Paul is dead.
I still can’t believe it, though I was not surprised when Dave called me today to give me the news. Funny, I was planning on stopping to see him on my way back from San Francisco next week. I wrote about Paul and his battle with full blown AIDS a few weeks back-the link is here:
It’s a cold, grey sunday in LA. It’s March in the year 2001. I just landed a job, and it looks like I’ll be able to stay in LA and make a go of it after all. George W Bush is in his second month in office. I’m in line at the Faultline, waiting to get into the Sunday beer bust. He’s standing there behind me. I’m immediately drawn to him- his tall, lanky frame, his imposing presence. But most of all – and I can still see it in my mind’s eye to this moment- I ‘m drawn to his sparkle, in his face, upturned to the sky as he smiles, welcoming the first drops of a March rain.
It’s September 14th, 2001. Fuck the news, fuck the terrorists, Paul still goes on with the annual “gay camp” at his house with the huge backyard out in Sylmar. “Camp itchy crochy” has been a LA bear tradition for years, and many, many guys, still shell shocked from the week’s events, show up to forget the fear for that night at least. Paul has gotten me to bring my 16mm projector and some old 1960’ TV shows that i had collected syndication prints of. Paul introduces me to many people that will soon become close friends.
It’s August, 2003. San Diego -or rather, the home sex party in El Cajon that we’ve all come down to … attend. Paul, Dave,Ned, Patrick, and I are there. Someone produces several tablets of that relatively new drug, Viagra. We all pop one. Paul says “Great! Now we can all be Superman.”
It’s sometime in 2004. I’m waiting at the Cinerama Dome on Sunset Blvd for Paul to show up. We’re both meeting up there to see a showing of “How the West Was Won”, to be exhibited in it’s actual Cinerama format. As I’m waiting for Paul to show up, This guy who looks just like Steven Spielberg walks up to the box office with this young kid. My God. It IS Steven Spielberg. He’s here to see the film, too. Paul shows, we go into the theatre, take our seats, and Mr Spielberg is seated right behind us. Like RIGHT behind us. At the intermission, we are so amazed and stoked by the indescribable movie experience that is Cinerama. Believe me-IMAX has got Nothing on Cinerama. picture 3 imax screens blended together. Get it? That’s Cinerama. ruinously expensive. That’s why only 3 theatres on earth can still exhibit Cinerama films. Both Paul and I spend the entire 20 minute intermission in a huddle with Speilberg and we’re all exitedly gushing about the experience. Spielberg hasn’t sexperienced it since he was a kid and it’s an excitiing moment for him that he is eager to share with us. Nobody around us recognises Speilberg. we talk and talk.Paul and Speilberg get into shop talk. Paul was a special effects and prop builder.
It’s 2006. In the last two years, Paul has nose dived. We think that sometime around 2004, he found he was positive. He never told us, but circumstances lead us to believe that it sent him into a meth fuled nose dive. In two years, he lost his home, his job, his friends. He stole, he ranted and raved at everyone in public. I had never seen or dealt with such a rapid change in someone. We tried intervention. It didnt work. One night, Dave and I went out to Symar after Paul had threatened Suicide. He wasnt there.Just some meth phantoms who were by that time camped out in his home. I behaved and responded abominably. I walked away from him. I couldnt help him , he didnt want help. He was screaming for help. I saw him at the eagle one Saturday night. The place was packed. Paul showed up. I ignored him. He confronted me, and in front of 300 dumbstruck men, he screamed bloody murder at me and spat full into my face.
It’s 2007, late December. Paul is so much improved. He’s dealing with his meth addiction and getting his life back together. We bury the hatchet.Water under the bridge. I tell him I love him too much to hold a silly grudge.
It’s summer 2008 and Paul has full blown AIDS. In fact, Dave learns that He’s in an ICU near Bakersfield. We drive down there to see him. He tells us he’s not ready to go yet. I leave feeling that maybe he’ll rally this. I know in my heart that the end is near.
It’s this morning, September 23 in the year 2008. I’m in Downtown Los Angeles at the Civic Center. My cwell phone rings. It’s Dave. Paul is dead.
How odd it is to be crying uncontrollably in Civic Center plaza, and all the way home on the subway.
Charlie (left) Paul, And Greg
Tom, Ned (in overalls), Me, Sam, Jim, and Paul ~ 2003