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People Top 5
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- January 30, 1978
- Vol. 9
- No. 4
David Harris Has Forsaken Protests and Baez for Fellow Writer Lacey Fosburgh
Yet David Harris, 31, and Lacey Fosburgh, 34, both refugees of disintegrated first marriages, have created what she calls a "heavenly, wonderful" relationship. It is also one that truly tests the maxim about absence, hearts and fondness: Though their relationship goes back three years and they were married last May, they have never settled in with each other. "We have two houses—two of everything," Lacey says. "We usually spend the night together, but if I'm too tired to drive to David's house, I don't."
The Fosburgh-Harrises ("I've never felt like Lacey Harris," she says) were based, though, most of summer '76 at his house in the San Francisco suburb of Menlo Park. There, under oak trees at the patio table, Lacey pulled together three years of trying research for her "interpretive" account of the 1973 Roseann Quinn murder case, which had to be the inspiration for Looking for Mr. Goodbar—though author Judith Rossner has never so admitted. The Fosburgh version, Closing Time, now in its third printing, was begun when she covered the original case in New York. According to Lacey, the murderer in Goodbar is "90 percent off." Quinn, she adds, "didn't love sex. For her it was a sporadic thing and a vehicle for companionship."
Simultaneously, in what David calls a "trial by fire" for their relationship, he was a candidate for Congress as a slightly deradicalized Democrat against Pete McCloskey, a better-known Republican incumbent with a fatter campaign budget. Harris lost, 62,000 votes to 130,000, but Lacey still declares herself "a big fan of David's politics." Then she adds realistically, "I'm happy he loves writing."
David, the author of two memoirs, is now a contributing editor of Rolling Stone, and both free-lance for the New York Times. (He's working on a piece on a child's death in a hippie commune, she on the Pueblo Indians in New Mexico.) They most often work at her place in San Francisco, a triplex apartment on Telegraph Hill. He uses a second-floor cubbyhole. She writes in a huge top-floor room with a sweeping 270-degree view including the Golden Gate, Alcatraz and Fisherman's Wharf. Even when working there they are "totally separate," she says. But it's not completely every spouse for him-or herself. "We're very physical," says Lacey. "We rarely take baths or showers alone."
Outside the tub, it isn't always a pacific idyll. Neither shrinks from a fight "when that is on the agenda," as David puts it. But they have solved the division of labor. Kitchen chores go to "whoever feels like it," Lacey says, and boasts that David is super with his son. "He knows how to be a mother" and has "turned into a superb housekeeper." That's a blessing since, as she admits, "I will not be the picker-upper wifey. I simply don't do it."
Joan Baez, of course, was not exactly a Donna Reed Show sort of Mrs. either. She married David at the peak of her celebrity, when he was the vociferous student body president at Stanford who had made national headlines, telling his draft board, "I wouldn't play their game." David, a Fresno lawyer's son, was blooded with the antiwar movement and civil rights demonstrations in the South. "Politics drew Joan and me together," he says now, "and the relationship couldn't have been maintained outside of that."
Though Baez was celebrating him on records, including the maudlin A Song for David, and bearing his son, Gabriel, the marriage was dissolving during the 20 months he served in prison for draft evasion, in 1969-71. ("Prison was a fearsome experience," he says, "but I would do it again if I had to.") He and Baez finally divorced in 1973.
The daughter of Hugh Whitney Fosburgh, a novelist and conservationist who died last year, Lacey went to Manhattan's Brearley School for Girls, then Sarah Lawrence. On a Fulbright scholarship to India after graduation, she fell in with journalists covering the India-Pakistan hostilities—and saw her future. By 1967 she cracked the Times back in New York. "I worked 10 days a week, 12 hours a day," she notes. "I was probably one of the first batch of women to prove they were really serious."
In early 1973 she moved to San Francisco with her new husband, lawyer Marc Libarle. "It was a relationship that was clearly not meant to be," she says now. "The move to California was just the final strain."
Then there was David, whom she met at a Rolling Stone staff party in March of 1974. "I was lonely and looking for someone," he remembers, "and I fell in love with her from the first moment I saw her." Passes were "only in my mind," he says, until that fall, when, in her delicate phrase, "it happened." Next day she asked for a separation. "Not that I was planning to marry David," she explains, "but I didn't want to tell a lie—that would have been dishonoring them both." Six months later she filed for divorce.
Lacey came to feel that despite her "predisposition that relationships don't work out, ours was so good I wanted a firm symbolic commitment. Also, I wanted a relative." As husband and wife, they manifestly enjoy their mutual recreations—jogging a regular two-mile course near her apartment, holding big dinner parties and taking camping and white-water canoe trips with Gabriel. Having children of their own is a distant possibility, Lacey says; "I just wish I had 20 years to deal with it." Without their ambitions, though, they seem to feel their marriage would never have worked, or at least not so well. "I'm conspicuously happier," says Lacey. "My work and my relationship with David have grown together."
David, admitting he is "in no danger of giving up politics," is turning his attention to volunteer work on such issues as the criminal justice system and resource conservation ("Americans have to decide they can live without their whim-whams and zoo-zahs"). He credits Lacey with nurturing the qualities required on the hustings: "I have a hermit tendency after a long time spent in a cell and she provides the impetus to get me out. I now feel safe as a person." Then, watching fondly as she gracefully serves coffee and buttered muffins on fine china, he adds with a grin: "She's added a lot of class to my act."
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