We’ve Lived, You and Me, Very Interesting Lives

This is a transcript of a really long recording dated 7 Oct 2014, while Patrick was visiting me in California. It lasted almost 20 minutes. You can listen to the conversation below.

It begins when he’s talking about music in college. I’d be interested in Lee’s thoughts and comments on this one.

We go on to talk about death and dying, living, and women, and how he explains the life choices he made.

Patrick: [There was an Artists Series at Florida State] … and because you’re a student you get a pass to all of these … and Yma Sumac…

John: Which?

Patrick: Yma Sumac. You don’t know Yma Sumac? Okay. That’s something to experience. Anyway, and Dave Brubeck.

John: You saw them in..l you and Donna saw them in Tallahassee.

Patrick: Tallahassee.

John: I saw Brubeck a couple of times but it was two generations of Brubeck. It was him and his sons playing together.

Patrick: Oh yeah. No. This was the original trio…

John: Wow.

Patrick: …with, eh…

John: Paul Desmond…

Patrick: Paul Desmond and then little alto sax wailing open intervals, and they did… Later they did the album called Time Out, and that album is fantastic because it’s five four time, it’s eight eight time and…

John: Seven four time with Unsquare Dance

Patrick: Yeah, right, Unquare Dance, okay. And eight eight time. You know you could do ONE two three four ONE two three four… that’s eight. or you could do it like him: ONE two three ONE two three ONE two ONE two three ONE two three ONE two and that adds up to eight, right?

John: Yeah …

Patrick: And that’s Turkish.

John: Oh, okay.

Patrick: And that’s what you get in Greece.

John: Oh. Okay.

Patrick: So I’m sitting in this bar in Greece with Mary on the way to Athens to go to Rome, and we’re in an old mosque which had been turned into a Greek bar and there’s a band playing. They see that we’re Americans and they start to the play Star Spangled Banner, but with this kind of rhythm [mimicking sound and rhythm]

Patrick: And I’m trying to follow the guy’s foot whose playing the accordion and a clarinet, and they’re laughing at me …


…and then I get drunk because they pour beer into my retsina and I pour retsina into their beer …

Christine: What’s retsina?

Patrick: Retsina is a wine that is made only in Greece. And if you have–if you’ve been in Greece and you’ve had a retsina, it tastes like resin because they fill, they caulked the barrels with resin, pine resin. So it tastes like resin.

Christine: Can’t be very enjoyable then?

Patrick: Well, you get used to it. Anyway, if you have a drink of that, you’re in Greece.

Patrick: It’s the fastest trip I know of. You can go instantly to Greece just by one swallow of retsina.

Anyway, we’re passing this back and forth and these guys are laughing at me and finally I said, “I can do what they’re doing.” They’re jumping around and they’re doing this Greek dancing stuff, and they jump and kick their heels and so on. So I got up, and I did it!

So, in the box of stuff I’m saving for you, there’s a little book by Robert Dreicer, my friend in Florence, and it’s called Doing Sicily.  It’s his little collection of poems that he did by himself years ago. And then one of them says “Pat Dancing on Chios.” So, you’ll find me there.

John: Okay.

Patrick: So we’ve lived, you and me, very interesting lives both of us, very different, different focus …

John: Yep!

Patrick: But, what’s the problem? There is no problem. The problem is… everybody thinks there should be a problem. I don’t think there should be a problem. I think there should be no problem.

John: Is that one of those circular arguments like “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself?”

Patrick: Yeah, right. I don’t… I’m not afraid of anything. Are you?

John: Um, there are things that I fear but they’re not …

Patrick: Bankruptcy, mortgage payment?

John: Eh, no, I… er, I’m not… Maybe not fear but there are things I respect. You know, the people who have no fear are the ones that tend to think … they take foolish chances. I have a respect–I have a respect for the highway right out here; I have a respect for relationships; I have a respect for …

Patrick: It’s a principal fear…

John: I’ve been at the wrong end of the gun and I–certainly that is a frightful experience. So, you know, there are aspects of things that frighten me. But…

Patrick: What frightens me…

John: I mean ultimately I’m not afraid of dying… I’ve been thinking about it my whole life, so that’s not a frightening thing …

Patrick: It’s all a part of life.

John: Yeah, that’s just another…

Patrick: I don’t mind being dead; I just don’t like the part about dying!

John: Yeah, yeah.

Patrick: I want it to be quick and easy. But there’s no guarantee, unless you take charge.

John: That’s right.

Christine: So does that mean that we don’t enjoy life?

Patrick: Oh, I enjoy life. Do you enjoy life? Who says we don’t enjoy life?

