In the Shadow of the American Dream: The Diaries of David Wojnarowicz

Overview

Few artists in the late twentieth century have captured the emotional, sexual, and political chaos of urban life as well as David Wojnarowicz. In the Shadow of the American Dream chronicles Wojnarowicz's life from age seventeen until his AIDS-related death at thirty-seven. An introspective writer and a radical artist, Wojnarowicz unequivocally defied bigotry even as he became a target for the right wing.

Wojnarowicz's diaries tell the story of his emergence as an artist and ...

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Overview

Few artists in the late twentieth century have captured the emotional, sexual, and political chaos of urban life as well as David Wojnarowicz. In the Shadow of the American Dream chronicles Wojnarowicz's life from age seventeen until his AIDS-related death at thirty-seven. An introspective writer and a radical artist, Wojnarowicz unequivocally defied bigotry even as he became a target for the right wing.

Wojnarowicz's diaries tell the story of his emergence as an artist and writer, from when he published his first photographs and began writing what would become The Waterfront Journals, to do his traveling through Europe as a renowned painter and completing his tour de force, Close to the Knives. In the Shadow of the American Dream is, finally, a record of the private Wojnarowicz, falling in love for the first time, exploring erotic possibilities on the Hudson River piers, becoming overwhelmed by the demands of survival, and searching for the pleasure and freedom he believed one could live on.

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Editorial Reviews

New York Times Book Review
He could leave toothmarks on the memory....Many who have encountered him on the page or on the wall can still admire the raw passion, intelligence, and transforming energy with which he met his fate.
Seconds
There's a power in [Wojnarowicz's] writing that is consistent with the power of the continuum from which he comes....[It] deserves to be considered alongside the literature of outsiders who have become institutions, such as Rimbaud, Lautreamont, Genet, Ginsberg, Burroughs, or Hubert Selby, Jr.
Library Journal
A painter, photographer, writer, and activist, Wojnarowicz currently is being commemorated with a large-scale retrospective at the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York, the first since his death from AIDS at the age of 37 in 1992. The catalog to that show presents more than 70 pieces, from simple early photographs of himself posing in a Rimbaud mask to his most successful multimedia collages. Wojnarowicz was a leading light among political East Village artists of the 1980s. Yet, surprisingly, the satire and social critique in much of his work has managed to evolve--like that of Otto Dix--taking on broader meaning rather than a dated look. Included here are a well-reasoned essay by curator Cameron reevaluating Wojnarovicz's importance, a critical essay by Mysoon Rizk (liberal studies, Milwaukee Inst. of Art & Design), as well as two moving personal portraits by friends and selections from Wojnarowicz's own writings. More accessible and better designed than the only other retrospective catalog, Tongues of Flame (LJ 8/92), this is an essential purchase for any contemporary art collection in public and academic libraries. Cameron points out that since his death, Wojnarowicz has perhaps become better known for his writings, particularly through his acclaimed essay collection Close to the Knives (LJ 5/1/91), than his art. These well-chosen diary excerpts--beginning with an Outward Bound excursion in 1971 and concluding with the final entries from 1991--frequently contain the same powerful language as the essays and also reveal the inspiration and context for much of his art. However, Scholder, founding editor of Artspace Books and of High Risk/Serpent's Tail, provides virtually no annotations or transitions, which limits the book's value. Larger art collections and libraries where Close to the Knives circulates will want this supplement, others should make sure they have a copy of that volume.--Eric Bryant, "Library Journal"
Kirkus Reviews
A harrowing journal of lust, creativity, and privation by the painter, photographer, and performance artist who died in 1992 at the age of 37. Wojnarowicz lived by night. From the time he first arrived in New York-shipped by a father who no longer wanted to care for him to a mother who didn't know him-he took refuge in the night. By the age of 12, he'd discovered that his body could be traded for cash and so joined the rank and file of suicidally depressed teenage hustlers in Times Square-living on the street, taking drugs, and ricocheting from one john to the next. And yet, in spite of it all, Wojnarowicz had something that his peers did not: a will of tempered steel and a vision of himself as an artist. The wonder of these journals-the wonder, perhaps, of Wojnarowicz's life-is that he wrote and drew his way out of despair. Once he began keeping a journal, he never stopped; by the time he died of AIDS, he had filled some 30 books. Scholder, founding editor of Artspace Books and of High Risk Books/Serpent's Tail, has edited these so as to maximize the sense of Wojnarowicz's forward momentum, but the transitions are still rough. Fortunately, the artist's own sensibility makes even the most harrowing passages interesting, but the journals suffer for a lack of detailed information about the development of Wojnarowicz's professional, artistic life. To some extent, however, the hard-hewn quality of his prose reflects his lived reality. For even before he knew he was HIV-positive, his life had a driven desperation: "If I turned from twenty-three to eighty in the simple sway from window to bed," he wrote, "what lives would remain in my heart, what answers to the questions of solitudeand movement?" In its rough, raw vitality, his diary still gives testament to the lives that remained in his heart and the inspiration he quite literally drew from them. .
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780802136718
  • Publisher: Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
  • Publication date: 2/28/2000
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 5.52 (w) x 8.33 (h) x 0.81 (d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One


