What if every leaf that falls is the tree’s space probe to explore what is the ground?
What if every leaf that falls is the tree’s space probe to explore what is the ground?
“Could I have a word?” Townshend said to me on the hotel phone around midday. Like certain rare birds, Pete was seldom sighted before late afternoon for sound checks.
It was not a settling experience to talk to him one on one before then. In my case, it was fair cause for dread. He made me uneasy and I him at first. It took years to work that out.
A couple of us were having fun working out a logo/poster for the upcoming Canadian leg of a Who tour .Canada is big and mostly settled by moose. So far we had a sketch of a frog with a greasy slab of Canadian bacon in its mouth hopping from city to city outlining where they would play. He was dressed in a Royal Canadian Mounted Police uniform and in chase of a tubby beaver. It was in a time that people could laugh at themselves.
The bacon was my touch because I grew up eating it. But that phone call dampened me, so I headed down to his room with my bag .
He did not look well. He had his tea. There were no headless bodies and only his security guy who was desperately trying to focus his eyes on the sofa.
”Did you give me money last night?” he said without really looking up. I got the feeling that if I lied to him he would be pleased. ”
Yes”, I said.“
How much?” He gutturally groaned when I told him.
“Fuck,” was all he said
“Who was here?” I asked.
“It doesn’t matter I didn’t know them. I must have passed out.”
He is dangerous to try to read so I didn’t.
“Want me to put Jim on it?” I said.
It’s gone, thanks.”
And I left.
I think there is something particularly human in repetitiveness. As I age, I more understand the working relationship between creativity and forgetfulness. I am just creative enough to see that. If I were more, it would never occur to me. Regis Boff
FaceBook sends things I have posted back to me in their “memories”. My guess is it makes me appear small in the eyes of the very few who show any interest in me.
Below is such a recall. It makes me cry a little. Regis Boff
From Brian Wilson’s autobiography:
Today (October 11), Brian Wilson releases his long-awaited memoir, I Am Brian Wilson. In this excerpt, he discusses the influence of two of the Beach Boys’ only true rivals in the ’60s: the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. And also, how bandmate/rival Mike Love helped him to finish “Good Vibrations.”
The one that really got me was Rubber Soul, which came out at the end of 1965. Rubber Soul is probably the greatest record ever. Maybe the Phil Spector Christmas record is right up there with it, and it’s hard to say that the Who’s Tommy isn’t one of the best, too. But Rubber Soul came out in December of 1965 and sent me right to the piano bench. It’s a whole album of Beatles folk songs, a whole album where everything flows together and everything works. I remember being blown away by “You Won’t See Me” and “I’m Looking Through You” and “Girl.” It wasn’t just the lyrics and the melodies but the production and their harmonies. They had such unique harmonies, you know? In “You Won’t See Me,” Paul sings low and George and John sing high. There’s an organ drone in there, a note that’s held down for the last third of the song or so. Those were touches they were trying, almost art music. What was so great about the Beatles was you could hear their ideas so clearly in their music. They didn’t pose like some other bands, and they didn’t try to stuff too much meaning in their songs. They might be singing a song about loneliness or a song about anger or a song about feeling down. They were great poets about simple things, but that also made it easier to hear the song. And they never did anything clumsy. It was like perfect pitch but for entire songs. Everything landed on its feet.
I met Paul McCartney later in the ’60s, in a studio. I was almost always in a studio back then. He came by when we were at Columbia Square working on vocal overdubs, and we had a little chat about music. Everyone knows now that “God Only Knows” was Paul’s favorite song—and not only his favorite Beach Boys song, but one of his favorite songs period. It’s the kind of thing people write in liner notes and say on talk shows. When people read it, they kind of look at that sentence and keep going. But think about how much it mattered to me when I first heard it there on Sunset Boulevard. I was the person who wrote “God Only Knows,” and here was another person—the person who wrote “Yesterday” and “And I Love Her” and so many other songs—saying it was his favorite. It really blew my mind. He wasn’t the only Beatle who felt that way. John Lennon called me after Pet Sounds—phoned me up, I think the British say—to tell me how much he loved the record.
But Paul and I stayed in touch. Another time not too long after that he came to my house and told me about the new music he was working on. “There’s one song I want you to hear,” he said. “I think it’s a nice melody.” He put the tape on and it was “She’s Leaving Home.” My wife, Marilyn, was there, too, and she just started crying. Listening to Paul play a new song let me see my own songs more clearly. It was hard for me to think about the effect that my music had on other people, but it was easy to see when it was another songwriter.
I think the protests caught everybody off guard though Columbia College was well ahead of the national curve. The nature of the place was to question everything, learn from the debate, and build skills. It felt abrupt that argumentative and embarrassing exchanges became personal and sometimes violent. It must have felt like a stain to the professors and administration at first. The place has a history of the mind overwhelming violence and is proud of that. Schools had become a haven from Vietnam, and Columbia was no different than the rest. You did not have to die if enrolled. The tearing apart of that shelter took real nerve. We were all very young men ( All male school at the time). We were among the first to act on our conscience. We figured out that something was very wrong. That was no small realization at the time. It was dangerous to resist. Columbia, above all else, was brave. A bridge from our academia to the outside world let something new and savage inside. Clear sides formed. Words could no longer settle anything. Fifty years later, my life still never pauses to be grateful. Discredited are the divinities that demand gratuity. Gone are parents who held my hand for a while. Even my excellent luck is not a thing to tip a hat too. There is only one place I wish I could be again because it was perfect. Columbia College the way I found it in 1967.My class seemed to be trying to tear it apart. In my last two years there, it seemed to collapse entirely. My college disappeared overnight, and I had not enough time or wisdom to regret it. Violence does that.I understand now what a college should aspire to be, memory—where you can find all truth and none. I know that school is still there. —
I only want to watch attractive people have sex. As a youth, I was curious about what beautiful gay people did to each other. Once I got a handle however on the structural opportunities they brought to the table, the identical disinterest in unattractive homosexuals repeated itself.My riddle is that I am not attractive myself yet I still demand what I see and sexually touch to be beautiful. All men are this way. Ask them.The Early man simply sniffed out beauty. It was a successful system, and we multiplied notwithstanding our repulsiveness for millennium. All that ended with the advent of perfumes.In the early fifties, all human sexual aromas were drenched by the French liquid, Chanel # 5. This perfume instantly made billions of unpleasant people sexually uninteresting. Men immediately, in their perspicacity, associated beauty strictly with their eyes and only so, from then on.Of course, this was the last thing old Coco Chanel thought she was doing when she came up with her scent. She thought it would level the playing field for hideous people. It did not.
How fun it is
to say again
To repeat the preferred
episodes of my life
over and over.
