There are times when we muse about perfect endings and romanticize how we might cease existing, but who actually gets their wish? When our ending comes, sometimes it comes out of the blue. Who then knows what last, panicky thoughts will rush through our mind?
Im now musing about this after I heard David Avadon had died.
Coincidentally I recently ran across a batch of old photos of David. I could not precisely time-stamp them, but they were probably taken sometime between 1969 and 1971. At that time period, David had renamed himself Avadon-Black and was an itinerant troubadour-magician who hitchhiked around America, performing for his supper, lodging, and enough money to finance his journeying. Like many other counter-cultural experimenters at the time, this was offbeat. I thought it was romantically daring and a bit daft--very grass-roots, improvisational, andwell reckless. His M.O. was to drop in at a local university and freely perform magic and other theatrical things in the student union or cafeteria. He managed to ingratiate himself and finagle a situation where he could perform his free show. I say free because the only type of payment he accepted was food, a place to crash, and other types of practical donations. His pre-show bally consisted of performing a couple of card flourishes, followed by a full presentation of R. W. Hulls The Tuned Deck (Greater Magic). His full show ran about an hour, using props that he carried in his knapsack. Somehow he managed to find me, having read the Hierophant and knowing that I lived in New Orleans. At the time, I wanted to include Playboy-type interviews in my magazine. Therefore, I ended up interviewing David for a couple of hours about his journeys and ideas. I remember spending a lot of time discussing Grotowskis Towards a Poor Theater and venues we imagined being created in the future--venues oddly enough like the ones Ricky Jay and Harry Anderson currently do. David, back then, was a classicistusing minimal props, lots of interactive theater, and spouting poetry and telling stories. It is safe to say that nobody else was doing anything like this David was a lone wayfarer and the drummer he marched to was Native American. He was, in two words, a Trickster-Hobo.
Alas, Davids eventual career track looped and swerved and he, like many others in the L.A. area, found special niches to play. He even managed to write some books and articles. However, deep down I think he wanted to be a working actor, with magic as an avocation. Nevertheless, (to borrow a phrase from Truman Capote) he was a duke in his domain.
I now prefer to remember him as the smiling, softly spoken troubadour named Avadon-Black--the dreamer I left alongside a Louisiana highway in the late 60s. I snapped a photograph of him grinning, his thumb out, his knapsack packed and ready to go. It was not long before a car stopped. Avadon-Black then happily hopped in. I watched him drive away, heading north into uncharted territory, bliss-out, blessed, and free
August 27, 2009