Maybe I'm going out on a limb saying that Taylor Mead died the other day because he'd been chased out of his lower east side home by developers; that his finally giving up and giving in to such an alternative landscape as Colorado led to his system giving out. Having a fight to play to is good for some people. Particularly so if you were still the Taylor I met back before 1975, the year this photo by Anton Perich was taken. I'd see Taylor around. We were acquaintances. I'm assuming in some ways he remained that Taylor Mead, the man on the right with a drink in his hand and probably Quaaludes or something more in his system. The head he achieved freed him up to poet himself, to rant around. He was in a constant state of improv.
There were a lot of guys who spoke only poetry in those days. There were few to no girls, so Patricia Smith became the famous one not only because of her words but because of guys like Taylor (though no two were exactly alike.) We took for granted that the next crop and the next crop would appear in this style of unique but they haven't. They're becoming extinct. I would marvel at how stoned Taylor could be or seemed to be and he scared me, in that way that clowns can. He was sweet--or not. I never witnessed a middle. That was his radiant being in 1975 - or at least it was the one I saw.
This (ca. 1920) painting by Hugo Scheiber, appropriately named Shouting, Self Portrait has always reminded me of that Taylor. He may have died in Colorado but I’ll bet he was back in Manhattan by nightfall.