Yet, I am still alive

A friend and collaborator took this picture as I got
into character to rehearse a theatrical piece.

My friend snapped this shot as I danced and spoke
my lines.

In fact, I was switching into character, though no one
in my circle of friends knew what that was.

It was a dark time in America, but one goes on with life.

This is a journal entry from the day of that shot:

July 16, 1987

It is July and I am still alive.

The AIDS epidemic is in its sixth year and those six years have passed slowly and cruelly. I had hoped that AIDS would fade like a fad, but it is still around and killing, and the fact that a reactionary movement has gained momentum by openly discussing it as a form of divine retribution sickens me to my core.

Thank God for Joni Mitchell.

I’ve lived so long without a future that the thought of having one terrifies me.

Yet, I am still alive.

And I intend to stay alive.

(c) Rob Goldstein 1987-2017

Switching Stations: Jeffery’s Messages


Warning: Adult themes and language ahead.

1.

Hey Jeff-reee! Wat up ese? Guess who I seen? I seen Kenny an I seen his new wrap an he got himself a new van where he can be sleepin’ in it.  He traded the Buick! But ese! Wouldnya rather have a Buick? Lissen-up ese: I gotta joke! You an’ your Mom got moren one thing in common. You both whores! Jeff-reee! Is the shit fresh!  Whaja doin? Wachin porn? You an Manuela de Palma? Why don’ja go out an getta job. Yo ese!– Getta freakin job!

 

 


2.

Jeffery? This is Sara. I need Robert’s tools. I have to go to Mom’s after work tonight. If you take them over to Mom’s, I’ll leave five dollars for the taxi. Please Jeffery. We have to have those tools so please bring them to Mom’s today! OK?

 


3.

Hey, hey bro. I know you ain’t amped out. I know its crank, dude. So hustle ur ass over here an bring me the merchandise. Yak at ja later.

 


4.

Jeffery? This is Sara! Please bring the tools to Mom’s. Please Jeffery!

 


 

5.

Hey Jeff. This is Bob. It’s 8:15.  I guess I’m calling to ask if you’re OK. I’m at the St. Francis doing some work if you catch my drift.  If you want to make the drop meet me on Ellis in two hours. Over by the construction site: be there.

Photograph of a young man who is standing in a squat listening to his messages
I’m at the St. Francis doing some work, if you catch my drift.

6.

Hey, man. I’m telling you man; you better call me dude. I’ve waited patiently for you to pay for that briefcase. Don’t make me go over there with my authorities. No BS, dude. I want my money.     


7.

Jeffery? This is Aunt Esther. You have Robert’s tools. Please bring them to your Mother’s.

 


 

8.

Jeffery! This is your Mother!  Aunt Esther wants you to bring Robert’s tools to my place. Where I live? OK? Call me! Bye!

 


9.

Yo Jeff-reee! It’s Bobby! I sold them tools an’ got a fifty! Rock an’ Roll, dude! I got the candy so’s I’ll catch up with you later!

Semi-surreal photograph of a young man who is listening to his message on a cell phone. A hand with a gun it it is seen on a television Monitor
Rock and Roll, Dude!

10.

Whadup, Jeffery? I know you know who the fuck this is. Check it: a client wants to sell you an MK 16. I know you like collecting that kinna shit: gimme a buzz.


11.

Jeffery? This is Sara! Did you get Moms message? Bring us those tools! They are essential to Robert’s work. You borrowed them without permission and we need them now!



12.

Heeeeyyy Jeff-reee! Ese! Pick up de phone. I know you’re there! Pobrecito mijo. Yankin’ his life away. Jeff-reee! Pendejo!!—You screwed up bad an’ now ur goin’ downdowndown. Crank brought ya down, ese!


13.

Jeffery. This is Sara. If you’re home pick up! How long is it going to take for us to get Robert’s tools back from you. I’ll give you a hundred if you bring them back. I guess I’m going to have to come over and get them.


 
14.

Hey, hey bro! 12:35 at night. Howcum you ain’t on the horse troll? You better have my dollars! Yeah! Big Daddy R Money!

Photograph of a young man who is listening to his message on a cell phone. A hand with a gun it it is seen on a television Monitor
Howcum you ain’t on the horse troll?

            

15.

8:22 in the morning and you missed another session. For a parolee that says he wants to get straight you stick too close to convicts. ’nuff sed. You know who this is. Call me.

 


16.

Jeffery? It’s your lawyer. It’s Tuesday, 10am. I hope you didn’t go out on another binge. We need you here at the Hall of Justice in two hours. I need you here to win!  Ok?

