At a distance, it was Larry’s hat that marked his time, but when you sat down into his company, it was his eyes that captured. They were beaming orbs of wisdom, wide set, but connected. They would draw you into his domain of conjecture where any rabbit hole was game, as long as it kept our teeth sharp. Then he would turn and fix on you like a searchlight eager to taste the morsels that you brought. It was all amazing food to him, and the array of subjects were as boundless as his city of possibilities. We never spoke anything of the ordinary. His conversations were a funhouse ride that would jerk around blind corners and drop down chutes and up ladders. Sometimes they would just explode into brain confetti not unlike the fireworks of his burns. And all the while, the wheels somehow stayed on the tracks, held by the gravitational forces of humor.
Every year I would step out of my trailer and see him sitting in the embrace of First Camp — the humble linchpin of an entire community. He’d be cross-legged and unassuming with his Stetson already in place, as he’d gaze into his creation of clever chaos while drawing his thoughts through a cigarette. He always seemed to be planning for the next year.
Larry was aging like the rest of us, but seemed timeless. Or maybe we all just wanted him to be timeless. In a filmed interview that he did long ago, he mentioned that death would be an insult. Now that he is gone, I see the profundity of that insult. How dare death take his colloquy away! How dare death silence the trove of stories that were stored in his memories! How dare death shut down his mind with a flippant snip. It was his masterpiece, and now it is gone.
But not before it chimed a ripple. In fact, it made a wave large enough to round the point and head undeterred into open waters. After all, a wave is not so much a thing, as it is a movement, and is made of what it moves upon. It trumpets the energy of the source, even when the source is no more. Larry’s wave quickens and grows as it rolls on the imaginations of minds and the manifestations of dreams.
I will never stop missing my friend, Larry Harvey. I will never stop missing his undivided attention when I was the fortunate recipient of such. I will never stop missing his waggish readiness to laugh our way down another queer rabbit hole, where the fun was to see if we could climb our way back to the morsel that started the chew. I will always cherish our times of just sitting in swirls of smoke while being rocked in the cradle of conversation.
In his passing, our worlds flooded with photographs and memories from all that loved him, some of the photographs from a youth that few had known. One photo in particular shows a very young Larry holding his toddler son, Tristan, as both are looking into the camera lens. Larry is almost unrecognizable, but the searchlight power of his eyes beam through the time machine of film. He was born with a vision that peered through his own remarkable prism of inference that took the spectrum of the world around him, and rearranged it into unforeseen possibilities. The light is finally gone from his eyes, but his vision remains.
May you forever rest in peace, my good friend.