Ted made everything he did be a work of art -- everything he wrote down for any reason. He never just scrawled. His prose exhibits this propensity of his; it was as much a part of him as his humor was. I'm not like that except unconsciously, so I'm in awe of it. Ted was deliberate. The strangeness and devotion of something like the Basho journals manuscripts, which I sold at the Phoenix bookstore, but he made the package, consisting of the Penguin translation by Nobuyuki Yuasa that he changed (assisted) into terrific English, that copy of the book, with his black-ink corrections, along with a typescript or typescripts perhaps, decorated? Nick will know. Ted kept making booklets out of the typescripts or their copies, I have one with Victorian flower stickers on it. He would lovingly put such materials together, and I would go to the Phoenix and chat up Bob Wilson (always a pleasure) and Get The Money! I see this care, this saving of things, all the folders and the folders remade by me into further folders, in the book we have just edited and published . . . And I see . . . For example, the implication that a whole poem by a poet reviewed was itself a review (like when you read a poem you like aloud to a friend); or that a rearrangement of lines from the book by the poet being reviewed, was a review, in fact a way of having a dialogue in the language of poetry, which is the most relevant one finally, isn't it? You can say what's really being said by highlighting lines, and you can talk to lines with other lines -- the criticism is already in the poetry . . . Or I recall rescuing "Brain Damage" from the trash -- it is outrageous and offensive and out-to-lunch, but I rescued it! Or I remember when he cut up "Ten Things About the Trip to Boston" into strips, having found an old typescript of it, an original archival sheet typed way before the book Back to Boston, with contributions also by Ron Padgett and Tom Clark, was published by Telegraph Books. He was sort of falling asleep but asked me to find an envelope to put them in, and I counted them and said, 'There are only nine.' Then he dictated to me the missing "Thing" – the final one -- and I wrote it on the outside of the envelope. A new item of potential exhibit for the folder "Longer Works of the More Academic Type"! This was fun . . . Or the outrageousness of everything we did in the 70s, so I can barely read those Journals (NOTE: Just reread them; they’re fabulous) . . . My embarrassment at "The Arrival Report," being its subject, so I didn't see the place at the very end, in this edition, where Gisele's name didn't get properly spelled out (Pardon me, Gisele Brotherston, friend in Wivenhoe!). Get the Money! is a book about life and art being coincident, all the time. Ted was always making art (like Joe, and Andy -- Joe Brainard, Andy Warhol). And he was very funny. "Longer Works Of the More Academic Type" was something he wrote on a folder in which he kept some of the works presented in what is now Get The Money! When the folder fell apart about ten years ago (I had carted everything he'd written, across the ocean, a long time before) I just rewrote the title on a new folder. Over the years everything in it -- all the originals -- have become art. They look old, and yellow, and some of them are from newspapers. Originals of fliers. Pages of The Poetry Project Newsletter cut out and made into booklets with magic markers and glitter. This is what an archive is, like ancient art is. Things becoming more beautiful and interesting through time. The work in itself is that too. This is possibly the only thing time is good for. I now in fact like Brain Damage: before, I only rescued it. I love everything he wrote for The Poetry Project Newsletter. Before, it was what was going on. But it's art, obviously. Tributes to people and things no one knows about now, because of the weirdness of mainstream decisions as to what is "great" -- those tributes are very poignant. I would like for George and Joe to be around for this. There is an entire incomprehensible letter, probably to Bernadette, never typed or sent, on the other side of Something, maybe two Somethings, in the original mss of Longer Works Of the More Academic Type. Just to say. Lita Hornick. The Beeks. The N.Y. Jets. The prose is measured, almost metered, in different ways. It's often like poetry. Or like talking. Or like Boswell's Johnson. Or like being with Ted. The secret is presence, Or, presence is the secret to everything. Offside, he continues to help Anselm do his math homework by taking the telephone apart. He essentially does Eddie's homework for him, under the guise of showing him how to write neatly between margins. He is amusing himself. He is caring. About every single thing. As he finds new friends even now: Nick Sturm for example. Yasmine. Rona. And Garrett of course. We respond back with love.
P.S. Ron has sent us some further information about "Brain Damage," that Larry Fagin called a 1970 mimeo book Brain Damage (in homage?), that a small magazine that ran for two issues was called Brain Damage, and that Ron's old Columbia roommate Eddie Kaim, well his dad worked for the AMA Journal, portions of which Ted cut up into "Brain Damage." Somewhere in all of this information Alice Neel and Jane Freilicher and Red Grooms sit serenely, having been reviewed in ART News. Jim Brodey. Harry Fainlight. Anselm Hollo. Joe Ceravolo. Blurbed, introduced at readings, obited . . . Where was the review of Joel Oppenheimer published? How old was Jim Carroll, really, at any time? Ask Steve Facey. Steve Carey. Ed Sanders. Lorenzo Thomas. Can Anne Waldman's character really be explained by The Great Constella's Aries horoscope? Who's buried behind Lufkin's Diner, for chrissakes? Maybe Frank knows by now. Too many names? Too many? Didn't you ever know anyone in your life?
P.P.S. I’ve been re-rereading the book for the last two days, and it’s so good. So alive . . . so inspiring. It isn’t ancient art, I repeat: it’s utterly alive.
Alice Notley, Sept 2022