PRINT April 1995


I met Ray Johnson In September 1956, when he invited Peggy Smith and me to a party to view a huge fireworks exhibition on the Hudson River put on by Macy’s and the Japanese. I met two young, shy fellows there named Jasper Johns and Bob Rauschenberg. When I got a loft in downtown Manhattan on Coenties Slip, in 1959, it was Ray who introduced me to Agnes Martin and Lenore Tawney, who lived nearby. A short time later he called me around midnight and said "Do you want to go to Helen Keller’s and get blind?” So I got out of bed to see what this was, and it turned out to be a waterfront bar called Keller’s, filled a third with sailors, a third with tourists, and a third with gay people.

I would see Ray over the years, but not often. I remember him sitting in my four-room $60-a-month apartment in 1963, for some reason watching John Kennedy’s funeral with my wife, mother, and father. Once I visited

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