Thursday, October 29, 2009

from RFD co-writer Jack Purdy

It was Paris, after the Great War. Van and I had heard about this exciting new medium called “radio” which had just started commercial broadcasting out of KDKA in Pittsburgh. We were on the terrace of La Coupoule, when Van turned to Hemingway, who was arm wrestling with Picasso, and said…

Wait…don’t think that’s right. Oh, yes…

I was with Van the night of the famous Six Gallery Poetry reading in San Francisco in 1956, when Allen Ginsberg stunned the audience with the debut of Howl. We both agreed it was great, but that it needed something—more “jokes”— in order to succeed for this new radio show we were planning with William Burroughs and…

Ooops…wrong again…the memory bank’s a little fogged in today.

The truth is, while RFD was born in Salisbury, MD in the late 1980s, its history, like all good Boomer history, began in the 1960s when Van and I met under circumstances I won’t go into here owing to pesky things such as uncertainty about the statute of limitations. I’m not a lawyer. For that matter, I have never played a lawyer on the radio.

I have, however, thanks to RFD played the Commander of the Maryland National Guard; a politician with a Baltimore (i.e., Bawlamer) accent that shattered the ears of the listening audience; a crusty, beyond-alcoholic newspaper editor; a snake wrangler; commander of a Coast Guard ship; and many small parts too numerous to mention even though they were all terribly funny and my performances were compared to the work of Richard Burton. (Given that Burton was already dead when we began RFD, I am not sure of the spirit in which that comparison was made.)

Perhaps our performances this weekend will be compared to the work of Orson Welles, Joseph Cotten, Agnes Moorehead and other greats of the Mercury Theatre.

Hmmmm…they’re all dead, too. We’ll see if we can do better than they would.

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