For David Walley

Since I got the message that David Walley died I’ve been avoiding my email. I didn’t believe it at first, like it was some kind of a sick joke or some strange Microsoft virus that sent out messages to friends that you are dead. No matter how much I wanted it not to be true, it was. It seems that the things one least wants to be true always are.

David is a writer; and I have written is, not was, intentionally. David Walley, for me, exists in the words he wrote because that was the only way I knew him. I never met David in person, I never had the fortune or the pleasure. Our friendship began over his article The Sound of Legs Crossing. It progressed through Crazy Ladies, all three of them. He was that cool person you see across the room in a high school class that you want to get to know. I read what he wrote and I wanted to get know the man.

After I wrote a short comment on one of his pieces, he sent me an email, written with the same care with which he wrote everything. We started writing each other and quite swiftly his letters became one of the things I most looked forward to in life. Seeing an email from David would make me smile, because I knew that his wit and grace were only a mouse click away. I have kept all the letters he wrote, and have spent the last few days reviewing them. It is amazing how much of it seems like someone put a tape recorder down at a bar and hit record. Much of David’s writing was like that. Like a boxer, he was light on his feet, he hit from the center of his weight outward, and you didn’t know where it was gonna come from, but it always connected.

This is what has confused me: I read David’s emails to me, I read his articles, I page through his brilliant book Teenage Nervous Breakdown (which he sent me to teach me how to write) and he doesn’t seem dead to me. I never heard the man’s voice, I never shook his hand, I never bought him that drink that I quite clearly owe him, and the only images I’ve seen of him are off a variety of Internet sites. The David Walley I know is words on a page. A warmth, courage, and wit that jumped off the screen and into the sensual world every time I read a line. I know he’s dead only because I won’t get any more emails from him.

It doesn’t matter what he wrote about: Bob Dylan, Frank Zappa, old lovers, strange fairy tales, politics, or just what it is to think; David Walley is always there in every line he wrote. He’s that guest at the dinner party that makes it a party. He’s the friend in the bar who sticks with you till the last drink. He was the guy that picked you up off the ground after you got knocked down. I can’t believe he’s dead.

About a month before David died (fittingly while seated at his computer writing) he wrote me an email. It was after finding out that I was up on the Israeli border for the Hezbollah War. Here are a few lines from it:

Well I suppose you really [are] a war whore, or maybe a media slut.

It’s gotta pay well…enough, and you’ll also be writing somewhere in your notebook when you’re not editing…

So I really do hope that you will buy a very expensive Kevlar flak jacket and keep your head down. NO assignment is worth your life, unless you really do capture that shot of the Hezbollah rocket coming straight for you. I just want you to keep your ass as safe as you can, and come back alive, and tell me what’s happening when you can so I can give you some objective moral support, ok?

Good luck, god’s speed, and please keep me informed. I’m rooting for the “good guys”…guys like you who have to chase this shit around. Anyway if you survive, you’ll have a REALLY fine novel which you sure as shit better be working on, or at least taking notes on, while you’re in residence.

usefully,

David

To which I responded:

Dear David,

As always you have a really good take on this.

I really wish we had the chance to split a few bottles of wine between us and have a long talk. One day we’ll have to get that together.

I’ll write a real one soon

Love,

John


I worked with Walley at the East Village Other and was amazed by his energy. It was a total shock to me when he passed away. I am sure he will rest in peace as there is nothing else to rest in.
10.8.2006 | AJ Weberman

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