Railing against the narrowest establishment
In enthusiastic recognition of Joe Brainard
There is everything. Especially what I pay attention to. There’s that time when, on the steps to the building of the society that I was unfortunately a member of, a boy, surely the eventual beneficiary of a major New York inheritance, dismissed the work of the great Frank O’Hara. Actually, this wasn’t on the steps it was inside the building, in a small group session, discussing literature. And with him was another boy who probably was in love with him, still is, though much smarter, and unfortunately the inheriting boy was not, at least never openly, going to be in love with this boy or any other. And you know, I’ll never forgive the smarter boy, who was a friend, for silently agreeing that O’Hara lacked rigor. Of course, this was preposterous, and despite both boys having very convincing things to say about subjects I knew and continue to know nothing about all these years later, I became certain, in that moment, that I would learn nothing from them—my subconscious filed away our relations. O’Hara was a genius, O’Hara is the reason I write to you at all. My ego, bigger than Joe Brainard’s, lets me know that you’re thankful that I write. Otherwise, I stay humble and quiet. I just wrote to an artist I love (this is where some of you might be able to tell where the fiction is just true, lazy, yet good), that I see the Gay New York School as my mentor. No one else would teach me but O’Hara, Ashberry, Schuyler, sometimes Ginsberg, now Brainard. Of course, you can’t say this as a woman “of” “color” without sounding like shameless social climber or like you’re angling for a top job at The New School but I swear I’m not, I just turned one down. I stopped getting personal after Louise Glück forgot who I was. She selected me for her “advanced” class when I was 18 and a few people I respect told me this was significant. Anyway I never forgave her for forgetting me, and plenty of people I respect told me that others might call this self-esteem. Your real mentors are the ones you claimed before you knew it was even possible to claim anyone. It’s not insignificant that they’re all old dead white gays with strong institutional affiliations, intersecting with the kind of gay I just lightly (for me) criticized in an article about the very sophisticated fight to remove homosexuality from the DSM. These are my forefathers of variousness, as O’Hara would put it. These are the people who said, go ahead, speak your petty little intimacies, make them grand, and I won’t forget you.