Christine: I don’t know; I don’t know. Does that mean I don’t enjoy it to the degree that I should enjoy life because I’m thinking about dying?

Patrick: No, no, no, no. Life is made more poignant and more invaluable when you realize it’s going to end.

John: Yes. It’s the transitory nature of life…

Patrick: Yeah.

John: …that fills the moments that we have.

Patrick: Yes.

Christine: Actually I feel differently… I feel … my opinion is that it’s feeling that we are…

PatricK: Temporary?

Christine: No…that we’re, we’re immortal, that we’re…

Patrick: Ah yeah, well …

Christine: …that we’re inevitable …

Patrick: Inevitable is different from immortal, yes?

Christine: Well…

Patrick: Inevitably we’re not immortal.

Christine: Inevitably we’re immortal but… Not immortal, no not immortal…

Patrick: Yeah, who said it?

Christine: I guess, inevitably that we will pass on.

Patrick: We will die.

Christine: …we will die.

Patrick: Yeah, but not at the moment.

Christine: But, but, for the moment, living as though we think that we won’t or we feel we won’t die.

Patrick: No one thinks they’re going to die. But eh, eh, my favorite quote. I have a list of quotes. When I find something in what I’m reading, I put it in my list of quotes and the last one I put in was: “The whole point…” Let’s see, I just had it and I just lost it…hang on. “The meaning of life is, it stops.”

Patrick: That’s a good one. It’s from a great writer too; I forgot who he was. I’ve got it in my notes but I don’t have my notes with me. What am I going to do? I don’t have my notes with me!

John: Nor staffs, nor staves, nor systems. [musical joke]

Christine: So a hundred years from now no one will ever believe that we, the three of us, were sitting her having this conversation…

Patrick: Oh yeah.

Christine: …unless we write it down and document it somewhere.

Patrick: Yeah, oh yeah.

John: Well, it is documented. [with this recording]

Patrick: Chechov says–I can’t get it right… I wish I had my notes with me–“Somewhere there will be a guitar playing and nobody will know we ever existed.”

Christine: Is that frightening to you?

Patrick: No.

Christine: No?

Patrick: I’ve really existed; I have existed; I am existing.

Christine: So it doesn’t matter to you …

Patrick: Because I won’t …

Christine: … that in a hundred years that no one will ever know.

Patrick: Nah.

Christine: Unless they dig up a piece of music that you’ve transitioned…

Patrick: Maybe they need a little of my DNA and they dig me up. Yeah, just to check out, is that really my son?

Christine: Yeah, is that, is that…was he, was he, did he really exist?

Patrick: Yeah, his name is Dillon; is he really my son?

Patrick: But yeah, something like that. The guys who became immortal did it because they created something that we all are using every day and they are amazing because they, like I said before, Mozart makes these guys pick up their violins and go [making sounds and and gesturing with bows] and he’s dead.

John: And he’s still controlling it.

Patrick: And he’s still controlling it.

John: Shakespeare….

Christine: Is that the legacy that you want to leave?

Patrick: No, no. But it’s nice that that happens. And Beethoven makes everybody…

Christine: So what legacy would you like to leave?

Patrick: I’m not even interested.

Christine: In leaving a legacy?

Patrick: No. Come on.

Christine: What about you John?

Patrick: The whole point is live your life. Live your life, and let it go, when you go.

Christine: So ashes to ashes, dust to dust …

Patrick: And “never the twain shall meet”. That means “if you miss the train don’t worry there’ll be another one.” No, don’t worry about dying. Worry about living.

John: You know, my job these days is to dismantle everything I built over the last 15 years. But, ya know, occasionally there’s a twinge that these guys are making the wrong decision but for many years at work I’ve said “In a hundred years it won’t make a difference,” so…

Patrick: Or maybe in a hundred days it won’t make a …

John: Or maybe a hundred minutes! So, let it go, just let it go.

Patrick: [singing] Let it be; let it be …

John: That’s it. So.

Patrick: Bridge over troubled waters. Okay.

John: Yeah. Yeah.

Christine: We’re just passing through.

John: Shall I keep going with more song titles?

Patrick: I left my heart in San Francisco but that one doesn’t fit, except I did it a lot of times all over Europe. And with this Dutch singer who was really so sexy and everybody, and all of the GI’s, loved this woman named Babalou, and her specialty at the end of the night: spotlight comes on, all the other lights go out and Babalou comes out in a red skirt split down the side with a microphone and she says “Babalooooooo.”

Christine: Okay, so what is your…

Patrick: Life?

Christine: No. What, what, being a woman I’m asking this question. What is the–excluding sex or anything physical or anything like that–What do you think that …

Patrick: That’s just excluded three-quarters of my life right there, bang!

