The effects of alcohol special or otherwise, knows no bounds. I was coming out of my building when a man was exiting the cafe paralleling my front door slamming into me full force. He hit my nose so hard I saw stars, including his.
He was Sam Shepard, the esteemed playwright and actor.
At first, I didn’t realize it was him since he certainly doesn’t look the way I remember. He had to be one of the handsomest men on the planet way back when. And I realize he’s older now, but believe me, this isn’t why he looks as if a tank rolled over his face.
He drinks. My dad had the same one, a man also considered beautiful forfeiting what nature gave him for the contents in a bottle.
“Excuse me,” he said, pretty genuinely. “I didn’t see you there.”
“It’s okay,” I said, rubbing feeling back into my nose. Then he was gone.
But I thought of him. I thought of the amazing photographs Bruce Weber took of him and Jessica Lange in 1990 for The Sam Book published by Little Bear Press during the bloom of their famed romance.
It’s so uncanny when you think how alcohol, in theory, makes a person feel good, hence why they drink only to steal and pillage every cell in its path. Just take a peek at Errol Flynn towards the end of his life. He was another breathtakingly beautiful man whiskey robbed of his facial grace. Like gazing at a Roman ruin you can only imagine in its prime.
It’s not uncommon for me to see famous people living where I do. The Upper East Side of New York is considered the watering hole for the rich and renowned.
But it’s not too common to literally bump into someone you’ve admired as a writer for so long, ever since you too wanted to be one, looking as if he went one too many rounds with life.
Sam Shepard (1943-2017)
I wrote this two years ago. Sam Shepard died this past Thursday, July 27th, 2017, at the age of 73.
Such a loss.