I met Sheree Rose last December at the Ahadada reading at Beyond Baroque. She was slightly buzzed, I suspect, and talked about Bob as if I knew--or should have known--all about him. "They treated us like gods in Japan," she said. "Oh really?" I said and smiled. Now I understand Sheree's logic, I think. Beyond Baroque used to be pretty much run by Bob Flanagan, and on top of that, Bob was the incredible fellow who had Cystic Fibrosis and lived to the ripe old age of 42, and on top of that he was the fellow who writhed on screen in the cult movie "Sick" while being punished in various fashions by Sheree.
I found Bob's site on the Internet and decided to pick up The Pain Journal and give it a read. This is a remarkable document because it takes us inside the head of a bright, articulate individual as he staggers, crawls, and sometimes even sprints (in spirit) toward the Great Unknown. Mostly we get to see what a bore dying is. Bob complains about everything, including complaining too much. Nothing is quite right, nothing suits him. Sheree snores too much, the meds aren't working, his mother doesn't seem to care, or maybe cares too much. Television doesn't interest him, though he watches long hours of it, unable to sleep. Still and all, we have to admire the guts Bob had to continue writing and doing what he did until almost the end. He had that much hope that he continued on. Some parts remind me a bit of Tolstoy's Kreutzer Sonata with the all-knowing Mind of Tolstoy ripped away leaving behind a sky denuded of metaphysics and strangely backlit by the steady-state half-life of greater L.A.