I remind me
of how wonderful
I have been at times.
Wonderful and happy.
I have had sadnesses,
but those are now
all by themselves
There are still the quarrels
over whether time
was wasted .
I think we all have those.
My life is floating timelessly
on the petals of my past.
Memories are all you can ever be.
Blindingly handsome gay men are mankind’s only effective retaliation against women.
At my most recklessly honest and envious, I have to accept that my son is my only opportunity to see a future for which I can not last.
With every poem,
a sad confession
that it is not
a hundred page
Every black person
at that moment
when I was five
when my mother
is screaming at me,
“Look at what you have done.”
Her favorite vase,
at my feet
on the floor.
I can’t lookup.
I can’t put it together.
is gone forever.
Women never allow silence
with other women.
remind them of men,
they somehow understand,
would lead to a kiss.
Roger Daltrey would not stay in hotels whose windows would not open. John Entwistle wanted long stay overs in cities where the deep sea fishing was good. Pete Townshend insisted his room be as far away from Moon’s as possible. And Keith asked only to be informed they were touring in time to get his outfits together.
Louis XIV, France’s Sun King, had the longest reign in European history (1643-1715). During this time, he brought absolute monarchy to its height, established a glittering court at Versailles, and fought most of the other European countries in four wars.
Had he been offered the choice, he would have opted to go on tour with The Who. It was far more fun.
Entwistle was stone-faced impervious to the un-uniqueness of his fishes. He stuffed them all, and we shipped them to his home.
He would rent a boat and take whoever wanted to come for the day.
There was no career advantage in landing the biggest one. It would have been not polite.
One such early morning in Miami, Moon arrived at the dock unexpectedly and dressed in a white Admiral’s outfit, with a sixteenth-century captain’s hat, shoulder tassels, and a monocle. It was a rare accuracy for him to even roughly guess where the fuck he was going, let alone to be in sync with any dress regulations. In fairness, it could have been a coincidence.
Keith was drinking heavily before the boat began dawdling out toward deeper seas. Drinking after a night of drug-taking was nearly medicinal in his mind—a sensible pharmaceutical rebuttal in Rock terms.
Anyway, the fishing went poorly. After only a couple of hours of seafaring, the drummer began crying and baring his soul to anybody who would listen.
Listening to Keith was always a dangerous mental bear trap because he was very talented and deeply deceptive. It was routine to find yourself neck high in especially embarrassing shit.
He had crashed into an epiphany. He ordered John to turn the boat around and put it into a port near the ablest hospital in Miami. He intended to apply the three days remaining in our stopover, to “purge himself” under the guardianship of “master doctors.”
Forfeiting a show because he passed out on stage was yet to be routine, but it was a deadly threat.
This plan grew support from everyone but Entwisle, who was fishing and not buying a word.
So we continue to troll while Bill Curbishley and I tried to bribe hospitals to take him in.
After admitting a weepy Moon and depositing him in a hospital bed, we set off back to the hotel for lunch, feeling pretty damn smart about everything.
Later that day, we got a desperate call from the hospital saying that the police were on the way, and we had to get Moon out.
The administrator said the drummer was on a payphone in the hallway in his dressing gown doing interviews with the local radio stations.
He was inviting the kids to come to the hospital for a party.
When we got there, the crowd was a couple of hundred deep.
Twenty or more naked women smell a certain way.
“He wants money,” Jim Callaghan said.
It was the seventies, our hotel, seven or ten hours after the show had ended in Dallas.
“Do you have him?” I asked, knowing full well they did or calling me would have been a waste of time because “the hunt would be on” by all the security. I would have been irrelevant.
“Buttoned down, he can’t get away, but he’s been pestering for you,” he whined.
I got dressed and palmed a couple of hundred dollar bills and headed up.
His elevator opened to a sea of teenage girls wandering the drummer’s hallway like confused chickens. They cocked their heads towards me but drooped because I was a grown-up.
One of Jim’s guys was standing at the door to the Moon’s suite, being sturdy and earnest.
“What’s he doing?” I asked, putting the cop money in my pocket.
The likable young tough shrugged at me like muscular people imagine they can, “He’s been ringing up hookers for the last couple of hours with Jim, Tiny, and Dougal.”
Moon’s living room was empty except for Tiny, one of Jim’s security guys, standing lookout at the bedroom door.
He was naked except for the laminated security pass that hung around his neck.
Tiny was a goliath ex-New York cop who got shot and lived on a pension. He irregularly carried The Who’s only gun storing it on his ankle where he could not reach it in a crisis without a chiropractor.
He had shoulder-length greasy black curly hair. His eyebrows, arms, and whiskers were testicular sparse. He resembles the sad outcome of a high school custodian’s wet mop attack on a fat black bear.
Though gulpingly repulsive, Tiny always had the prettiest girls with him. He could outdraw Daltrey. Roger, of course, destroyed him on volume.
After a favor, he did me. I told him to order anything he wanted from room service. Passing by his room later, I caught him on his bed with a girl and two serving spoons. He had a glass bowl of forty or so ice cream scoops balanced on his stomach. They looked like life was at its summit. Tiny was not a man to fret the absence of inner experience.
Tiny bathed, as the tour joke went, only before major surgery.
“You’re a picture,” I said as I passed him to knock on the bedroom door.
Jim Callaghan cracked the door to peek at me. He was naked, “No clothes, governor’s orders.” was what he said.
I undressed except for my briefcase. I kept my shoes out of curious modesty.
I like hookers because they are a little like The Who. They are real.
Seven of them were on his king bed, staring at something in its center.
It was a Scrabble board.
A forest of breasts had blindfolded the drummer. He batted a few to clear his view of me.
“Well, finally, we took our time, didn’t we?” He charged.
“You better be winning,” I challenged him.
I lose his attention as he turns again to the board.
“Well Reg, you’re in time enough, I may need to buy a vowel,” he loudly confused our two most important American letter games, Scrabble and The Wheel of Fortune. They must have had a British equivalent from somewhere in his past.
“Come sit, he patted the bed beside him seductively, shoving a blond to the floor. I sat covering myself with my leather case.
For the first time, I noticed Dougal, his lifetime best friend on the floor, stewing in four girls. Callaghan had returned to one corner and was working on swapping blowjobs for backstage passes. The exercise was stupid because the girls all had been paid for already by Moon. But Jim had been at this for so many years it was an erotic accessory for him. I think he started with the Osmonds.
“I have these ladies on the run, but the play is getting crowded. The board is very condensed.” Moon groaned competitively to me.
I glanced at it. Three words had found their way into the match, but none of the wooden squares forming them were touching each other.
