On Wednesday, bad news came as it does these days, via tweets and facebook. Taylor Mead, an Andy Warhol "superstar," has passed. Other publications will get into the details of his life and death. They’ll list the underground movies he was in and repeat notable poems he wrote which were much more notable when he recited him. Those other periodicals and blogspots will tell of his long-running run-in with his landlord who finally bought him out.
He was in Colorado when he left us. He was visiting a niece when a stroke stopped his heart. I won’t get into the details, but they are out there for you if you care.
What can be said about him that Taylor didn’t say about himself before on the street, in a bar, or one of the countless Bowery Poetry Club readings I attended? I’ll just say this…when I heard the news, all I could think of was the people who loved him. I could see their faces weeping from the loss.
Taylor was wonderful. He was brilliant. He was a lovable monster. He was a definer of the downtown altar that I worship. Decades ago, a friend and I would seek him out in the East Village bars that he haunted. We’d buy him drinks in exchange for tales of life within the candle. He told us of Andy Warhol and the coolest peeps on earth. Sometimes he would hate them all, sometimes he would love them all. Sometimes he would love himself, and sometimes he would hate himself. I always felt that his love/hate for Andy’s gang was because they could appreciate him on a level far above us all. Taylor was a player with the most "in" of the "In-Crowd."
A year or so ago, I was playing Bingo religiously at the Bowery Poetry Club. It usually sold out, so I got there early to reserve seats for my crew. Taylor would read poems he randomly chose from a satchel bursting with them, and in between, he’d tell tall-tales while playing classical music or Charlie Mingus tunes on a small beatbox.
There were times he would yell at the early Bingo aficionados for talking while he was enlightening. Once, he yelled "Bingo" when he didn’t have it, just to disturb the later event to get even.
I went every week. Sometimes I’d hear the same story a dozen weeks in a row. Sometimes something new and bold sprang up. When Bowery Poetry closed to give way to Duane Park, no one made room for Taylor. On his last night, I thought I’d never see him again. And so it goes.