One Stroke



E 3rd St & Avenue A, New York, NY 10009

Neighborhood: East Village

One February night in1969 a man knocked on my door and introduced himself; he had heard about me from somebody, he said. He didn’t say what he heard. He had just moved into #2 with his wife Jamie and his little girl Hannah, they had just arrived from Alfred University; there was something about the SDS and an ROTC armory that had been set on fire. He was the genius who brought that building to life for me.

I knew in five minutes that he was crazy and that he would be my brother. He loved me too, instantly. We talked for hours in my filthy kitchen with its single bare light bulb and “EYE CONTACT” scrawled in big block letters in red paint on my wall. All the visions, all the plans, they’re lost now. Two days later Jamie showed up with a 50 page typed manifesto that he asked me to stash in my bedroom bureau because he was expecting the cops to bust him. It stayed in the bottom drawer of that bureau for seven months till narks took it along with much else that they later denied any knowledge of. I let these sleeping dogs lie.

I guess you would call them florid personalities. Rick introduced himself to several others in the building that night and his brilliance in the phase he was in made many of us an instant community. A friend from the street life outside told me Jamie had already fucked one of the local tough- but- nice junkies, so from that among other things there came to be a feeling of an even larger community extending into the 3rd world jungle for which our building was the core. I believe it. Jamie was called puta by some on the street, but she was so much more, free and wild and beautiful, but sometimes showing fear of the ride her husband was taking her on. The name of Rick Deohlie’s magical community was “Symbiosis Associates.” Symbiosis associates was real. Those 188 tenants in his spell changed overnight from being a collection of isolated counter culture poseurs with various pathologies to being close friends. Many later went on to fuck up each others’ lives. Shortly after the events described here, Rick took the front door of #2 off its hinges and declared his home an open peoples’ apartment in the name of symbiosis associates- “la familia”.

At this point Jamie left with Hannah, went uptown to speak again with his doctors, and saw the legal aid lawyer on avenue B about divorce papers. She also fucked the peoples’ lawyer , and I think they eventually got married and moved to Nyack. Within 48 hours Rick had been beaten to a pulp and the apartment stripped clean. But even this was only one of many revolutionary moments, and the sequence of events doesnÕt matter. Its the light of his life that matters, its the beauty within the insanity of this child of the long island suburbs. You’ve got to wonder just how many revolutions there were back in those days. Rick’s’ was the best I ever saw.

He was in some kind of out patient program: that was always vague. The program had gotten him a job as a telephone installer. A few days after we met he came home in the late afternoon wearing a brown monks habit. All of it, head to toe. They had sent him to St PatrickÕs Cathedral that day to work in the basement on the phones. There he found the habit and 1500 colored autographed 5×7 photographs of Cardinal Spellman, who Rick thought was a faggot judging by his dress. He had walked home all the way from the cathedral distributing over half the photographs and speaking out about the Cardinal’s falseness and hypocrisy. Nothing came of that phase of the revolution. I still have a framed picture of the cardinal on my wall, other than that it’s as if it never happened.

Shortly before his hospitalization he began fucking Judy, an ex girlfriend of mine, who had left her family in Westchester to come to 188 East 3rd Street and join the revolution. Everybody in the building pretty much fucked in their back bedrooms, on the common airshaft. These were railroad apartments; everybody pretty much heard everybody else fucking. Judy was in the 5th floor left rear, # 2 was 1st floor left rear, I was 4th floor left front.

The night I heard Rick upstairs in the process of fucking Judy, Jamie was downstairs hearing it too. In minutes she knocked on my door. She was crying tears of desolation and begging for something with her eyes. I don’t remember any words being said. She hugged me, then took me by my hand and led me the five feet from my apartment door through the chintzy bead curtain to my tiny bedroom. All I really remember of it is the moment I slid into her, the silky sleek tightness of her pussy, those few seconds unlike any I’ve ever known. One stroke. One. Then the door opened and Rick was standing in my kitchen looking through the curtain at me inside his wife. She pushed me off and told him it didn’t mean anything. I don’t remember that we had made any noise, but now the mature ex- asshole that I am knows that she did make purposeful noise and that is how he knew to stop his own party and come downstairs.

