Amos Vogel Eulogy
by Loring Vogel
These words, thoughts
This naming and knowing
Your light, alive in me.
Your gift, now manifest through me,
This Standing and speaking
This order, understanding,
This awe at the mystery
This appreciation of the opportunity
This sense of responsibility
To take and give pleasure
To look at things squarely without shying away, without blinders
This too is life
We sat on the deck, the nytimes spread out around us, the knife and the fish and the smell and its belly open and its guts and the smell and the look in its eye
I threaded the film through the gates, left the loops big enough sat with you in the living room watching the shadows moving on the wall
The act of seeing with one’s own eyes, the hands pulling skin down off of face
I am Curious Yellow beautiful breasts sunlight
Triumph of The Will the birth and power of an idea of images
Jimi Hendrix at the Fillmore
Playing on the giant structures shea stadium art happening
Electrified testicles the living theatre and the frantic business in their Frankenstein boxes, Allen Ginsberg with his beard sitting next to me
Swimming on our backs in the ocean, naked, in the moonlight, Marcia holding our towels, robes on shore.
Janis Joplin at the Fillmore
Pas de deux on the wall
The books on every wall stacked everywhere full of words pictures my own private internet
The parties, the people, the laughter, the meals,
The steady and long and continuing and continuing and still now continuing conversation rippling out now
And your silence now
And Brakhage at the brown round table after dinner talking about his cow Bessie
And Abbie Hoffman pouring his drink down the dress of that fancy lady at the party
And you Amos, dear sweet Amos, my poppa, always, always, and throughout by my side, steady, ready to talk at any time of day or night about any subject with no guile or guise or hidden aspect only total open love.
I held his hand he held my hand we walked together, the coins in his pockets jingled when he ran, I shined his shoes for work on Sundays sitting on the floor of his office the smell of the polish and Cuban cigars and the papers and images on the wall, he wore a suit to work every day,
And his sneezes, loud, and his ever present handkerchiefs and his note taking and his complex filing systems, and his tea, and his sweets, and the presents in his suitcase from his travels abroad and his 3 page packing list for those travels, and the 3 days he had to pack his childhood when he fled the Nazis with his mother Mathilde.
Dear sweet Amos,
Always always by my side, he took me out into the world, showed me everything, asked nothing, loved me completely, kept me safe, let me question him deeply
Showed me the moon
Showed me the sun
Showed me the sea
Showed me the stars
Showed me the red cardinal eating sunflowers, showed me how to swim, how to fix a screen door, how to ride a bike, how to fix a bike, how to use our telescope, our leica, our bolex, our projectors,
Showed me his steady love of Marcia through thick and thin.
Showed me his anger of what became of Zionism in Palestine, his anger at the Vietnam war, at all war, at poverty, at injustice
Carried me on his shoulders safe into the fray of marches, events, parades,
Showed me his anger at the atrocities of the Nazis, of Hiroshima, Nagasaki, of Stalin, of My Lai, of the massacres at Sabra and Shattila, at the nightmare of what we fund of Savak and the School of the Americas and and and.
Showed me his hope when Allende was elected, and his profound sorrow when we murdered him
Showed me his love of Bach, Mozart, Blake, Whitman, Kleist, Proust, Bruegel, Krazy Kat, Art Crumb, Dante, Schiller, the beautiful rock on the beach, the magical objects, the light shows, Melville’s Barnaby
“I would prefer not to”
Showed me his profound belief in the right of each of us to not go along, to love, to live, to rest, to create, to be messy
Hid nothing from me, taught me to hide nothing, to turn away from nothing, that nothing is taboo, that we can shit on the table in front of everyone, make love, be wild, that the only rule is love and truth.
Showed me getting old, fighting for Marcia,
Showed me holding on, letting go
Showed me his sweetness, his love of children, of innocence.
Sat with me as I bathed in the white porcelain tub of our apartment, in his suit and tie, just home from work laughing listening telling present always always a presence, a warmth, my poppa,
Told me stories, said goodnight, “Happy Dreams or no dreams” over and over
Sang me songs, “kommt ein vogel geflogen…”
Showed me dying
Showed me, opening his clothes pushing away the sheets to go one more time naked out for a swim
Amos Vogel the bird, who was born Vogelbaum the bird in the tree, who was ripped and driven and shamed from his childhood who was wounded by circumstance and by what he called Evil, who made himself anew, who found a perfect partner with whom he bore all this amazing fruit
Amos, Amos, dear, dear sweet Amos
I am so proud to be your son, so grateful for this strong awakeness you gave me, this fierce sense that we can do so much better, and this equally fierce insistence that nothing is taboo, that no expression of the human imagination can be wrong.
I am so happy to have my two glorious sons, Jonah and Benjamin, to find myself in conversation with them now as they grow, to see your light shining out of their eyes to see them wondering at the mystery,
To look with them at the very same moon you showed me.
I can never repay this gift, my life, I can only live it, which I know would be enough for you
I am angry at death at our fraility. I look forward to us moving beyond our obscene obsession with capital
But, and now I speak to you directly, the you within and around us here,
You did very well with your life.
We love you,
We noticed your efforts and will carry them forward,
We noticed the care you took and will take care ourselves,
We noticed your warmth and love of life and will embrace it ourselves,
Go now you are released.