Sunday, February 24, 2013
I haven’t strolled through this part of the city in years and I’m always surprised to find the old hall when I stumble upon it again, that tiny slice of fame we got that winter when we all thought the band was on its way to the big time, when the guitarist from Blondie showed up and agreed to jam. Maybe I was the only one to notice the empty room agape before us, or hear the echo of our own ambition coming back at us instead of cheers.
After all, Tiny (who was not tiny) kept telling us we had Joey Ramone helping us, setting us up in a record studio so we can make our first demo -- all these years later, this place symbolic of the frustration all aging artists feel when fingers touch but can’t quite grasp the brass ring of fame.
Not all of us wanted that fame. Both Johns did, but for different reasons. One John wanted money and women and figured rock and roll would provide both in spades. The other was a rock star, then and later, successful or not, and wherever he went, whatever he did, he lived the life, rich or poor, popular or not.
Tiny needed to get close to fame, to be on the inside of things, to be able to look out at others and know he was somehow privileged – as did the other hangers-on he tired as assistant roadies.
I guess I wanted fame of a different kind, always in the corner with my notebooks trying to catch the reality of this world, trying to immortalize the people I saw, always figur4e that material success was a symptom and that at some point later someone would read what I wrote and realize I had captured the moment as well as anyone could.
And in this place, more than Electric Ladyland later, all these things collided and I decided I could not find here what I thought I could, quitting the band a month or so later, after the recording session I deliberately avoided (where Tiny said they all got treated like kings). But I made it to Mud Club and that coked-out video charade that sent me out to a bench on Broadway in order to find the real world again, and real people, instead of the desperate faces of my friends chasing fame I hoped they would catch, and would help them catch if I could, though for me, in the end, they mattered more in memory as they were, then they would ever have as super stars.