“You guys ever play this game before tonight?” I said to the girls. One or two expressed some confidence. They were beautiful by any standard.
A stunning black girl with bruised blood-colored hair and long bone earrings heaved in a dark voice, (like a lonely cow’s moo), “I got one.” She carefully laid down “dog,” forever impressing four of the other girls who I judged must be on her team.
So Moon kicks the board into the air in a losing hissy fit and banishes the poor black girl off the bed. She promptly goes from pride to tears, her spelling days over and in tatters.
He pushes himself up to lean on the puffed pink silk headboard beside me. I don’t sit next to naked men regularly, and so I worry about sweat.
“Can I hold it?” he draws my eyes to his.
My briefcase is likely the most valuable item on tour except for the guitars. Our security would rescue it before any attention came my way.
I hand him my case. He flattens it to his stomach and balls and says brightly, “Does it have lots of tonight?”
“You bet,” I said.
He tosses the case to the middle of the bed, and the girls lunge on it like it was a deep jungle musk genital pouch.
I was half thinking of getting hold of a spray bottle of Fantastic from housekeeping or a new bag before breakfast.
Moon, his mouth now on my ear, says in his whispering British spy voice, “I have my eye on that little blond down there, think she could be mine?”
I have this job owing to two strengths; I am trustworthy with money, and my reality is not easily overwhelmed by the unreality of anybody else’s.
“Please,” I offer, “she has not taken her eyes off you, even while her mouth is on my case.”
Jim and Doughal know their call girls.
“Girls, the case please,” he commanded, putting his arms out like the prongs on a forklift.
“I will need quite a bit tonight,” now back to me.
“How much?” I said.
He began gravely calculating, employing his taxing” pin the tail on the donkey” arithmetic.
He fixed on a number, immediately giddy with relief that the stress of the mathematics was finally over.
Opening the case, I counted out the packets, handed it to him, and made him sign for it, which he did, dramatically sweeping my pen in semi-circles like a crashing propeller plane before landing close enough to the dotted line.
He threw all the money to Doughal, who couldn’t disengage his hands fast enough from women’s body parts, so most of it hit him on the head.
Jim and Doughal sprang for it before the girls did.
On my way out, I told Jim to pay the girls himself, if he could, and to drop the balance back to me at the next show.
None of it ever comes back.
Do your memories,
cast loose by life’s end
for you to come back?
Like pets at windows?
Keith Moon was out on the street, working as a doorman/bellboy at the Navarro Hotel in New York City in between shows at Madison Square Garden because he was running out of money.
I got him that job thinking it might be a character-building experience. It also relieved, for a little while, everybody’s constant anxiety over where he was.
The hotel manager, Mr. Russell, a personal friend of mine, arranged it because he felt obliged. After all, the band had rebuilt three of his hotel rooms over the last two tours. I always turned to the word ” shredded” in reporting what Moon had done to them.
It was August 6, 1978. I think.
We were in one of the suites playing scrabble and waiting for something to happen when Mr. Russell called to warn that Moon and his entourage were heading upstairs and that he was carrying two bags from a new guest that he had forgotten to leave in the lobby.
The initial confusion of having their taxi door opened by a rock star wearing a six-foot-long Indian headdress was working out in the manager’s estimation. The regular bellmen seemed please at the increase in tips coming in.
He was also sharing his gratuities with everybody conscientiously though he got ill-tempered with the math. It has, in fairness to Moony, been my experience that no rock star can count.
In minutes the drummer blasted into the room like a one-person Apache raiding party. Behind him trailed our security guys, five groupies, two bellmen, and I guessed from their suits the people chasing their stolen bags.
” Have you heard the news?” he was nearly moaning with excitement. “Some Pope is dead! “
Feathers whipping in his breeze, he whirled on Anne Wheldon, our publicist who lives in a barely suppressed nervous hysteria, ordering her to ” get me someone on the line right now from The New York Times and Billboard Magazine!”
He started to wring his hands like an early Adolf Hitler slavering over a defenseless prewar France.
“Go right to the top, Anne, tell them I am throwing my hat into this Papal ring.” His eyes had an almost religious luminescence.
She had the entertainment editor from the Times on the phone within minutes.
He straightened his feathers and hunched over the desk phone. The room grew silent. We hung on his side of the conversation.”
“That’s right; I have wanted to leave the band for years,” he confirmed to the guy. ” “Given this emergency, I believe that moment is ripe.”
He listened, and his face seemed to droop.
“No, I am not Catholic,” he paused, perhaps sensing his tactical error.” “But I am a quick study, ask Pete Townshend,” he attached smoothly.
“And don’t let that motherfucker Mick Jagger hear about this. He is the devil, you know,” cunningly racing to blot any competition quickly.
By this time, we were rolling on the floor, and Anne was standing next to him, trying to get his attention waving her arms and mouthing that she had Rolling Stone on the other line.
He put both hands over the phone and, in confusion, shouted at us,” Fuck, he wants to know what I think qualifies me to be the next Pope.”
Ever quick, Bill Curbishley, his manager, shouted back to him”, Tell him twenty-five platinum albums.”
Most everybody from Pittsburgh grew up on a hilltop.
Hills surround the city.
We were bigots and racists.
All of us had our peak, the results of the game of musical chairs that is continuously playing in America. Our timid arriving immigrant masses huddled on any vacant space they could find. Then they hard prayed the English language would become decipherable to them in time.
Our little ethnic villages stood like bearded goats on these elevations, each confident that their summit was closer to whatever they believed was God above them.
There were no hills for women, as they were scattered equally and none for gays and lesbians because they did not yet exist. Blacks somehow did not get any top land, so they got a middle ground and called it a “side.” Jews seemed to be hiding around the big University of Pittsburgh. They appeared to feel safer there. I hardly knew about Jews when I lived there in the fifties and sixties. But we knew all we needed because of jokes at their expense.
Mind you. We made fun of everyone except ourselves.
Class envy existed, but nobody had very much of that. We were all kind of a shitty shipment of lower classes, so fighting about so little would have just proven demoralizing and too obvious.
No, the best playing fields for prejudice lay in the more fertile areas of skin color and accent.
I grew up in a time when snobbishness was a greater offense than discrimination. Nowadays, conceits are confused with power, and bigotries punished like little homicides.
The geography of my youth helped me stumble into a critical ditch of reality in my life. It is that crowds are meaner than individuals. One person can reflect before they make a mistake, but a group cannot.
Groups develop from the fear of friends.
There was no one to show this to me when I was a kid. Hurting someone weaker or different is reassuring to anybody frantic for acceptance.
You do not have to come from Pittsburgh to know that.
Mom, why are we at home?
Do we have to stay in the living room?
