RIP morton d., 1930-2012.

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here is a picture of you, years ago, when the dude-bro-y law clerk said that paintings by jackson pollock are just splatters. you said, “if it’s just splatters, anyone can do it. why don’t you paint us a pollock?” and so we all went to the backyard of our office and stood around, on the clock, watching this very-non-artsy dude attempt to mimic a master.

i was your secretary for years. on my job interview, you made me research star trek fan clubs. when i showed you what i compiled, you rifled through it and proclaimed: “why, these people are crazy!” you asked me what writers can do to change the world. i said all we can do is write something that might make people feel better about their lousy lives. you sat back on your chair and thought about it.

i was your secretary for years. usually secretaries didn’t last around your office. the pay was lousy, and you were eccentric and demanding. clients, associates, and even random clerks at the courthouse would say, “what’s a nice person like you doing working at a place like this?” i would laugh and say that i liked it. i did, even though you pissed me off on a regular basis. even though you behaved in ways that were morally bankrupt, absolutely horrifying sometimes. people would marvel at how good i was at handling you and i’d shrug, “we’re both arieses. his bullshit is my bullshit. i know where it comes from and how to deal.” and it’s true. i don’t exploit people ruthlessly for money like you do, and i hope i never will. but we’re both headstrong, stubborn, swirling with both self-loathing and grandiose ego. both of us love the absurd, the strangeness that life throws our way. you took on clients with the most bullshitty cases if they were interesting people. we both have a flair for telling wacky stories.

i stopped in to visit before i moved away. you weren’t in, but you called me at home later that day. you said i was moving to san francisco and i corrected you: no, i’m moving to oakland. “well, san francisco is far more interesting!” i know, i can go visit. “you’d better learn how to swim!” i had a feeling, in that office, that i was there for the last time.

you died last month. i found out today, sort of by accident. you had several near-death experiences when i knew you and i always thought that when the time came, i’d be able to go to your funeral and hang out with all the weirdos i’d met through you. that it would be one big reunion. but i’m all the way over here now. i couldn’t go. i didn’t even know about it.

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