David's first journal, his record of an Outward Bound expedition, was written when he was seventeen years old. The diary is illustrated with maps and drawings of the terrain.


August-September 1971
Hurricane Island Outward Bound School
Grenfell Watch
P.O. Box 438
Vinalhaven, Maine 04863


Thursday, August 19, 1971

The first day we were coming over by ferry. It was foggy and the mist whipped at our faces. I was cold as hell. I started talking to my friend next to me whom I met at the airport. Soon he left with his friend and I sat behind a car to keep out of the cold. I began a conversation with a boy who was to be in my watch; his name was Tony. He is from Long Island. He lives there in the summer with his parents, but during college term he studies art in Sweden. Soon after, we reached Hurricane Island. Our watch officer's name was Charlie. We immediately went to our assigned tents and changed into running shorts. We ran once around the island and went to supper ... a very small meal. I was hungry as hell afterwards. We went to sleep.


Friday, August 20, 1971

We got up and ran around the island. Very exhausting. I finished a cigarette I had and was going to smoke one last one before we signed a pledge to commit ourselves to do to our best ability the challenges and feats. And to stick by each other. Well I had the cigarette in my mouth and a lit match, about to light it. Then one person in my watch said that he feels we should all stick together before we sign the commitment. So in fewer words, I should not smoke my last cigarette. Well, I argued and everyone except Tony sided with George (the guy who started the whole mess). I said, Lordy, Lordy, I'm cured. And turned around all disgusted and walked away.

    The kids then came up and apologized about it and said that they realized one last cigarette couldn't hurt. It was too late anyway since I broke up the cigarette. We went to sleep after supper and after signing the book.


Saturday, August 21, 1971

I learned the first steps in rock climbing. The man who teaches it hit me on the top of the head for doing a wrong signal at the wrong time. I was really pissed off. I am drawing the steps of preliminary rock climbing: Ombeli means I'm hooked up and ready for you to follow. Uprope means Pull up slack rope. The man situated on top of the hill pulls slack. When the slack is pulled up all the way, the man at the bottom shouts, That's me. The man at the top then says, Climb. The man at the bottom begins to climb and says, Climbing. The man at the top says, Okay, and pulls in the slack as the man ascends. If you kick off any rocks you can call, Below. If you feel yourself falling you call, Tension. The man at the top will immediately brace himself for the impact of the rope when you fall.

    We ate lunch and got our swim trunks on and went for a swim in the granite quarry. We ate a lousy dinner of boiled ham and sweet potatoes. Ugh! I began to get tired. Sleep.


Sunday, August 22, 1971

We walked up to the freshwater pond and I caught a snake. A little garter snake. He started puking so I tossed him into the bushes. Imagine that, a sick snake.

    We had to tie this rope around each of our waists and one by one crawl onto a little rope over the pond. We had to get to the other side. If one fell in we all would fall in. I was scared because my nice work boots were on. Thank Swami that we made it across and just in time for lunch. I ommmmmed in my mind all the way through the ordeal. After lunch we went on a real rock climb. I was first to go up since I had a dentist appointment. I made it up with very little trouble. I then left on the M. V. Hurricane to get to the dentist in Rockland. The M. V. Hurricane is a tugboat or a type of ferry. I felt seasick but here was my chance to eat all I wanted. I had half the pot of stew and ten oranges. The most I ever ate in my life!

    I didn't get my tooth pulled. Back at H. Island, we began to get ready for the trip tomorrow. We leave on a pulling boat and come back Saturday. Nightfall came quickly. We had a big curse-out fight with another watch. The stars were really bright.


