It was December 27, 1996. A very small group of us on the "Hole Lotta Love" mailing list, dedicated to all things Courtney Love, had made plans to meet up at the theater near Lincoln Center where "The People vs. Larry Flynt" had just opened. There were only five of us and while putting it together, I'd specifically invited "Franny" who made me laugh often and who was also on the newly formed Geraldine Fibbers list. She'd recently explained to me in an email that her name was really Sydney and that she just used "Franny" on AOL in tribute to Franny Glass (all of her screen names on AOL, like Maria Wyeth, were literary references, usually to archetypically troubled women; though I'd bet if the main charachter in Agnes Varda's Vagabond had a name, she'd use that one too). She arrived late all shaggy hair wearing sunglasses in the lobby at night and laughed REALLY loudly during the movie. Afterwards, we all went for coffee at the Starbucks across the street and she and the others looked through the Voice and she made hilarious comments about the artists and bands covered. I think the reason I can't remember any of the comments is that I was so out of touch then I didn't know what she was talking about, but just completely enamoured with her I did what I always do when I'm sitting down with someone I'm in awe of. Pretty much nothing. I nodded and laughed and felt uncomfortable and upset at my brain for not thinking of anything to say. The group said good night. It was freezing and getting late and I thought I'd seen the last of Sydney because I was such a dullard, when she stopped me by the subway grate and told me, "hey, so it's great that you're on the Fibbers list but you should be on the AOL board because I think the Fibbers read it and it's important they know they have fans..." and then just wouldn't leave. She kept me there in the cold moving from topic to topic, for some reason not realizing I was just not nearly smart enough for her to be wasting her time. Pretty soon we were going out to see Pavement, Marianne Faithfull, IMing until three in the morning, and in that first year I remember we'd always be borrowing or lending each other something - a book, a magazine - I don't know if it was intentional but it always meant we would have to see each other again. I don't get it because I'll never know what she saw in me.
Twelve years later, and so many other obsessions most of which were her educating me: Agnes Varda, Maya Deren, Cassavetes, Joseph Cornell, Tallulah in Lifeboat, Cat Power, Lauren Graham, Zooey and Emily Deschanel, Buffy and Angel (Darla!), Bones, Rufus and Chaka Kahn, disco and how white seventies hatred of it was racist and homophobic, Edie Sedgwick, Karen Kilimnik, Zoey Lund, Dorothy Parker, Gas Food Lodging, Justin Bond, Gossip Girl, Blake Lively, Madonna... seriously, just look through these pages before I turn this paragraph into a MySpace list.
Sydney Pokorny, the Franny of these pages, died on September 1. If she hadn't died, I would have gone to the US Open rooting on Amelie Mauresmo, which the two of us did the year we snuck away from the Mets game where our company was throwing a summer outing and crossed over to the tennis center across the street. My phone rang at 9:00 am. The caller ID said "Pokorny" and I, almost annoyed, wondered why she was stopping me from getting out the door. It was her mom. And she was gone. Now I have no one to stay up until 1am talking about nothing (and everything) with.
She had the greatest infectuous loud laugh and every time something would happen we'd both find amusing this whole process would go on instantly in her face where her eyes lit up and it seemed like she got why everything in the world was just funny. And she could be sad in equal measure. Sometimes I'd just catch her smiling at something sweet and my heart would just break. She taught me that war is never justified. She may have saved my dad's life when she encouraged me to convince the doctors that they needed to check his thyroid when they couldn't get his heart out of atrial defib. She defended me and encouraged me and ate fish and chips with me and when we ate sushi she made me take the salmon because she hated it.
She did so much more and this post is just about she and I to help me let go, knowing that, like most of this blog, not many people will read it. But away from me... before me... she'd gotten herself arrested trying to help the world wake up about the AIDS crisis, particularly for women. She always told me she was in the think tank that formed into Housing Works. She wrote a column with Liz Tracey at Outweek magazine, and together they wrote "So You Want to Be a Lesbian?" (still in print! Recently I joked with her that she and Liz should get together and do the Anne Heche revision "So You Don't Want to Be a Lesbian?"). She was an associate editor at Artforum and lovingly gave Bookforum the legs it stood on. And there was the amazing and hilarious Dead Jackie Susann Quarterly which got her quoted in the New York Times and brought her hate mail from Melissa Etheridge fans.
Trying to encourage the both of us to write and create, she was really in love with the idea of blogging even though we'd both just forget about it for months at a time. (See her great "Shiloh movie" idea a few posts down). She thought Rupert was a great name because she felt most people who self-publish think they'd be Rupert Murdoch when they were really Rupert Pupkin. Anyway, this became the most unpublicized blog in history. Sydney would say the world was made up of Lindsays and Stevies. Stevies are visionary artistic geniuses and Lindsays think they're geniuses when they're really better at publicizing themselves and doing business. Stevies bring the real illumination, but they need Lindsays to succeed. I think Rupert failed because it had one bright, glorious Stevie (Sydney) and one dullard (me). I wish I could have at least been the Linsday.
I'm going to disable comments for now because some friends are planning on putting up an online tribute page where people can leave comments. I'll edit this post to add the link when it's ready. This may be the last post ever on this blog but I intend to keep it up forever. Sydney was proud of it. I miss you, my friend, and I love you.
Edited to add: The remembrance site is now open. Please stop by and celebrate Sydney's life and leave a note if you'd like: http://rupertmag.typepad.com/sydney.
Edited to add: I've opened the comments section on this post.