Tuesday, December 02, 2008


I just can't sleep and need to write this NOW. Just came back from the Needles Jones Show where we honored our friend Chris McDonough from The Absinthe Drinkers. CHRIS IS FINE, the DEATH, DEATH, AND MORE DEATH isn't about him, which is great. But it turns out when Chris was shot by the mugger last week the bullet went into his stomach and traveled down into his leg. They had to cut him open from neck to thigh, and I got to hear the gruesome details before I could say I didn't want to hear it. It's all so LUCKY, the bullet not going in other directions. Lucky or something. But it's great news Chris will recover.

A bunch of us performed tonight, including Ish Klein and Molly Russakoff. Molly arrived a little late, and JUST BEFORE I was to go up to the microphone she touched my hand and said, "I have some TERRIBLE news," looking at me, knowing how terrible it would be to hear. But I said, "Molly, PLEASE don't tell me before I read, whatever it is." And I'm really glad I told her that.

Our friend Norman died earlier tonight helping Larry Robin's move boxes at his store. Robin's Bookstore is closing down for good, another terrible bit of news. But, Norman IS DEAD! I have no idea what Norman's last name is, never knew I don't think, and he only knew me as Conrad, but we've known each other for MANY years, so many I just don't know how many. But, Norman had a heart attack earlier today.

Immediately following the reading of Ron Silliman, Magdalena Zurawski and Pam Brown we found out that one of Larry's employees, whose name I never knew, died of an overdose THAT DAY.

Immediately following the reading of Chris McCreary, Sarah Dowling and Aaron Kunin we found out that Robin's Bookstore was closing for good.

Now this today, Norman's death.

I need to take a break from this to talk about the show tonight. It was marvelous, Needles was dressed like Andy Warhol, and this MARVELOUS stripper named Randi Warhol was playing Edie Sedgwick, driving needles into an Andy Warhol voodoo doll while Needles(playing Andy and LOOKING just like him, bright white wig and all) would walk around the room moaning from a new pain: groin, heart, and where Valerie Solonas had shot him. Then Needles(Andy) sang a new song he wrote about Andy Warhol, singing in the voice of Andy about fucking young men at the Y, doing coke at the Factory, you know the story, but it was really good, as Needles is always really good. We LOVE Needles.

Ish performed an amazing set with the band New Pony, a new poem, fantastic new poem.

But after I sat down from reading, and there was a lull while New Pony set up their equipment, that's when Molly announced to us that Norman had died earlier in the day at Robin's while helping Larry move books.

I first met Norman when he worked at THE BOOK TRADER when it was on South Street. He was obsessed with soundtracks like NO ONE I had ever met. He really was. And it's ALL he listened to, and it was marvelous to walk in and ask Norman what movie THAT one was from. He knew all the details of the soundtrack, and many of them it turns out from movies he never even saw, didn't even want to see.

When I was dating his coworker Tommy at the store I got to know him better. He took me aside nervously one day to let me know Tommy had AIDS. I said I knew, and was touched that Norman was concerned for me, and he told me "BE SAFE CONRAD, BE SAFE, THAT'S ALL I'M SAYING!" Everyone wanted to tell me to be safe, or to not date Tommy, but I loved him, and no one seemed more understanding of this than Norman as it turns out.

Norman turned me onto FOOTLIGHT MUSIC in NY, which sells every single soundtrack you can imagine. He wasn't kidding about that place. He knew I had a little (well, big actually) crush on him. And Molly knew that too, which is why she knew it was going to be terrible news.

It's so terrible.

I can see him sitting behind the desk at THE BOOK TRADER conducting some obscure soundtrack. Frank Sherlock has some amazing stories about Norman, you should ask him to share them.

I want to go to Robin's Bookstore tomorrow. Not to be morbid, but to talk to Larry and Ray, and Gendler. It's tragic, all this death of people and the bookstores they kept alive for us.

Good-bye Norman. Miss you very much. I'm going to put on the soundtrack to Dracula now, old friend. It's so awful you're dead, you were so young, younger than I am, too young Norman.

Your old friend,

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