“Your father will be home soon.”
Why haven’t you started dinner?
It’s dinnertime. We should be ready for dad.
Why are the groceries
still in the bags?
“Father will be home soon.
We’ll make dinner when he comes.
Once he is here.
He’ll decide where we’ll eat.”
Can’t we go out and play?
Why are you wearing your coat?
And your hat?
“Your father will be home soon.
And we will be here to greet him.
We might go out to eat.
He will have ideas about where to go.
He will have presents for you,
and we will be ready.”
Why are grandma and grandpa at the door?
Why is grandpa wearing a suit?
Why is grandma wearing her fancy dress?
And her necklace?
They have suitcases.
“Your father will be home soon,
And he loves to see grandma and grandpa.
Maybe they will come to dinner.
Father might want us to get dressed up
They might stay over for a while.”
Why is grandma wiping her eyes?
Why do our neighbors keep coming to the door?
Why are they bringing food
if we are going out to eat?
“Your father will be home soon.”
The neighbors don’t know father will be home.
The man on the phone
said father wouldn’t be home.
The neighbors are say
father will not be coming home.
Mom, What’s going to happen to us?
“Your father will be home soon
Your father will be back soon.”
PUBLISHED: February 26, 2017
FILED UNDER: Unnoticed in Clever Worlds
Try to imagine Pete Townshend telling this.
A guy goes to his doctor, troubled by a lump that has emerged in the middle of his forehead.
The physician examines him and suggests that ” We observe it for a while to see what develops,” sending the man packing.
Two weeks later, the anxious fellow returns, now wearing a wide-brimmed hat to hide a much-grown mass.
Again the doctor does his measurements. After an hour or so, he asks him into his private office.
Sitting his patient down, he says,” Mr. Jenkins, there is no easy way to tell you, but it appears you are developing a penis on your forehead.”
Mr. Jenkins, at this news, jumps to his feet and begins pacing around the room. He finally asks in tears, “Doctor, do you have any idea how big it will get?”
The specialist considers and returns,” it should stop growing at around eight to ten inches.”
The man staggers back to his chair with his face in his hands.
He says, “I don’t know how I am going to live with this. I mean, how am I ever going to look at my face in the mirror again?”
The old and much sympathetic doctor takes his hands in his and says, “Well, I wouldn’t worry about that one, the balls will probably cover your eyes.”
My first car was a used Buick Electra convertible. I bought it to travel across the country with my girlfriend, Edna, in the summer of my sophomore year in Columbia College.
It was the longest car ever manufactured in the United States at the time. I abandoned it, sandwiched between endless cornfields on a locust Nebraskan evening in 1969.
It continues to this day to be the only car in the Midwest acknowledged by a mailing address. Two families have lived in it since I gave it up.
I was a hippy then, and she was a gulping lovely Israeli from Barnard College who never fully embraced my car. She felt the automobile understated her worth.
She dumped me and my axle- broken ride on a turnpike gravel off-ramp and hitchhiked back east. I stole some raw corn and went in the other direction.
From then on, I sought vengeance on all of them. Not on the corn or the cars, on the girls.
Most stunning women, many of whom can otherwise barely sneeze without advice, reliably know the sticker price of any car on the road.
Precision machines are potent symbols of compatibility to a woman. I lived for this hunt. It did not occur to me until decades later that the only reason I worked at all was to buy expensive cars.
After I married, my dynamic of seduction had to be re-calibrated.
We moved to a small-town called Irvington in Ny to pretend we were raising our kids as average Americans.
We bought a Volvo station wagon. It is the most deceitful machine ever marketed. Breathtakingly fast, it draws in the skeptical new father who suspects his life is over while the woman knows that crash test dummies play Scrabble in it, during its collision tests.
My current car and I are growing old together and cooperate nicely with our predictable repair schedules. It takes me to doctors, and I take it to our mechanic on Main St.
Every once in a while, I sense a certain smugness from the car. As if it thinks it might outlast me.
Then that old hardness in me shows itself, and I suggest it might like a trip to Nebraska.
PUBLISHED: February 15, 2017
FILED UNDER: Unnoticed in Clever Worlds
PUBLISHED: February 15, 2019
FILED UNDER: Unnoticed in Clever Worlds
Mr. and Mrs. Stotnum Powder,
renown for their synchronized postures
bumped their noses
against their curiously misleading
They could see all of the everywhere,
all of the time.
Stotnum waved at his uneaten food
turning to face Gertrude,
he bubbled, “That cat was staring at me.”
“At us, you mean, don’t you?”
Gertie shot back,
much annoyed by the exclusion.
“Yes, yes, of course, us,”
Stotnum was confused by his apology.
“His big eyes follow me, us,
he hates us.
Doesn’t he have friends?”
“The unfortunate thing has nothing to do “
It wants company.”
Gertrude thinks of others.
Of which there are none.
“Hard to be alone.”
brushing against Stotnum
her back fin
slightly arched and suggesting,
“What would you do without me? “
“Maybe round worlds
made me stubborn,” he obliges lovingly.
The splash pushes them to the gravel floor.
The above cracks and splits open.
Both round mouths scream,
curiously synchronized and silent.
Stotnum sees the claws.
As quickly as it came, it was gone.
And so was Gertie.
Nobody in their right mind says to a friend,”that person you love is not as pretty as you think.”
Is that because falling in love is the only art with no real right or wrong ?Perhaps.
My neighbor and my wife are “Deadheads.” That is, they have between them been to more than twenty thousand Grateful Dead concerts. I have been to two because they were the opening act for The Who, two times.
The deal between the bands to play those two shows took years to consummate because so little could be agreed.
The contract became the shortest one for this amount of money in rock history because everyone gave up quarreling in fatigue. It roughly reads: “The Grateful Dead will receive a guarantee of X and can begin anytime after sunrise but must vacate the stage by sunset.” We were afraid they would not get off. They didn’t always.
Wholeheartedly many believe the Dead is the best band in the world.
Do I think they are musical idiots? Sure. However, they are in love, so I let it go. I don’t tell them so. Often.
When push comes to shove, we are a beautiful species, killing each other regularly, notwithstanding. Mostly we regard that love is an authentication of a joy others have too, and that we need to respect this without commentary.
That said, The Who are a much better band.
Our music was round.
The records had grooves,
each different as the
concentric furrows on fingers.
Only our palms handled them.
Prints left skips
like little crimes.
We would hard blow unseen dust
and polish the needles
before injecting them
like fussy junkies,
nudging them forward,
encouraging their toddler first words.
Vinyl rivulets of invisible sound
came sheathed in cardboard art,
album covers carrying messages
meant only for us.
We built giant libraries
from which we would lend.
