I have been wanting to write this post since last week, but it’s really hard for me to write about my late uncle. He was so extraordinary, that words do not do him justice. He was talented beyond us mere mortals. Spoke 7 languages fluently! Wrote musical comedies (sometimes in foreign languages!!), could hear a piece of music once and sit at a piano and play it perfectly!! Made the most amazing costumes. The pic above is him at Mardi Gras 1980. He built sets, wrote cookbooks, painted, sketched, he had his own comic strip, and made comic books, he could do anything! But on top of the creative genius he embodied, he was the most positive person ever. Never said a negative word about anyone. He was almost christlike, and I know that sounds corny, but he was… My mother once said “I know we’re making it sound like he could walk on water, but he kinda could” He was really that special!
In my last post I mentioned his friend Glade gave us one of his journals. It was so great to see. This particular journal was done in the early 1970’s. My uncle had been living in NYC after a very successful theater tour around the world with La Mama ETCs Greek Trilogies. But he was disillusioned in NYC, and pined for his beloved New Orleans. Reading through his notes, it made me think of when I lived there, and how I went through a similar thing.
Diggie played the mime in this popular Coke ad that ran on TV in the 1970’s. I would kiss the screen when it came on. My grandfather had a billboard size poster of this in the basement of his house. Dunno where it went, but Glade had a magazine size one, it was wonderful to see it again.
Not that I could ever forget, but being at Glades really opened up the memories and everything came flooding back. He was a total wizard! That is him as the wizard in a children’s show from New Orleans in the 1980’s…
He made my childhood so special. This is me in a southern belle costume he made for me out of antique lace, ribbons, feathers, rhinestones and other findings…
Not the best picture, but this is me as Salome dancing with the Head of John The Baptist at Catholic School Halloween. I was 9 years old! Mamma & him worked on this idea for a year! Everything was so detailed! Shame you can not see, but the head piece had copper hair made out of pennies glued to twine. It weighed a ton too! But was a big hit and I won Halloween contests every year!
A bird costume he designed for someone to wear at Mardi Gras. So fab!
Another of many costume sketches by my uncle. The crazy thing was, he would design and make all the outfits for him & his friends to wear and it was just for one day! Madness!
Going to his wonderful apt on Esplanade Ave in the french Quarter was like entering a fantasy world. Sadly, I’ve not been able to locate any decent photos, but I found a great sketch he did of his living room.
He also had a wicked sense of humour. This was an excerpt from his comic Hawt-Break, which ran in New Orleans Magazine in the early 80’s…
Matched with his wit, and drawing skills, was his sentimentality. It was unparalleled. Being a starving artist most of his life, he made things for people. One thing he did often was make comic strips/ books for his loved ones about things that happened in their lives. That is from my mom’s comic, she hated playing piano.
This was the one he made for my grandmother. Reminds me a bit of Robert Crumb.
When he was a little boy, my grandfather made him a Mini Taj Mahal Mardi Gras Float to pull around the streets…
Later, when he made my grandfather a comic book of his life, he included a sketch of the Taj Mahal float my grandfather had made him! Sweet or what?
Even his envelopes were works of art! He spent days just decorating them! He never sent things out plainly, everything he did was 100 times more than you would expect. On my birthdays, a special delivery would arrive, even on Sunday. I would be having a party with all the neighborhood children and this, massive glitter and sequined box would arrive, with Alice & Wonderland drawings covering the outside. All the kids frozen in amazement, oohing & aahing as I opened to another decorated box, and another, finally revealing a intricately designed sparkly costume, with matching hats, capes and parasols… He made my childhood so magical!
Even as a little boy, he showed more love than normal kids. This was a card he made for my grand father. Again the sentimentality, and going the extra mile for others. That was Diggie.
That visit to Glade’s was quite emotional, as he showed us Diggie’s goodbye letter he wrote right before he died. It has been 28 years since he passed, we had never seen it before. And just in his life, in his death, he put us first. It says “I’m feeling rest & sleepy. I’m leaving tonight’s sleep open to all possibilities. This is not a cruel joke. I thought I had more time & I still think I do. But just in case… I was never the form, but the idea inside it. When you think of me, you think with me. Where you are is the dream. It is I who survey reality. All mind is one, that is truth. We can always talk, we always have. I’m so close to all of you! Love in my love till we meet in paradise.” He was so special. I am so lucky to have known him…