2006 and all that
25 December 2006
We all know that
some rain falls in everyone's life. We also know that the only thing we
can be sure of is that everything changes.
I arrived in Edinburgh in 1956 and
spent the next ten years in this city. It was an exciting period in my
life. I was in my early 20s and full of positive creative energy. The
results were (and are) something to be extremely proud of. And I am. The
first intellectual paperback bookshop and gallery, serving coffee and
tea everyday to friends and clients. In the evening the bookshop became
a performance space. The Howff Coffee House at 369 High Street came next.
I helped organize the Fringe Festival. Co-organized the Writers Conference
(in 1962) and the Drama Conference (in 1963). And launched the Traverse
Theatre. It was my idea. Of course it could not have flowered without
the help of many friends. (Richard Demarco, Sheila Colvin, John Calder,
John Martin, Peter McGinn, Tom Mitchell to name six) I decided it would
be a theatre of new writing and it is that still, some 45 years later.
Then in 1966 when I attempted to launch a sister theatre to the Traverse
in London, the end came in Edinburgh. I had no intention to leave Scotland.
Suddenly I am in London and forced to create a new life there.
More excitement. More creative outpourings.
The London Traverse Theatre Company, the newspaper, International Times
(or I.T.), the Arts Laboratory Mixed Media Centre (with its
cinema, theatre, gallery, restaurant, tea room), the U.F.O. pop club,
the Round House, etc etc etc. I played a role in all these. Again in 1969,
for various reasons, I move again. This time to Amsterdam and Paris.
I accepted a Visiting Professorship
to the newly created University of Paris 8 in the bois de Vincennes, teaching
Media Studies and Sexual Politics (for the next 30 years). I also co-launched
Suck, a sexual freedom newspaper in Amsterdam and Directed The Wet
Dream Film Festival. In Paris I managed to acquire an atelier at 83
rue de la Tombe Issoire and have lived here happily for almost 35 years.
I launched a small kitchen-table publishing house, Handshake Editions,
and started writing and publishing my own books as well as books by many
friends (Ted Joans, Lynne Tillman, Michael Zwerin, William Levy, Judith
Malina, Suzanne Brogger, John Calder, Pablo Armando Fernandez and many
others) And the audio magazine, The Cassette Gazette. And newsletters
(now almost 700). The Sunday Salon started (thanks to Cathy Sroufe) in
the mid-70s. The A2 Gallery in the 90s. And trips to festivals: the Cannes
Film Festival, the Edinburgh International Festival, the Frankfurt Book
Fair, the Warsaw Jazz Jamboree, the Berlin Film Festival and many many
more. By dumb luck, I acquired two more ateliers in the lane.
It was painful to leave Edinburgh
and it was painful to leave London. But I have loved every minute of my
life: in Louisiana, in Venezuela, in Edinburgh, in London, in Amsterdam,
and now in Paris. Well, almost every minute.
A lawyer was recommended to me in
the late 80s. And I have been fighting this Rat ever since. It's too long
and too complicated to attempt to explain here and now. Suffice it to
say I trusted him and he cheated me. Big time. One of my ateliers now
belongs to his property company. You have, perhaps, heard the story about
facing a Rat-Lawyer and a cobra with only a pistol and two bullets. And
what to do? You shoot the Rat-Lawyer two times just to make sure. I recently
was ordered by the courts in France to pay this Rat 83,000 euros. And
I paid him. He claims I owe him a further 300,000 euros that must be paid
to him by August 2007. Needless to say, I am fighting this. To date, I
have lost every decision in the courts. My only victory has been for Humankind.
I assisted the French Bar Association in successfully disbarring him.
He was already disbarred in the USA and is wanted by the District Attorney
in New York City.
If I continue to lose in the courts,
it could mean that I will have to sell my atelier. Or come up with another
way of paying the Rat.
Many of you have stayed here. Many
of you have dined here. There have been exhibitions, performances, concerts,
readings. It will be painful to leave this atelier if it comes to that.
But I always seem to land on my feet. And I have no fear of starting over.
In one sense, even if I do win the upcoming court battles, it might be
a good idea to sell, repay my debts to friends, help my son, Jesper, to
purchase an apartment in Bangkok and start a new chapter of my life. I
am an incurable optimist. (It's an intellectual decision.) So far my life
has been fantastic. So many adventures. So many friends. So much love.
I have enjoyed every minute.
I am still waiting for that telephone
call from Stockholm, telling me that I have won the Nobel Prize for economics.
Or that call from Chicago announcing that I am being given a McArthur
Prize. Or that call from a lawyer to say that a relative I did not know
has left me a small fortune of say $1,000,000. (It happened to a friend
of mine!) Every week I expect to win the lottery. (Yes, it would help,
I know, if a lottery ticket were purchased.)
In the meantime, I live every minute.
I certainly do not need as much space as I have here in Tombe Issoire.
But this atelier enables me to host these Sunday dinners as well as invite
many of you to stay here in the two guest rooms...
2006 has been another great year.
No major illness. Lots of visitors. Lots of trips: to Edinburgh for my
50th festival in August, to Frankfurt Book Fair in October, to the Calcutta
Film Festival in November. Lots of good talks, good meals, good books,
Usually I write a two page report.
But this year, it will be a bit different. Maybe in the Spring, another
up-date will be produced. For now, let me say thank you for all your friendship,
your concern, your support. Live every minute to the fullest!