Music brought us together,
to be too honestly gay
when we sang along.
But old black recordings
from dead guys with funny names
like Dizzy, Jelly Roll, and Satchmo
would get us laid.
Their sounds made
the white women swoon.
None of us knew shit
about old black men.
And we didn’t care.
I was the tour manager in the early seventies for a band called Genesis. Those years when Peter Gabriel was with this band.
I was additionally responsible for what was arguably rock’s most embarrassing moment.
Every other night the show would end this way. Gabriel, dressed in his “Gods of Magog” costume (a black velvet cape, and a giant triangular headpiece), throws off his hat and cloak, revealing himself in a silver jumpsuit. He finishes the song done.
During the climatic changeover, we made him momentarily invisible by the detonation of a cocktail of flash and concussion grey gunpowder. The controlled explosions came from metal pods on the front lip of the stage. The audience was blinded and dazed, an excellent early rock finale.
We never told anyone we were going to do it. One of our roadies, Geoff Banks, filled them a couple of hours before the show and would set them off electrically at the right moment. Today this would be criminally outlawed, whereas back then, one of our guys distracted the fire marshall while we filled them.
This incident took place somewhere between 1973 and 1975, either in Cleveland, Ohio, or Berlin, Germany. In my world, this is terrific accuracy.
Someone imaginatively, (I can’t remember who), had the notion to “fly” Peter into the air while the audience was blinded. It was most likely Peter himself.
He was to be “shot” (hoisted) fifteen feet into the air by nearly invisible thin metal wires, “called flying” in those days. He would finish the song, floating in a silver jumpsuit, as the front curtain closed, end of the show. Nice.
Gabriel was to be further concealed by smoke machines (they looked like leaf blowers) and an intense fog that bubbled up by the dumping of blocks of dry ice, by hand (gloved), into huge buckets of water by the crew from behind the speaker stage bins. They would explode with vapor, filling, if the prevailing winds permitted, the entire stage.
Here’s how the “flying” was to work. I had brought in an “expert” who had flown Elton John and his piano into the air a few months earlier. This guy harnessed himself to the wires which connected over the truss to Gabriel. He climbed to the top of a tall ladder on stage left, out of sight, and waited. On my cue, he would leap off the ladder, and because he was the counterbalance, up our artist would go. I did the cueing only because I had no other real job, having finished my critical job of literally running around hallways closing doors so no breeze would alter the course of our stage fog.
I sweated the cue because I am not particularly musical.
Well, I thought I nailed the fucker, but I was maybe a second too soon, and shit began scattering everywhere.
Peter went up fast and, sadly, crookedly. His left shoulder was at least a foot and a half higher than his right. In his shock, he dropped his live microphone launching it forward, onto the stage, where it rolled into the explosions from the gunpowder pods.
The blasting sound shot directly into the fifteen-foot audience speakers. Many of the punters, who had the misfortune to have been standing near them, are no doubt deaf today.
Meanwhile, some assholes had opened an outside door. So all my smoke was blowing backward towards the dressing rooms leaving the mayhem visible.
The flash pods, we were later to learn from the fire dept were so overloaded there was speculation it was the first actual cannon fire, during a live show, in history ( except for Beethoven in the 1800s).
Peter’s mic sound, as my luck would have it, also went through the band’s stage speakers. Tony Banks, the keyboardist, I saw out of the corner of my now tearing eyes, was in the center of the stage hitting Geoff, the explosion roadie, over the head with a tambourine, screaming, “I am deaf, you made me deaf.” All this was happening within a nightmare zone of about ten seconds.
So let me recap, seeing as we have come this far.
I have Gabriel nearly horizontal, fifteen feet in the air, with no microphone and a black cape dangling from his foot. The keyboardist is pounding a roadie as the hapless bastard is frantically trying to extinguish the residue flames still pouring from his canisters. I have an entire audience in a state of stunned mass trauma, and all my smoke is filling up the dressing rooms.
So what was the absolute last thing God could think of to do with me? The front curtain would not close.
In my mind’s eye, even today, this was not a tidy episode. To their credit and my forever resentment, most of the audience hung around to watch us try to cut Peter down. It took such a long time.
Steve Hackett confirmed it was 19.2.75, The Ekeberghallen, Oslo, Norway!
In the 1991 Documentary, Genesis A History Tony, Mike, and Phil remembered it with Phil Collins saying, “I turned around to the tour manager and said YOUR FIRED!
What I did not expect most from Dolly Parton was being called Mr. Boff.
I explained that she could not fill the concerts I had for her without help. She took this in stride. I suggested Merle Haggard might be perfect as an opening act, and she dispatched me to get him with her approval.
Getting hold of him wasn’t that easy. He didn’t seem to have a manager or agent, so I had to go through his drummer.
Haggard was a convicted felon. He had spent a good deal of time in San Quentin prison. His band, “The Strangers,” was irregularly populated by musicians who happened to be on parole when his tours began.
Asked once what his biggest mistake in life had been, he blurted slyly, “Pulling my jobs in small towns.”
Merle did his big deals himself and I was a big deal for him. Not often a fool, I know that thieves attend pleasantly to people who have money. I did not expect this would be hard, so I was annoyed at having to meet him. I headed down to one of his shows in the South. It was a small show where he headlined.
After he finished, he sent a guy who put me on his bus.
The drummer introduced me, and there it was again, “Mr. Boff.”
We sat in his living room. A partially hairless animal cuddled next to him. I suspected it was a dog. It growled and snarled non stop at me.
He wanted to make me feel he saw through me. It was the same look he projected from stage. As eyes play on a face, his were the only participants that were not wrinkled and mean. I liked him instantly.
We both knew I was paying him too much money, so it could not have been called a real negotiation. What he said to me caught me off guard, “I’m sorry, Mr. Boff, I would like to do it but I can’t. ” I needed him, and I pressed for why. He said, ” I don’t believe the Good Lord means for a man to open a show for a woman.”
I went home.
I called Dolly and told her what happened. She said she would call me back.
She got back to me quickly to say Merle would do the dates. I asked what he said? She says. “Not much, he just agreed after I told his guy that the “Good Lord” Dolly Parton was on the phone.”
“I have worked with and loved vegetarians. They are not better people and are easily frustrated by irregularities like leather belts and shoes. On rock tours, they grow weak during the midwest portions in America because they can’t find anything to eat but mutton, gizzards, and rhubarb. They can not play Germany.” ( 1976 ) Regis Boff
cast loose by
your life’s end,
to come back home?
Like pets at windows.
PUBLISHED: September 28, 2018
FILED UNDER: Unnoticed in Clever Worlds
We are forever guessing
if we are a song.