Monday, August 23, 1971
Camp Island

I left early this morning. The swells were about 5 ft. high. I threw up so many times. Finally I passed out. I woke up as we drifted into a nice quiet cove. It was beautiful. I had a nice dinner of burnt macaroni, steamed mussels, and carrots.


Tuesday, August 24, 1971

I slept badly and woke up with a cold. I ate breakfast. We boarded the pulling boat and set sail for the next island. We learned about mainsails, mizzens, square knots, Boling knots, etc. Soon I fell asleep. Today I did not get sick. We sailed farther and farther. I was the bowman. We soon sailed into Bartlett Cove. This is the Girls Island. Unfortunately there were no girls today because they were out on expeditions, like us. I slept soundly.


Wednesday, August 25, 1971

We sailed all day long and all night, we sailed in around 1:40 to Orono Island. We cooked stew and woke up around 4:55 A.M. When I got up this morning ...


Thursday, August 26, 1971

I blew my nose and then I lifted a small rock to throw away the tissue. All of a sudden there were two beautiful snakes curled up. One was a green snake with white-green skin and milky white underbody. The other was a common ring-neck snake. Very small, with maroon underbelly. Must have been to the point of shedding. What a find. I let them go. My cold was worse. The sunrise was beautiful. We ran 6 miles afterwards. My legs were about to break. We soon left to sail again. Again I wasn't sick. We arrived very early at the most beautiful island I have ever seen. The name is Isle au Haut.

    There were brine shrimp in the water and crabs running around in the seaweed. Deer were on the island. We found part of a skeleton of a deer. We had a good dinner of stew. (Good night.)


Friday, August 27, 1971

I woke up and walked around for a few minutes. It was very depressing out. The sky was very cloudy and dark. We got on the boat and I became very seasick. I ate some raisins and soon felt better. All of a sudden a report came over the radio about a hurricane which might hit New York and the New England area. We got scared. So we decided to get back to Hurricane Island.

    We made it back and had a good dinner of two hamburgers, a bowl of soup, oyster crackers, and pears. I had a great sleep.


Saturday, August 28, 1971

We went rock climbing again and I learned rapelling. This is when you walk off a cliff backwards with ropes attached to you. If you let go with one hand you are going to fall and kill yourself. I remember having dreams of falling off cliffs as a little boy and the sensation was like this. I almost started crying.

    The people who contribute to this island are here today. We are having a fantastic meal just to show them how good the camp is run. I am now going to sleep. I have been eating green apples so I have lots of gas. Ugh!!!


Sunday, August 29, 1971

I think that since I have quit smoking, my appetite has grown immensely. I eat and eat, then 15 minutes later I'm starving again. This morning we had like a junior Woodstock. Guitar and flute playing. Tonight I am watching a movie, The Living Desert. It is about all sorts of animals. We went on an ecology walk for preparation for our three-day solo, which will be in a couple of days. I think around Tuesday. They will take us on the M. V. Hurricane (ferryboat) and drop us off one by one on each uninhabited island. We have to live off the land for three days. This will be my chance to get some sleep and rest.

    The movie was kind of funny but I was so tired that I slept through the last half of it. I am now in bed, I am very drowsy, so I will be signing off. Good night.


Monday, August 30, 1971

Every morning at 5:30 A.M. we get up, run around the island, and then take a jump into the cold, cold ocean. Brrrrrrr ...

    Well, this morning as we were running, three boys decided to show off their athletic skills and took off faster and soon disappeared. We have a rule, to stick together while doing everything. Some other boys and I have already hurt ourselves falling while running, so we had to take it slow. Well, we had to do five pull-ups. Those three guys who ran ahead had to come all the way back and do the five pull-ups. They started bitching about having to run slow because of the slower guys.

    I was elected as first mate next to captain so I stood up and ordered them to quiet down as is expected of me. One guy, a very good karate pupil, told me to screw myself and to say shut up to his face. I had been fed up with everybody, so I walked up to him and said, Shut up. He did a karate flip on me, but I grabbed onto him before I fell, so I broke the fall.

    We will be going on a ropes course which nobody has completed without falling at least once. I will try to do it without falling.

    I just took a short walk into the woods. I found a small freshwater pond with a granite rock wall around it. Nearby was a little frail bird's nest. I picked it up.

