Clinton St. Quarterly, Vol. 5 No. 3 | Fall 1983 (Portland) /// Issue 19 of 41 /// Master# 19 of 73

whatever was left of Page’s brain was sauteed in esoteric chemicals. LSD was definitely not a good drug for Page. Every time he dropped acid he’d hallucinate VC snipers in the shrubbery and incoming a rtillery shells overhead. I asked him why he even bothered to take LSD. “ Looks like a guaranteed bad trip for you every time,” I said. “ It is,” Page answered, “ but that’s what makes it so real!” Page had the emotional makeup of a young adolescent. He lost his temper easily, and sometimes became violently depressed. Occasionally, he threatened suicide. There were some important parts of his mind missing^ and Page was hard-pressed to make a go of it. Still, he was a survivor in every sense of the word. Being a survivor was what had made him so famous within the Southeast Asian press corps. Getting wounded and going back to the front makes a person stand out; after Page had survived half a dozen close encounters with death the other journalists really started taking note of him. Page became the personification of good luck. He was a living rabbit’s foot with a double charge of mojo. Most women were fascinated by Tim Page. His aura glittered with the residue of mad death; he had a rusty razor-shine about him. Page had no control whatsoever when it came to women. Women used Page; Page used women. What little spare change he had usually came from his current lady friend. Page had a way of blowing money, and it was in short supply for him. His photojournalistic sk ills weren’t easily adapted to peace-time pursuits. He picked up a few dollars here and there as a free-lance photographer. Tim Cahill, one of the editors of Rolling Stone, helped him get a few assignments. Steve Miller paid him to take some pictures for one of his record albums. The Page got a chance to sell some of his old photographs. Hustler, one of C lancy’s c lien ts , decided to put to ­ gether a special atrocity issue, in an attempt to show that the scenes of war were in f in ite ly more obscene than pictures of explicit sex. Hustler was in the market for gory Viet Nam photos and Page had 20,000 color slides stored at Tim C a h i ll ’s house in Sonoma. Clancy promised Hustler’s art director that Page would sort through them and pick out a few dozen of the bloodiest. I agreed to help Page sort his slides. We drove out to Sonoma, where Page had been staying for a month with Cahill and Susan McBride. Susan pulled me o ff to one side when we came into the house. “ I love Page dearly, but I don’t know how long I can put up with th is,” she whispered. “ He goes into his room and plays war with Page moved like someone who'd been in a bad accident and had never fully recovered. He hunched over slightly and shuffled his feet. One leg pointed out at an unusual angle and he placed his weight carefully when he walked. 'Were you in Viet Nam," I asked. "Part of me still is," Page said. He laughed long and hard. his toy tanks and airplanes.” I went to Page’s room, and sure enough, he was lining up the toy weapons on top of his dresser for a quick skirmish. It was hard to tell if he was serious or not. “ Where are the slides?” I asked Page. “ In here,” he said, opening up the closet door. The closet was filled with boxes of slides, an enormous amount. We both plugged in small viewers and started looking for atrocities. It didn’t take long to find some. Page had carried out his assignments at the heart of darkness well. Every once in a while I’d come across a particularly horrible shot. “ Here’s one, Page. It looks like a group of decapitated nuns lying in a village street. There’s four, maybe five severed heads.” Page checked the slide. “ No, those are Buddhist monks,” he said. “ Mini- Tet, 1968.” He seemed to remember where and when he’s taken every one, as if that part of his brain had been spared. “ Here’s another one. Disembowled children, I think. There’s a whole pile of them.” “ You’re right,” Page said. “ Parrot's Beak, 1969. Good color.” As usual, Page was dispassionate and detached. We kept sorting slides for 12 hours, with occasional breaks. Most of the slides we finally selected were from 1968-69, when the war had reached a fever pitch of madness and brutality. Finally, we finished with the last box of slides. “ That ought to do it,” Page said. He seemed exhilarated. The voyage through the carnage of Southeast Asia had really perked him up. By now it was early morning. I was nauseated and disoriented. I went into Cahill’s bathroom and vomited my guts out, but that didn’t make me feel any better. I had a sharp, bitter headache that stayed with me for several days. We drank coffee and sat at the dining room table while the dust of death settled in our minds. It had been a night with the living dead, narrated by the specter of Saigon past. I was looking at Page through new eyes. Then Page brought out his special collection, which he kept in a waterproof envelope. There were about a dozen pictures, mostly of loved comrades who had been killed in action. There were a few others, though, and one really struck me. It looks like a d isfigured, sm iling Buddha with strange growths on its head and body. “ What’s this one?” I asked Page. “ That Buddha was carved from a tree trunk in Cambodia,” Page said. “ See where the stump came back to life and sprouted twigs and leaves? And see that wall behind the Buddha? That’s the outer wall of a deserted city that used to have millions of people living in it. Then sweet peas started growing inside the city. To the Cambodians, sweet peas represented the souls of the dead. They let the sweet peas grow and abandoned the city. No one went there, not even the Cong. We used to sleep there at night. It was the safest place in Cambodia.” I had a rare chance to watch Tim Page at work a few days later. We were walking along Fulton Street in San Francisco, next to Golden Gate Park. As usual, Page had his chipped and scarred camera loaded with film, hanging on a strap around his neck. Suddenly we heard a horrendous noise in the street .as a car went out of “JUMP INTO A NEW ADVENTURE” UNIQUE NEW & USED EQUIPMENT * Mountaineering * Backpacking * Ski Touring ADVENTURE EQUIPMENT EXCHANGE 0325 S.W. LAND (Off CORBETT) Call 223-8411 An Alternative Outdoor Store "We have great books, 1984 Calendars, and much more! 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