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Franklin Granden MacFie Notes from tapes of Frank MacFie with Barbara Stevens spring 2008

I was in touch with Franklin since 1961 in New York City and then the Farm in Maryland before 1969 later in New Mexico 1970-1980 and on the East Coast from 1991-2008. I got an inspiration to do taped interviews with Franklin in spring of 2008 after he had gotten me and Ray to go to New York City to see a Serra Sculpture show, but would not let us visit-just talked on the phone. He died while we were in the process of doing the tapes, after an elective operation (hoping for better quality of life.) We had to miss the memorial at a Bar in New York. But THIS IS FRANK MACFIE’S MEMORIAL AS WELL. Barbara Stevens 2009

“born November 13 a Friday! 1937 Atlantic Highlands, New Jersey
6 older sisters -oldest 20 years older than Franklin
3 older brothers
the tenth child .a boy- the Baby and favorite, his moms favorite.. the sisters favorite”-Franklin thinks, freudianly, that -the reason that he is gay is that “his father didn’t like him because he was so much his mothers favorite.”

His father – “John MacFie “a boring Scottish sea captain”..Franklin says.” Captain of a passenger boat – (South shore, red lands) Traveled from Sandy Hook and the Battery.” John MacFie is in fact “Smiling Jack” – the cartoon illustrator actually drank with MacFie and used him as the basis for Smiling Jack. (boring Scottish sea captain turned into an exciting airplane pilot).

His mother Isabella was Portuguese living in Trinidad in the Caribbean when the Scotsman found her. Franklin used to get along in Chicano New Mexican bars saying his mother was a Romero from Trinidad– which really worked out there.. Trinidad Colorado full of Hispanics – acceptable connections.

When Franklin was three years old they moved to West 93nd, NYC. The siblings were two years apart; Rita, Nora, Vera, Winnie, Lily and Jean, then David -:(died 1950), John – the most successful, handsome-ladies man, baseball player, Mr Success-4 kids, next: Conrad – then Franklin.the baby of the family.

Excerpt from Memoir tapes with Franklin before his death: “Nora who has just died grandsons wedding was in Dallas- they all decided to not put it off- my nephew Nora’s son the priest no doubt preached.He will say mass as he always does, though I told him if he comes near my body when I’m dead I will get up and personally kill him to death, if he mentions the word Jesus with a thousand feet of my corpse.”- I say does he laugh when you say that stuff, Franklin says “well, he giggles.but I don’t trust him he may just come around and jump in front of the body and say Jesus…what ever they say. I seriously don’t want anything to be Christian about my demise. Of which I think a great deal since it apparently is not too far off. I am trying to get my doctor to give my body to medical science so I don’t cost my family any more money than I usually do.”( I remember Franklin talking ” good” and caring about this nephew,too!)

“First memory was when I was in the crib. In certain cribs there’s a gate that goes up and down, and theres a little spring and I remember touching it with my toes, and I remember looking across and seeing my brother , my brother and I shared the room, and I remember seeing him in bed.”

“I have very early memories, because I was in analysis, I started when I was in high school. I was fourteen or fifteen- because I was crying a lot- when anyone speak to me I’d burst into tears. It was very difficult for me, as most peoples are, adolescence. Add to that the whole thing of being gay adds to the confusion of being an adolescent. (Re: being gay-)” it was obviously a subject to spend time on but it wasn’t the reason I went to analysis… anyone say anything I burst into tears… a word I love I am very lachrymose ( means tears up a lot.)” I ask about the cost “analysis was free, I went without my parents knowing about it, they wouldn’t understand. I got it through Catholic Charities”. B asks if it was because you thought this crying has to stop… He says “This unhappiness has got to stop.the confusion. I got a doctor named Dr. Bakyanni (through Catholic Charities…) he was good looking. He said I needed analysis not therapy and moved (the sessions) to his office where I would lie on the cot. One day he said I think your withholding somewhat, you should undress – next thing I knew he was sitting next to me groping me. It was quite traumatic, I left of course and didn’t go back and some months later I decided I did need analysis, so I called him up and asked if he could recommend somebody and he said I can’t do that because you would have to tell them why you stopped coming.He was slime , in others words. Being an in analysis –with a father figure -I being fourteen , I was madly in love with him. Transference they call it. But I never went back to him, so I poked around and found some others and did it for years. Some of it didn’t do me any good, some of it kept me alive. When I was in deep depression and that was before they were giving people a lot of antidepressants.”

“I went to Performing Arts. Music , dance and Drama. They had wonderful teachers. Sidney Lumet. Very wonderful crazy people. Kids who wanted to be in the theater. The musicians were a little more square…And the dance department were athletes and I always admired them because they were in such wonderful shape and they had to work hard every day as oppose to the drama dept where you could fake your way through sometimes . Met Michael Maslansky there. I was in the school yard and this person came floating across to me – He was like a young colt. He introduced himself to me and we became good friends- and stayed that way until he died.”

