August Wilson died today, say the wires. Wilson lived in my neighborhood for most of the time that I have, I think. He was a familiar face in the local coffeeshops, most recently Victrola. My recollection is that he wrote much of his work while sitting in these cafes. He always had a yellow legal pad with him, at any rate.
It’s interesting that in the Boston.com link above, Mr. Wilson refers to the death of one Gunars Berzins:
He looks around, as if expecting someone to arrive. “Man, where is Gunars?” he asks rhetorically. His friend Gunars Berzins, a self-described “crazy Latvian,” died a few days ago at age 74, and Wilson will be attending his memorial service in the afternoon. “He was nutty as a fruitcake, and he was the first person to say he was crazy,” Wilson recalls. “He might come down the street singing an aria. `My cat is God! Hitler! Goering! You Bush-whacker!” The arms flail. The eyes twinkle. “`And you! You are the best playwright in the neighborhood!'” Wilson laughs. “Man, I really miss him.”
That has got to be the local character I only ever knew as General Scheisskopf, an older man who often wore absurd neo-military getups and constantly ranted and raved about anything and everything. I hadn’t really realized that he was gone, but I haven’t seen him lately, and now Wilson’s gone too.