Not a Book Review: BOHEMIAN LOVE DIARIES
When your friend has multiple personalities but it's not a disorder, it's art.
Posted July 30, 2013
This is not a book review, it’s a “person review.” There is a new book out called Bohemian Love Diaries, by my friend Slash Coleman, a fellow blogger on Psychology Today, and I did title this piece Bohemian Love Diaries and put a picture of the book here, but this is not about the book.
It’s about Slash. I’m going to review him, because it’s so much easier. This is the back cover blurb I would write about Slash, the person:
“Off-beat and original, Slash Coleman’s life is one big case of mistaken identities.”
I’m reminded of a guy I read about in the news once, who was apprehended by the police carrying over 30 different I-Ds on him. The police demanded to know who he really was, and his comment to the press was, “I know who I am. It’s up to them to figure out who I am, if they’re so interested.”
Or the tale of the infamous trickster in Sufi literature, Mullah Nasruddin, who once went into a bank to cash a check. The teller asked him to identity himself, so he took a small hand mirror out of his pocket, gazed into it briefly, and said, “Yup, that’s me!”
I’ve been close friends with Slash for years, yet I learned things about him on the first page of Bohemian Love Diaries that were news to me. Even now, after reading the book, I’m still trying to figure out who this man is. I know he has about seven different Facebook pages under different names. In the tradition of Borat, he has offered online advice to lovelorn women as a Ukranian Jewish peasant who barely speaks English; one of his aliases somehow managed to get into a relationship with someone else’s alias on Facebook and they agreed to never meet; and his weekly column in a local Richmond newspaper was eventually discontinued because so many readers were outraged by “Uncle Joe’s Reasons I Hate Richmond” installments. Slash has a non-existent P.R. assistant named Agnew Hamilton who handles all his press, and if your spouse or partner ever gets digitally courted by one Chucho Van Den Bern, be suspicious. Be very suspicious. But don’t bother hiring a lawyer, because Slash’s attorney, known only as “Pablo,” has never lost a case.
So who is he really? Remember that DiCaprio movie, Catch Me If You Can? It was the true story of Frank Abagnale, who managed to pass himself off as a pilot for Pan Am, a doctor in Georgia, and a prosecutor in Lousiana, all before he turned 19. Abagnale wound up working for the FBI to teach them the art of check forging, and I wouldn’t be surprised to one day learn that Slash is an undercover operative for the CIA, in charge of their “Wacko Artist” Division, if they had such a thing, which they don’t.
There is no real separation between Slash the artist/author and Slash the guy, living his daily life as an ongoing performance piece. As soon as you enter his orbit, you are automatically swept into a program already in progress. When I walk into a room that he is in, for example, I can almost hear his mind saying, “Sobel enters upstage right.” Often he’ll immediately send me to wardrobe for a change of costume, usually supplied by his mother, who keeps all of his dad’s clothes from previous centuries on hand for just such occasions.
A cursory glance at some of the blurbs Slash received that never made it to the back cover of Bohemian Love Diaries will begin to give you the sense of who we’re dealing with here: not an ordinary person.
“Slash Coleman has come a long way since his days as a coal miner in Appalachia. I never even know they had Jewish coal miners in Appalachia.”
--Julie Clapperman Davenport, Iowa, who adds, “I slept with Slash. It was okay, I guess.”
Or this one:
“Slash was, hands down, the most outrageous and funny guy in our infantry unit. Always the prankster. One day, in the middle of Desert Storm, with bombs and shrapnel and dust everywhere, in the scorching 103 desert heat, Slash crept up to the front line, hid behind a sand dune, and tossed water balloon, like a grenade, into enemy territory, then ran back to the platoon. The only problem was, the enemy was 16 miles away.”
--Brigadier General Sheila Bornstein, who added, “I slept with Coleman. It was okay, sort of.”
And finally, from a Dr. Martin Edelstein, Neurophycisist, U.C. Berkeley:
“When Slash and I were colleagues in the physics dept., we became drinking buddies. The man could hold his liquor like no one I’d ever met. Slash could put away a dozen White Russians in under an hour, and the only way you’d know he had been drinking at all was that he’d suddenly start speaking fluent Russian, and would eventually leave the bar with no pants on. Oh, and I slept with Coleman. Not a great experience.”
His mother told me he never worked in the Appalachian coal mines; he was never in Desert Storm; he was never a physicist and doesn't drink. And by the way, if you read his memoir, you’ll come away thinking his mother is a 92-year-old French Holocaust survivor with a thick Parisian accent. I had dinner with her the other night and she is a young, 60-something, charming woman with a Southern drawl.
She also questioned some of the other "facts" I've picked up about his life: that he was born on the streets of New York, in the Bowery, the bastard son of a former Barnum & Bailey bearded lady sword-swallower-turned-junkie, and an accountant. His mother left the circus, and left him on the street at the age of two months to fend for himself, with a little cup and a piece of cardboard that said “Feed the baby,” and he actually did amazingly well. He was pulling in between four and five hundred dollars a day and by the time he was six months old, he started working as a big time broker on the New York Stock Exchange. Everyone on Wall Street knew him as “The Kid.”
Given the highly unusual circumstances in which Slash and I first met, I should have been forewarned about his quirks and oddities. I was working as a psychiatrist in the middle of nowhere in the Galapagos Islands, and I was called into the office one night for an after-hours emergency. Apparently Slash was recovering from yet another heart-breaking ending of a relationship, and had spiked his spirulina/ pomegranate/kale smoothie with LSD, psilocybin, Ecstasy, Geritol and Pepto Bismal, and he was found wandering on Main Street, downtown Galapago, wearing a rabbit suit and shouting, “Free the Bunnies! Free the Bunnies.”
I gave him a sedative, and he wound up being my patient. I saw him three days a week for two years, and he was a really tough case, because after he got over the break-up, nothing was really bothering him, he felt fine and was always upbeat and cheerful. Our only therapeutic obstacle was that I could never get him to take off the bunny outfit. Or wear pants.
I know it sounds all made up. That’s the amazing part about knowing this man. Even when you’re actually with him you think it’s all made up. I'm not even sure if the woman he introduced me to as his mother was really his mother, or a woman he hired that works at the local dry cleaners. So if you found any of this even a little intriguing, , I do recommend you read Bohemian Love Diaries, even though this wasn't a book review. But to find Slash the real person, directly, I'd advise hiring a Private I.