    I am feeling really depressed. I just caught another green snake on my way to the rope course. It was much smaller than the other one I had caught on Bartlett Island.

    I just finished the first part of the ropes course. For some reason my kneecaps hurt so bad that I can't jump or do anything like that. I got into another argument with a stupid kid named George. I caught a frog in the quarry.

    I am seriously thinking about leaving sooner than planned. I hate this situation. I have stuck it out to my fullest capacity. But there is only so much I can take from some people. The course isn't hard but the people are lousy.

    I had a good lunch and am now ready to take over the watch from another crew. The emergency watch is when you serve the meals and stay up all night to make sure that any ships that crash in the dark can be rescued. You also do any job on the island that needs doing.

    I helped scrape all the paint off the boat that was washed up on another island. I will be leaving in two days for my solo. Solo is when they take you to the island and let you stay there for three days. I will enjoy being alone and having to find and prepare my own food. I will write recipes for the meals I will have had. I get worried that the maniac might come and kill me in the dark while I am on the island. For some reason I am not afraid of monsters in the dark, but I am scared of maniacs and insane people waiting in the woods, in the dark. I get scared that they will grab me and kill me. I don't know why and I can't shake that feeling. I am very anxious to get back in the city, where the cold gray buildings are of some comfort and the lights make me feel safe.

    I ate so much at dinner tonight that I am busting. I can't eat another drop. I am finished with my section of the watch and am now going to sleep. Good Night!


Tuesday, August 31, 1971

I did not have to run and dip this morning. Instead we set up the dishes and silverware and served breakfast. I am on duty again. (The time is now 8:39.) So far no calls have been made except some lady telling her husband's friend that her husband was sorry about not calling because his mother forgot to give him the message.

    Breakfast was the usual oatmeal, 2 slices of bacon, 2 pieces of corn bread, and milk or coffee. I sneaked a peanut butter and jelly out of the kitchen. I am really hungry. Maybe it's all this exercise.

    I am now waiting for my friend to get back from reading poetry at the morning meeting. Tomorrow I go on solo. Hmmm ...

    I just found out that I am sailing tonight and camping on an island until tomorrow, when I will be placed on an island for three days (solo). I am generally excited about what type of sleeping spot I will have. Where I will eat. What I will eat. And how the weather will be. Will I be able to start a fire, etc.

    Well, I am now packed and am ready to sail as soon as everyone gets together. A boy in my watch caught a garter snake. It got away. I feel weird because I want to leave as soon as I get back from solo but I still haven't spoken to Rafe, the director. I think I will speak to him as soon as I get back. I will continue as soon as I eat dinner or else find out where I will be soloing (which island).

    We just finished getting under way. One boy fell overboard. I will be writing a letter for Charlie to give to the director (Rafe) while I am away since I did not have a chance to speak to him before I left. I am going to ask him to telephone my mother and get her permission for me to come home. I hope she says yes (as I really know she will).

    It is dark now and I have just set up my tent. I am damp and slightly cold but this night we had steak and baked potatoes and fruit salad to eat, sort of like a last meal. Happy that I am on solid land. I had a few more arguments with some kids in my watch so I will be glad to get on solo.


Wednesday, September 1, 1971

I am now up. Today I shall be put on an island by myself. The name is Babbitch Island. I am cooking breakfast for everyone else. It is now 5:10. I just finished breakfast and am cleaning up. I found out that I will be going to my island by powerboat. Thank Swami, because the pulling boats we use are so damned slow. Ugh!

    Well, I am about to have hot cocoa in a pan, what a way to live. I finished getting checked to see if I or anyone else smuggled food with them. Well, I will soon be on the island.


Are you alone?

    Are you alone? asked the man and his wife as I trudged past their trailer.

    Are you alone? asked the gulls.

    Are you alone? asked the ocean.

    Are you alone? asked the frogs.

    If a man is alone in this wide earth, then a neighbor is of no help.


I am on my island and have set up my tent. I have already eaten a lunch of stewed raspberries. It could have used some sugar, but I was quite contented with it. I am on my way to catch some clams and limpets for dinner. Dessert will be some glasswort (seashore plant--edible). I have found an incredible clam bed about halfway around the island from where I live. The clams are about five inches long. I found that it is easy to get to clams and limpets only when the sun is over behind the raspberry patch.

