I remember Lee Lipsenthal insisting that I sample the crab in black bean sauce at Lin's China Garden on Bayard Street, the unholy mess produced by that meal notwithstanding, because it was in fact the greatest dish ever devised by humans. I remember him being correct.
I remember having selfsame meal with Lee, Ron G., and Steven K. shortly after that first time, and Steven's standard litany of complaints about his life as we all (except Lee) smoked post-dinner cigs and rolled our eyes. I remember when the fortune cookies came and Steven's didn't have a fortune in it, Lee's high-pitched bray of a laugh, how it was even louder than my own. I remember Steven insisting on getting another fortune cookie, checking to make sure it had a fortune in it. I remember Lee's laugh being even louder and higher when the fortune inside turned out to be blank.
I remember Lee saying "She doesn't look like 'Meryl Streep through a fog filter,' you idiot. What are you, fucking high?"
I remember trolling around the Village with Lee and Ron searching for a Japanese vinyl pressing of Talking Heads' Fear of Music, which pressing Lee was convinced was going to provide a more satisfying sonic experience than the domestic version on Sire. It was a hot, sunny, beautiful summer day. I remember Lee very seriously intoning, "They say, animal no wolly. Rive on nuts and bellies."
I remember Lee's German Shepherd who was named Junior Barnes, and how we sometimes called him "Djuna Barnes."
I remember Lee driving us out to Callahan's in Fort Lee one evening to test my proposition that the joint had the best french fries in the Western world. I remember during a lull in the conversation he just said "Steven" in a letter-perfect impersonation of the laconic, vaguely contemptuous tone of Steven's father. I remember, after finishing laughing, thinking that Lee was maybe the funniest person I had ever met, but that I would also have trouble conveying why this was the case to civilians.
I remember Lee referring to the Art Theater on 8th Street as "the Art Bears Theater."
I remember Lee describing the music playlist he had planned for his waiting room when he began his own private practice. He had devised this great segue from Kurtis Blow's "The Breaks" into Public Image Ltd.'s "Swan Lake."
I remember when Lee failed patient care, and a few of us drew some correspondences between that result and the aforementioned playlist idea.
I remember having dinner with Lee and Ron at the Brew and Burger (Burger and Brew?) in West Orange before driving out to the city to see Pere Ubu at Irving Plaza and being kind of abashed, strangely, after recognizing three members of the Bay City Rollers dining in a nearby booth.
I remember Lee unabashedly and joyously dancing with himself to a Clash tune on the P.A. at Irving Plaza before Ubu came on. (I think it was "Train In Vain." The Ubu show was part of the band's Art of Walking tour.)
I remember Lee telling me and Ron that his then-girlfriend Kathy had, pretty much right after meeting us, said "I can't marry you if these are your friends."
I remember Lee calling me a few years later, out of the blue, and explaining, "Kathy was saying that she was worried about your personal life." Kathy had married him anyway, as it had happened.
Lee died yesterday. Below is the YouTube trailer for his forthcoming book, Enjoy Every Sandwich.