On July 21 & 28, Kaity and I visited Joel again to pick his brain and get the skinny on his relationship with David. And, as expected, Joel had a lot to share with us. The two met while they were both in residence at Yaddo (I’m researching those residency dates now). Later, when Joel was living at Philip Roth’s house, during the period of his (Joel’s) Guggenheim fellowship, he got in touch with David, asking if David ever visited New York. As it happened, David was living in Manhattan, subletting the studio at the Westbeth where he now lives full-time. Shortly thereafter, Joel started as the executive director of the Modern Language Association, which caused him to move to New York City, effectively jump-starting the relationship. In that two-hour session, we heard about travels to various parts of the country for performances of David’s works; summers spent in Grosse Point, VT on the estate of Sylvie Kaiser as a sort of private artist colony; and the trajectory of their relationship.
On our second visit, we delved a little more into Joel’s past, and had him comment on and reminisce over photos and letters that we found in his archives. The photos were a particularly big help to us, because they gave us more people and places to pursue in our research.
We only had two setbacks, both technical difficulties. Kaity’s audio recorder didn’t record our first interview. Fortunately, mine was running properly, but it was positioned a little too close to the air conditioner, so Joel is difficult to hear on occasion; not to mention the annoyingly loud, ever-present hum of the window unit that we dared not turn off because of the horrific heat and humidity that New York was experiencing at the time.
On August 19, Kaity and I visited David for our eighth interview, to bombard him with the things that we’d come across in Joel’s archives, and the scanning that I’ve been doing of David’s files. We managed to jog a lot of memories loose by mentioning names and places, and little stories we’d heard or read. A very productive interview.
Our research is going on hold, now, through the end of September since I’ll be at the Ucross Foundation in Clearmont, WY, and Kaity will be starting the Fall semester of classes at NYU (after a grueling summer of internships and classes – I’m continually amazed that she’s not taking any time off during her second Master’s, but will have attended every available session of classes from Sept 2008 to May 2010!). In the meantime, I’m sure we’ll manage to dig up little tidbits – I’m sending out emails and making calls about Joel’s various residencies and jobs during the time he was with David, responses to which will trickle in over the next few weeks – but our concentration will be temporarily elsewhere until I’m back in New York City in late September. Then we start our next barrage of interviews with people around David!