    I will draw a map showing what I know of the island. I really enjoy watching the seals swimming about the cove. I was quite shocked to find out there were seals up in Maine. I thought they were in Alaska, etc. But they swim back and forth and occasionally will climb a rock and rest. This morning we saw ten of them on our way to the islands. I will now go and cook my clams, using a cup of sea water for the salt flavor. I am using a huge mussel shell as a spoon or small dish.

    There is an abundant supply of rose hips, a plant that bears tomatolike fruit. It tastes like a mealy apple. The petals of the flowers on rose hip bushes are tasty also. Rose hips are the chief source of vitamin C. So I will eat a few every day.

    I am now eating dinner. The sun is as high as ever. I am now doing a drawing of a limpet after being boiled.

    I have finished dinner. I had raspberries for dessert. I don't enjoy eating these wild foods. I keep thinking of Blimpies, Cokes, ice cream, candy. Oh, how I wish I were home.

    It is strange but for some reason I have changed and I know it. I have taken for granted many, many things. I will be happy to go into a food store and buy an apple or a cupcake. I will be more than happy to be walking on streets where people sell plastic flowers and pretzels and jewelry. Where the days are darker than the nights at times. To be able to come and go as I please. No island to restrict me.


Thursday, September 2, 1971

Well I am up and ready for a day's work. This morning I will not eat but will take a walk around my island to find more sources of food other than glasswort, rose hips, limpets, periwinkles, clams, and raspberries. I have found a plastic jug which might prove to be helpful. If I cut it in half it could be a bowl. I will try to think what other uses it could have.

    Last night I was feeling pretty sick for some reason. Not my stomach, but my head. It was all cloudy. I went to sleep at approximately 6 o'clock.

    The checkup men in the powerboat just came. They come once a day to see if your signal flag is up. If it isn't up and you don't wave to them then it means something is seriously wrong.

    I must really be psychic because I was walking down to put up my signal flag when I saw a long board. I went over to it thinking there might be a snake under it. Well, just before I got to the board something moved on the grass. I thought it was a toad, so on a close look, I saw part of a snake gliding through the leaves. I caught another green snake. I was tempted to keep it but I let it go.

    I just found a huge supply of glasswort past my clam bed. Glasswort is tender, juicy, and already salted with healthful sea salt. Continuing past another cove I found an excellent cattail supply. Cattails can be husked and boiled ten minutes to produce a delicious meaty substance. Cattails grow in freshwater marshes so I will see if I can find any freshwater things to eat.

    I have ended up on the other side of the island. I have tried fishing, but there is no luck. I am getting dizzy from time to time from need of food. It is difficult to get used to some of the available sea plants, etc. I dropped my roll of fishing line and it fell a long ways and started to sink. I started pulling in the line as fast as I could which brought the line spool to the surface. I grabbed it. It was hell trying to wind up all that line but I managed it.

    I think I will go for a swim later on when I get back.

    I feel so sick I can hardly walk. The sun is too strong. I have a terrible headache.

    I am about a quarter of a mile from my tent. Thank Swami.

    I will cook my food that I have gathered and eat as soon as I get back. I am famished.

    I have finished eating and I feel like throwing up. I can't wait to get back to Hurricane Island and to the meals they serve there. I feel like taking a nap which I think I will do.

    Across from my cove is another island. I see a signal flag. One of my friends must be on it.

    I just woke up and feel a bit better. I am not so hungry so I will fast until tomorrow. Then that will mean one more day and I will be back again. It is very strange when you don't use your voice for a period of time. You begin to realize how quiet things are and how beautiful nature is. I hear all kinds of birdcalls while I am writing this. At times I try to answer the call but some are too beautiful which makes it difficult.

    I am going for a short walk to find some more curios. I have collected some already. It is fun to find something different from anything you have ever seen. It is low tide now so I can get closer to the water. I finished looking because my strength seems to be draining. I threw up already. I don't know what to do.

    My curios are just the regular things I have been finding. I do not have any feeling or urge to draw in my sketch pad. I keep thinking of good wholesome food. I can't stomach all these foods out here. I am stomach-sick of clams, limpets, raspberries, and Christ knows what else. I am at this moment sick of every goddamn thing in this world. I wish I were home. I will try to leave right after solo.

    I have been throwing up left and right. I ate some cattails and clams. That's when I started getting really sick. I will see if they will let me go back tomorrow morning. I can't eat any of this food. I need the normal food they serve at H.I.O.B.S. and at home. I am going crazy. I absolutely have to leave.