( B ask were you all into sex then.) “Yes by that time of course -very active.There were a lot a gay kids, dancers and actors, the musicians were pretty straight . It was good because it made you feel not so alone.” B tries to ask if he was in a monogamous relationship with Michael.. finally he says Michael and him… were friends -“we were soul mates . I learned a lot from him. He was very smart and very funny and quite mad in his way. I absolutely loved him, he was probably the closest friend in my life and we traveled a lot to gather a lot. He came when I was in Morocco and I lived with him in London for a while and we met in Paris. It was a wonderful relationship – really good friends. ”

“He went to Bard, thats how I got to know all the “Bardians.” Like Abigail, Bill Farrar, and Buzzy .I got a terrible job in an office through my father. The office of the Anaconda Copper and Steel Company down on Broadway near Wall Street. It was ghastly, I was an office boy , I hated it.”

New Tape Start –He says “its very difficult – I spend a great deal of my time as I get old now with memory -grief- it becomes very important to me . I use (memories) a lot. to block out the unhappiness of old age and they work. You cant overuse them- there are certain memories that you can use just so much or they loose their power. But the thing is relaying to you incidents is very difficult because somehow so far seemed to have missed the importance -things such as the change of moods, I mean things that are subtle are very hard to get. So, I don’t know how to approach this whole thing, I seem to approach this with a series of episodes or happenings – fine its in the middle of something – all around that has to be built who I am. That I guess is your hard job to do… I hope that you.. are you satisfied with your ability to do this!”

Finally we are laughing .. I keep saying that I want to get others into this (do want other people s stories – ways of knowing Franklin…. ) finally I just say please keep talking… and bring up Michael Maslansky and that I still don’t know much about that.

Final taped conversation with Franklin MacFie:

“It was a friendship that started at an early age. first year of high school. We both had idiosyncrasies maybe he more than I. We both had eccentricities at that age, and that attracted to us to each other , a kinship. (It was) An attitude toward daily living, we were freaky , in different ways. I was apparently much more normal, Michael looked more eccentric and crazy and sort of queenie, and I looked like the normal kid next door. We.. shared .Lots of young gay people share the discovery that thank god your not alone. Also of course he had incredible humor, a marvelous humor. He had a very unique and sweet generous approach toward living. He knew his eccentricity attracted me to him. I said here is somebody who is pretty crazy too.So that was one of the strong bonds of our relationship- our mutual eccentricity.”

(Franklin. remembers)….” Maslansky was smoking a joint in the back of a Puerto Rican cab .He asked the cab driver if he wants a hit.. The driver got furious, and said just because I am Puerto Rican I am a pot head and he had him arrested. It didn’t take long, he got out in a day. ( I ask if they got stoned a lot then)- We took lots of a acid and hash and what ever was available. I was living with Terry Riley-the musician – and his family. On Grand street. One day I woke up and thought oh my God what was I smoking last night. There was this overwhelming odor…(I was on First floor) .. you walk up a flight of stairs and there was this envelope that said do not fold -from Thailand (from Michael) with all these stains on the outside, came in the mail, incredible smell.It was opium, I romantize it of course, but as I remember it was the best high ever. I had wonderful times on acid of course, but that can be a sword of Damocles sort of thing, go either way..”

( suddenly he talks about not eating , related to how he was supposed to fast.,.. for the operation (tomorrow)….. I say ok, be safe, I call you, when do you think? He says” tomorrow I ‘ll be out of it,” I say I ll call up there and see how you are, He says “see if I am dead or something,” I say Please don’t be… “its a possibility “-I say lets avert that and he says-“I mean consider it.” I say no no were not done here… He says “I go, I go. If I go by the way I have all these journals you can have, “( I say where are they -he says “there in here in the living room on a table- mostly about being on the subway..”. we talk about how good that is that he does that,,,,, He says he does that (-write in the journals..) because he “only has one intimate friend here-Magda….. only one he can call upon.. she s a lovely dutch woman,, found her through a friend at the corner Bistro… shes at the moment in Jamaica…..” Then we talk about when I can call him – I ask him to enjoy the pain killer aspect .)

I called the hospital… I found him…the nurse told me he was being difficult… in a little voice he said “ah, you found me.” after that it seemed crazy talk – I don’t know what my or his last words were. But then I couldn’t find him the next time I called and called Farrar and he said that Franklin was about to die.. it had to do with his heart being ready to stop….and that was all.. he did die. And the Wake was held in a favorite bar ( arranged by his brother, John, ( but nothing was mentioned about the nephew priest with Jesus talk). It was scheduled after Ray Stevens and I left for Amsterdam … so it was soon after May 15 2008. Barbara Stevens
Franklin MacFie Wire sculpture Chapman/Farrar collection
Franklin MacFie  Wire sculpture Chapman/Farrar collection

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One Comment

  1. Hello! Franklin was my great uncle. His sister, Nora my grandmother. I would love to connect with any and all of those responsible for this memorial with hopes of learning more about the Uncle I apparently take after in many aspects.

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