Jefe's House

Tag: copy berg

Distress Signals

by on Nov.16, 2015, under Film/TV, NYC, Theatre

My Posthumous Friendship With a Civil Rights Hero

berg gibson

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Back to School

I met Lawrence Gibson at a turning point in my life. After landing my first literary agent and riding the high of a hit play I had abandoned a relationship and a lucrative day job to devote myself full-time to being a starving playwright. I crashed temporarily on the couch of my generous Uncle Joey and, despite an MFA, sought out only part-time office jobs. I soon found myself with a receptionist gig at one of New York City’s many prominent private schools.

At first the administers was baffled by my application; surely, they thought, I was using the job opening as an entrée into teaching there, but I assured them I had no interest. I just wanted to leave at noon every day. They gave me the job on a trial basis. On my third day I met someone who seemed all but invisible to me, and who would, due to my own self-absorption, stop seeming that way to me only after he died. Then his spirit reached across from the netherworld, grabbed my collar and shook me into noticing him. He also enlisted my help. CONT’D AT MEDIUM.COM>>

UPDATE:

Hi Valerie,

Well, you aren’t mentioned in the book but I knew from the New York Times obit that he had a sibling named Valerie. Nice to meet you. I’m surprised not to have heard from you sooner as this isn’t the first time I’ve talked openly of my hope to adapt Get Off My Ship. Please see my previous blog posts athttp://brain-on-fire.com/jefeblog/tag/copy-berg (sadly I never got to talk about it on Coast to Coast AM as I had hoped to do). I trust we’re on the same team in wanting Gibson and Berg’s Navy story told, remembered, and restored to its rightful place in history. I consider them civil rights heroes.

I recently also received an email from someone at the Brooklyn Historical Society asking if I knew Copy’s exact address on Dean Street. They really just wanted to know if he lived on the Brooklyn Heights section of Dean for an upcoming exhibit about gay rights activists in Brooklyn Heights. I’ve told them that as far as I know he lived a few blocks away from Lawrence in Boerum Hill, not the Heights. Steve is also looking through Lawrence’s stacks and stacks and stacks of papers to see if he can find anything but so far has had no luck on a specific Dean Street address for Copy. Is this something you might know? If so I’m happy to put you in touch with them.

As for your posting and your three terse emails via my personal blog, I’ll work my way through them in the order received… CONT’D AT MEDIUM.COM>>

 

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More on Vernon “Copy” Berg and Lawrence Gibson

by on Mar.16, 2015, under Film/TV, NYC, Politics

Regarding my screenplay LITTLE ROCK and the book I’m adapting it from, I’ve been researching Copy and Lawrence for about a year and a half now, partly at the Copy Berg Papers manuscript archive at the New York Public Library research library and also digging through some of Copy and Lawrence’s belongings with the help of his sole heir and executor Steve Kelly​.

I also had the pleasure of knowing Lawrence a bit and working with him briefly once, long before I knew he was that Lawrence Gibson, as he was a humble and quiet man. Here’s a youtube video I put together that involves a looping slideshow of about 20 pix I took along with a 1979 WBAI interview I found on an old cassette of theirs. I highly recommend you learn more about these true heroes who launched the opening salvo in the gays in the military movement.

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Looking for Screaming Jenny

by on Mar.13, 2015, under Film/TV, On the Road, Theatre

Amtrak Residency, Day 1
zephyr banner

About to ride the Amtrak Residency rails and write. Philly to DC to board Capitol Limited overnight to Chicago, then California Zephyr to SF and back. See youse (as they say in South Philly) in 10 days.

Ensign Vernon "Copy" Berg, 1974.

Ensign Vernon “Copy” Berg, 1974.

Mainly I’ll be working on a polish of a screenplay, working title LITTLE ROCK, a bio-pic of artist  Vernon “Copy” Berg, the first officer to legally challenge the US military for anti-gay discrimination in 1975.  It’s adapted from the memoir Get Off My Ship: Ensign Berg v. the US Navy by E. Lawrence Gibson, Berg’s partner at the time.

I applied for this award because my wife Bidisha told me about it and knows of my love of trains. In particular (continue reading…)

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