Monday, July 19, 2021

To Babylon and Back, in between Fire Island and Manchester


Liminal Archive by Erik McGregor


Fun day with the beach. Thanks babs and greg and jean!!! And all the surfers.
Photo by Barbara Ross.

All week I thought about Ian in Manchester. 

Dreaming and losing control, performing and showing us, as music changed.   

I thought of his daughter whose father left him when she was little in May of 1980. 

How is she? 

How is Natalie in Manchester? 

And Dodi in Brooklyn.  

And her friends in Berlin.  

And Will in Princeton, onward to DC, to pay my fine, off to see the Vietnam memorial, walking past tent cities and poverty ignored, homeless people sleeping on the streets.  

“The first deaths were from friendly fire” says a man standing in the middle.  

“1956Their names are not even listed.” 

Most all of it seems like that, one mistake after another.  

Back to NYC, to catch the sun go down, to see Brooklyn.  

Ahhh Brooklyn, with music and friends and Japanese movies, and our city alive. 

On the Chungking Express.  

To Chinatown for some skating. 

Our stories alive, changing, kids growing up, ahh Brooklyn 
Our to Bushwick where our little one was off for a modeling shoot and we used to meet up for Gotham Girls matches.  

And out to the beach, to Fire Island, on the ferry, on the water, parents with a small child, like we used to have before they grew up, and flew, where we all sat and watched the sun. 

That night, we heard the birds chirp, remembered friends in the past, writers, reconnecting with all of those spaces inside, feeling connected and healing, together just for a moment, together, between Dallas and Brooklyn, past and present, in between the kids and the stories and the friends that went crazy, and here we were, finding it all, in between, within, through, being a part of it, feeling connected for a second.  

Thinking about Tim and Brad and Dodi and Caroline and Ian and everyone together.  

Why Ian why? 

Peter rememberred his plans to see Joy Division perform in 1980. 
“I remember reading the latest village voice, in the cafeteria at Hunter, in '80. There was an advert for the show they were supposed to play, in the same paper that had the breaking news of his death. 
it was like what what what... 
I thought it was a hoax to promote the show. 
I knew about Joy Division from these much cooler friends, who were into Souxsie and the Banshees. and knew I had to see them. and then no one could. 
Ian had severe epilepsy. That shit is so fucking wicked. I had a friend back then who went crazy from his severe epilepsy. modern medicine at the time were either over medicating, giving the wrong meds or basically doing unplanned partial lobotomies, from experimental surgeries.. 
Ian never got that far. . 
He wrote from the darkest place you could go. 
He kept telling us in every song he wrote, how fucked up he was. that shit was some depressing.” 

Ian’s gone but the glimpse remains 

Its ok to stay, even if its hard.  

Leslie recalled an anniversary of meeting a friend at the march all those years ago. The iconic organizer, who brings millions together to fight for peace and justice, engulfed in memories, and encounters with bodies, and hugs, and history, and memory, and an anniversary at the Dyke March. 

Did Tim know Brad? 

What happened there? 

Somehow it all fit together for a moment. 

We were together again, before the break, the connections severed.  

Past worlds gone.  

Everything was connected again.  

The feel of fresh water.  

Carrying us 

Ocean Bay Park to Cherry Grove, a deer, water, sun. 

The water and the sky and bikes in motion.  

Bernard always thought Ian’s Epilepsy pills were what caused the manic depression.   

He broke when we were kids.  

Now Natalie has grown and so have we.  

Off to the Euro Finals at the pub, 

Italy vs England.  
No magic this time.  

Just kicks 

Followed by hateful tweets.  

Each morning my dreams are more abundant.  

I was home and then a friend dropped by and then we were all floating down a river, but I did not know where.  

Books about a lost place. Where is this? I ask. Take a look 

The meds made Ian crazy, more ups and downs, poetry, trance, art, fits on stage, dancing, art mimicking illness.  

Iggy’s compulsion 

She’s lost control.  

He has.  

What makes us whole people, outside of conflict with ourselves? 

The beach, the birds, the warmth.  

The family. 

Dreams about the old house.  

Mom wakes, joins me, I hear her creaky bones on the way, walking to join me.  

No kids with us.  

They’ll return in five years or so, she says.  

Let them go for now.  

We talk about her aunt who was there for us.  

Her partner died in 1946, says mom And she still had a laugh, living another half century.  

Every day I swim more, engulfed in water.  

Don’t go by yourself.  

If I don’t return, I’ll be with Ian, at Davy Jones’ locker.  

Waves come in groups of three.  

Grasping me, pulling, jamming, throwing my body.  

The waves don’t care.  

They don’t see us.  

Don’t move for us.  

We’re very small. 

Out for a nap. 

Into the unknown.  

The waves and wind, howling in the rain.  