    I was getting used to the course but I have had enough. I had enough a week ago but I stuck it out until solo thinking I would enjoy the rest. My stomach is killing me. I can hear the juices gurgling inside me. Today I made contact with the island across the way. After the boat left I heard shouting. It was Ricky, my friend. I could barely make out his words but apparently a boy named John in my watch was put on the other side of the island. He made his way to Ricky's camp and stayed there all night. Apparently he is very scared and homesick. He was going to leave about three days ago but Rafe the director talked him out of it.

    Anyway I heard him blow his whistle so he is trying to make contact but I feel too sick to go all the way down to the beach and shout my lungs off. I'd probably end up puking. I think I will go to sleep in a few minutes.

    I would rather wake up in the middle of nowhere than in any city on earth.


Friday, September 3, 1971

Last night I went to sleep just before the sun went down. I was not scared. I had quite a lot of trouble getting to sleep because I was getting cramps in my legs and stomach. Also I was extremely hungry. I had about one hour's sleep altogether.

    Late last night my plastic tent was illuminated by light. I thought it was an unusually bright moon. About a half hour later the light was in the same position. I wanted to see if it was a full moon so I put on my glasses and poked part of my head through the opening. It was not the moon, but someone's flashlight. I was terrified. So I did only what I thought of, and that was to call and say, Who is that?

    The light switched off and whoever it was walked down past my tent and onto the path leading to the cove. I am still very frightened from that. I poked my head back into the tent and remained barely breathing for about twenty minutes.

    I vomited twice early this morning. I am writing this while waiting for the boat to come. I did not put up my blue flag because I want them to stay ashore so that they can take me away from this place.

    I am still very frightened. Tried lighting a fire, but I used up the rest of my matches. I keep thinking I am hearing things. Like walking around in the woods. I am seated on a homemade bench by the sea. The waves are coming in faster and the birds are beginning to chirp. Thank Swami.

    If they don't take me off this island this morning I will swim across to the next island where my friends are. I mean it.

    I just finished packing all my things. I have had to. I am going to leave this morning. When I get to Hurricane Island I am going straight to Rafe and demand that he call my mother for permission to let me go home.

    I can't wait to get back to New York City again. I keep thinking about the 8th Avenue Bakery, the candy stand in the drugstore, and Smilers food store sandwiches. I am driving myself crazy with the thought of good food. So far there are only signs of lobster boats. The Meka powerboat is not in sight. When it comes I am going to explain what happened last night and tell them that I can't stomach the sea plants and animals. I pray to Swami that they will take me back. I don't care what anyone thinks about me. I'm just sick and tired of all this. I want to be able to eat when I want and where I want. I want, I need time before school starts to adjust myself to the city. It will be bad to be depressed and then go to school at the same time.

    My legs are feeling like lead weights are draped around them. I can barely walk. I keep thinking what I am going to say to the people in the boat or back at Hurricane Island. I keep thinking of the city. And all of the food stores. I also think how the children starving in India, Biafra, S.E. Asia, and the U.S. feel. Here I haven't eaten in two days and I feel this sick? Imagine what they feel.

    I will be so happy when I am at the airport ready to board the plane. I JUST CAN'T WAIT. I keep hearing jets and planes passing by and it is nerve-racking waiting for the Meka powerboat. The sun is 1/8 across the sky.

    The Meka boat appeared and went to my friend's island to check if everything was okay. He did not come here. If anything happens to me I am going to bring charges against the Island or H.I.O.B.S.! I think this is pretty sickening. Here I am getting cramps, starving, and throwing up, and the boat misses this island.

    The sun is getting stronger. My head is getting cloudy.

    Excuse me, but the Meka just came. They said for me to sit down and drink water every once in a while. They said that they were going to check the north islands and would be back this afternoon. If I thought I could stay until tomorrow morning, I could, or else if I didn't think I could take it, they would bring me back. I am definitely going back. I really couldn't take another night of staying awake and having cramps.

    NO SIR, NOT ME!

    I need some good normal food in my stomach. I'm not going to feel bad that I am going back early. I have to if I want to feel better. Some solo. Here I thought I was going to enjoy myself. What a laugh.

