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Header: Jess Anderson in Madison Wisconsin
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In Memoriam Friends Who Are Gone
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I think it's important to remember friends who have died from complications of HIV infection. Grief makes us want to forget, because the memories hurt. These friends were all good people who all died young, most early in the epidemic, and who all had something unique and valuable to offer the world. I'm grateful to them all for the many things they added to my life before It Came To Pass.

I've been thinking about this memorial a long time. As I get down to doing it, it seems too little, not serious enough, not intimate enough, and maybe somehow unfair, like death itself. But finally I decided to turn off the internal censors and record my thoughts, however they come out.

Rest in peace, every one of you.

Paul Bassett I was very taken with him. But at the time of our affair, we were both too needy, not really able to meet each others' needs, so things were always problematic for us. My first trip to Europe was with Paul and it was he who introduced me to downhill skiing, something he was fabulously good at. After he moved to San Francisco his boyfriend there died, and finally Paul also fell ill. In the end he was unable to go on living, preferring to end things rather than wait.
Larry Baumann The ultimate bartender, Larry was one of those outgoing, gregarious people that everybody liked immensely. His secret, such as it was, was that he liked everyone, I mean outwardly and actively liked them. He was also ever ready to get involved in wild sexual escapades with the denizens of Rod's, the bar where he worked. In those days, a group of people would charter a bus for the weekend and troop down to Chicago for a nonstop party, with much booze and drugs, plus carousing in back rooms. No one knew what was lurking, of course. Larry was one of Madison's first losses.
Richie Becher A bon vivant without equal, Richie had degrees in horticulture and landscape architecture, loved the land, and dreamed of having a large plant nursery. He could make anything grow, and not just grow, but thrive. To support himself he drove a Madison city bus, coincidentally the line I live on. He was extremely campy and loved showing off in public. If he spied you while the bus was rolling down the main campus-area shopping street, he'd jam on the brakes, throw open the window next to the driver's seat and screech, "Yoo hoo, GIRL! How ya doin', honey?!" This would happen whether the bus was empty or full. Outwardly very loud and brassy, he was at heart a small-town guy. He had the land, and he had the gift for nurture. Fate steamrolled his dream.
Rob Bernardo I met Rob through Usenet. We somehow clicked as friends and traded countless emails, sometimes two or three long exchanges every day, for all the time we knew each other, which was from 1986 to his death in 1992. He was one of my best friends ever. He was a very complex person. He worked for PacBell in San Ramon, and lived in Concord, about 30 miles east of San Francisco. Although he was from Long Island and had gone to college at Cornell, one reason he lived in Contra Costa county was because there he could afford a horse property. To see him together with his mare Oriana was to understand his love of the west. When he discovered that he was HIV-positive, he was terribly scared. In the early 90s people did not usually die as a result of pneumocystis. But he did.
Mike Biernbaum Bisexual and into every "alternative whatever" that survived the Hippie period, Mike formed a men's group that I attended for a while. He was a particularly kind soul. His work was recondite: the biochemistry and molecular biology of vision. But for all that he hung onto a then somewhat faded era of free love, he was actually a very upright, straightforward person, genuine in his people interests, which were many.
David Brown Tall, quiet, and good-looking, David was an extraordinarily gifted violinist who got a great fellowship to study in Germany. Off he went. I never saw him again. All his hopes and dreams were cut short less than a year later.
Ken Derken He was a farmer, basically, from a good solid Dutch family in east-central Wisconsin. We met one Sunday afternoon at beer bash. We had a little dalliance together, not at all serious, then he shortly took up with another friend who stuck by him to the end. The remarkable thing about him, I think, was that he didn't seem at all remarkable. But he was good.
Duncan Earley In the early 70s, Madison was one of the most progressive cities in the whole US, politically and socially. Duncan was active in our Gay Liberation Front group, which arranged a national convention here over Thanksgiving of 1971. Sincere and ever so sweet, he had a great shock of long blond hair and was very good-looking. He'd been gone from Madison a long time when he got sick.
Howard Faye Whatever Howard loved he loved with unlimited passion; his was the principle of the excluded middle when it came to affect, be it friends, taste, historical or political opinion, or just about anything else, above all food and wine. While he was probably the most mercurial person I've ever known, he was a surprisingly steadfast friend. I think we loved each other, in some nontrivial fashion, even before we met face-to-face. The story of the friendship is elsewhere, but his death in June of 1995 is one of those griefs that doesn't fade with the passage of time.
Cliff Forman Ice-green eyes, the palest white skin, jet-black long hair, and not your everyday kind of beauty, Cliff was also incredibly bright, very left in his politics, and a little hard to decipher sometimes. He was a sort of spectre: one moment you'd see him, the next moment he'd have vanished. He'd been gone from Madison a long time when word came that he'd passed.
Lash Fritz He was the very definition of a hunk: gorgeous, built for days, oh so smooth (the most wonderful skin I've ever seen), so energetic, and so stubborn! Very outgoing and ebullient, Lash would invariably give me a giant hug and a big wet kiss, no matter where we were, whenever we saw each other, and that might include standing naked in the showers at the University gym. After his first bout of pneumonia, he got very active in informing the public about AIDS, appearing on local television shows and speaking in the high schools. He did a lot for AIDS awareness in our community. Selfishly, I wish I could hold him again, to experience the wonderful electricity about his physical person.
John Griffith A Ho-Chunk (what used to be called the Winnebago tribe), John went to Austin and died, one of the very first people I knew to go. We had spent long hours over beers, talking about Native stuff. He was keen on recovering as much of his vanished heritage as he could.
Grid Hall A fine lawyer, Grid was incredibly kind, and sincere almost to a fault. For him, it was a long, lingering and basically awful process of running out the hourglass. Early in the epidemic, there wasn't much anyone could do.
David Hart A fabulous player of the Baroque flute, David was an international star on the early music circuit. We played together in Indianapolis in 1977, where we both attended a month-long institute on Baroque music performance and took part in the associated festival.
Steven Hemming A member of the American Players Repertory Theatre in Spring Green, Wisconsin, Steven was a distinguished Shakespearean actor, garnering rave reviews at every performance. As so often happens, I didn't even know he was sick until one day I was at the hospital for some very minor purpose, and there he was, out for a walk with his IV trolley at his side. Friendly as always but terribly gaunt, he was clearly very ill, and it was to be the last time I saw him.
Steve Koppelberg A businessman in Phoenix when he died, Steve was from a Madison family. He always made me feel wanted as a friend, in addition to our many sexual escapades. I saw him last in the summer of 1982 when he was back for a visit with his folks. We had always reveled in doing sex together, and we did on this occasion too. Such wild abandon. Less than a year later, he suddenly died. Naturally, neither of us knew at the time that the sex we had had would soon be called "unsafe."
Reid Kutz Reid worked in a record store with my boyfriend Ron; in fact they had a fling that I didn't know about until years after it happened. But he was shy and always bore a somewhat bemused look, a wry smile, as though he knew something he wasn't supposed to know about you. We weren't terribly close buds, but I recall that he was always soft-spoken and very gentle.
Ed Lato German to the core, Ed spoke the language perfectly. He was small and wiry, but he worked out and had terrific arms. One day I went to the hospital just to get lunch, for they have a fairly decent cafeteria. There was Ed, not looking too well. Almost at once he confirmed that it was AIDS. None of the medications seemed to be helping his intestinal problems. He was so frightened by what was happening to him. I didn't know what to do other than hold his hand.
Chuck LePard We weren't especially close but we moved in the same circles most of the time Chuck lived here. He spoke perfect French. He was very quick-witted and had a very clever acid tongue, with a great flair for puncturing the balloon of self-inflated egos. After leaving Madison he went to live in Long Beach, where his closest friend had been named Chancellor of the University, and it was there that he died.
Bob Linn A computer scientist, sweet in the most nerdly way, though "nerd" was not yet the word for computer types, Bob kept his longhaired hippie look long after that era, then suddenly he was no more.
Harry Magee Harry fairly radiated sexiness. It was one of those situations where you always talk about doing it but somehow don't get around to actually doing it. Until... After he finished his PhD in economics and finance, he went off to teach at a small liberal arts college near Boston. I visited him there for what turned out to be something of an epiphany for both of us, a series of those "a night to remember" nights to remember. He started a mutual fund, putting his very sophisticated computer models to work, then quit his teaching job and moved to New York, where he made fabulous amounts of money. But he died. As with everybody else, it shouldn't have happened.
Kevin Martin Kevin was Howard Faye's boyfriend. Howard and I had been friends at a distance by virtue of email, so I knew a lot about their relationship before I met Kevin, which happened in a lovely house in the high desert east of Los Angeles in the spring of 1992. What a thoroughly likable person Kevin was, very mellow, very laid back. Howard was so afraid Kevin would die first, and in fact he did.
Seth Miller On the net, Seth was abrasive and, I thought, difficult to like. But when we actually met, at the first-ever soc.motss "con" in San Francisco in 1988, he was there with a wild-looking German boyfriend, and he proved to be quite charming in person.
Tim Miller When he lived here, Tim was terribly quiet, somewhat in a daze all the time. I was terribly attracted to him and eventually we got together. He moved to Seattle, where he took up art direction for the theater and had a fairly impressive career. I recall that he did a Hamlet at a theater in Houston, pictures of which he showed me on one of his trips back to Wisconsin to see his family. I was on a solo camping trip in the Canadian Rockies one time and got pretty sick with giardiasis. I called Tim in Seattle and asked if he would be able to put me up while I recovered, which of course he did. We spent a week together then. Friends fade in and out of each others' lives sometimes, and that's what happened here. Then he was no more.
John Moe A student of Marcel Marceau in Paris when last I saw him, John had studied acting and dance here in Madison. In Paris, he took my friend Paul and me to an Algerian restaurant where we had great food and flagons of some very heavy red wine. Both Paul and I got fairly ill from overeating couscous. After his return to the States, John, by nature skinny as a rail, had no reserves at all when he got sick. He went very quickly.
Doug Mosher A mathematician, Doug loved dominating the making of arrangements for the first motss.con in San Francisco. At a birthday party thrown for me by my pal Rob Bernardo a little earlier that same year, Doug tied a woven cloth bracelet around my wrist, saying "Wear this, it will help keep me alive." I still have the bracelet, since replaced by several others now that Doug is gone.
Terry Nash A poet of great power and originality, Terry moved from Madison to New York, where he lived the fast, exhausting life of the party and disco circuits until he could live it no more.
Orla Nielsen Danish and the good friend of my friend Odvar, Orla lived across the street from me when I moved to my present house, in 1964. But it was in Denver, which he loved, that sickness and dying caught him, years later, to our great loss. He was honest, a rare true gentleman in matters of good manners, and uncommonly sexy.
Neil Peckett A late-night denizens of bars, a driven man in so many ways, Neil was overwhelmed by living and could not endure to go on living with the illness that had seized him. His sister teaches drama and dance in Madison and has made a living memorial to him on behalf of people with AIDS.
John Reis A specialist in Indian studies (as in India, not as in Native America), John was a Buddhist and the boyfriend of a somewhat wacky psychiatrist here. They moved to San Francisco after college and I lost track of them until word came that John was gone.
Max Rochlin I met him in San Francisco in 1988. He was the great buddy of my good friend Roger Klorese. He was wild, completely full of life, one of those many whom one wishes to have had a chance to know better.