The kids run into the night. 

We walk one way to look for them.  

They wander another, beyond the life guards 

Finding their way back a few hours later.  

Some of us are ok. 

Others crumble.  


Ken Schles consoles a friend, who was lost: 

It took time to get where you are. Be kind to yourself and take time to get where you’re going. The Roman Emperor and Stoic philosopher Marcus Aurelius said that our obstacles become our path. They are our life’s work. The climate obstacle can seem like an insurmountable wall. Maybe it is, but it is the obstacle before us. All of us. There are personal obstacles and social ones. Each takes various degrees of community to solve. Along the way we have to find the joy in the work and in the community, in the journey—beyond the obstacle, beyond the goal, beyond the problem itself. The seriousness of what all of us are facing is grave and real. And death of some form, whether concrete or metaphorical, is at the center of it. Death of self, death of our bodies, death of loved ones from Covid or some malady, calamity or age, death of democracy as we know it or thought we did, death of relationships. This is serous stuff. Try to find your joy in the everyday and in the simplest of things, be it in the face of the obstacles or the obstacles themselves. Haul water and chop wood. You are held in such high esteem by your friends and community. I hope you can see that and let it be a salve to start a process of healing that, with time and work, can only come from within. 


“I feel like I'm more asleep than awake,” said Mom.  

“Like the dreams are more telling than waking life.” 

Each day I dream more, visiting friends, wondering what it will be like when they are gone, dream landscapes.  

Waves, water, to and from the city for the demo and back.  

Ferry to the train to the transfer at Babylon up to Penn Station and back.  

To see the family... to each, to watch the sunset.  

Back to the water all day, swimming with Caroline and Eileen and the Chelsea Girls... all day long, water, read, water, swim, nap, read more Chelsea Girls. 

Back at the house, moms got a glass of wine in her hand.  

Another mystery unfolding in the paperback sitting by her. 

The next morning we all leave, friends through time, the water splashing through mom’s hair, will smiling, Caroline looking out.  

Back to Babylon, transferring at Jamaica, back through holy Brooklyn, bodies in motion, people out on the street, outside Atlantic Terminal, funky colorful Brooklyn. People leaving afternoon prayer, on and on and on. 

Back to Jolie for a snack and a nap. 

Crawfish Etouffet and a friend.  


The breaks make us human. Being dumped makes you more humble Meagan said all those years ago.  

Walking holy Brooklyn down to Canal Street, in the rain.  

And back.  

Another snapshot. 

Can I take a picture of you? 

The glasses make the picture. 

I feel lost says the teenager.  

We all are.  

We walk to Cowgirls Hall of Fame and Washington Square.  

Rain pouring. 

Dinner back at the House.  
Friends chat a big tiny, their kids are leaving too.  

Gotta get to Monicas show.  

Tonight is the LAST Night for Liminal Archive at New Ohio Theatre! Get your butts out there!” says Monica. “7pm show and 8pm show” 

My whole life is a passing to and from over the Manhattan Bridge.  

Up and over, West down Christipher past the two potato 

To 154 Christopher St. 

Ideas moving, peekaboo... a panica attack, a terror, a shiver, a dance, touch, a truth... 

Liminal Archive guiding us: 

through intimate moments of isolation experienced by artists as they traverse the unknown during the early days of the pandemic.” 

A trance... its why we go to theater 

Its why we go.  

How was it says JK.  

I can’ t talk.  

I’m still in a trance. 

Mesmerizing and comforting and reminding and surprising and tender and scary, a shiver and a smile.  

In a dream, riding in the dark.  

East through the West Village night, over to the Williamsburg Bridge, past street BBQ’s, people out, living, a boom box, hot NYC night. To 777 Jefferson., 6.7 miles through the city.  

Lots of bands playing 

I talk with James and the others.  

This isn’t your first band, I say to the base player for Sub Rosa. 

No. Its his 36th 

Downstairs in the basement, half of us are in masks.  

And the mosh pit is heating up.  

A woman in stained washed jeans gets it going, jumping up and down. 

Soon the boy by her follows. 

Then I do. 

Then we hurling into each other.  

Then I'm on the ground.  

Everyone is helping me up.  

I think of Courtney’s shows years ago.  

And Ian’s shadow, right there with us.  


Another band, another sweaty night.  

Through a hot summer... always surprising. 

Talking with James for hours and hours. 

Rebel friends,  

Lynn and Chino. 

Lynn and Sam.  

James and Ben and the big union.  

And Anthony B, the roadrunner who did join Ian, before his time,  

Leaving his friends behind.  

And the stories on and on and on.  

Through the city.  

Out to the Rockaways, chasing the water.  

The surfer poets playing with the waves.  

Friends greeting, congratulating each other for a good wave.  

Feeling alive for a second.  



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