Thursday, December 21, 2006

Remembering L/Laurie/Laurence Gold

Here's another memory dredged from my box of old photographs. This is me (on the left with the beard) in 1979 with my good friend Laurence Gold (on the right with the beard) in Madison Wisconsin. I was quite surprised to discover that any shots of the two of us together even existed.

David Ocker & Laurence Gold - 1979, Madison Wisconsin
Laurence and I met on my first day of college in the Fall of 1969 and became instant, lifelong friends. I most often called him "L", just his first initial - but everyone else called him Laurie, which is what he called himself.

L was intense, creative, enthusiastic and empathetic with an honest rage against the wrongs of the world. Alas, he was also a complete non-conformist, an unmotivated and often ineffective misfit.

After I moved to California in 1974 we saw each other just a handful of times, so I have little knowledge of the indignities of his adult life. I do know that a better world would have made better use of his talents. He passed away several years ago. Thinking of the things he never accomplished makes me quite sad.

I've scanned two postcards from Laurie - the first is from 1980. The second is timeless, or rather, dateless, but during the late Reagan years. Click on the backs of the cards for enlargements. I've typed in the text below so computers can read it. The drawing of the pig is by Speed Gold, Laurence's mother.

back of Laurence Gold Postcard - 1980
Here are two Laurence Gold anecdotes:

We communicated mostly with ear-numbingly long phone calls and War-and-Peace-chapter-length letters. More than once he wrote me a multi-page letter, then forgot to mail it for six or more months.

One such letter arrived starting with page 5, mid-sentence and mid-topic. "You forgot the first half of the letter" I wrote back. "Nope." he replied (eventually but with great glee) "Fooled you!" He had carefully constructed the thing, with references to stories he never actually wrote down, to make me puzzle over the missing writing.

Laurence Gold postcard front - drawing of pig by Speed Gold

Another time, while I was listening to an NPR news "letters from listeners" segment, my ears perked up when the announcer read that the name "RONALD WILSON REAGAN" could be rearranged to spell "INSANE ANGLO WARLORD."

I immediately thought "L needs to hear that. He'll love it." We both knew that Reagan was an insane anglo warlord, but it was beyond serendipitous that he should actually be "named" that - sort of. I wrote to Laurence to report this good weirdness. His reply came uncharacteristically within minutes - plus a delay of 4 weeks.

Laurence himself had discovered the anagram and written the letter.

After he sent it in he listened to ATC in hopes they would use it. On the day they did use it, the day I accidentally heard everything but his name, he had missed the broadcast.

Yep, you could call it a coincidence.

Laurence Gold postcard, anagram of Ronald Wilson Reagan is Insane Anglo Warlord

Coincidently, RONALD WILSON REAGAN is a very rich source of anagrams. Click here to find others. SLAIN NOEL WAR DRAGON is another one. You know "Noel War", like in "War on Christmas."

The book The War On Christmas is available now on Amazon for 14 cents (plus $3.49 shipping.) Here's a quote from a news story about Bill O'Reilly interviewing the author of "The War on Christmas".
"We continue our reporting on which American stores are using "Christmas" in advertising this Christmas season and which are not. ... Again, our litmus test is which operations are using the greeting "Merry Christmas" in their advertising and which are not. ... Again, this investigation is designed to spotlight retailers who have knocked the word "Christmas" out of the Christmas season. We're not too interested with the word "merry." Don't really care about "merry." Bill O'Reilly

With that in mind, I'd like to wish both my readers a sincere "Merry Holidays". Coming soon, a Mixed Meters Christmas Music Special.

Here's a previous Bill-O'Reilly-related Mixed Meters post.

front of Laurence Gold postcard - 1980 - Pink Flamingos at Bascom Hall University of Wisconsin

Flamingus Pinkus Plasticus
Once every 210 years, thousands of pink Flamingos flock to the University of Wisconsin's historic Bascom Hall. Care and feeding of the birds are provided by the Wisconsin Student Association.
Norris Cord
Apearl 24, 1980
Dewer Daffyd,
This cart hear is juts toilet ewe no that U.Arnot four gotten, Ann DaLettur is bee ink composted for male ink sooon. (Skal aegger laere hone? Den er, pa engelsk: Will you teach your grandmother to suck eggs?) Life finds me shorn and shaven and much smaller. Beyond that, however, I'm current if unemployed. ..(Paragraph) It was a pleasant Battersea, / And a Battersea was he. / He called for his pipe / And he called for his bowl / And he called 918-0613. .. (Paragraph) Is stream of couscious still legal? There's something remarkably subversive about un-ordered random (redundancy) thoughts. James Joyce was a secret Proustianist! But it's only subversial of social order, not of political reality. As any musician should know, it is discipline and control that empower and free one. Love, Laurie


August 31
Dear David -- Thanks. More thoughtful letter eventually, but thanks. I arrived at the last (paragraph), though, and had to write back immediately (i.e. 3 mins. after finishing yr. lett, and while still listening to ATC.). The reason for this is that I missed the ATC broadcast you referred to, in which they finally put on the air the anagram of RONALD WILSON REAGAN that I sent them more than a month ago. I had decided they weren't going to air it. Sorry to have missed it, but perfect that I should hear about it from you!
And yes, I will keep in touch, even without a word-processor ... Music was a real vital part of it all. Only after I was done with school did I begin to appreciate how much.
Sept. 28 - I thought this was mailed 4 weeks ago! Just located it today. L
Someday I should tell you both, dear Readers, the story of Battersea. But not tonight.

Gold Tags: . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

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