In 1994 I asked Crad where his pen name came from. He replied:
"My name was given to me by an evil spirit, who promised me posthumous fame OR a great sex life, but not both. Since I'm still alive, he is not technically in default."
On my 26th birthday, he sent me a collaged card that read:
"Happy Birthday Ferocious Female
Now that you are 26,
You must strike the enemy
with stones and sticks,
Slash their throats and
drink their blood,
And drag their bodies
through the mud.
Best wishes from
Crad was the most hopeful and searching of kindness and understanding of anyone I knew, and this formed the basis of our friendship. He is popularly described as a misanthrope, but the joke is, he wasn't. He was moody, he was opinionated in a very curmudgeon-y way, and had no compunction about being politically incorrect. But a misanthrope, he was not. He prized love, kindness and true friendship above all. Because he was so incredibly sensitive, he was easily hurt if his kindness wasn't reciprocated and the armor of the dark, sneering and spitting cynic was reared. But that was just a cloak.
In 1994 I sent him a collage with a very old photo of a man who looked like him, staring darkly out a window. I asking him to contribute some writing on it and send it back to me. It came back reading:
"My gaze is fixed upon a distant shore,
where waits the Virgin Queen of Mangalore;
between her thighs I'll creep because I am
The rightful King of Nagapattinam."
I love this poem because to me it completely represents his writing: funny, obscene, romantic and epic all at once.
Crad and I spoke three times on the phone the week before he passed away. And there was one thing he would always do when we said good-bye. I had forgotten about it until our recent phone calls. He would say "All right my dear, I am giving you a big hug” and then make the sound a person makes when they are squeezing you very hard. I bet the was hugging himself! Then I would do the same. Always. Our phone calls always ended with a hug and sometimes a kiss on the cheek.
I wish I could be there with you all tonight. My hope is that this is being read to a room full of people mixed with friends, acquaintances, as well as those who barely knew him, or never knew him, in equal measure, and are not at all surprised to learn what a gentle, kind and wonderful man our dark poet was.