ON ELEVEN YEARS SINCE THE PASSING OF
Today, September 27th, marks the 11th anniversary of Charles’s passing. A few days ago, while I sat opening mails in Apartment 103 at the Dakota, I thought about what I might say to pay tribute on this day. I had a visit that afternoon from a man named Tate Swindell who came to talk about his friend Ronnie Burk, who I also knew for quite a long time. Ronnie first came in about 1979 to meet Charles, and Charles introduced him to many other poets and artists. He was someone who Charles took a particular liking to. His surrealistic writing style and his collages appealed to Charles, and Ronnie was a frequent visitor to the Dakota whenever he was in New York. Mr. Swindell told me that he and his brother Todd have been collecting as much by and about Ronnie as possible in order to preserve and publish it. I showed him some photographs I took of Ronnie years ago in Montauk, probably around 1996 or 1997, and he recalled an interview with Charles that Ronnie had conducted, as well as a little film Ronnie made in Apartment 103, which is on youtube now. I will post it below, and you’ll see me flash in and out of it, too.
Ronnie died not long after Charles, in 2003, and I’m thinking that there is a paper fan that Ronnie made with Greta Garbo’s face on it in one of the boxes I’ve yet to go through. I told Mr. Swindell that I would keep a lookout for anything related to Ronnie in Charles’s papers, and mine too, and after he left I came across another paper fan, large-sized, that Ray Johnson once sent to Charles with the stamps affixed right to the wood. Then my attention was caught by an article from an old issue of the Soho Weekly News, and I sat down to read it. (This is why cataloging everything takes so long.) The article, by Gregory Battcok, was about a tea Charles gave in the 1976 for Leonora Carrington right here in the same room. I remember the party well. All kinds of interesting people came and I was introduced as ‘Indra of Nepal.’ Mr. Edward Weisberger was kind enough to help me with serving the crowd. It was crowded, and I remember that Tennessee Williams didn’t want tea so I found him some vodka.
It occurred to me, while sitting there at the table where Charles sat with so many visitors over the years, that people still want to come and sit and talk about him and about art and other artists, and I can’t think of a better tribute to him than this. But there is one other thing I did that afternoon that I think Charles might appreciate: I had his phone turned back on, with the same number that always went with Apartment 103 in the Dakota. Because after Ruth died in 2009, both her telephone line and Charles’s telephone line (which had been kept on after he passed) were allowed to lapse. I had heard lately that it is very difficult now to get a '212' number in New York City, but on the off chance that it had not been taken, I called the telephone company to ask about the number. As luck would have it, the number was still available. So I grabbed it, and as of this week, there is new life for the old number.
You won’t be forgotten, Charles, and the phone will keep on ringing.
CHARLES HENRI FORD
Feb. 10, 1908 - Sept. 27 2002
|Charles Henri Ford on Full Moon Party hosted at his House in Gyaneshowr, Kathmandu. Late 1970s. Photo by Indra Tamang|
A Short Silent Film by Ronnie Burk at Apt 103, The Dakota.
Copyright Indra Tamang, 2013, all rights reserved.