Del Long, of Newport, Rhode Island and Death Valley, Arizona, has been named Assistant Guru at the Top-Secret Dr. Casey Vermont Writer/Yoga Retreat, along with drug-runner, Harry Slidell, and Escort, Donna Botchkin. Del will spend one hour a year meditating on the meaning of life at the Retreat. This hour will be video-taped and made available to graduates of the Retreat Program. Del has been enlightened since 1968, while serving in Vietnam as a helicopter pilate. Harry Slidell, of New Orleans, has been selling drugs since 1988, and provides alcoholics with liver damage alternatives to cheap booze. Donna Botchkin, who runs a very successful Escort Service in Boston, will offer a two-hour talk on Tax Evasion and the Missionary Position. Mr. Matt Macintire, of Washington, D.C. has offered to develop an on-site pottery installation consisting of cups and saucers. Ms. Rebecca Baxter, of Sarasota, Florida will join Dr. Casey’s brother, Philip Casey, Jr. for a photographic field expedition of manure pies. They will work in conjunction with Harry Slidell, who is developing a manure substance that can be inhaled.
The picture: This is my dear old friend, Del, and we have the same birthday. So what? Del got me started writing in 1994 or 5. We were dating, living in Brooklyn, but not together, and he decided to travel cross country with Paul Geremia, the guitarist. Del was going to play piano and keep Paul company. That left me in Brooklyn with nothing to do except pine away because at that point I didn’t want to do anything but sit on top of him, drink wine, sleep, go to a movie.
He was handsome then, but also kind of a bum/drunk, but we were soul mates, because I was kind of a bum and a drunk, too. But because I had not been a ‘copter pilot in Vietnam I was able to keep myself together enough to do some performances and rationalize my status of living in an old auto parts store on Grand Street in Williamsburg. This was back before Williamsburg was overtaken with youngsters with trust funds from Oklahoma. Well, Del went with Paul across country and I just started writing about how I had had a melt-down and left my husband and daughter in Newport, and moved to Brooklyn in order to perform and not be with my husband.
And how hard that was. Loving my daughter as I did, she being only 12, mommy deciding to go pursue her “dreams” in the Big City. My daughter was all for it, excited to come down on weekends and visit mommy in the auto parts store, where I had adopted a couple of pregnant cats from the Bordego next door. First, pregnant, yes, and then suddenly a dozen kittens running around the place in need of a 12 year olds supervision. Heaven. The thing is, I missed Del. I can’t explain why. I know you have people in your life that you miss and you don’t know why. ( Isn’t it funny to watch Dr. Phil, well, not funny but sick, try to explain things to people that cannot be explained? and he gets paid alot for it? Isn’t he just the biggest silly fool? A lovable, depressing reminder of how easy it could be to buy a nice house and a nice car? Simple rule. KISS ASS. KISS ASS IN L.A. KISS RICH ASS. Oh, if only I could do that.
So, Del went out west with Paul. He and Paul plays lots of gigs together and I think they recorded an album. A few months later, when Paul dropped Del off in front of the Auto Parts store, I could sense that Del was a little out of it. It was at that moment that I knew I could not control either him or myself or anything in my life that mattered. That is when the reality of an “alcohol underground” was revealed to me. An entire nation of people who existed under the radar of presentability, helping each other get through the rat maze without getting arrested or committed. It was a full time job, not working, and I longed to be a part of it. Del taught me to NOT get a job instead of trying TO get a job. He taught me to ENJOY being broke instead of longing for a security that did not exist unless you were willing to KISS ASS BIG TIME and SUCK SOME THINGS AS WELL.
It has taken me 16 years to figure out that his lessons were tough but relevent for my survival as an artist, as a Laurel Casey, as a person that I could respect, beneath all the whining about being a loser. How often we fail to see how rich we are where it counts. You’ve heard the song, “Nobody Loves You When You’re Down and Out?” Nothing could be further from the truth.