Nothing is soundless.
but are never sure that our noises carry.
may reach Neptune.
But Neptune, like God, does not echo.
Birds don’t care so much
for their songs.
They care about eggs and nests
and the size of baby new wings.
Cicadas lullaby summer evenings.
But the night doesn’t pick up
and begin to dance.
Flies whizz their little ditties
by our ears.
And we brush them away,
like eavesdropped insults.
exhale their perfumes
into the winds to
blind the dazzled slave bees.
Nothing disturbs the evenhanded blizzard
that is being alive,
but the drama of surprising death,
and the odd collisions with love.
She sits among her snowflake suitors.
Each the same
Until she finds
the one that echoes her song.
PUBLISHED: June 30, 2016
FILED UNDER: Unnoticed in Clever Worlds
PUBLISHED: January 1, 2019
FILED UNDER: Unnoticed in Clever Worlds
He insisted they had a connection.
It was awkward.
She was beautiful by any standard.
I showed him a picture someone had snapped of her in a flowered smock, the typical shapeless tent of a day dress popularized in the fifties. He was smitten instantly. He wouldn’t let it go, bringing her up out of nowhere, asking about that picture.
The trajectory of my mother’s life and death were much the same as his, inevitable and sad.
From a distance, I saw them both as hapless geese plowing into the propellers of aircraft taking off from God’s airport. Neither the plane nor their shared psychosis was willing to alter courses. So they had no chance.
Her broken feathers scattered all around me, Moon’s drifted over everyone.
When she died, conveniently between Who tours, he took it in pace. He never mentioned her again, except to annoy me about the task he had set me on. Finding a dress like the one in her photo. Of course, in his size.
PUBLISHED: May 23, 2017
FILED UNDER: Unnoticed in Clever Worlds
I wasn’t going to tell.
I wrapped him in brown paper
and went home
and hid him,
after he raped me.
He was pleased.
He climbs on me at night.
We do bug things.
He scares me again
but now in whispers
his voice in mean humming pitches
like warm August night locusts.
I am forgotten.
across the table from me,
he asks, “So what shall we do today?
So casually. I am confused.
My life with him is beginning.
His claw touches my hand,
He is pleased.
My deceit holds no estate in him.
I am vanished into what has hurt me.
Life forbids that I feel nothing at all.
My life might be very long.
PUBLISHED: December 29, 2016
FILED UNDER: Unnoticed in Clever Worlds
This Chinese meal might be famous, but I am not positive. So much other stuff is.
Out of a large bowl, Keith Moon picked two empty cookies. No fortune on a tiny slip of paper in either one. He refused to take a third. Nobody else had such a result, and he was soon dead. Kind of an Agatha Chang Christie moment I always felt, but we never notified the authorities.
The band, Genesis, had no such unfortunate signature meal. Chinese waiters have slower, hidden punishments for vegetarians. The group, my friends, would tiresomely interrogate about unrevealed ingredients. Of course, the mysterious is the foundation of Chinese cuisine.
Being interrogated by vegans is not something tolerated with much cloaked civility in Mandarin kingdoms. Vegetarians eat a lot of revengeful pee as a result. Urine, of course, is animal-based. Paradox, Asian style.
Lynyrd Skynyrd did not know China existed, let alone that they had restaurants.
In retrospect, this worked out well for those rock star murdering Chinese.
Had I suspected they had take-out on the plane, I would have come after them.
The little lifetimes of first love
All whirling and crashing
about your heart
like hungry snowflakes,
all the same,
till one does not melt
I valued small print as a child. Somehow it conveyed gravity and possibility. We had this vast family dictionary that had every word in it.
I would close my eyes, then pick a random page to open on and look at the words. I did the same thing with the Bible. On occasion, some words would have a tiny drawing. I was the first kid to see a Dodo bird in my neighborhood. I still remember this picture.
My mother built my first encyclopedia by redeeming green stamps at our supermarket, getting one letter a month. It was a Funk and Wagnalls.
We failed to complete the set for reasons long forgotten.
I occasionally find empty pockets inside the U, V, W, X, Y, and Z sections of my scholarship.
I spent hours chasing ants on my hands and knees trying to burn them with a large magnifying glass angled to the summer sun’s rays. I had built fires this way in Boy Scouts. I used twigs, not ants, for that.
The ants often adopted a “clump together” stratagem in their insect terror, and this was a bad move.
In retrospect, there is a cruelty in children that blends agreeably with innocence.
Much of my career, such that it was, depended upon rationalizing that rock bands needed their money defended. It would be hard to argue that I was not good at it.
Ticket prices grew over the years. The Who’s ticket price was always an internal cause for concern with them. Raising the ticket price one dollar could provoke a rare band meeting that could end in a screaming faceoff. The Stones did not give less a fuck.
Thinking back on it now, we taxed the kids based on how much they loved art. And it was art.
There was a formula involved that was hard to describe. The pain of the price diminished as the size of the venue increased. It was almost as though the fans did not mind getting fucked as long as tons of others did too.
In my years, The Who reached the point they could play as many stadiums in each city as they wanted. The big bands made sure they did not go out at the same time and we would coordinate by calling each other. They could suck all the money out of a city.
The virtues of ticket pricing eventually vanished and were replaced with making sure that we did not cheat whole cities out of an opportunity to see them play.
Through it all, I remained loyal to their money.
When the Poet of Avon, Mr. William Shakespeare, awoke this very morning, he stumbled headfirst into brevity. Twitter.
In doing so, he doomed all other English playwrights, a mostly sterile ladle of plagiarizing snakes, to drone on while in morbid awe of him for all eternity.
The notion of premièring himself on this afternoon, as the writer of fewest words, flung him into malicious merriment. “I am now and forever will be a port-wine reduction sauce of succinctness.
“My genius is the tabernacle of the truncated,” he gloated,” I will leave the breadth of things to the freshmen.”
“Verily,” he bragged, (too loudly, for his mother, now overhears him while hiding behind his bedroom door), “and forever, my works will be posted with nails onto trees in twenty-six words and less and will be known to the audience as “tweets”.
Hearing this vow, his mother, the severely verbalized Mary Arden Shakespeare dismays.
Mary was a woman who could trace her long-windedness as linearly as an erection, back to the most crucial exercise of unnecessary human print, “The Doomsday Book.” She feared her son was maneuvering into a near-criminal puddle of abbreviated verbal sulkiness.
She slumped, legs splayed into bunches of skirts, muttering miserably to herself, (wholly in Old English, to her credit), “I will not allow him an eternity of pithiness of verse.”
But Bill speeds by her determined to stop his life’s drudgery of taxing inventiveness before she can interfere.
