|On & Off the Road
||[Sep. 28th, 2008|10:47 pm]
Just a few & random bits:|
Got back to my apartment a couple of hours ago, from a sudden trip to Fredericksburg, Virginia, to visit the buddy who played drums in my band from 1974 to 1985 (he left the band in an attempt to get his BA before he turned forty--missed his target by two months or so), who has recently been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer--an eighteen-hour ride up, a twenty-three hour ride back by Greyhound, so I'm pretty much bus-lagged at the moment.
Fredericksburg is halfway between Richmond & Washington, & very near the Quantico Marine Corps base--during the half-year I lived there, the latter half of 1980, seems like everybody I got to know had some US military tie, if not a direct paycheck (our band not making much money, even playing every Friday night at the Colonial Beach Moose Lodge, I ended up doing day labor--show up at dawn in the parking lot of the Dunkin' Donuts off of US 1 near the National Security Agency, "Pick me, boss, pick me!" "You, you, & you, go to the EPA." "You & you, to the GSA." I got sent to the CIA--to put it in the Company's terms, I was 'moving furniture'--same in our terms, come to think of it.)--Bebop Billy, hisself, two tours in Vietnam, & a long recuperation, ongoing.
When I got in Thursday morning, walked up to his apartment, no one home--hiked a few miles around to the commercial strip on Highway 3 that hadn't been there twenty-eight years ago, tried to find a motel that would put me in a room real soon, not have to wait to the afternoon check-in time--no luck, killed time drifting up & down the strip, got a haircut from some Korean ladies, who offered to shape my eyebrows, as well--"No, thank you, visiting old friends, want them to recognize me." "We do your nails!" "I thought that was the Vietnamese."
Looked at the back-ends of a lot of cars in a vast spread of parking lots along the strip--saw a dozen Obama stickers, one McCain. Found a room finally, showered & dressed, caught the prodigal back home from chemo, walked back over. On my way up Cowan Avenue, saw some faded red flags stuck in the clay along the shoulder of the road (no sidewalks) saying "BURIED POWER"--started singing Bebop's song, "Looking for Power," which my Czech band had covered--why that hadn't become the hit on Czech commercial radio, instead of our cover of Two Legs' cover of Junior Wells' cover of James Brown, I'll never understand.
The next day, the heiress to the family fortune (Bill on disability, Kris [they met through letters, she flew over from Indonesia, he met her at the airport, took her straight to the court house & married, then to Immigration] working thirteen years at Denny's) came in from Virginia Commonwealth University, telling us excitedly that Obama was due to speak at Mary Washington University, four blocks away, the next day. We watched half the debate that evening until Bill weakened & tired, I headed back to the motel to watch clips on cable.
Again, on Saturday, I had time to kill before Bebop was up to receiving visitors--checked out of the motel, wandered over to Mary Washington--skirted the periphery first, on College Avenue; the Virgina State Troopers' station, readying their Tactical Response Vehicle, about the size & shape of an ice cream truck; a couple of houses had very, very large McCain/Palin signs in the front yard; but at the corner of College & Thornton, a larger Obama/Biden poster, with African-American teenagers waiting to get their photos made in front of it.
Plunged into the campus, some three hours to go before the rally--bought a five-dollar button picturing "America's First Family," w/ The Man & his beautiful wife & daughters; walked past a group of men in black suits talking on tiny radios & hit the end of a very long line; walked around & down, feeling vaguely like Arthur Bremer (I had left Laurel Shopping Center ten minutes before he intruded himself into history, in 1972; two years later, put together the first version of the band in the same place, where Bebop, Keith, and Tim were all working [aw, shit--just looked up the incident, & find myself, for the first time, in Wikipedia! "...there was minor heckling early on but it did not last."]), tried taking a photo on my phone, but couldn't get the perspective convincing; on past a knot of State Troopers: "Okay, get to your posts," then back out towards Jefferson Davis Highway; by now the Tactical Ice Cream Unit was deployed across the street, & the uniforms were gone, but a few fellows in excessively new & excessively casual dress were talking shop, their voices lowering as I went by.
Back at Bill's, Keith had arrived--I recognize his voice as he fumbles to find the lock, holler, "kind of slow, aren't you?" Popeye's takeout chicken & a few hours of reminiscence of gigs & excoriation of several shared administrations (Nixon resigned about the time we formed), then Bill tired again & the heiress ran off to the rally. Keith (a.k.a., or once k.a. Rip Viscera [& me? I was Bloody Waters, or John D. Conqueroux]) & I headed out, a vague idea of standing at the edge of the rally--he hates crowds & lines--but the line was now curling off the campus & around the block--where's a bar? We couldn't remember, twenty-eight years on--the town had changed, &, besides, we had been too poor to drink at bars in 1980--we started considering a package store, then found yet another Irish pub, where an alley had been before. We wonder out loud, is there a real bar, where you can smoke? "Yeah, buddy," a redneck youth, setting with a double-amputee at a sidewalk table, points us to the back. I've got my button on--"O'Bama's an Irish name, isn't it?"
That's enough. I'd be tired if I wasn't wired.