Subject:      Tim Leary epitaph(by John Perry)
From: (Apollinaria)
Date:         1996/06/04
Message-Id:   <4p1p5k$>
Organization: Thee Temple of Free Flying
Newsgroups:   relcom.culture.underground,

Most ov you know this by now, but did think this was a fine epitaph, and
worth sharing.
>    Timothy Leary is dead:
>    Written by John Perry Barlow:
>A couple of hours ago, at 12:45 am Beverly Hills time, my old friend and
>the corrupter of my youth Timothy Leary made good on his promise to "give
>death a better name or die trying." Willingly, peacefully, and unafraid,
>he headed off on his last trip.
>He spoke his last words a few hours before. On the phone to the mordant
>William S. Burroughs he said, "I hope that someday I'm as funny as you
>He didn't, as threatened, commit suicide on the Net. Or have his head cut
>off and frozen. Or engage in any other the other spectacles of departure I

>had dreaded. In the end, he surrounded himself with the angelic band of
>twenty-somethings who have been uploading him into the Web these last few
>months and drifted peacefully out of here.

>I was headed his way when he died. When I was with him earlier this month
>he said, "When I leave here, Barlow, I want your face to be one of the
>last things I see." I think that was one of the sweetest things
anyone ever
>said to me, and I was trying to make it possible, but death proved
>itself once
>again to be bigger and faster than either of us. The phone just rang in
>the middle of this rainy Wyoming night, and now I'm here naked in the dark

>trying to think of something to follow him out with.
Two years ago, Cynthia and I spent our last day together with Timmy. When
she died the next day and it became so shockingly clear to both of us how
>strange this culture has become on the subject of the second commonest
>event in the world, how weirdly shameful is dying in America, we both
>thought it time to bring death out of the closet. I did so by grieving
>her, and continuing to grieve her, more publicly than is polite in a
>that claims for itself the ability to conquer and control everything.

>But Timmy beat me to the barricades. He flat died. And he died, without
>pretending that he was "really going to get well any day now," without
>permitting himself to become a ghoulish and futile medical experiment,
>without contributing to the stupefying mass denial that causes almost 80%
>of America's health care dollars to be blown on the last six months of
>He died unashamed and having, as usual, a great time.

>A few weeks ago, the denizens of and I rented a phalanx of wheel
>chairs and rode them with him into the House of Blues on Sunset Strip, a
>place that likely had never seen fifteen people in wheel chairs before.
>After a truly merry time, we were headed back to his house and on the way
>came within a smile of Tim Leary's Last Bust.

>We cruising west on Sunset. And the sun was setting. The top was down on
>my metallic mauve rent-a-convertible. A couple of the web girls, Trudy and

>Camilla, were sitting on the trunk like psychedelic prom queens,
>shoop-de-booping to the funk station on the radio, volume at eleven. Both
>the girls were beautiful, Trudy like a character from Neuromancer, Camilla
>like a character from Botticelli. The air was sweet and soft as a negligee
>on our faces, and the light had that elegiac quality that makes people
think LA might not be so bad after all.

>Timmy gave me a high five and grinned. "Life is good!" he shouted over the
>music. As I looked up to meet his raised hand, I saw in my rear view
mirror, past the swaying torsos of the girls, the rotating reds of a real
>Beverly Hills cop.

>Of course we were in possession of several of those substances that we
>considered safe and effective but which this culture, in another of its
>dangerous madnesses, has declared lethal, probably to distract heat from
>its own deadly drugs of choice. Furthermore, I had only recently paid an
>astonishingly steep California fine for allowing a friend to stand up
>through the sunroof of a car I was driving.
>He pulled us over in front of the Beverly Hills Hotel. He looked like an
>Eagle Scout.

>"Officer," I said, nodding back at the still improperly seated girls, "I
>know what we were doing was wrong. But you see, my friend here is dying,
>and we're trying to show him a good time." Timmy, without saying anything,
>smiled sheepishly at the cop and nodded, caught in the act.
>He looked like hell but he sure looked happy.
>The officer gazed into Timmy's beatific skull-face and lost his starch.
>"Well," he said to the girls, "I'd be lying if I didn't say that looks
>like fun, but just because he's dying doesn't mean you should. Now
get down in
>the seat and buckle up and I'll let you go." I felt like honest death had
>just made one of its first converts.

>In thirty years of following Tim Leary around, he's given me some
>wonderful and hair-raising moments. He has been father, anti-father,
partner-in-crime, and devout fellow-worshipper of all that is female in
>this world. We loved each other, and shared more memories than I will ever
>relate. But I think the look he gave that cop is the memory I will cherish
>As usual he was "cocking snooks at authority," as Aldous Huxley once
>accused him. But he was doing it, also as usual, with wit. And with love.
>America managed to forgive Richard Nixon when he died. I hope they will
>extend the same amnesty to a real hero, Dr. Timothy Leary.
John Perry