“Romeo and Juliet” was already rewriting itself in his mind as a love story that lasts only as long as a stick of sassafras chewing gum.
“Romeo has the scheme, parents will be sorry; R. fucks everything up, big mess, J. is an idiot The End,” was all it needed to be.
Shakespeare sprints to Stratford’s Speaker’s Corner to announce the new course for England’s scholarly conversation.
“Forever on,” Bill bellows to a gathering crowd of the muddy, toothless, and lice-infested, “My tragedies and comedies will come to you now nailed on trees. To be read as “Twits.”
“Be it known that if it must be said, I will say it from inside the prison of twenty-six letterings or less. And all will carry a dollop of gruel for authenticity. Henceforth to be understood as my “gruel tag.”
“My histories, poems, and essays will remain on my Facebook page.”
I think memories must wait impatiently in lines
to be called up.
Until the last.
After all, we dream to the very end.
And things can get crowded.
There must is a special place
for the dreams of young girls though,
for even mirrors bow to them.
Bill Curbishley, on the right, is the manager of The Who. If he had chosen to, he could have managed The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, and Lynyrd Skynyrd as well. He quietly changed the live music touring business, but what he enjoyed most was robbing deli’s with me on off days.
Taylor Swift savages boyfriends who cross her. There is a hazard to getting close to such a girl.
In vague comparison, if you fucked over Pete Townshend, it was time to renew your passport and run.
I listened to his music long before I knew him. When I was in college, I wouldn’t have been able to name the band individually then. It just wasn’t something I was concerned with, and I don’t think this was at all uncommon. They were simply The Who. The hardest band to remember their names were Lynard Skynyrd. I had to practice so much I got blocks.
“Can I have a word?” Townshend says to me by the hotel phone around midday.
Like some rare birds, it was uncommon to sight him until late afternoon at sound checks. It was not constitutionally a settling experience to talk to him one on one before then. For me, at first, it was a reasonable cause for dread. He made me uneasy. It took years to work that shit out.
Bill, Jackie, and I were having a laugh in a hotel room working out a logo/poster for the upcoming Canadian leg of a Who tour when his call came.
Canada is big and mostly settled by moose. So far, we had a drawing of a giant green frog with a chunk of Canadian bacon in its mouth, hopping from city to city where we would play. The amphibian was wearing a Royal Canadian Mounted Police uniform. He had a beaver under each arm. The bacon was my touch because I grew up eating it.
But that phone call dampened me, so I headed down to his room.
He did not look well. He had his tea.
” Did you give me money last night?” he said without really looking up. I got the feeling that if I lied, he would be pleased.”
Yes,” I said.
“How much?” He gutturally groaned when I told him.
“Fuck,” was all he said
“Who was here?” I asked.
“It doesn’t matter. I must have passed out.” He seemed to sigh.
“Want me to put Jim on it,” I said.
“No, it’s gone, thanks.”
And I left.
I knew Harvey Weinstein. He was an emergent live show promoter in Buffalo, New York. I would pass through this market over and over again with Genesis, who would barely sell a ticket. He would always lose money. His parents and grandparents would cook the band dinner after a show.
We both started out in high school gymnasiums and old movie theaters. A decade later we were doing stadium shows with The Who and the Stones. He made money then.
Harvey was one of the promoters I trusted. I think it was because he was playing the broader game of building a sound reputation. He may have deceived me about who he was, though I doubt it. I am not typically unaware of my surroundings.
I ran into him long after his success was apparent in the movie industry. He offered to help me, to come work for him. He told me that I should call him.
Would I have slept with him? I guess we will never know.
Nations thrive only when the most exciting people, the sexual deviants, are free to sin without anxiety or worry of reprisals.
Ancient Greece and Rome, the Roaring Twenties and every day in France are examples of this. History will show that this decade in America will outdo them all.
Our fantastically liberated commonwealth is so diverse right now that we need to employ the alphabet to identify our gender and sexual federations. Say no more. Oh, happy days!
But I sense dark clouds forming on our open-source bi-coastal orgy.
In my experience, sex does not long remain pleasant unless others hold that what you are doing is lewd, immoral, or scandalous.
I fear we are draining our population unduly of prejudice. We are persecuting anyone not engaged in the study of elegance based solely on sex.
I dread that Oscar Wilde may have been describing us when he said,
“Only the great masters of style ever succeed in being obscure.”
It bears noting that trumpets, drums, and the piano are inventions that came before the fire. Horns and drums did not get much more complicated after that. The piano developed from dropping rocks on piles of bow and arrows — drums from chasing away snakes and prehistoric bears while we huddled in caves and horns from choking on the insects we were sucking out of hollow twigs. Only the piano stool is a modern contraption.
Interviewer: I ask Dylan about the time he and Bruce Springsteen were invited to a dinner party at Sinatra’s house and whether Bob thought Frank had ever heard his songs.
“Not really,” Dylan says. “I think he knew ‘The Times They Are a-Changin’’ and ‘Blowin’ In the Wind.’ I know he liked ‘Forever Young,’ he told me that. He was funny, we were standing out on his patio at night and he said to me, ‘You and me, pal, we got blue eyes, we’re from up there,’ and he pointed to the stars. ‘These other bums are from down here.’ I remember thinking that he might be right.”
We were not friends, but there was a curiosity between us. I heard Keith Moon say to him, “You know he is never going to forgive you.”
I did, and he made me cry, as he said he would when I first met him.
In Bill’s words,” He told you he was sorry. He did that for you, and you have to allow it to be enough.” Hard for someone like me who has a lifetime of unforgiven frozen people.
In real life, it is never a good idea to believe you know someone. It is barely passably accurate most times to say you understand yourself, let alone another.
No one who got close to the band was a fool. We had all passed the humiliation test, The Who included.
The band never ill-treated strangers, but if you were with them, working from day to day, you had better watch out. You had to remember who you were. And that’s what made it so much fun. It was all so authentic.
A simple exchange of vanity for living so grandly entitled, it took your breath away.
Jim Callaghan, the early morning remains of Keith Moon’s security detail shifted nervously from foot to foot. He was wearing only one shoe.
We both ignored him.
Moon was seated legs crossed in an Admiral’s uniform having tea on a small Victorian table against his suite window that opened to whichever lake was next to Chicago. It was sometime in the late seventies.
The drummer summoned an image of an unshaven Judy Garland during her last catastrophic years.” He was wearing Callaghan’s other shoe.
“Spot of tea, Regis?” He offered, not aware there was not a second cup. “Did you take in some theater before you rushed here to help me?” he added.
“I wanted to pick up more money,” I dropped, working to deflect him and to get to his point. “Increased money” worked on him, I knew from practice.
