CANTO 9 September 23, 2011
I think of all the dark periods of my life, the darkest was Atlantic City 1971-1976
Lost years. You killed yourself for 3 months during the summer and just watched the sand blow down the boardwalk, but there were enough conventions to keep a job.
No one believes anything I say about Frank Adamucci, Jr., but while he might have been lying, I never do. In those days, if you told me he was rude and a liar and a terrible person, I would give you his phone number and you would call him to tell him and then call him the next day and the next and the next because you were laughing.
“Oh, for Christ’s sake, spit it out, you Circus Freak!” he would say.
And you could never say it that way. You would not have the person respond with laughter, but Frank could.
He presided in his huge bedroom, entirely ringed with thousands of autographed books. Mrs. A. was the perfect New Jersey rich housewife with the blonde helmet of hair and mink coat. She was so very down to earth and I will always think of her screaming "FRANKIE!". Rich or not, she did all the cooking and taught me that the soul of Italian cooking was simplicity.
FRANKIE! was friends with all of the famous writers. of the 1970s and 80s: Jules Feiffer, Joseph Heller and on and on. He knew how to find them and make them take his calls. Since my husband worked in a Bookstore, Frank demanded we go with him to American Bookseller Conventions. Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington, D.C. Once, at a convention in New York he dragged a skinny, dark-haired man with a hooked nose over to me and barked “Watch Kozinsky for me while I look for something.” Jerzy and I had a lovely conversation, at the end of which he told me “If they ever say I commit suicide, do not believe them. It was CIA!”
I was there with Fran and E. at the after parties. Laughing with Tennssee Williams and Kurt Vonnegut (very drunk, he propositioned me in front of my husband, who wasn’t sure he could object. I said ‘no.’ NUTS!)
Whenever we walked into that deceptively small house full of books in Margate, Frank was always on the phone with someone important. Shari Lansing or Hunter Thompson. And one day he demanded to read a play I had written, and then declared that he had decided to try playwriting and handed me a one-act, “Withdrawal”, which was brilliant and I got produced twice in Philadelphia. Frank claimed productions of his brilliant subsequent plays, but always somewhere far away, like Arizona, so I never knew.
The one thing I realized in that barren time in Atlantic City was possibilities and I started to imagine that I could not sit there just going to Frank’s on a Saturday night to watch the brilliant work of Carol Burnett and “Mash”. I wanted to do something. It was time for the first step. And the nearest step was Philadelphia. One day, I just told E. that I was moving to Philadelphia where friends had offered to get me started in life. He could come if he wanted, or not. Unfortunately, he decided to come with me.