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Authors: David Wojnarowicz

Waterfront Journals

BOOK: Waterfront Journals
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The Waterfront Journals

David Wojnarowicz


Editor's Preface

Man in Harbor Coffee Shop

Guy on Second Avenue 1:00

Guy in Waterfront Hotel

Twenty-Year-Old Woman in Times Square

Kentucky Trucker in the Rocky Mountains

Woman in Chinese-American Coffee Shop

Man in Portland Movie Theater

Fourteen-Year-Old Runaway Girl

Young Guy Hanging Out on Market Street

Man in Mickey's Dining Car 2:30

Young Boy in Times Square 4:00

Young Runner Hanging Out by the River

Young Woman in Coffee Shop on the Lower East Side

Guy in Car on Wall Street at Midnight

Boy in Coffee Shop on Third Avenue

Young Boy in Bus Station Coffee Shop

Young Man in Silver Dollar Restaurant

Night Guard in a Bookstore

Boy on the Lower East Side

Man on Christmas Eve along the Rainy Hudson River 3:00

Man Lying Back on a Couch in 90-Degree Weather

Twenty-Five-Year-Old Guy at YMCA Two Weeks after Self-imposed Hermitude in a Boarded-Up House in New Orleans

Young Boy in Seafood Restaurant

Elderly Transvestite on Second Avenue (Evening)

Canada-Bound Trucker on Interstate 90

Man in Sheridan Square Park Drinking 1:00

Boy in Horn & Hardart's on Forty-second Street

A Kid on the Piers near the West Side Highway

Hobo in Train Yard

Man in Brew & Burger on Forty-second Street and Eighth Avenue

Guy on Fourteenth Street 3:00

Man Drinking Coffee in Thirty-third Street Pizzeria

Man in Coffee Shop Midnight East Village

Man in Casual Labor Office 6:30

Man on Interstate Heading Towards NYC

Woman in Coffee Shop

Boy in YMCA

Man in Lower East Side Tenement Room

Girl Sitting on Pavement in front of Coffee Shop

Guy Waiting for a Bus

Hobo on Flatcar Eastbound for St. Paul

Man on Second Avenue 2:00

Boy in Trailer Park

The Waterfront 2:00

From the Diaries of a Wolf Boy

Editor's Preface

On February 20, 1989, David Wojnarowicz sent me his manuscript
The Waterfront Journals
. I was fascinated by these monologues, as David called them, and asked to see more. He set them aside to focus on current writings and to give public readings. The new work was published in his first book,
Close to the Knives,
by Random House in 1991. We discussed another project, one that would combine his drawings and watercolors with text.
Memories That Smell Like Gasoline
was published in 1992 by Artspace Books. In the process of putting together that publication, David found in his notebooks an early draft of “From the Diaries of a Wolf Boy,” which is now the final story in
The Waterfront Journals
. Many of the monologues had been published over the years in small magazines, chapbooks, and anthologies. David intended to work on
The Waterfront Journals
as his next literary project, but then he became ill. He had written them before he had AIDS, before becoming an AIDS activist, before establishing himself as a painter, photographer, video maker, and performance artist. They are from a time in his life when he hitchhiked, looked for sex anywhere, and talked to strangers. Before he died, David and I discussed how these early writings might be received. He thought people wouldn't believe these characters existed in the world. He felt that AIDS had so completely changed him that this evidence of his former self would surprise those who knew only his later work. He felt it revealed his romanticism, his idealism, his orientation to the world before rage and hopelessness set in. After he died, on July 22, 1992, I found the letter he sent me with his manuscript in 1989. He signed off: “I wrote this book over the last thirteen or fourteen years. It's all true.”

Amy Scholder

August 1995

New York City

Man in Harbor Coffee Shop


When I was in prison there were these two brothers, Hugh and Roy D'Autremont, who I became good friends with. I don't know if you ever heard of them but they were in prison for life for blowing up an entire train to get the mail-car money. So every day I'd walk with Hugh in the yard … he was like this great mystical teacher but without getting into the mysticism, just a beautiful fella. So we'd walk along and stop every now and then because he had something to say to me like: Earl, do you see that guard tower? and I'd say, Yeah, and he'd say: Well take your fingers and measure how big it is from here, and I'd take my thumb and forefinger and place them about an inch apart so that the guard tower fit neatly between the two, and Hugh would say: Got it? and I'd say, Yeah, and he'd say without taking his eyes off the guard tower: That's how high it really is. Then we'd talk awhile more while I pondered this and realized he was talking about perspective … and every so often we'd pass his brother Roy and Hugh would say: My pawn to your bishop, like they were playing mental chess, didn't even have a chessboard, they knew each position of the pieces in their heads which means Hugh was teaching me things and talking about various subjects and all the while he'd be pondering the moves of the chess game in his head …

I had a lot of great sex in prison … there was always some guy at my elbow trying to persuade me to drop whatever daddy I had and go with him … there was one time that I had two guys at once. One was a real handsome guy but he had had a prefrontal lobotomy. Whenever we would get into conversations about the past he could only remember up to a certain point, then he'd explain his loss of memory with: That's when they cut off my horns. So I was making it with him and at the same time I was making it with this other fella who was in for murder. One day I was sewing in my cell when this queen rushed up and said: Earl, Earl. Joe and Butch are out there killing each other. They found out you've been making it with both of them! So I quick rushed into the yard and there they were punching it out and I ran up and got in between them and said: Now boys you stop fighting this instant … you both should know better … why there's surely enough of me to go around. Well after that they both thought about it and I was dropped … neither of them would see me anymore …