He regarded me as a magically tall cash fountain and understood vaguely that on occasion, I needed replenishment.
“We have disturbing confidences to discuss. I have finally slept with the wrong woman.” He paused here searching our faces for some sympathy or recognition. None arrived. But we didn’t laugh either.
Callaghan broke first,” He’s got the clap.”
“Quiet!” he whispered, “this is our grave intrigue; no one can ever know.”
I was immediately ahead of the puzzle,” I’ll get a doctor over this morning.”
I had a doctor in Keith’s suite within the hour. I can make anyone do anything for enough Who tickets and cash.
That afternoon I got the call that confirmed our boy had an especially hateful strain of Vietnamese gonorrhea.
I headed back up to the room to tell him and found him and his close friend Dougal hunched over a coffee table with pen and paper looking liked Hitler and Goebbels planning a North African panzer campaign.
“Should we let the girl know?” I asked Keith.
“The girl?” he sniffed as though I had demanded the definition of a two hundred letter word, “What girl?”
“There is no girl, Regis, don’t be stupid, there are zodiacs of girls. We are standing on the tip of a dangerous iceberg!
Women moved like buffalo around the free range of any rock tour. ‘Moon’s Iceberg,’ as we were later to name it, made notifying the potential girls unimaginable without also calling the National Center for Disease Control.
We settled, the three of us, on cataloging all of our crew and traveling party that Moon knew for sure had shared one of his girls. I would call them and make them come to get their shots.
This doctor now worked for me.
He made a fortune and walked away with enough tickets to start his own Ticketron.
To my great discredit, I grasped that innocents were named, caught up in the net of Moon’s finger-pointing enthusiasm, but the drummer, once he got into the melody, could not stop implicating bystanders.
Nearly the entire Who entourage was English. Britains are always the last ones to realize they are victims of a trick. They came over to the suite with a sick look on their faces and dropped their pants.
Sadly, this was one of the funniest days of my life in the business.
There was a picture taken of everyone standing or kneeling together in the suite, like a baseball team card. The little Indian doctor was sitting in the center holding a lap-full of Who tickets and a syringe. I don’t know who has that photo today. I would pay anything for it.
I am more familiar with the last Ice Age than most of you. You are more adjacent to Earth’s promised scalding flameout. We are both wedded to our alarm.
Advancing glaciers scared the shit out of me as a kid. Our schools and media certified it was only a matter of time.
These transcontinental icebergs would come gnashing relentlessly towards my home. They would overwhelm our 1956 Chevy and mashing our too slow to react dimwit of a family dog.
Glacial speed was faster than global simmering to us.
I knew where my hooded fur coat and galoshes, ( bet you haven’t heard that word for a while) were at all times, even in the heat of summertime.
Today’s children and village idiots are encouraged to fear incineration by slow global baking. But I won’t change. I’m betting on ice. We had science too.
PUBLISHED: September 20, 2018
FILED UNDER: Unnoticed in Clever Worlds
old flat words
like the stones
I tossed at ponds
when I was
They bounce the same.
Do they sink as deep?
My dad was good at being cheap.
He was an everyday man living in the compost of his 1930’s Depression memories, which he had passed to us with regimented seriousness. I still carry his odd, but brightly austere shrapnel in me now into my own old age.
I have long forgiven him everything. He gave me a good reason to be smarter than him.
My sister and I never entirely escaped the atmosphere we grew up in. We slowly scratched his fears off of us, as best we could, and carried on without his advice. His penny-pinching ingenuity still shows in my behavior. Clemson, my dog, and I will both eat merrily out of cans for pennies a day if left alone too long.
Our Dad invented “entropy.” It is a hypothesis in physics that contends that all things gradually decline into disorder or in his words, “wear out.”
” Every light bulb has only so many on and offs,” he would threaten as he hit me. Of course, I turned this into a lifetime of glancing skyward expectantly figuring the universe was going to run out of daytime.
I wandered through my friends’ list on Facebook this afternoon.
I found 7 dead rock stars,
There was a load of Italian Genesis fans from some show in Turin in 1974.
I noticed 4 girls from grade school who I had given dirty Valentine Day’s cards to in the early fifties and had seen their panties from under their desks.
There were 8 rock promoters, including Harvey Weinstein and Bill Graham.
There were 12 dogs and one cat.
And one girl who keeps asking me to send money to her so she can get a flight out of Turkey. The rest are people I don’t know.
Apparently, my kids have unfriended me.
Dark grey winters would finally unclench into light grey springs in Pittsburgh Pa where I grew up and went to high school in the middle sixties. I played football.
Our field was enclosed with black cyclone fencing. It was built entirely on concrete and was attached to our school like an athletic bedpan. Every other spring a caravan of heavy loaders filled with dirt would enter through a special gate that was theirs onto this field to refill it.
People who lived in the neighborhood would show up and sit outside this fence on the cement spectator stands connected directly to our field like a giant stone Legos. These folks came because it was something different. We would steal peeks from our windows when the teacher had his back to us.
We did not get new dirt every year, as erosion was nearly impossible, it being jailed in the field’s cement encasement and besides, dirt was not cheap. The pitch must have lost some of its volume from the unavoidable adhesiveness of our uniforms, cleats, and eyes and ears. A lot of the valuable dirt went down our mother’s water drains at home every night.
We would start practice for football in the hot and dry late Augusts before the school year started. Oil trucks had come the week before to spray the dirt dampening its dust. Through the first few weeks of practice we would come home much stained and slick.
Many of us grew what the coach called “carbuncles” on our backs. I remember them as sort of elephantine pimples. It had to be from the oil of course. I still remember my coach telling me to tape a raw slice of potato over them at night to draw out the bad stuff. It did work just so you know.
How wrong would it be if I started to brag about how well I am going to do after I am reincarnated?
Keith always insisted they had a connection.
The trajectory of my mother’s last years was not unlike what was finally to be his own.
They both headed south like programmed seasonal geese into jet engines taking off from God’s airport. Neither jet nor psychosis was willing to alter course.
Their broken feathers scattered all around me while Moon’s drifted across the globe.
I showed him a picture of my mother once; she was beautiful by any standard. Someone had snapped it in the decade of the flowered smock. He was instantly smitten. Over tours, he would bring her up to me out of nowhere.
The smock dress, a product of the 1950s, was the church’s last effort to stifle any hint of a woman’s sensuality. But unfortunately for repression, the more one tries, the hotter girls get. I owe all my sexual fantasies to those inhibited Puritans who raised me.
When my mother died, conveniently between Who tours, he took it in pace and reluctantly gave back my picture.
He did, on occasion, sidle up to me to ask if I had any luck yet in finding a flowered smock in his size.