Farewell To Taylor Mead
|Taylor Mead having fun at a party. Photo by Indra Tamang|
When Taylor Mead passed away at 88 years of age recently, I thought about how he was one of the first characters I met shortly I after I arrived in New York in 1974. It was at a Christmas party at Andy’s Factory on Union Square where I met him, and I saw him regularly for many years after. Mostly, I would run into Taylor at openings and events, and quite a number of times I listened to him read his poems, accompanied by the little transistor radio he always had with him. He often read at St. Marks Church. Taylor was always easy to get along with, and I remember Penny Arcade bringing him up to the Dakota to visit. If memory serves, I think Quentin Crisp was with them that day. As with all visits to the Dakota, their coming meant tea, which I served at the table where they sat and talked with Charles. Not long ago, while going through a box of Charles’s papers, I came across this little typed interview, undated, which Taylor Mead had conducted. I would imagine they did it sitting at the same table in the Dakota where tea was always served, there by the window with the view of the park. It’s a little curio of an interview, and I am posting it here as a small tribute to the two of them; Taylor Mead and Charles Henri Ford, both of whom lived long lives according to their own rules, and who are both no doubt missed by many.
|Taylor Mead enjoying party with ladies. Photo by Indra Tamang|
Charles Henri Ford Interviewed by Taylor Mead
Taylor Mead: In all your travels, what country most honored one’s right to love whomever you pleased?
Charles Henri Ford: Historically and artistically Greece has gone on record in favor of love beyond gender.
TM: Is the Dakota full of ghosts?
CHF: In the Dakota ghosts may stand by invisible at noon but I’ve never seen any at night.
TM: Have you had any epiphanies?
CHF: No epiphanies and I don’t expect any since I am a Buddhist.
TM: What are some of the most “beautiful” views in the world?
CHF: When you say “beautiful views” the Grand Canyon is, for me, vast enough to fill the plural.
TM: What is your most satisfying achievement?
CHF: At an early age I aspired to generate poetry. Now I have the satisfaction of being the daddy of my favorite haiku.
TM: How do famous people differ from others?
CHF: Taylor, you once said of yourself that you’re famous to people who know you, like, everybody’s beautiful, in their own way.
TM: Of all the places you could live or have lived, why did you generally choose NYC?
CHF: Born in Mississippi, raised in Tennessee, I love New York’s peaches. So I shake its tree.
TM: Where did you grow up?
CHF: I grew up wherever my father had a hotel—in Mississippi, Texas, Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky, Louisiana...
TM: When did you know Art and the world of Art was for you?
CHF: Well I started practicing Art early in grammar school. It happened like this: I was doing drawings of my classmates in a composition book. The teacher saw what I was up to and took the composition book out of my hands. She held it up, page by page, for my fellow students to ridicule, but they enjoyed the exhibition, laughing at what looked like funny valentines. I’m sorry not to have kept the cahier; it would now be in my archive at the University of Texas.
TM: What was your first experience of love and, or, sex?
CHF: The first hard on that I remember is the one I had on top of my Nurse—at age four.
TM: Did you have a happy childhood?
CHF: I not only had a happy childhood, I must have been a happy baby. My mother wrote on my baby card, I laughed when five days old!
TM: You must have been happy to find yourself on planet earth. CHF: Yes, I guess so.
(December 31, 1924 – May 8, 2013)
Copyright Indra Tamang, 2013, all rights reserved.