Guy on Second Avenue 1:00


This friend of mine was up in Central Park on the West Side around Seventy-fifth Street or somethin like that and he was walking around in the park by the Rambles in this area with lots of trees and overgrown paths and he's cruisin and at some point this good-looking guy walks by him real slow and they check each other out and the guy passes him with a heavy cruise and continues on and my friend turns around and watches him go into this small clearing surrounded by hilly slopes where there's a circle of benches and it's night and dark as hell but the circle is lit up with lampposts and the guy sits down and looks for him so my friend turns and starts walking towards the smiling guy sitting on the bench and he's about to enter the circle and suddenly out the corner of his eye he sees something on the hillside move and he looks around and there's about seven dark-skinned guys black or Haitian moving down the hill from all different directions towards the guy sitting in the pool of light on one bench looking towards him smiling and so my friend turns around and yells Run run run and starts running like hell the short distance across the field towards this huge stone wall about eight feet high separating the park from the street and he's running like hell and he jumps up on top of this series of boulders and leaps over to the wall catching it and pulling himself over onto the street and he looks down as he does so and there's this one black guy standing beneath the wall looking up at him and he's got a knife in his hand and then he looks out over the field to the circle of benches and at that moment the seven other guys have reached the guy sitting on the bench and they close in on him and my friend says he sees them all lift their hands in the air simultaneously and the knives come down stabbing him over and over and there's not a sound and he turns and runs to a police station and reports what's happened and a couple cops take him out there in their car and they get to the clearing and there's no sign of nothin no sign of the guy who cruised him or the other guys no sign of a struggle and he can't explain it to the cops and he goes home and a week later the cops call him up and ask him to come downtown and make a possible identification of a male head found in the park and he goes and it's the guy who smiled at him one night a week ago and he talked with a number of people and found out it mighta been some voodoo cult and he flipped out so he gets this tattoo on his wrist to protect himself and he disappears for a while and a year later I seen him and he seemed different invisible so that you might not notice him if you passed him on the street …

Guy in Waterfront Hotel


See here on this map … I was born in Austin Texas … see right here … my father had me seeing the bishop all the time. I was a very religious child. So I go to the bishop and ask him certain questions about god and he says Now Gordon, we won't have people doubting their god. I said What? I'm asking questions because I want to learn not because I doubt … one time the bishop was talking about gay people … I'd never known what they were … I was a pretty quiet kid, you know, didn't know anything, so when I heard what he was saying about them I thought what's wrong with them for doing that? … so I went downtown and into the Gulch Bar … Gulch Bar Gulch Restaurant Gulch Bakery everything in that town was called Gulch … so I went into the Gulch Bar and picked me up a cowboy and I told him what I wanted him to do to me and we went right home and did it … ha ha ha … when the bishop found out he was upset. He said Boy you have an authority problem. Me? An authority problem? … ha ha ha … so that's when my father moved us up to Colorado … see this line I've drawn on the map? well from here my brother was sent into the army … then my father was sent over to Pennsylvania in order to work and he died … the next thing I know my mother's on the phone talking to god knows who saying You promised me that when his father died you would get him work. She was talking about me of course … that bitch she knew what was going to happen … and the next thing I know I'm in Salt Lake City surrounded by Mormons and they're handing me my robe. Now I don't know how I got there but I became a Mormon which takes me from here to there … see the direction the lines are moving in? well after three months of being a Mormon I called up my mother and said Mom I just saw people melting on the street. I was walking down the street in Salt Lake City and people were vanishing left and right so I called my mother and told her and do you know what she said? She said Gordon don't let it upset you. They're not there they're not real… ha ha ha … So I said This means war and the next thing I know I'm in a uniform and in Vietnam.
… how the hell did I get there? … the last thing I can remember saying is This means war and there I was surrounded by artillery fire not from the North Vietnamese but from the fucking lieutenants the generals they didn't know what the fuck they were doing. The soldiers didn't know what they were there for who they were fighting … bombs were exploding all around us … I was in the trenches and some guy next to me said Gordon is that a fetal position? and I would turn and look at the body next to me huddled in the mud and say Ha ha ha yes that's a fetal position and we'd take our field glasses and look through them into the fires and see men crossing the fields smoking joints. I'd yell out Hey! are you one of us? and one guy ate his joint and said Yeah now I am … ha ha ha … so now the line moves from North America all the half way around the world to Southeast Asia and then they send me back home and I end up over in Berkeley … I was in a house living with some friends of my mother's and that's when Mrs. Robinson shows up out of nowhere just materializes out of the air … she was this black woman and do you know what she said to me one time? She said You want everything don't you? ha ha ha … that bitch here I was on food stamps not a penny to my name and she tells me You want everything well she didn't last long … when that creature appeared in the corner of the ceiling one day waving its arms and saying I am god reincarnated Mrs. Robinson took one look at it and ran screaming from the house … it said I am god reincarnated … I'm a Jehovah's Witness … so the line of travel comes from Vietnam to Berkeley … now I'm here in San Francisco and planning to go to a logging mill up in Portland for a couple of months … but see? that's what their plan is. They want me to go north because that's where the reincarnation process starts … see my father was reincarnated into Patrick the guy who lives downstairs. Patrick's eyes are my father's eyes … me I don't know exactly where I fit into their plans. I'm sure it's my mother's doing though … I should go back and see her and ask her questions and hold a fucking rifle to her head and if she don't give me the right answers I'll blow that bitch's head off …

BOOK: Waterfront Journals
3.8Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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