John Farris – writer, poet, raconteur, curmudgeon, mentor, genius – died last week at his home at the Bullet Space Gallery in NYC’s East Village, where he’d lived since 1992. John was a friend to many, and took us young’uns under his wing back when he was running open mikes at the Neither/Nor Gallery. I’ll never forget the time he took four or five of us kids over to Sweet Basil to see Sun Ra and the Arkestra. We’d only known John a couple of years, and he was telling us all sorts of bullshit stories about all the famous jazz men he knew and was friends with, and we were taking it all in with a big grain of salt.
After the (amazing) show, every damned member of Sun Ra’s band came over to our table, going “Farris! What’s up? Where you been, man! C’mon out and party with us!” and Farris was like, “Nah, I’m gonna hang with these guys.” I never felt so cool in my whole life. There were a lot of moments like that with John.
I could go on and on. I’ve got a million Farris stories – hell, everyone has a million Farris stories – but I’m going to let his words speak for him. Here are three pieces from two Sensitive Skin events, one from last May, one from 2010, and a Peau Sensible event (John was one of the original editors) from way back in 1994. John Farris, RIP.
The Call Up, Bowery Poetry Club, 5-17-2015
Making the Burning Man, Bowery Poetry Club, 8-15-2010
Poem for Hecklers, The Living Theater, July, 1994