 


17.

1:45 PM and another parolee of mine is back to jail. He got two years. He wanted out on OR but no one will vouch for him. So to jail he went. Two years my friend. I see you guys sharing a cell. No one will vouch for you! ‘nuff sed.

 


18.

This is Sara.  Are you still in bed? Are you bringing Robert’s tools to Mom’s house? Aunt Esther said you better bring them! The tools. Robert’s tools? Do you even know what I’m talking about?


19.

OK,  Miss Thing. Your phone was just bizzy.  So I guess you gone in less than a minute? You gonna hang in that shitty dorm all day? It’s 3:10 on Tuesday in case
you ain’t
 oriented x 3. Call me sweetie. You said you would share.

 


 

20.

Double dealin’ Jeffery! It’s Randy ya messed up tweak! Ya didn’t come out yesterday! Ya was gonna buy me drinks or so ya said. So, uh, what up? Did it all go up in smoke? It’s 5:10 sos I’ll call back about 7:30.


21.

Hey Jeffery ya up in smoke fool! It’s Randy! We ain’t makin no deals cos you ain’t around! So howcum you don’t be around? I’m over at Jack in the Box tryina hustle a BLT. I’ll be here all night. The address is JACK-in-the-Box!
Laters dude.


22.

Jeffery! This is Sara! Get your ass out of bed and bring Robert’s tools to Mom’s house! NOW! And you better answer my calls too! Goodbye!

 



23.

Hey, man. I’m telling you man; you better call me dude. You think I’m letting you slide or something and I’m telling you homey don’t play that way. I’ll put out a ten thousand dollar contract your ass —so if you want your life you better give me a buzz.  2 Questions: What is John Wayne’s real name and what was his first movie that he starred in. If you know the answers, I’ll just bust a cap in your pretty white ass.

 

Photo of a young man in a squat listening to is messages-staged in Virtual Reality
I’m telling you homey don’t play that way


24.

Jeffery! This is Sara. Mom’s in the hospital. DO NOT CALL THE HOSPITAL! If you call her I’ll call the police and let them know who you are and where you live. I know there are warrants out for you. I don’t want you near Mom. I don’t want you near the hospital. If you have any questions, bring Robert’s tools to Mom’s house first.

 


25.

Hey Jeff-reee! Esaaaaaaay. You makin’ luuuuv now? Is it all luvy duvy in this land of screwed up druggies? Ain’t a damn thing funny, Jeffery! Get you a real woman, amigo! If you don’t get a real woman you’ll lose them shrinking pelotas! Dedee is chotito. A punk, bro! An’ you da punk-ee!

 



26.

Jeffery this is Mom. When you visit tonight sneak in a pack of cigarettes? I’ll give you fifty dollars. Don’t let the nurses catch you. It’s extremely important. I love you.

 


27.

Jeffrey this is Sara. Stop visiting Mom! If you don’t stay away from her I’ll have you arrested. How can you bring smokes to a woman that just had a stroke?

 



28.

Hey, man. I’m telling you man, this is the last message you’ll ever ignore. I know you got paid an’ you better have my crank or my dollars ’cause I just sent a shitload of trouble your way! If you got the answers to my questions about John Wayne they’ll make it quick—OK? Good-bye, Jeffery.

 

Photo of a young man in a squat listening to is messages-staged in Virtual Reality, I used a toy camera filter to give it a sense of tunnel vision
Good-bye, Jeffery

 

 



First posted in 2015, as Jeffery’s Messages

Jeffery’s Messages (c) Rob Goldstein 1992-2015-2017
Illustrations staged in Virtual Reality.
Gun textures found on shutter-stock and GIPHY

 

 

 

                      

Mercy

From the Feathered Sleep

TheFeatheredSleep

Though we were afraid
We stood

Though we trembled

We reached

Though we feared falling

We let go

Though you are far

You caught me

Though you were struggling

You held on

Though we both felt we couldn’t

We did

And the light that bathed our rebirth

Was a mute white

And the song in our mouths

Was of gratitude

And my loved ones passed over

Clambored from their soil and Ash

As beautiful as children again

Clasping my empiness

They claimed me anew

Standing on the bridge

One side darkness and dusk

Extinguisher of all I was

The other side golden

You have been so missed they chorused

And at first I couldn’t bear the feeling

Surging in me like a hundred hands

But they held firm, did not let me run, did not excuse me

No death did not stop us

No life is not meant to be…

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