Glitter & Grease - "No Dinner for Andy Warhol"
From Section VIII, Time and Timing

Where does all the thyme go? Cold November winds streak through the farm today. I look out on the land as it returns to its less differentiated state. There was once a sweep of great activity in these fields. Now they are brown rectangles of bare dirt or green swaths of oats and vetch. Crops once grew here in rows, stretched towards the sun, sprawled towards their neighbors, spiked, headed, unfurled, bulbed, spiraled, cascaded. There was heat, wind, cold, bugs, weeding, digging, tilling, walking, studying, planting, soothing, irrigating, lifting, shucking, clipping. And now this silence—the quiet fields echo the unmanifest, the undifferentiated.

We had an end of season farm party. We danced. We ate. We laughed. We said goodbye. I thought of endings, of fields reposing, of the space where Katherine will no longer be, where Marci will no longer be, where Michelle will no longer be. I thought of fields reverting, ascending, to their unified state. There is a field where the thyme will no longer be, a field where the tomatoes will no longer be ...

The next day, my friend Valdawn gave me a clock, a planting clock. It looks out from a foot-and-a-half-tall wooden case. One of its two faces gradually rotates through zodiac positions while specifying which vegetables should be planted during that celestial period.

During these last few days my watch started to lose power. Each day about fifteen minutes just disappeared into . . . I don't know where.

Time passes, surges, recedes, ascends. Maybe it does none of these. Maybe time just makes space. The good-byes and quieting fields and Valdawn's gift of time made a space, a space in the past. I tumbled into it . . .

Isa lived here on the farm for five years—late '70s, early '80s. From here she moved to Manhattan, where she became the manager of EAT. (If you want to get the feeling for what EAT is like, hear Woody Allen's reference to it in the film Manhattan. Or just go there and have a light lunch for seventy-five dollars.)

Andy Warhol occasionally strolled into EAT. Andy liked Isa. He brought her signed copies of Interview magazine. He sent her flowers for her birthday. He brought her little wrapped presents. Isa was confused by this attention from the man who was famous for courting fame; Isa wasn't famous. She was young, pretty, effervescent, rambunctious, creative. But she wasn't Mick Jagger or the Queen of England.

Isa called me a couple times to announce that Andy was coming to Chicago to sign books or open a club. Once, I glued Isa's baby pictures to an EAT shopping bag, filled it with popcorn and took it to Andy. The other time I wrote him a letter about farm life and presented it to him. Both times I saw Andy, he talked about Isa—her vivaciousness, her friendliness, the possibilities for her future. He did this in between signing pajamas and soup cans and books for admirers. After each Chicago visit he went into EAT the next day and told Isa he had visited with her farmer friend, and that we were picking pumpkins, or whatever I told him we were doing.

Isa was shy with Andy. One night she called me—this was in the mid-'80s. I was living in the log cabin in our woods.

"Andy wants to have dinner tomorrow night," she said very softly. (Isa sort of whispered when she talked on the phone.)

"Andy wants to have dinner tomorrow night," she said very softly.
"Great! Are you going to cook for him?" I asked.
"We're going out. I don't know what to say."
"Say when?"
"At the dinner. I don't know what to talk about."
"Talk about anything you want. He's really into you."
"How do you know?"
"All he wants to talk about is you when I've seen him in Chicago. He's fascinated with you."
"No, he's not. What should I talk about?" she whispered.
"Do you think he's asking you out because he doesn't like you, Isa?"
"What should I talk about?"
"Tell him we're harvesting our pumpkins," I said confidently. "Tell him my mother is helping," I added. "Tell him my mother is painting our barn, too, and she's seventy-four. Andy was really into his mother. He would love my mother." (I had just finished reading for the second time his book From A to B and Back Again, so I was pretty confident that pumpkins and mothers were suitable conversation topics.)
I spoke with Isa a few weeks later.
"Did you tell Andy about our pumpkins?" I asked.
"I didn't have to talk."
"Why? Did he do all the talking?"
"There were eight of us. I didn't have to say anything."
"Isa!" I chided.
"He's coming over for dinner."
"To your place?"
"Yeah."
"Just the two of you?"
"Probably his boyfriend, too."
"When?"
"We didn't set a date. I don't know what to cook."
"Isa, you know what to cook. Besides, he doesn't care what you cook. He wants to hang out with you."
"We'll see," she whispered.
Months passed. That winter, on a Saturday afternoon, a woman showed up at the farm with a T-shirt commemorating Edie Sedgwick. I studied Edie's wan, stark image emblazoned on the shirt. Edie and Andy had been the darlings of the New York scene in the early '60s. Edie died young. Andy continued on.

The next morning, a friend brought over an old album by the Velvet Underground—"the first punk band," he said. "They were sponsored by Andy Warhol, or something like that." I listened to the raucous, disjointed music on the seriously scratched album.
"I don't get this music," I finally commented.
"I think you had to be there," my friend commented.
On the radio that afternoon, I heard that Andy Warhol was dead.
So this is why people are showing up with Andy Warhol paraphernalia, I thought. Andy is everywhere right now, even more so than when he was alive.
I called Isa.
"Are you okay, Isa?"
"Yeah, I just got back from cross-country skiing in the Catskills. It was beautiful."
"You don't know, then?"
"What?"
"About Andy?"
"What about him?"
How could Isa not know? I wondered. The whole world knows. How do I tell her? There is no way to lead into this, to build up to it.
"He died, Isa."
"Died?" she gulped. "I was thinking about him in the mountains. Andy's dead?"
"Yeah," I said, clenching the phone, feeling such tenderness for Isa—Isa, the sweetest girl in the world, with the biggest heart, and that was why Andy had loved her so.
"Died?" she gulped. "I was thinking about him in the mountains. Andy's dead?"
"Are you sure it's not just some publicity stunt?"
I pictured Isa in her cute New York apartment, little shriney things all around, twinkly lights, everything beautiful and magenta. I imagined her scared look, her eyes pleading, darting about the room, looking for a happy way out of this sad news.
"It's not a stunt."
"I was planning what to cook. I figured it out when I was skiing."
"He can't come, Isa," I said gently.
Long silence.
"I'm looking around the apartment now. Wherever I look, I see things Andy gave me."
"I'm sorry you didn't have your dinner, Isa. Andy would have liked it.
 
 


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