    No sign of the Meka yet. I really do hope it comes back for me. All my stuff is on the beach and I am lying here writing to pass the time. I keep thinking about food and I am going absolutely crazy. You know that you can have food just about any time you want in the city. If you are starving, you can steal some. But, out here on an island there is no packaged food, only what you can find. And that makes you sick. If they don't return for me then tomorrow I am definitely going home after a meal on Hurricane Island.


I am feeling worse and the water I have been drinking feels sloshy in my stomach. The bees are buzzing and landing on me. The spiders are crawling around on me. Also the sand fleas and strange insects. I am waiting to see that boat zooming in to pick me up. I feel like crying but I don't have the strength to. I also feel like cursing out the world.

    I don't know what is happening. I feel like I am about to burst inside. I want to scream and curse and yell and stomp and cry. I could never fall asleep tonight unless I had some good food to eat. Please dear God or Swami or Buddha or whoever is watching, let them come back and pick me up. I can't take another hour of this. Please.

    Where are they????!!!!!!

    THE MEKA JUST ARRIVED. They told me that in order for them to pick me up off the island when it isn't an extreme emergency they have to pick up a license, which would take about four hours. They gave me two slices of bread and a nectarine. I am eating slowly. I will go to sleep as soon as I am finished. They will pick us up tomorrow. Thank Swami!

    I just ate another pail of raspberries. They make me nauseous but I have been drinking water and eating a piece of bread. That is so I will be full and then I can sleep. I have not eaten my nectarine. I am saving that until just before I go to sleep (which will be soon). I just saw a man and his two kids walking below on the beach. I suppose I could have said something but to me they represent freedom from this island and I can't have that freedom until tomorrow morning. So I don't enjoy looking at them much less speaking to them. I will continue until tomorrow morning. Good night.


I fell asleep and just woke up again. It is still daylight. It is an amazing thing how just a flutter of a bird's wing or a chirp can wake you instantly if nearby. I have forgotten the city sounds. I feel pretty good right now but occasionally think about tomorrow and a Hurricane Island meal. Also about the airport and its coffee shop and candy stand. Also the donuts and coffee before I board the plane. Yum! Yum! I wish tonight will go very quickly for I am going to get grumbles from my stomach.

    It's funny but I can tell the kind of boat out here before it ever gets into view. While waiting for the Lurcher to appear today, I knew it was a lobster boat when I heard its motors. Well, I will soon try to go back to sleep. I hope I get to sleep. OOOOOMMMMMMM.

    The sun is a bright orange ball sinking quickly. I still can't get to sleep. Maybe when it's dark the birds will shut up and I will fall to sleep. This light is going to be unbearable. I can feel it in my bones. I did not throw up the food they gave me. It just goes to show you that it is only this food that I am not used to that gets me sick. I am sleeping in a new spot overlooking the ocean. It is getting very foggy out. I can hardly see the other islands. The birds above me are still yakking away every once in a while. The fog is covering the sun but it is still light out. I am getting gas. The sound of the small waves breaking gets to be monotonous but I keep hoping I will soon get to sleep. When I lay down I feel wide awake. But when I sit up I feel sleepy. I am starting to get cold. I shall soon snuggle back into my sleeping bag.

    Good night for good!


Saturday, September 4, 1971

Thank Swami, I finally got to sleep last night after about an hour of tossin' and turnin'. The mosquitoes are biting the hell out of me. It is still very early in the morning. I could not get to sleep so I started dreaming of eating licorice (black). It was very filling and I finally fell asleep with my stomach "full."

    This morning is very foggy. I hope it clears up so I can see the ocean again. Damn those mosquitoes.

    I just busted a rock that I found on the beach and inside are little crystals. I don't know what kind, but I imagine they are quartz crystals.

    The sun is starting to come up. I hope it is going to be a beautiful day. The mosquitoes are lessening. But the bites are itching like hell. I have washed them off with alcohol, but it doesn't faze them. I think I have a long wait for those boats.

    I am starting to get hunger pains again, but I can put up with them with the thought in mind of going back to Hurricane Island. I hope they have a meal waiting for us back there because I am not going to do any work without eating first. I am thinking about what is going to happen to people around home now that I've decided to come home early. Will Jerry Baron ask why did I give up? Are they going to lose faith in me if I give up? I don't really care what they say or think because it is I who has made the decision, not them, to come home early.

