It's always a shock when someone who is full of life should pass away, at whatever age. And a when it is someone whose life is so vividly lived, it's almost hard to believe that they are really gone. Such was the reaction to the news of the passing of Adolfas Mekas.
What was striking about Adolfas was the interconnectedness between art and life. Hallelujah the Hills made more sense to me when I had met the filmmaker in person. The wit and ebullience, with everyone kept well lubricated with his home-made Limoncello, seemed to all come together in the merging of the innocently absurdist art and the drollery of life. There was a certain generosity of spirit around him; this can be seen in the egalitarian-minded christening of "The People's Film Department" at Bard (listed more soberly on the Bard College website as the Department of Film and Electronic Arts).
With obvious relish he asked if I knew about the bunny suit. Pola cringed at its mention. Adolfas explained that when the spring semester was coming to an end, and the lull between finals and graduation had fallen upon the Bard College campus, he would pull out his furry rabbit costume and stroll around the campus dressed as a giant bunny. Department Chairs, Deans, the College President, and other esteemed members of the academe would suddenly pretend they didn't know him, quickly darting away at the approach of the furry apparition. Who is there to carry the torch of such madcap drollery in today's academe?
The occasion of our meeting came after I had sent Adolfas a manuscript, "The Sayings of St. Tula," (St. Tula being the Patron Saint of the People's Film Department at Bard) which he assumed at first was a prank being played on him by one of the other faculty at Bard. His basis for his thinking it was a prank was that "Schlemowitz" was clearly a made up name. In 1999 I paid a visit to Bard College for the book signing for "The Sayings of St. Tula." Some photos from that event are here.
He will indeed be missed.