|Proposal for Cathedral Faucet / Claus Oldenburg|
Tom had introduced me to tai chi. He’d picked it up somewhere, he would’ve had to ‘ve been taught, but he was a surprising guy and maybe taught himself, I don’t know, but I’d doubt that; certainly he’d ‘ve seen it in China, maybe Indonesia or Viet Nam.
He showed us, showed off really, after I’d goaded him with incredulity, to Townsend and I in this itty-bitty room in a shabby Charlottesville motel. Tom was a big guy and we three and cruddy furniture, plus twin beds, left little space. He reached wave hands like clouds, this 250lb, 6’ belly-man dressed in charcoal pants, white shirt, gracefully waving hands floating by. I was agog. My son and I burst out laughing! Tom was tickled too and lost his place, or concentration in his set and busted out. It was a sweet little moment in that little room my son so happy. I think Tom and his nephew bonded.
Later on I decided to learn Taoist Tai Chi in honor and remembrance of Tom and that sweetness. Four years passed my play and practice and practice and play. I relearned why I was on the tech crew for summer of ’67 Woodstock Theatre musicals. I relearned why Tom was in the musical and sang and danced in the chorus line. I played and practiced right into my stage fright. I felt naked; I wanted to hide. I pushed through this time. In time Larry Coleman came along.
Through many years Larry was experienced and practiced in his Taoist Tai Chi. I learned quickly from watching and imitating his play and hearing spoken insight. Larry’d get tangled up in his words, folks, naturally, misunderstanding, it happens all the time in Taoist Tai Chi play and practice, we westerners so enmeshed in words. I enjoyed watching him fish flop in the wordy seine he’d woven. We’d laugh out loud, he knowing his sense of futility but persisting. If I taught I know I’d make my seine and I’d fish flop worser still. Larry was terrific with words because he practiced, and was a teacher, and gleaned insight from more experienced teachers, his words clarifying fascinating insightful concrete minimums. No easy tasks for teachers or students or any player
Tom was a writer, journalist by profession. Words poured from him, water from stone, just gushed, like water from Claus Oldenburg’s imagined faucet cathedral. Far’s I know he’d edit himself, or not! I’d tell him he needed one; he’s his fox guarding his hen house and he loved his words falling into them. Only God his-self could edit his cathedral faucet.
Tom and Larry were alike with drive harnessed by easy affability. Both possessed inner persistence; they bubbled into actions. It’s chi. Tom’s death left a hole and reminded of my earlier hole, the same hole, from long ago; not that he created it, the hole became just because Tom was. And Larry ‘ad filled it. I didn’t know until he died. I grieve their chi-es passing, in my emptiness. Tom and Larry had tai chi and words in common. Ah well, that’s some comfort.