Just learned the other day that Tom Murrinwas near the end…he’d kept his cancer a secret so that no one would make a fuss. But everyone would have to learn about it sooner or later and now that he has passed the fuss is rather large.
Tom (a.k.a. Tom Trash, the Alien Comic and Jack Bump) blazed many a trail upon which I and a thousand others have subsequently trodden and taken for granted. He was one of La Mama’s first experimental playwrights in their very earliest days and one of the premier comic performance artists in the ’80s. And in the mid ’90s, in addition to all his performance and theatre work at places like PS122, La Mama, Dixon Place, The Howl! Festival and Theater for the New City, he began writing for PAPER magazine.
This was the capacity in which I knew him best and encountered him most. That he could simultaneously hang on to his identity as a performance artist AND be an arts journalist at the same time was inspirational to me for obvious reasons. Over the years he was very generous to me and the American Vaudeville Theatre. I spoke to him most recently a little over two years ago, when he interviewed me about my show Willy Nilly (see the interview here).
He was a mighty nice guy, and like I said a trailblazer. There is something about his passing that reminds me of the desolate feeling I get when I walk around St. Marks Place, or the area around Ludlow and Orchard Streets nowadays. It’s a feeling you don’t experience until you hit a certain age, that feeling of “There was once something ELSE here…”