Artistic genius, as we've learned from obituary after celebrity obituary in recent months, often comes prepackaged with a deep concern for posterity.
That's why David Bowie gave us "Blackstar," his posthumously released masterpiece meditation on death, solitude and the great beyond. It may have something to do with why Prince left behind a immense trove of music, by some reports enough to release a new album every year for a century.
And it's why, in 2005, the revered composer, filmmaker and teacher Tony Conrad sat down to record a series of interviews with his friend and local videographer and podcast producer Richard Wicka. Those interviews, conducted shortly after Conrad was diagnosed with prostate cancer, were meant to be released only after his death.
Wicka did as instructed earlier this month, when he posted a series of five unedited videos in which Conrad free associates about his life and work. Conrad's brilliance and his eccentricities -- neither of which can be separated from the other -- are on full display in the videos. The topics range from Conrad's troubled childhood and relationship with his parents to his early days in the underground art scene in the 1960s.
In one particularly inspired anecdote, Conrad describes how his inadvertent friendship with the underground film director Jack Smith led to a role in his cult hit "Flaming Creatures," for which Conrad -- then quite shy and in his early 20s -- had to put on a dress.
"It was in fact an intensely mortifying experience, the whole thing," he said. "After we were finished, I thought about this for a longtime, how mortifying it was, but how exhilarating it was at the same time, to be completely at the fringe of my whole identity, where I couldn't actually go. I didn't know what was happening. It was scary, but also exiting in the same way that any kind of adventure is. You test yourself. You go to the limit."
Which is exactly what Conrad did throughout the rest of his life and career.
They more than merit a deep dive both for those who count themselves longtime fans of Conrad and those who are curious about his wide-ranging contributions to art and culture. They follow below: