Monday, August 15, 2005

War of the Worlds


Blogger Michael Andre said...


Michael, I went to the blog site but could not find how to “post.”

Here (attached & below) is my piece.


John Cage

Two days ago John Cage died at almost 80 of a stroke in a Manhattan hospital.

First thought: of the bowling alley – automated, with metal disks and sawdust on the alleyway – frequented by Cage, Merce Cunningham, Jasper Johns and others, at Dillon’s bar, down University Place from the Cedar, in the 1960s.

At a Crown Point Press opening in San Francisco this past January, Cage told me about not exchanging drawings with deKooning. He had sent a mesostic in homage for the deKooning birthday issue of the College Art Journal which Rackstraw Downes and I had been asked to edit. “How did you like the poem?” he asked at Crown Point amid the crowd that had come to see his and Tony Cragg’s new etchings. “I thought there was probably a story that went with it,” I said. “There is,” he said, and told how he and Bill had arranged to meet at Bill’s loft so that Bill would get one of John’s artful-looking scores and John would take away a deKooning drawing. No sooner had John entered than they began discussing whether or not an artist should want to be great. DeKooning thought yes, and John thought no. (“we Don’t/ agree/ . . . I think you’re Great” is how the poem resolves the question.) Cage then looked through deKooning’s drawings and could find one that he wanted, so he left his score and went home empty handed. Characteristically, John found his version of the DeKooning story very funny. A little later in our conversation I said: “You know, John, I’ve wondered – because you left California for New York and I left New York (though not so long ago) and came here – if you ever think of returning to the West. Cage said, “Oh no, for a composer there’s really only New York!”

Bill Berkson
August 14, 1992

6:52 AM  

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