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Wayne Koestenbaum: My 1980s

Les Fleuves m’ont laissé descendre où je voulais.
— Arthur Rimbaud

I met Tama Janowitz once in the 1980s. (Was it 1987?) She probably doesn’t remember our encounter. She was a visiting fellow at Princeton, where I was a graduate student in English. At a university gathering, Joyce Carol Oates complimented the ostentatious way that Tama and I were dressed. Seeking system, I replied, “Tama is East Village. I’m West Village.”

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I had little to do with art in the eighties. I saw Caravaggio in Rome, and Carpaccio in Venice. I neglected the contemporary. For half the decade I lived in New York City, and yet I didn’t go to a single Andy Warhol opening. Missed opportunities? My mind was elsewhere.

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