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Martin Wong

WHEN MARTIN WONG DIED at his parents’ San Francisco residence this past August, five years after moving back home to a cocktail of AIDS medications, Chinese herbs, and mother’s love, word of his passing spread through the diverse community of all who knew him with all the grief, startled silence, and spontaneous reminiscences awarded the best of our fallen heroes. Certainly there was an immediate collective sense of how much had been lost. Perhaps more elusive was an understanding of what it was that had touched so many in such radically different ways. The curious reality is that there wasn’t a single Martin so much as countless Martins: a perversely encyclopedic collector of cultural artifacts, from lunch boxes to plaster mammies; the single greatest patron of the graffiti-art movement at the nadir of its public and institutional popularity; a pathologically prevaricating provocateur-raconteur

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