I just finished reading Narrow Rooms by James Purdy. My friend, the perfumer Ralf Schweiger gave me the book, after noticing and admiring his shelf full of Purdy books. Nice editions of Eustace Chisholm, which I read years ago, In A Shallow Grave and others. He had two copies. I think he gave me the nicer one. Thanks Ralf. It is dark. You often hear that. Or I love dark stories, or his poems are really dark, or she has a dark vision. One man's dark is another man's Disney. Though Uncle Walt & Co. turned
During wrestling practices in the weeks that followed Steve would work out with me. He encouraged me to give wrestling my all. I loved wrestling, but didn't have the mental fortitude and psychic power one needs to be a great wrestler. Everything and everybody was a joke. One day, he told me that he had been accepted to Colgate University. That he was going to wrestle for them and that he was going to red-shirt a year. So I could follow him there . I was blown away. I couldn't handle this kind of tough love attention. I didn't know who I was or what I wanted to do. But this was all too serious and focused for me. Steve did wrestle for Colgate. I didn't. I never saw Steve again. Around 1987 or 88, I read about his death in the newspaper. He became a Marine Helicopter Pilot. Ordered by President Reagan to take out the Ayatollah's oil tankers, Steve was shot down and died over the Persian Gulf. I also wrote a song about all of this trying to use wrestling and flying imagery. I performed it a few times, never recorded it. I mentioned to Ralf that James Purdy lived a a studio apartment Brooklyn Heights until his death last year. Ralf knew and said he had always wanted to visit him there. Too late.