Christine: What contribution has …

Patrick: Have I made to life?

Christine: that women made to your life that’s most significant? Does that make sense? Of course you have a son, and two daughters, and …

John: Three.

Christine: Inevitable. Three daughters.

Patrick: And three wives, plus Stephanie. What contributions did they make to my life?

Christine: How have they enriched your life? What lasting contribution did they make to your life? Can you really summarize it?

Patrick: Without them: nothing. Nothing!

Christine: So women are…

Patrick: For me, the most important thing. I didn’t always do it right, or they didn’t do it right, or we made mistakes. But the whole point of living was to be a couple. And I think it’s normal, that’s the way mammals are made, human beings are made. We’re not one, we are two and we are one-half without the other. That’s what I think. But that’s just the way I’ve lived… since the beginning. I’ve only lived alone six months until Stephanie died and now I’ve lived alone nine years. But before that… because I always wanted the other half and one-half is me and the other half is…

Christine: Them, or her.

Patrick: Yeah. So the contribution is, my life was completed each moment by the other. If that’s the question you ask, that’s the answer.

Christine: That is the question I was asking.

Patrick: But–that’s me.

Christine: For me, each person is different. It’s your perspective. It’s your opinion. You’ve lived your life the way you’ve lived your life and it’s your opinion, so I respect that.

Patrick: Yep. And I’ve really loved women all of my life. I really prefer them to men–whether we had sexual relationships or not was not important–but women were much more interesting than men in my life, almost all of them.

Patrick: They’re more purists. They’re less settled. They’re not sure what they want but they’re very curious about the possibilities of what you could want. They maybe want to paint, or they maybe just want to love, or maybe they want to…

John: Nest.

Patrick: …yeah, whatever. Nest? Nesting. Eh well, nesters.

Patrick: Ya know the Master Game, right. The Master Game has several categories of what people do with their lives. Top game is called, I think, the Guru Game… Enlightenment. And then comes Artists Creativity Game, yeah? And so on. You get to the middle one which is the Family Game, which is no game. And then you get to the Cock on Dunghill which is look-at-me, look-at-me. Then you get to the one about money [grunting sounds]; and this is the Master Game.

I never sent you? This book is available online now. It’s a wonderful book. It explains why the human beings are so screwed up. Basically, you have to choose which game you’re in. And the game I chose was not enlightenment because I don’t think I’m clever enough for that. Stephanie was on the Enlightenment Game. She was a teacher of meditation; she was trying to reach Nirvana. But I was on the Artist Game, trying to seek beauty through whatever way I could participate.

Patrick: Yeah. That means sometimes you’re not gonna take care of your kids, you’re not gonna stay with your wife, and you become… So in some ways you become not the best person, but it’s an honest pursuit. And I got there on a certain level.

Patrick: But not the highest level because I wasn’t–I didn’t start studying early enough. But I was pretty good. Then I organized for other artists and I got this thing going for thirty years, which was pretty amazing; and it was all art. And the writing that I’ve done, the publishing… that little bit… that was art, at least on the low level. It was the best that I could do, but… So my excuse for giving up the Family Game which is no game was to try to pursue the Art Game. That’s the explanation that I give myself about abandoning you guys, and falling in love with a painter, and going to Europe, and doing that whole thing.

Patrick: It’s no excuse. But it’s an explanation.

Patrick: And it probably improved your life. And it really ruined the childhood and early womanhood of your two sisters. They had a terrible life, which you probably know almost nothing about and probably you don’t want to. I’m going to find out as much as I can…. lacerating…

John: Wearing the hair shirt, self-flogging…

Patrick: Yeah. But, also they seem to have gone through it. They had the most suffering you can have as women, more Gretchen than her sister, and yet they came out strong.

Patrick: Made a lot of mistakes but they’re still strong people. Now. That… Why am I telling you this? Because you asked–what?

Christine: I don’t know, but I think it’s beautiful.

Patrick: Anyway. I lived my life as well as I could within the framework. I don’t know how it started but somewhere along the line I decided I had to write or play…

John: Pursue the arts.

Patrick: Pursue some attachment to the best thing the human race has ever come up with, and it’s western. There’s a little pocket of time starting about 1600 or so, until maybe if you’re going to include Stravinsky and those guys, the best thing that ever happened organizing sound was in Europe.

Patrick: So I participated at least a little bit in the highest point mankind has reached in six-hundred-thousand years. That’s the way I look at it.

Patrick: End of speech.

(Listen to the conversation)

Transcribed by Christine R
Recording filename: 141007-214722-patrick-artist-series-in-college.mp3