Chapter 12: FEUDS, FOODS, & CERTITUDES
Yesterday, a letter had arrived in the post from Dave Locke. Locke, a
Cincinnatti fan, had decided to leap into the fray of the fast developing feud
(that I thought of as 'the Bergeron Affair', and American fans then referred to
as 'Topic A', but which would ultimately be labelled 'the Taff Wars') through
the interesting gambit of a letter professing impartiality while clearly
supporting Richard Bergeron, a ploy that fooled no-one. This had arrived while
Avedon and I were out so we didn't get to see it until we got back, late that
evening. We had plenty of time to brood about it during the night, however, and
neither of us slept too well. I awoke after a fitful night's sleep, worrying
about the effect all this was going to have on TAFF, only to find Avedon already
up and storming around, invoking Locke's name in connection with all manner of
inventive if anatomically improbable procedures.
"Grab your jacket," said Avedon, abruptly, "we're going to
"It's over ninety out there," I protested, "what the hell do
I need my jacket for?"
"You'll soon find out."
And I did, too. American supermarkets are equipped with the same vicious
air-conditioning as their airliners, and even with my jacket on I actually
started shivering in Safeways. In Britain we keep food fresh by means of freezer
cabinets; in America they refuse to have any truck with such effete half-
measures and freeze the whole store instead. We eventually emerged with supplies
for tomorrow night's party, momentarily stunned by thermal shock as we stepped
out of the arctic conditions of Safeways into the blistering heat.
That evening, two old friends of Queenie's, Avedon's brother Rick, and
Rick's wife, Maryanne Murillo, came over and the eight of us ate a superb meal
of ethnic Armenian food. Avedon had always boasted about her mother's cooking,
and it lived up its billing. Afterwards, with Rick on guitar, he and Avedon sang
songs from the late-1960s and early-1970s. Since they (and their sister, Sally)
had been professional musicians earlier in their lives this was no simple family
singalong but a pretty high-quality performance. Rick called for requests, so I
suggested Led Zeppelin's 'Communication Breakdown'.
"Oh, sure!" he laughed, while Avedon gave me a black look.
Rick and Maryanne had brought along their dog, Coda (so called because he
has a tail), a large and very friendly beast who decided I was going to play
with him and wouldn't take 'no' for an answer. Oh well, at least he didn't want
sex with my leg.
My sleep cycle still skewed, I didn't wake 'til 11am the next morning. This
left me just enough time to shower and dress before we had to climb in the car
and shoot over to Ledo's, where we were meeting an old pal of Avedon's for
Jane Noll, described by Avedon as "my radical feminist friend"
turned out to be a tall, thin, heavy-smoker, with a high-pitched voice. Though
blonde and less manic, she reminded me strangely of Abi Frost. She ate
sparingly, settling for a toasted cheese sandwich while Avedon and I got stuck
into another huge tray of that delicious Ledo's pizza. Jane belonged to a group
called WOW (Women On Walls) which spray-painted political slogans on walls. One
of their recent actions had involved painting 'FEED THE POOR, NOT THE PENTAGON!'
in three foot high letters opposite that august institution.
"It'll last for a coupla days until some general orders its removal,"said
Jane, "and since they take almost all our tax money they don't have to
worry about the expense."
But then the Pentagon, like the Mormon Church, is not an institution known
for its sense of humour. Back in the 1960s, the Yippies announced that the
Pentagon, having five sides, was obviously Satanic and that they were going to
exorcise the evil by levitating it. And since they loved twitting the
authorities, they applied for formal permission to do this. The authorities duly
announced that "permission to levitate the Pentagon is denied".
Despite Jane not being a fan, she and Avedon also got into an argument over
how modern day fans should respond to the homophobia in the writings of Francis
Towner Laney, something that raised a laugh when I related the tale at the party
of sorts we threw that evening in Avedon's folks' basement.
The people at the party were a mix of fans and non-fans, but they got on
together pretty well. The former consisted of rich brown, Linda Blanchard, Dave
Bischoff, Ted White, Steve & Elaine Stiles and us, while the latter included
Bob and Applesusan, and their friends Wayne and Walter. As usual, Topic A
dominated the fannish conversation and, in a moment of inspiration, I suggested
a new fan fund.
"It would be called BiFFF -- the Big Fist Fan Fund," I enthused, "and
would send a fan to Puerto Rico to punch Bergeron on the nose." All laughed
at this, particularly Ted.
"It would never work, though," he said, "because there'd be
too many people wanting to stand."
"Certainly would," I chuckled, "in fact we'd better not
mention BiFFF in print, even in jest, or people will start sending us money."
In more serious vein, we also talked about setting up a special fund to
bring D West to the US, an idea that got lost in the turmoil of the following
During a brief interlude when we weren't discussing the Bergeron Affair, Ted
reminisced about meeting Doctor Daniel D. Light at the 1974 DISCON.
"He was the guy who wrote out all Lenny Bruce's false prescriptions,"
Ted explained, "and while we were talking he rolled a perfect joint
one-handed, one that looked as if it had been machine-rolled!"
There was awe in Ted's voice as he related this anecdote, and wonder in his
eyes. Forget your football stars and your olympic athletes, this was the
feat of supreme physical achievement that had made the deepest impression on
him. In fact it wouldn't surprise me if, purely from a desire to attain the same
level of manual dexterity, Ted was practicing that very skill right now.