Are You Forgettin’ Why You Loved Me, Darlin’?

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Living a Beautiful Life

She drapes a towel over her shoulder hiding her left breast.  Rather, the vivid red scars snaking her ribcage where her left breast was carved out.

She turns to her left, enough so that she looks whole.  If she accidentally catches a glimpse of her reflection, that is.

Spraying the area with rubbing alcohol from the pump bottle — she still can’t bring herself to touch it — she switches the blow dryer to ‘low’ and dries under the towel.  Then she spritzes Vitamin E and baby oil, even though it’s a lost cause.  Those scars aren’t going anywhere.

She ties a robe loosely around her waist and shuffles to the kitchen.  Hot cereal she enjoyed from childhood might help her feel a bit better.

A shadow crosses the window making her jump.  But her imagination was playing tricks.  Nobody had been in the garden since the day he left — coincidentally, the morning…

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An Interview with Harold Norse, Part 2, Final: Who Turns These Wheels

I’d considered calling this section ‘Bobby and Harold’ because the voice on the tape is Bobby’s.

Bobby always has a Southern accent.

After closing the earlier discussion of identity, Bobby asks Harold about his habit of falling in love with hustlers.

Harold is reluctant to discuss this at first but Bobby presses him so he begins by saying that he feels compassion for hustlers because so many of them are

He says he weeps when he hears reports of child abuse on the news and wonders if he’s become a ‘weepy old man.’

He describes the violent night he threatened to kill his abusive stepfather.

He was 13.

Later in the interview, Bobby reminds Harold of his first words when Bobby first entered the Cottage on Albion Drive: ‘Who turns these wheels.’

Photograph of Rob Goldstein taken by Nina Glaser in 1986
Rob Goldstein by Nina Glaser in 1986-I wore black all the time as a symbol of my grief over the AIDS Epidemic.

Working on these tapes was painful because this is audio evidence of my DID.

At one point in the interview Norse suggests that he was aware of the DID:

Bobby: You used to accuse me of having no memory and I used to say I remember things verbatim; you never believed me.

Norse: It was not for that that I used to accuse you of having no memory. It was for something else…

Bobby: Oh, I remember, it was for my kleptomania. Go ahead.

Norse: No. That’s denial. That’s part of your character.

Bobby didn’t know what Norse meant and didn’t pursue it.

I don’t remember writing an interview with Harold Norse for the Bay Area Reporter and my memories of Harold Norse feel second-hand.

I don’t know what Bobby means when he says he was a hustler and a kleptomaniac.

This numbing and amnesia is the pain of Dissociative Identity Disorder.

Sadly, I don’t remember how it felt to have the friendship and respect of
someone as brilliant as Harold Norse was.

It sounds like we enjoyed each other immensely.

Please note:

When I turned the tape over I unknowingly enabled a ridiculous option
that stops the machine when it senses silence. The result is a little choppy.
I did my best to smooth it out.

To hear the beginning go to An interview with Harold Norse, Part 1, Section 1

(C) Rob Goldstein 2017 All Rights Reserved

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An Interview with Harold Norse, Part 2, Section 1: “But I’m still Gay.”

Part two of the Interview opens with Harold’s discussing his relationship to his peers, many of whom achieved fame and a place in literary history.

Norse describes them as outcasts and I reply that they are hardly outcasts now.

Norse feels like an outcast and I hearken back to Auden’s comment by suggesting that perhaps a saint is an outcast who survives as an outcast.

Survival in this context is surviving as an artist.

Norse says he wrote because, “I wanted to write about my deepest feelings about being Gay.”

He goes on to tell a story about conversation he had with James Baldwin who was new to fame  and Norse said, “Jimmy, you’ve got nothing to worry about, you’ve got it made.”

“Jimmy turned and said, ‘Whattaya mean I got it made! I’m still Black!'”

The cover of Giovanni's Room, by James Baldwin
Giovanni’s Room 1956, by James Baldwin

Norse goes on to say that no matter what he does, he’s still gay, he’s
still marginalized.

Norse describes how he met with Baldwin again, after Baldwin was wealthy.

Baldwin looks in a mirror and says, “After all, I’m still James Baldwin.”

Norse stopped himself from saying, “And who is James Baldwin.”

Norse describes it as a ‘Zen’ moment when he realized that we are what we’re conscious of being.

Interview with Harold Norse Section 2, part 1.

Please note:

When I turned the tape over I unknowingly enabled a ridiculous option
that stops the machine when it senses silence. The result is a little choppy.
I did my best to smooth it out.

To hear the beginning go to An interview with Harold Norse, Part 1, Section 1

(C) Rob Goldstein 2017 All Rights Reserved

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An Interview with Harold Norse, Part 1, Section 3– Saints and Self-Destruction

I ask Norse about his drive to write poetry.

He feels like a man without category.

He is not from the élite and he is not entirely of the poor.

He is not working class but he is not rich.

Norse was 53 in 1969, the year of the Stonewall Riots.

He was 60 when he published Carnivorous Saint and became
the poetic voice of the gay liberation movement.

Norse discusses recently published letters he received as a
young writer from W.H. Auden.

Auden advised Norse to accept the locked doors of the
literary world as a sign of his true calling in life as a saint.

Screenshot of an of W.H. Auden's letter to Harold Norse from the Contemporary Authors Autobiography Series in which Auden tells Harold Norse to accept locked doors ihn the literary world as a sign of his true callling as a saint
A section of W.H. Auden’s letter to Harold Norse from the Contemporary Authors Autobiography Series

When Norse speaks of a politically correct left, he means an academic
élite that restrains the use of a certain kind of language even when it’s
essential to the work.

Section 3 of the interview closes with a question of identify:

“It seems to me that you’re making more than a writer when you take
an illiterate and give him the ability to express himself with a self
conscious understanding of his real social and political position. That
is an extremely powerful thing to do and it can be devastating.”
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Interview with Harold Norse, Part 1 Section 3- Saints and Self Destruction

 

Scan of a typewritten note from Hal the Difficult to Rob the Impossible concerning a vast tureen of nearly finished chicken soup in the refrigerator
An interoffice memo left on the fridge one day.

An Interview with Harold Norse, Part 1 section 2:  The Pain of Becoming Literate

An Interview With Harold Norse, Part One, Section 1: The Art of Teaching
Header image is a flyer for a production of Bobby.  The figure is a shaman.

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