Rick seemed very nonchalant. In fact neither of them ever discussed that moment with me. I loved her after that. Two days later she gave me a hippie necklace of tiny clear blue beads which has hung on a hook in my bedroom for the last 30 years. But within two weeks she had made it very clear that I was unconditionally dumped despite Rick’s’ collapse. God I hated her then.

This night of my one stroke love fuck was not over. I don’t remember how it came to pass, but the four of us got in my van and drove to an empty summer house on a lake in Putnam County, to sort things out I guess. We each dropped 1000 mikes of Osley Orange Sunshine on the way there. I was hoping to get to finish fucking Jamie and Rick finish Judy. When we got there the acid took hold, before long Rick had butchered my ego with the elegance of genius and reclaimed his wife. Now I see that he was magnificent that night, it might have been the finest moment of his life, maybe one of the great moments in the life of our species.

We sat around a simple country living room, and as the acid took control he took off his clothes with a quick fluid sureness. A hunting knife appeared in his hand, he climbed onto an end table and jumped from table to chair to couch to table around the knotty pine walls of this little room. He made a low animal noise, his body lit by the light from the fireplace, murder in his eyes, it was the stone age, I was frozen with terror. Now I blame it on the acid and excuse myself. I couldn’t move or speak. I remember him taking Jamie by the hand and the joy and triumph of her as he marched her to a bedroom… and his colossal boner, the only time I ever saw his cock. Twice as big as mine.

Judy, who seemed oblivious to what had just happened before her eyes, suggested that I fuck her for old time’s sake. What I am proud of is that even in abject humiliation my ego knew what I needed to do to survive. I bundled up and walked into the freezing night, walked a mile across the still frozen lake through the dead still cold beauty of that night, and climbed up a pristine snow covered hillside, sat down in the snow and looked a long time at how the snow sat on one low branch of a pine tree right next to me bathed in the moonlight. I guess the acid washed it all clean and I felt flooded with the beauty of life and my ego somehow popped up whole again. I had been a coward, but the next morning, still tripping, I took Rick “hunting” in the deep woods behind this house, I gave him a 22 rifle to hunt with, I talked very straight about everything and gave him a clean chance to kill me. Instead he said he loved me. It seemed to me that we had completed some sort of circle and were whole again. We went back home to 3rd St.

My next recollection is that the following weekend Rick and I, without Jamie, were back at that country house, this time with my brother and a bunch of his friends, maybe 8 or 9 people. We all did that orange sunshine, and then Rick had a major psychotic breakdown, and this time 8 or 9 tripping people were very scared for themselves and what might happen when the straight world showed up, all getting progressively into their own acid paranoia as Rick retreated into gibberish, making sing song chant over and over with crazy eyes and slobber on his face…”symbiosis associates, symbiosis, la familia, symbiosis associates, la familia”…all the way to New York down the Taconic Parkway with its fascist state cops while I held him in my arms in the back seat.

We called his parents from the city. They had been through this before, they came and took him to Creedmore Hospital on Long Island. Jamie told me later that week that his diagnosis had been refined, now his label was mixed state schizophrenia/ bi-polar disorder, not compliant with lithium or anything else. She said they said he was likely to spend the rest of his life in and out and getting progressively worse. As of my last knowledge before we broke of all contact Jamie was pursuing the divorce and taking up with a better class of revolutionaries from around the corner on avenue B, her poverty lawyer friends. Rick disappeared. Six months later he showed up again on a late summer afternoon, walking down 3rd street looking crisp in new chinos, a haircut and a golf shirt. He had a cool detached edge.

We were never close again. He’d been out west, completed a degree in St. Louis at McDonalds’ “Hamburger University”, and spoke at length about his bright future with the company. He’d also developed what he implied were deep ties with the American Continental Army, some sort of secret armed militia that was going to move the revolution to the far right. Later, in front of our common street friends, he started in on me for being half a jewboy, which I am. I said something about that being my best half, and a comment about character disintegration as a marker in psychosis, and that is the way we ended.

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