From Stan Brakhage Remembrances:

My Travels with Stan

Lawrence (Larry) Jordan

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


We were friends and hung out together in high school (Denver, Colorado). Those were days of high-jinks and intense endeavors. We pushed a drama teacher who preferred teatim comedies into doing Romeo and Juliet. Poor woman—retired the following year.

Our club of intellectual rebels, the GADFLIES (see Aristophanes), drove most of our social relationships at that time. We’re talking 1950-1953. We rented Intolerance from the Museum of Modern Art, and got hold of Fireworks from somewhere, also Meshes of the Afternoon.

What I’m saying here is that we got off to a flying start chasing the world of art—primarily, at that time, the classics.
Stan, as I remember, brought in a heavy dose of modernism.

We both quit eastern schools to begin making films (Stan at Dartmouth, I at Harvard). I think we both froze at the thought of a life in academia, or of a four-year’s wait before actually doing something in our lives.

Then began a rather difficult time in which young artists were generally referred to as Bohemians and later as Beatniks. But it was an exciting time and formed our real college education.

For a while, our group, which clung together for several years after high school, stayed with classic drama and produced some pretty good one-act plays. Stan was always the director. That was never questioned. He had the energy, the flair, and the extroversion for the role. He seemed to have far-reaching radar for locating people and works in the art world.

Five of our gang came out to San Francisco in about 1954. (Stan came first—always the avant-garde.) When I arrived, he was living in the basement of poet Robert Duncan and painter Jess Collins.

We had one old car, a flatbed trailer for our gear, and about five films between us. So naturally we started out to tour California, showing our wares. At the first rented hall we waited until an hour after show time. Not one person showed up. We packed up and came on back to San Francisco.

Later, around 1955, Stan and I shared a cold water flat near the Bowery in New York. But when I first arrived there, we were homeless, so Maya Deren, whom Stan had sought out, let us sleep on couches in her Greenwich Village studio. We paid her by filming a Haitian wedding she was in charge of. We hung out with Willard Maas and Marie Menken sometimes, and we also met Joseph Cornell.

While in New York, Stan’s appendix burst. I called a cab and got him to the hospital. While he was recovering from that and from peritonitis, Maya, who had arranged a $200 “grant” for Stan, sent Teiji Ito over to the hospital. Teiji could hardly look us in the face. Maya wanted to borrow back the $200 to pay her rent.

After that summer, Stan and I didn’t travel together. We both got married and settled down about 1,000 miles apart, seeing each other intermittently over the years. It was a wild ride. Thanks, Stan….We love you.