend of mine. Neither thing was considered ideal. It was the Sixties, and the Generation Gap was in full effect.

It was all a mystery to me at the time because David was culturally not Black in the least. Oh, he has a lip-seam, and kinky hair, and more than a good tan, and dark brown eyes, but culturally he was almost identical to me. He had grown up in Queens, White working class neighborhood, he had gone to Catholic grammar school with all White kids, he was interested in most of the arts, usually at the Avante Guard edge. That much we shared in every detail. And frankly I have always thought that homosexuals were more gracious and agreeable companions that almost all straight people.

His father, dead by the time I met David, was Jewish, and his mother was mostly Irish but with more than a little touch of the tar brush, may her soul rest in peace, and if god wants to send her back, tell her to visit me, and give her please sufficient physicality to cook mortal food, I loved the woman. David almost always wore at least a sports jacket and tie, with a double-duty top coat, and seemed to carry an umbrella more than most people. He was the consummate gentleman. He seemed to enjoy my company, and he was so well versed and interested in so many things that he was a delight to hang out with. It was David that took me to my first French New Wave films, my first Bergman films, my first Fellini films. It was David who suggested that I would like Anthony Burgess’s new book, “A Clockwork Orange.” He was quite a treasure. I loved him.

We were best of friends for thirty years, and I love him still, although the thirty years have elapsed and we no longer see each other. I still dream about him, I love him, and I am still saddened to be alienated from his affections.

We first met in New York City, a couple of teenagers. After knowing each other for about ten years I moved with my family to Los Angeles, and by having such an intimate contact as me in that city David felt himself empowered to move to LA. California was David’s real education in Blackness, I don’t think that he had considered it too much while he lived in NYC.

David didn’t know any of the Black handshakes; he spoke like an Ivy League academic; he dressed like a mid-level civil servant. New York was filled with Blacks like David, but LA was still very provincial. Every day he was approached several times by Black folk who had a clear expectation of what they could expect based upon his apparent Blackness, and their disappointment and confusion at actually finding David there was hard for them and hard for David too. Not to mention the police.

The theory of Police management of crime in LA at the time was to save money by maintaining a small police force, and to make it effective by making it especially violence prone and minority-unfriendly. So David would routinely be stopped on the street, or pulled off a bus, that’s a party, nice audience right there. Sit on the curb, and don’t show any temper, you don’t want to have an accident. David didn’t drive, he didn’t take drugs, he had never stolen anything in his life, he had broken fewer laws than anybody that I knew, man, woman, boy or girl. But he attracted police attention in LA, because he had a lip-seam, kinky hair, and more than a good tan. Personally, as a chauvinistic New Yorker, I believe that the cops in NYC were more sensitive to David’s clothing and the quality of his interactions, New York cops know who’s dangerous and who’s not, it’s not a color thing, if you’re not threatening to them they are relieved and happy to see you, in New York it wasn’t even so much a police thing, it was a working-man thing. In LA, though, he was just another nigger trouble-maker.

Year after year of this wore on my friend, that’s what I think. It taught him for the first time in his life how to be angry, it forced him to carry a growing load of resentment. He was so disrespected, on such a regular basis, that it gradually changed him. Oh, there’s more to it. The never-ending waves of friends dead of AIDS; his own near death experience with a troublesome blood vessel. To see too much, and understand it better than most people, is a curse.

My friend David Augustus Ehrenstein should have commanded more respect on first meeting than anyone I have ever known. He is a genius, he is erudite, he is well dressed with impeccable personal habits, he is polite to a fault, and very charming, he is tall and handsome, and he is articulate to the point of remarkable lucidity. It is one of the bitterest disappointments of my life, in this vale of tears that life as we know it, that mere daily life was allowed to turn David into a cyclopean edifice of deep cynicism and barely controlled rage. Given the remarkable Christmas present that was DAE, the world threw it aside based upon the wrapping paper.

I don’t give one, smooth shit for the world’s loss, but I am deeply saddened by the ruination of David’s pleasant equilibrium. And even more so by the unpleasant fact that somehow I have no place in David’s new life, the life of an angry pundit. I long for almost nothing in this life, but my most ardent wish is that once before I die my friend David will again hold me in his arms and kiss my cheek and tell me that he loves me.


M Fusion said...

This is an amazing one!


Anonymous said...

You should publish a book. Call it "The nostalgic life of an eclectic animal" and don't hold back.

Anonymous said...

Keep on posting such stories. I like to read articles like that. By the way add some pics :)