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The International Writers Magazine:
John M. Edwards befriends a German artist who way back when at the “Supper Club” in Hamburg danced to the Beatles every night. . . .
Talk of the Town (New York City)
Yoyo Friedrich
• John M Edwards

In Manhattan, on Broome Street in SoHo (South of Houston), at the presently closed-down Lola’s, specializing in unfrozen ribs resembling the ribcages of hit-list victims New Orleans-style, the overage German waiter with a ponytail came over and introduced himself: “I am Yoyo, and I vill be your waiter tonight.”

       “Hey, are you from Germany?”
       “Ja, Hamburg! In the sixties at the Supper Club I danced to the Beatles every night!”
       Well she was just seventeeeeeeeeen
       And you know what I mean
       And the way she looked was way beyond compare-er
       I’ll never dance with another, whooo!
       When I saw her standing there. . .
       What what?
       I had never really met anyone before who seemed less of a poseur, even with the comic first name, walking the dog with linguistic precision. He looked very similar to an older version of one of my cousins—and who knows? Maybe he was. I could tell that he somehow remembered seeing me around in the days when SoHo really was the center of expensive gallery art over even Chelsea.
       Back then I averaged at least three months of travel pursuing my career as a real travel writer, not a restaurant critic—more along the lines of Paul Theroux (whose books my father, Thomas R. Edwards Jr., reviewed for Epstein’s rag) and Bruce Chatwin (who “pretended” to be a student at Tulanein New Orleans) while I was there with hilarious results, including my being present on the famous night he danced with a live python around his neck).
       But sometimes neighbors make terrible friends.
       So a little suspicious of some of the inhabitants of the Downtown, many of whom seemed like they might be lookouts for “target practice” (whatever that means) and guilty of extortion in the past, I breezily avoided talking to many of them. I just told them I was a writer.
       I wondered how they might react to the news of my being a real oil baron, American-style, Texas T, like a small-scale T. Boone Pickens or J.R. Ewing, and whose company owns  actual land larger than the state of Rhode Island and the Greater Metropolitan area of New Orleans combined, plus Texas toppings, plus plus other U.S. States, Canada, and Mexico.
       No way was I going to tell small-time cons that one of my favorite companies was “Penchant Partners,” while getting blank looks accompanied by fear and trembling.
       Nobody in their right minds messes with the part owners of one of America’s oldest petroleum and natural gas companies, privately held and familial in origin. And I’m sure most people don’t really know what the term “Robber Baron” means—not a bank robber but an industrial owner, employing almost everybody in one way or another, such as Morgan, Rockefeller, Getty, and "Edwards.     "
       Which one? I'll get to that soon in some other piece when I celebrate the return of plenty with a ginger ale resembling light sweet crude.
       I’m sure almost nobody, except my cool cousin, the artist Clayton Pond, who bought an industrial loft in SoHo for a laughable amount of pretty polly in the 1960s, when this once no-go demesne was still considered a dangerous warehouse district (understand?).
       I’m sure people feel like killing themselves after the fact when they unintentionally or otherwise mess with The Powers That Be, you know, members of The Century Club who haven’t eaten there in years, such as Donald Trump.
       But art is what life is all about, which is why the amounts of endowments and grants figure so large.
Now, back to Yoyo!
       Actually, I had long ago noticed this obviously legendary artist walking around SoHo in the past, with his stylish gray ponytail and pumped-up build, resembling a little the photoartist Robert Maplethorpe, and I was correct in my assumption that he might have derived from the installation art movement which really came out to the fore in 1960s Germany.
       Having already given him one of my calling cards, Yoyo invited me over to see some of his work, which when I arrived at his rented SoHo Loft in the same building of a friend of mine who once owned the now extinct, alas, Wine Bar, feauring The Big Apple's finest flights of wines (New York State is America’s fourth largest producer of wine), inventive Norse fingerfood, and dreamy guitarists:
       “Night Swimming. . .”
       I even watched the Oscars there one night, wondering if my scriptnovel MOVE might be mentioned as a private joke again like it had in the previous year. Ever heard of Fuller and Hausing? Practically every literary magazine on the planet already has?
       Back then I had achieved my own beajolais nouveau atmosphere I created for myself almost everywhere I went abroad. Unfortunately, I had to work also, saving much like everybody else as much of both my inherited wealth and future worth that I could, while of course preparing different personalities for different people, talking up, talking down, and even sometimes creating a dangerous trap for anyone intentionally blockading me from achieving almost any of my dreams (including misnomered numbers in my various address books leading straught to the FBI and CIA and IRS)—even when many of them turn in to nightmares.
