James Wolcott

3 February 2023

Remembering Tom Verlaine

I was standing on the uptown side of the subway platform when I felt a pair of hands on my shoulders, pressing as if about to shove me onto the tracks. I whirled around – my whirl was much faster then – and it was Tom Verlaine, laughing maniacally. It was a scary prank to play at any time but especially in the mid-1970s, the heyday of the original Death Wish and The Taking of Pelham 1-2-3, when we were all on edge, waiting for the next demon to pounce. And yet when I realised it was Verlaine, I didn’t make any squawk of protest. Perhaps I was foolishly pleased that Verlaine felt he knew me well enough to pretend to shove me to certain death on the tracks.* It could have been just his funny way of saying hi. Our small prides work in mysterious fashion.

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