NYU Black Renaissance Noire Fall 2015 Volume 15.2 - Page 144

There was another award winning writer at the workshop. His name was Frank; I don’t recall his last name, but he was famous for writing detective stories. He quenched his thirst with wine, exclusively. We were walking somewhere on a bright summer day when Frank told us a war story about General Marshall retreating during World War I. Frank got really worked up relating his tale; he walked backwards up the sidewalk to demonstrate the general’s retreat. As he went up the street, his voice got fainter and he got smaller. Then he was at the end of the block, still yelling about General Marshall’s retreat, and eventually even his faint voice vanished — this was the last we saw or heard of him. 142 Ryan Kennedy, aka Vallejo, was one of the young poets who dwelled at the House of Respect. He didn’t write that much and was really into security. He stared at strangers like a hawk. Vallejo even noticed the speck of dust in your eye. He ran with his Buddy, Ernest Mayham, aka Tsenre, who was the son of a famous black comedian and he dressed really “clean,” if you know what I mean; he wore the expensive threads of a cat who comes from money. Working in tandem, Vallejo and Tsenre were the maintenance and security team of the workshop. Neither of them wrote that much; they were more or less there to make sure everything ran smoothly. Vallejo, however, was always working on a piece that he was constantly rewriting; he was very particular. Little things such as dots over the letter j caught his attention. Vallejo was a perfectionist and was never really satisfied with the poem he was perpetually writing and rewriting; it was a work in progress, which he never completed. During the turbulent era of the 1960’s, Vallejo ran away from America and found a refuge in Amsterdam where he became a dj of a popular radio program featuring black music. David Moody wanted to be an actor. He saw his chance at the workshop. Harry Dolan, the director of the workshop, was also a playwright; he wrote a play about Nat Turner and, at the time, was trying to put it on at the Frederick Douglass Theater, which was a subsidiary of the Workshop. David was in the cast. He came to live at the writers pad on Beach Street. While there, he got a big break when he was picked for a part in the Frederick Douglass Foundation’s production of Big Time Buck White. This was a heady experience for the ex railroad man; his vocation was irrevocably changed that day. The workshop transformed him from a manual laborer into an actor. Disguises were right up David’s alley as someone striving to be an actor. He was a very intense dude v