Faridi McFree and Bob Dylan

Faridi McFree

Faridi McFree: one of my favorite people that I knew for over 20 years

For over twenty years one of my favorite friends was an artist named Faridi McFree.  She was bright and bubbly and fun, and somehow she could energize an entire room with her smiling presence.  She wrote two books, Celebrate You and Peace on Earth Begins With You.  She had all kinds of ideas for movies and for a cartoon television show.  Over and over, she always said she wanted me to be the voice of one of the cartoons when her show was on the air so that I could give voice to some of my butt-kicking philosophies on TV.

That must be what made me think of Faridi this week: the idea of being on TV.  I’m going to be on TV next weekend to discuss my book on the show THEATER TALK on PBS.  Faridi passed away suddenly in 2009, and I keep thinking how much she would be lovin’ it if she were here to see me on television.  I’ve told so many people to watch the show, but she’s the friend who would have enjoyed it the most, and it’s a shame that she’s not here.

I miss her, so I Googled her name…and got quite a surprise.

Did I mention that Faridi once had a love affair with Bob Dylan?  If you Google her name, what comes up the most are references to her time spent in 1975 with him, and most of them are so far off base that they’d be laughable if they weren’t so outrageous.

I’m not into the whole Bob Dylan thing; I never was.  I was too young to get all caught up in the 1960’s counter-cultural revolution, or whatever  they called it, when it happened.  I really don’t believe I missed much of anything where that was concerned, either.  The protests I recall seeing on the news all during my childhood struck me as more ghastly than glorious.

When Faridi first mentioned Bob Dylan to me, I remember saying, “Bob Dylan – was he Dylan the poet or Dylan the musician?  I heard there was a musician who named himself Dylan after a poet.”  She thought that was hilarious, that I’d heard about them both but didn’t know the one from the other.  She’d enjoyed the 60’s to the hilt.

Friends who are a little older than me, the ones who were part of all that protesting and stuff back in the 60’s, have become fascinated the few times I’ve ever mentioned that I was friends with one of Bob Dylan’s ladies.  Faridi had been Bob Dylan’s children’s art therapist and got involved with him after he separated from his wife.  There are endless Internet debates about their situation.  Some people think she was his children’s “nanny,” and that line drives me nuts since I know it isn’t true.  But what I do know, since she told me so many times, every time we ever got together, is that she loved Bob Dylan with all her heart, and she never, ever got over him.

You can therefore imagine how mad I get when I see some of the nonsense people who think they know the “whole story” spew about it on Internet forums.  They don’t have any idea of the real situation –  but they believe they do.  They didn’t hear it straight from Faridi herself for over twenty years, though.  I did.  And they’re so wrong they’re ridiculous.

What astonished me today, though, was one of the nicer postings online that I found about Faridi.  A gentleman, Phil Nohl, saw an ad on eBay for a collection of things found in an unclaimed storage locker.  It turned out that he found Faridi’s personal papers.  They are now online, showcased on a site that presents them in a respectful manner, www.theplaydium.com.  Phil Nohl is trying to get a gallery showing for Faridi’s artwork, which is a wonderful idea.

Yet I am intrigued, and very saddened, by the idea that this amazing lady’s work and personal papers were left in a storage locker, God-only-knows-where.  That someone took her heartfelt documents, including journal entries about the man she never got over, who just happened to be famous, and dumped them.  That they wound up on eBay – not just for sale, but for auction.  Found abandoned.  Unclaimed.  Nowhere near her family or friends, and Faridi had legions of both, literally all over the world.

Who put those documents in that storage locker?  Where were they found, exactly?  Why would anybody just leave them there?

What happened?

Did whoever left them there die without a chance of telling anyone where they were?  That’s the only scenario that seems relatively decent.  Were they left accidentally?  I can’t believe that anyone would have left the effects of a personality like Faridi’s lying bereft in a storage locker on  purpose.

Might those papers have been ones she’d sent to Dylan?  She would mail things to him in care of his brother in Minnesota all the time.

The papers reveal how much Faridi McFree always missed Dylan.  She never stopped hoping for the best for him and was forever, from afar, wishing him well.  I only wish Bob Dylan might have realized how much she loved him while she was still alive.

Bob Dylan and President Barack Obama

Bob Dylan and President Barack Obama






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