Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1975
"Now, this is a fine piece of horse manure!" Adam waved a draft chapter of my senior thesis under my nose. "Only fine?" I gave him a look, and was rewarded with a lop-sided grin. "Well, whoever heard of a bunch of Indians wearing cowboy hats! I'm sure that they could do better than that. Didn't you say they're Mayans? It seems to me" "Adam." "they're not taking their Native American heritage very seriously!" "Adam." "You say here that they wear plastic cowboy hats! Good Lord." "Adam, I'll be sure to pass that on next time I'm there. Better yet, you should tell them." "Well, someone's got to tell them!" The image of Adam Block presenting a fashion statement to a village of Maya Indians in the highlands of Chiapas flashed before my mind, and I knew that he was fully capable of showing up with just such a mission in mind. "So, how about the writing?" He waved a hand. "It needs some work." We set out to page through the manuscript.
It was well into Spring, but mounds of heavy snow persisted in drifts and piles as we made our way to a tiny, over-heated bar. It was bustling with locals from neighboring alpine villages. In short order Adam provisioned us, and then sought out the cutest boy in the establishment. Soon he was holding forth at the far end of the bar, communicating through a smattering of French, English, Swiss German, and alcohol. He probably mentioned our audience with Pope John Paul, perhaps without emphasizing that we were amongst thousands receiving His Easter benediction. Somehow the evening concluded with Adam's young friend eating his wine glass, right down to the stem. I don't really know how this came to pass, but I do remember Adam's infinite delight-- in the moment, in spectacle, and at life's ever-unfolding absurdities.
San Francisco, 1995
"Adam, there's a newspaper on the stove." "Could you please not move anything!"
San Leandro, 2007
"We have got to make this movie! Wait. Ahhh. Uhhh. Let me catch my breath. I was surrounded by chanting rabbis, but they were actually rat-people." "Adam, I think that was us around your bed, trying to bring you back." "Hum. But now, you've got to be here when this chimney blows. It's like an atomic reactor or something. It's unbelievable. And the people here. They keep changing, and no one speaks English! They're all born-again Christians. I tell them that when they get swept up into heaven in the rapture, this atheist Jew-boy isn't going anywhere, and there had better be someone here to help me." For some reason Adam intones the last phrase with a gentle Texan twang.
San Francisco, 2007
"I realize that I don't really have anything more to do here. I know I'm a handful, and I don't want to just hang around. Lord knows, that's the last thing I want." The same lop-sided grin, this time with a wide-eyed glance over my shoulder. After fussing with the humidifier, I took my leave. "Give my love to Consuela and the girls." My wife of twenty years is named Consuelo, but I gave up correcting Adam long ago. "I love you Adam." "I know."
Thor Anderson, San Francisco