Michael Harvey Peter Friedman
Michael Harvey Peter Friedman was born in Blackpool, England, to Jewish parents who fled Austria to escape the Holocaust. The fact that his parents had survived the Nazis informed Michael’s whole life.
Michael’s family emigrated to America and settled in New York City. Six years later, his father, who was a photographer and dreamer, died from MS when Michael was nine. His memories of his father were few, but the two adored each other. His mother, Regina Birenbaum, remarried when Michael was 12, and his stepfather, Theodor Schneider, worked for TWA, enabling the family to travel the world for free.
A geeky kid with big, wild hair, Michael did not share the orthodox leanings of his family. Later, when he moved to Santa Barbara, he was very involved with a Jewish singles group, and when he married Karen Krulevitch, they enjoyed celebrating the Jewish holidays together.
In his 20s, Michael held a number of odd jobs, including working at a steak and brew house in NYC. He admits he was a terrible waiter, but he loved the camaraderie with the young staff and had fond memories of going out dancing till the wee hours after work.
Michael earned an MFA in creative writing at Brooklyn College, during which time he and a few friends formed Zone Press, influential in the Lower East Side literary movement. He was also managing editor of Zone magazine.
Taking a break from college, he traveled to Europe to study Transcendental Meditation with Maharishi Mahesh. Back in the States, he co-wrote a screenplay in Santa Barbara, then went to Berkeley to live the political upheavals, social experiments and music of the times. A budding hippie, he sold hot pretzels from a cart on Telegraph Avenue and split the rent of $175/month with friends. Ah, the sixties!
Fascinated by computers, Michael became one of the first technical writers. At the height of his career he managed a team of tech writers, but when the small company was sold, the workplace climate changed and he was no longer happy. He had planned to stay till his retirement but was in some ways relieved when he was laid off in his mid-sixties.
Overqualified and over age for most jobs in his field, Michael decided to focus on his photography and began writing a second novel. The Upstairs Girls, a two-volume, erotic fantasy set in both San Francisco and Ausonia (an alternative universe of sexy, cunning, Dryads) took seven years to complete and emerged as the crowning artistic achievement of his life.
Michael met his future wife, Karen, in the late nineties. They were married in 2002 on what he called “the happiest day of my life.”
About ten years ago Michael began to experience debilitating symptoms, eventually diagnosed as Parkinson’s Disease. His health continued to decline, and he finally succumbed to an undiagnosed kidney infection that went septic. He was too weak to fight the systemic breakdown and was moved from Cottage Hospital to Serenity House, where he passed away.
Michael was a sweet, kind man, a good listener, a loving husband, a great friend. He was an avid reader, a soul searcher, who engaged in long-term therapy and participated in numerous men’s groups and drum circles. He loved cats, good food, wine, the Yankees, and most especially, his wife Karen and their life together. He died at age 76, much sooner than Karen expected him to go, but significantly longer than he himself always imagined he would live.
Because they spent their life savings on private caregivers to keep Michael at home, he is leaving behind a large amount of debt. If you wish to donate to help with these costs, there is a Go Fund Me account online. There will also be a celebration of Michael’s life around his birthday on January 27th, which Karen invites all friends to attend. Please call 805-967-7419 for information.
Karen, their cat Willie, and all his friends miss Michael so much. Dear Michael, we hope your long and quiet suffering has ended. May your memory be a blessing.