It seems happyrobot may have evolved into a method of sending affecting notes across a complicated transom of confession, memory and adoration. As good a use as any I've seen for the internets, but after this I will go back to writing letters to Harrison Ford and Uma Thurman (I think I saw you smiling again today in the subway Uma.)
I just wanted to comment on Blaine's wonderful and flattering post, as there was not enough space in the comments box. (And I'm glad to be back after a month hiatus while I sat by the window and pretended to think.)
I saw Gary McCracken on a trip to Asheville in 2003. He noticed my wife and I going into a bookstore and pulled over and chatted awhile, had a cup of the bookstore's complimentary coffee. He had moved back to the gorgeous Carolina mountains from the west coast to help out his mother. It was almost too much for me, as I was in NC to spread my mom's ashes, and I made the excuse of wanting to look for a book. He called me his next visit to NY, and I called him back as he was in a car driving back down I-95 south. He was (is) a grand personality. A kind of nexus through which a lot of us met.
Charlotte Frye, I googled her some years back. In the mid-late 90s she was a graduate philosophy student at UIUC. (I've documented I obsessively google,) and if Charlotte googles herself she'll find Blaine. (And me I guess, so Charlotte, let me say Blaine captures you perfectly.) One hot summer night, Charlotte pulled her car over (was it a mustang?) and offered me a ride (I perpetually was car-less and ambling down the streets of Greensboro). I felt just as Blaine did, and was afraid to get in the car, yet I wanted to. I've wondered how my life might be different had I gotten in. Just one more speculation in thousands.
David Jarrell I haven't seen since I first moved to NYC. He visited one weekend, stayed with the Bindlestiff Family Cirkus kids, (quite famous now), who then lived in a warehouse with no shower, owned by an anarchist press in south Williamsburg. [On a side note, Amanda Davis lived there at the time I think.] David showered in my little one-bedroom apartment, also in south Williamsburg, and it was good to see him. He even brought his own towel (hey Rich!). Not long after David called and asked if he could stay with me in my pleasant little matchbox of an apartment for two weeks. Somehow we lost touch after I said no. But he did describe for me his 10,000 page novel in Middle English or Venutian about a Parisian Taxidermist, or Taxonomist, something like that. I remember it sounding impressive, genius, and difficult for anyone to ever finish writing.
Reading Blaine's post, I recalled two or more readings at Guilford College in as many years. The last was in comfy cider and wood-smoke smelling basement in one of their historic houses. The first, (with David J, Charlotte, Blaine, et al) was in one of those huge fluorescent-lit lecture-hall amphitheatres, where you are looking up at the audience. (When I waited tables I often threw change at customers. It was some sort of uncontrollable tourettes-like behavior encouraged by disdain, fear and resentment at being judged.)
Thanks Blaine for letting me remember that time. It was a nice and unexpected way to spend a cool Thursday morning fifteen years later, with my supervisor sighing and chomping gum a few feet over my shoulder, and eight novelists, five poets, and seven screenwriters all working at something else entirely on the 8th floor of a Manhattan garment-district office building.
Yet, oddly, not to dispute anything, but rather than the 12 or 18 friends that showed, when I remember that reading, there were a hundred or so people there, cheering and clapping, roaring with delight, joy and laughter.