Greg Rogers His memorial service was remarkable, I think, for the loving kindness shown his boyfriend by all his small-town Wisconsin relatives. He had been an extraordinary beauty, but the disease had stolen the outward good looks, as it sometimes so cruelly does. I saw him fairly often near the end because he lived only a couple blocks from me and the brief walks he could manage took him past my house. It took a long time to happen, but inexorably the time came.
Rodney Scheel Rodney was 39 when he died. I had known him since he was 17. As soon as he was 21 he opened a gay bar in the town, the first real gay bar Madison ever knew. He had a flair for the business and before long had bought an old historic hotel and fitted it out with a whole complex of bars, gay, straight and mixed. Several years after his death, that hotel burned to the ground. Rod's bar had long sponsored the annual lesbian, gay, and bisexual picnic in Madison, an event that draws people from all over the Midwest. Every year picnic is launched by a large LGB Pride March. After Rod died, the family created an AIDS hospice called the Rodney Scheel House. It is a major asset to people living with AIDS in our community.
John Schiro Schiros are a famous Madison Italian family: cops, businessmen, that sort of thing. John was a counselling psychologist. He had moved to Austin many years ago, but we saw him about once a year until the last year. He had a terrific sense of the bizarre in human affairs and a great sense of humor.
Lloyd Schloen On my "Extraordinary Friends" page there is a link to a little book about me written by a friend for my 40th birthday party. Lloyd was the "Phaedrus" mentioned in that book. There will always be music.
David Smith Here he was known as an eccentric young man who danced alone, pogo-stick style, hour after hour, in the bar and who played the alto recorder late at night in the parking deck of the undergraduate library because he liked the acoustic. He had studied in Amsterdam with Frans Brueggen and was quite a good player. When he moved to San Francisco, he took up photography, much influenced by Robert Mapplethorpe, I think.
Lloyd Spitz Everybody from Madison goes to San Francisco, just about. Lloyd had worked in information technology here, eventually finished his degree and decamped to SF, where he worked first for the Federal Reserve Bank. When the bad news got back here, there was general lamenting, for anyone who knew him liked him immensely for his general friendliness, good humor and genuine interest in you.
George Stambolian I don't know what to say. He was my roommate, we were great friends when he was here working on his PhD in French literature. When he was in Paris for a Fulbright year, the letters were fabulous. I hope I can recollect some of the details when it bothers me less, if it ever does, that he's no longer living. Some fraction of one's friends go on to become famous. George wrote regularly for Christopher Street, and a lovely eulogy by Andrew Holleran appeared there after George's death. He also edited the first four volumes of the Men on Men series, an ongoing collection of gay writing.
Rocky Stephenson A very unusual fellow wth every drug problem in the book. He lived with a dancer I didn't much like, but Rocky was friendly to a fault unless he was high on drugs, at which time he became extremely manic and very loud. It was hard to be around him then. Less loaded, he was soft-spoken and very delightful.
John van Reizen A former member of the Statistics faculty at the UW-Madison, John had moved to New York and was teaching at Columbia when he got sick. I hadn't known a thing about it until Time Magazine ran a feature called "The Faces of AIDS" or something like that, showing that the disease was taking all kinds of people. There was John's picture. He came out late in life and was one of the few gay dads I knew well.
Jim White A Madison dentist I used to run around with on occasion, Jim had the most extraordinary eyes, of the palest imaginable blue.
Tom Wirth One of the most wonderful love affairs of my life, "Monies," as all his pals called him, was dark and rather mysterious. Innerly he was a poet from a small Minnesota town, Red Wing, on the Mississippi. After we broke up, he moved to Boston, then to New York. We had long been out of contact when suddenly I saw his face on the CBS Evening News, which was reporting a conflict between his friends and family and the hospital where he lay dying, because the doctors would not allow life support to be withdrawn.
Steve Zelinski Lighting and stage designer, a student of Gilbert Hemsely at the UW-Madison, Steve was quiet, very retiring, almost unbearably intense, and incredibly sincere.

End of Page


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