       Everyone at my high-school in Edison, New Jersey, where my soccer team made it into the finals of the B division one year, me as center forward and right wing, joked about my “verbal dexterity.”  Okay, I admit it, I’m an ex-soccer hooligan.
       Anyway, feeling that world war three has already happened, just like everyone else I’ve cut my losses, jettisoned unusable friendships, and trusted in the afterlife taking care of itself. I was certainly, compared to many others, more sinned against than sinning.
Now, in Yoyo’s apartment up a steep flight of stairs and surprisingly winded, I sat down for a cup of gunpowder tea and admired a series of paintings upon old pages of The New York Times, which I thought were as incredible as coming across the face of Helen of Troy in palimpsests of Antarctic ice.
       Since I only collect real artwork from people I know, Yoyo sold me a wonderful piece for only $1,000. We went together to get it framed and drank wine out of regular glasses at a al fresco sidewalk café I had never really been to.
       In conversation, I found out that his daughter was dating Egon Franz, the son of Tina Weymouth and Chris Franz from The Talking Heads. Apropos of nothing, I was a little confused and momentarily mistook Chris Franz for Dennis Franz, who is actually, if I remember correctly, not only the rye cop in "NYPD Blue" but also in Czech director Milos Forman’s famous masterpiece “Amadeus,” but if I am wrong about that, please feel free to forgive me.
       I said I would really like to meet Yoyo’s daughter and Egon Franz, especially since, like his famous mom (head honcho of the crossover New Wave CD “The Tom Tom Club,”  I too played a mean bass. Page McConnell of Phish is still one of my best friends, and I turned down a job years ago  with STP (The Stone Temple Pilots) as lead bassist way back when before they were big. Also, I was childhood friends with the lead singer of The Red Hot Chili Peppers, and vaguely remembered meeting "Flea" at the New Jersey shore way back yonder. (I remembered him years later because he had tattoos and said his name was "Flea."
       But lately I only picked up my wicked Alembic (a favorite of both John Entwhistle and Stanley Clarke) only every several months or so, sort of like going through a catharsis.
There I was again in Yoyo Friedrich’s Loft, displaying some of Egon’s imaginative photographs. I quickly picked the one I wanted: an eerie hotel room overlooking Niagara Falls (American not Canadian side). I mean I remembered actually renting that very room! My grandparents used to live in Buffalo, and in theory at least, I’m still a member of the prestigious Buffalo Club, whose roster counts no less than three former presidents, but I’m not going to tell you which ones in order to be discreet about things.
       Again, I paid only a thousand for it, part cash, part check. We went on to watch the World Cup soccer tournement at a tremendous British- and Irish-style bar, which also had a solid Yankee Commonwealth-of-Massachusettes feel, reeking of rank yeast, peanut shells, and cigarette smoke.
       Gee willickers, was I getting drunk: “Hey, this is Egon Franz, the son of Tina Weymouth of The Talking Heads,” I said gregariously to a group of runway passing models, whose surprised expressions read “Oh My!”
       "Psycho Killer, quest-ce que c'est, fah fah fah fah fah fah  fah fah fah better, run, run, run, run, run away ayee-ayee. . . . "
       Egon Franz seemed quite amused as I began pretending to play air bass guitar, feeling in my bootleg chefs jacket and blue ribbed shirt like a character I was working on for the film industry (in my own head, at least) a character called “T Royl,” a real T-Rex who has morphed into a real human, and who dresses like Steven Tyler, with a rabbit-head umbrella and a loud tie wrapped around his head.
       And with a scream that could last into all eternity.
       Yoyo said goodbye and I continued drinking.
       Soon after I showed Egon my weird Loft and showed him the piece Yoyo Friedrich had virtually given away. Wow, was he impressed. “It’s not enough!” he commented, and I agreed. He also took a gander at one of my own pieces of art: an old original warped Capitol Record of "Revolver," sans cover, spinning silently on a rich plush carpet of Royal Red.
       I called up Yoyo one day, and we went back to this great (secret) banquette in The Village, I surprisingly arriving with a snapped briefcase, and we talked about everything under the song. I was surprised to hear that he was very into Sufism. I mean, I had read Kahlil Gibran’s “The Prophet” also, and I was mightily impressed.
       A while later, I warned YoYo Friedrich in advance that I might want to write a short essay about him.
       But then I received a phone call one day that he was going back to Hamburg for a while, so I wished him a nice trip back to his impressive port city, home of real hamburgers, St. Pauli Girls, and the famous “Reeperbahn,” which I had already marveled upon while working for Emerging Markets covering the annual Inter-American Development Meeting.
       I haven’t heard from Yoyo Friedrich since.
       Perhaps he has already left SoHo.
       As I have already done too.


(In Memorium: Heath Ledger)
© John M. Edwards March 2012

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