From Stan Brakhage Remembrances:

Ken Jacobs

Printed in MFJ No. 41 (Fall 2003) Lesbian and Gay Experimental Cinema/Stan Brakhage Remembrances



Dear Phil,

NY weather bad as Seattle’s. 5 minutes from departing home for airport we cancelled. Flo frightened, Nisi frightened, Ken frightened. Didn’t want to add to annals of irony. No response Marilyn phone. Phoned Oxford and learned your ferry ride was cancelled due to weather; hope you can travel tomorrow. We’re beat, and sorry. However, easy to envision Stan pissed if we insisted on chancing it. What’s weird is noise of sleet beating on skylight glass abated within a minute after calling Jet Blue (lady we spoke to remarkably nice about our cancelling). Also, Clipper sending us a cancellation form so we should be getting back money paid for that package of transport and hotels, which it seems they don’t really have to do according to contract. Will quickly mail videotape prepared for Marilyn (and visitors) plus copy and 2 others for you. Stan in NY and in Boulder, The Man himself sure as shooting. So maddeningly seemingly present. Then I spent time sifting through my stereo-color photos for Stan-pics. Too crazy. Shot in the ‘70’s (before it became too difficult to get these things mounted; you do your own mounting?), it’s the Stan that intimidated you in Bingbingbing, long black hair worn matinee-idol style with attached pirate moustache. Kodachrome-preserved in full defiance of Nature. You’ll have same confusion looking through your stereo images of him. Ah, sleet is back. I wake up talking to him a bit, the same funny stuff I put on reserve for him every day. Used to focus somewhat on those phone-talks, meaning he was a companion and we corresponded for more time than we actively spoke. I’m not lonely in the way I used to be -devastatingly- lonely, but no question a connection has been lost that changes my arrangement with Being itself. I feel it as significant transit-marker for my own sojourn.

I assure Flo I won’t resent her fear of making this trip, which in fact is scary to me on a good day. I thought of all Brakhages and Brakhage friends that we wouldn’t be meeting with and that was a downer, but immediately fixed attention on further preparation for LOCAL HUBBLE for Marilyn and Stan Brakhage (April 3 in Brooklyn). That’s how I’ll “say it”, among other ways. People should see these stereo images somehow, was bringing them with a couple of battery-operated viewers to pass around.) Will video-record performance and send copies to you and to Marilyn. Had sent earlier, Marilyn has, a dvd of music I mean to join my Hubbles to, used earlier for THE MARRIAGE OF HEAVEN AND HELL. You may recall features a male voice that climbs into soprano territory, in the way Stan remained eerily capable of doing. Flo was pushing my black suit on me this a.m. I insisted on old brown tweed jacket, nothing black, no tie; no mourning. I would contain myself in church. Only high spirits expressed here, after first miserable news. We die, did Stan ever acknowledge that (ANTICIPATION....). OK, and then he ran with the ball, broken-field running like noone could believe. Game over, as games get to be over, but cheers from the stands forever. (Mmm, he would not have gone for a sports metaphor. Personally the only sweat I ever saw him raise in 40 years was when he sighted through a camera, and then torrents. The man who resisted all of health-conscious Boulder and never ran a mile, I mean all his running put together end to end.) I can’t recall him ever entirely free of one illness or another, or ever taking a break from his work: his curse to hear him talk about it, his joy to see him at every phase of doing it. Among his innumerable gifts, that hulking body that went forward whatever the punishment. How was it he was so sweet?


Stan’s middle-C was ebullience. He could be brought down by circumstance -there seemed to always be money and sickness problems, and physical pain to bear- but only so far. I listened yesterday to a message-machine recording from early 2002. He so doesn’t want to speak to a machine. Why aren’t we home? He’s waiting to hear about this and that, the New York report. It’s been an impossible day. Teaching so many students. He has a stomach infection, a foot infection: “Can a hangnail do all this?” Yet he ends up belting out OVER THE RAINBOW word for word in its entirety.