Page 23 - Gay San Francisco_Eyewitness Drummer
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Gay San Francisco: Eyewitness Drummer                  3
                lost civilization. His eyewitness testimony is supported by internal
                evidence from an array of public and private archived documents.

                Spoken by a pioneer-participant, this Gay San Francisco: Eyewitness
             Drummer text is oral history written down for remembrance. It is a per-
             sonal memoir ricocheting off Gertrude Stein’s Everybody’s Autobiography.
             Fritscher insists, “There are several other autobiographical eyewitness
             stories to be told about Drummer by others from their own experience. I
             can’t tell them all; I don’t know them all; but I welcome them all.”
                As a teenager, he was impressed by L. P. Hartley’s 1953 novel The Go-
             Between. Hartley was schooled at Oxford where Fritscher studied briefly.
             As a tenured associate professor teaching university classes titled Creative
             Writing, American Literature, and Esthetics of Cinema, he lectured on
             the screen play of The Go-Between (1970) written by Harold Pinter and
             directed by Joseph Losey who had been blacklisted as a Communist by the
             House Un-American Activities Committee. “That HUAC witch hunt,
             that opening salvo of the culture war,” he says, “was run by Republican
             Senator Joseph McCarthy who was the progenitor of Jesse Helms who
             crucified Robert Mapplethorpe, and of Carl Rove and the neocons kneel-
             ing on their right-wing prayer rugs.”
                Hartley’s famous first line in both his book and the Pinter-Losey
             film of The Go-Between is: “The past is a foreign country; they did things
             differently there.” Having kept a journal since he was seventeen in early
             1957, Fritscher in 1970 began writing entries of the “foreign gay past” as it
             happened before it was past and while it was not foreign to him as eyewit-
             ness. These entries were integral to his signature novel, the 1990 Lambda
             Literary Award Finalist, Some Dance to Remember: A Memoir-Novel of San
             Francisco 1970-1982. As a humanist, he wrote his essentialist “opening
             line”: “In the end he could not deny his human heart.”
                In 1988, he began his  Drummer  133 “Pentimento” salute to his
             bi coastal lover Robert Mapplethorpe: “The pre-AIDS past of the 1970s
             has become a strange country. We lived life differently a dozen years ago.”
                What of the past is written in Fritscher’s Eyewitness Drummer history
             is not a fiction. He allows, however, that its “truth is, of course, Rashomon.
             In that 1950 film, director Akira Kurosawa told the same story from four
             points of view.”
                As a college student who graduated in 1961, Fritscher also idolized
             The Alexandria Quartet written by Lawrence Durrell between 1957 and
                “Durrell wrote one story,” Fritscher says, “told from four different
             points of view. He exhibits the human degrees of relativity — the six

           ©Jack Fritscher, Ph.D., All Rights Reserved—posted 05-05-2017
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