"My real friend was a writer named Stan Leventhal. All of his books are out of print now. And the harsh truth is that Stan never really became a great writer. But he wanted to be. My favorite story of his was in the final book published in his lifetime, Candy Holidays and Other Short Fictions, where Stan remembers the last man he unknowingly infected. However, Stan was a great friend. He liked to have a Jack Daniels and a cigarette; he took AZT with bourbon sometimes. A tall skinny guy, clean shaven with short brown hair, he was kind of a hippie, wore a jean jacket, T-shirt and had a backpack. Stan read everything and was one of the first men I'd met who actually read lesbian fiction and loved it.
He lived in a filthy apartment on Christopher Street overlooking the park. It was packed with books and CDs, his guitar and TV. He'd come to the city from Long Island to be a singer and started out on the folk circuit. He'd broken up with the love of his life right before we made friends and plunged himself into the creation of Amethyst Press, which probably published the most interesting collection of gay male writing in the history of our literature. He published books by Dennis Cooper, the late Bo Houston, the late Steve Abbott, Kevin Killian, Patrick Moore, Mark Ameen-all important, under-appreciated artists. After working at porn magazines like Torso for years, Stan had a formula. He'd publish a highly intellectual, formally innovative novel by a gifted writer and then slap a piece of beefcake on the cover so it would sell. His favorite writer was Guy Davenport, to whom he'd written a comprehensive and adoring monograph.
Near the end of Stan's life, Amethyst got wrested away from him in a power play, and then the new bosses destroyed and folded it. This depressed him deeply; he was filled with anger. I remember one lunch at a Chinese restaurant when I saw tears splash into his food, only to look up and discover it was sweat; he had such a high fever but was still running around. His true love died. My final visit to his apartment, the place stank. The toilet bowl was black and there were no sheets on the bed. Stan gave me one of his books, Resurrection of a Hanged Man by Denis Johnson, which unfortunately I didn't care for. I was surprised, actually-usually we agreed on books.
I saw him in Beekman Hospital the week that he died. He was bald and shaking, could barely sit up, but did. That was the first time I met his mother, Pearl, an old uncomprehending woman. "There's so much to say," Stan told me. Then he told me something I won't repeat here. I stepped out into the hallway as the doctor fiddled with his body and Pearl followed. "Stanley always wanted a hard cover," Pearl said. Then he was dead. Stan's best friends were Chris Bram and Michelle Karlsberg. Later Michelle told me about her final conversation with Pearl.
"Should I ask Stanley if he wants to be buried in Florida?" Pearl asked.
"Stan doesn't give a shit where he's buried," Michelle told her.
Like all the dead and the living, I think I see him everywhere. But it is just new versions, young versions of guys like Stan. Most of us seem to be re-created every fifteen years. I see a twenty-year-old me almost once a month, and a twenty-year-old, forty-year-old, sixty-year-old Stan passes by on the street often enough." --The Gentrification of the Mind: Witness to a Lost Imagination by Sarah Schulman
Stan Leventhal, 1987, by Robert Giard (http://beinecke.library.yale.edu/dl_crosscollex/brbldl_getrec.asp?fld=img&id=1121518)
American photographer Robert Giard is renowned for his portraits of American poets and writers; his particular focus was on gay and lesbian writers. Some of his photographs of the American gay and lesbian literary community appear in his groundbreaking book Particular Voices: Portraits of Gay and Lesbian Writers, published by MIT Press in 1997. Giard’s stated mission was to define the literary history and cultural identity of gays and lesbians for the mainstream of American society, which perceived them as disparate, marginal individuals possessing neither. In all, he photographed more than 600 writers. (http://beinecke.library.yale.edu/digital
The Gentrification of the Mind: Witness to a Lost Imagination by Sarah Schulman
Hardcover: 192 pages
Publisher: University of California Press; 1 edition (February 6, 2012)
Amazon: The Gentrification of the Mind: Witness to a Lost Imagination
In this gripping memoir of the AIDS years (1981-1996), Sarah Schulman recalls how much of the rebellious queer culture, cheap rents, and a vibrant downtown arts movement vanished almost overnight to be replaced by gay conservative spokespeople and mainstream consumerism. Schulman takes us back to her Lower East Side and brings it to life, filling these pages with vivid memories of her avant-garde queer friends and dramatically recreating the early years of the AIDS crisis as experienced by a political insider. Interweaving personal reminiscence with cogent analysis, Schulman details her experience as a witness to the loss of a generation's imagination and the consequences of that loss.
More Particular Voices at my website: http://www.elisarolle.com/, My Ramblings/Particular Voices
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