    I felt it was best for me to start the school year with a happy (not depressed) mind and on the same day as everyone else. That way there is no reason for me to mess up. Plus, I am really longing to see the city for the first time in my life. Amazing! Any other summer and I would hate to go home to those dirty streets. But I realize how much I have taken for granted. In fact how much everyone has taken for granted. I think everyone should go to a course like this. It makes them appreciate the freedom they had at home. There is an incredible amount of freedom in the city. Stores when you are hungry. Movies when you are bored. Bookstores when you feel like reading. Bars when you feel like drinking. I could go on for days writing about the things in the city that people take for granted. I just can't wait to get back to it all. I will enjoy every speck of dirt on the streets and buildings. I will be happy to see all the old bums again. The pimps, prostitutes, and whores. I will be extra happy to see the Broadway Game Room. I will be happy to see my mother and brother and sister and Johnny and James most of all!

    The seagulls are fishing right now. They follow the lobster boats because when the lobstermen pull up their traps they throw away the crabs that have gotten inside, so the gulls dive for the crabs. AM I GOING CRAZY? There are what appear to be hummingbirds on this island! They zoom from flower to flower getting nectar. I have to ask about this.

    Lobster boats in the distance ...

    I just thought about one of my friends who wanted to see a green snake so I decided to try and catch one for him. I realize that these uninhabited islands usually have many snakes roaming about fearlessly because no one is here to bother them.

    Well, I started looking and pretty soon something flung itself into the taller grass nearby. (I imagine?)

    It was a snake but it was too fast for me. I was pretty well pissed off for not being more alert and having seen it before it saw me. Soon I was walking on the other side of my little field and I said to myself, There's a nice quiet swimming area, and I walked over and what do you know? A little green snake was sliding out down the tiny pathway. I caught this one!

    The Meka or the Lurch is not in sight or hearing distance. I'm getting sick.

    The Meka picked me and two other friends up and left us on another island while they go pick up more kids. I feel more sick.

    Well, we are on the pulling boat and waiting for twelve more people, then they are going to tow us in. It's a one-hour ride. But the sooner we get started the better I will feel.

    My snake almost escaped. I don't blame him for trying. I realize how it feels to be locked up. He will soon be free.

    One more group of people and we are on our way.

    My snake got loose on the boat. But I caught him all the way up in the bow. That poor snake is in the hands of Cricked and some other asses who, thank Swami, are not in my watch. I hope he gets back to me alive without any broken ribs.

    The man in the lobster boat is talking about homemade apple pie with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

    I met Dr. Spock today and his wife, Jane. He was tall and bald with a little fuzz around his ears. His wife had long brown hair. I was quite shocked speaking with them. I had tea and donuts.

    I have had my evening meal and it is a strange feeling eating so much. I am glad to be back on the island where there are three meals a day. Good night!


Sunday, September 5, 1971

After a long run and cold dip I have just finished eating breakfast (delicious pancakes and hot maple syrup). Yum, it was very good. I am on my way to clean up the tents. I will soon speak to Pete Willauer about leaving soon. Everybody tells me that I am going to have a rough time talking to him. But he is only a human being and I feel I have made a decision so things should work out. They better because I have a dollar bet on it.

    I have spent the whole afternoon speaking with Mr. Willauer. He is trying to get me to stay. But I swear after the incident at lunchtime, I am definitely leaving this island. Community togetherness, ha! I am debating whether to eat dinner with them or not. I am hungry but I don't know. I am feeling like dirt, which is what Willauer is trying to make me feel like, so I stay. But I am fighting it off because I know inside that I have made the right decision. I think I will go to dinner. I am slowly getting more and more depressed. Sometimes you would like to kill yourself. I'm still trying to figure out if I'm that desperate. Things don't seem to be going right at home between Mom and Steve. I don't know ... It seems that just from the letters, I'm back where I started from already. I'll still be happy to leave this place. I am going to go straight to the candy stand at the airport and buy a Milky Way bar. Yum! I feel like crying but I won't give those bastards the satisfaction of seeing me cry.

    I am going to wait until tomorrow, and if I don't hear word of when I will be leaving then I am going to split on a Meka or some boat. I swear.

    I hate even thinking about those kids. Everyone probably thinks that I am more of a kid than they are. FUCK THEM!!! I have eaten and am more or less with the group. Good night.


Monday, September 6, 1971

We ran and dipped and didn't eat. Because of Chris and George, who did not feel like running. I am dying of hunger.

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