Friday, March 06, 2009

Salad Days, Volume 56:"Exile on Chamberlain St."

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. The year was 1981, and me in my natuaral prime, had just left my parent's nest. I had established myself and my college career in the swanky, cosmopolitan capital of Maine, and was plying my academic acumen at the University of Maine in Augusta. When I say academics, I don't mean to lead the reader astray and imply I was actually going to classes. Nay, it happened to be more the case that I was actually skipping most of my classes. They were Art classes anyway, and, since Art is impermanent and all, I figured what's the big deal about actually studying. I had, though, met up with a couple of swanky babes at the campus, one Korean girl and one hippy-chick from Vinyl Haven, and we hit it off right away. We used to hang out and smoke Ginch, paint our paintings, draw our Charcoal sketches and ride around town on our bikes, wearing Berets and looking very Bohemian. I lived in a very old, 3 story appartment house on Chamberlain St. and was the only tenant. I had the big old house to myself. Unfortunately, the joint was very haunted by an old lady who apparently died in her sleep there years earlier. This according to the Granola girlfriend of my landlord. Anyhow, aside from that, and a Friday 8am Art History class, life was pretty good. I missed my old Homies in Newport, but if I skipped my Friday class, I could be drinking and jamming by supper time each Friday. The old lady ghost didn't make too much noise, excepting the occasional bump and squeak and I generally had the run of the place, blasting my tunes and mastering my domain.

One paritcular Thursday afternoon, I had just returned from class, and was listenning to the radio. I was enjoying a nutritious supper of Kool Whip and Peanut Butter, right out of the bowl when WBLM announced that the Rolling Stones had announced an extra date for Hartford Connecticutt on their current tour. I knew the Stones were touring, but all the dates in the area were sold out. I had never, at that point, seen the Stones. They were the Holy Grail for an 18 year old Rocker. I had seen about every concert that had come to the area, but Mick and Keith had somehow eluded me. An extra date on the tour might just be my in. Now keep in mind this was 1981. There was no Stub Hub and no Internet. The only way a lone poor boy like me could get such Tix was through the local Ticketron, which was located across town. That would have been fine, except that 1981 was also before the time when I had Credit Cards or ATM cards. I had about $8.67 on me and my bank was back in the Hub, 60 miles away. The tickets were selling faster than shit through a tin horn and I needed to take immediate action. I called my most esteemed crony and band mate, Spot, and told him to saddle up, I'd be in Newport in a half hour. I stoked up the Death Mobile and off I went. I needed to get to my bank before it closed, and get to the Sears in Augusta before the mighty Stones sold out. How I was going to get me and ol' SPot to Connecticutt with my car and no funds I would figure out later.

I put the D.B.'s 400 cubic inch engine to the test and soon was in Newport picking up Hughie and my cash. We skeedaddle back immediately to Augusta, blasting Exile on Main Street as loud as my 8-Track would blast...."Yeah, hear the women sighin', all down the line"...It was destiny. We would be seeing the Stones, the greatest show on Earth,the Glimmer Twins, Keef Riffhard, my musical hero. Nothing could stop us. Nothing, that is, except a State Trooper. A Sate Trooper, who coincdentally was my parent's next door neighbor, Duane. He unsentimenatally and uncerimoniously wrote me a big ol' ticket for speeding, 88 in a 65, I think. Worse than that though, he cost us precious time. Tickets were selling out rapidly as we waited there on the side of the highway. By the time we got to the Sears, the line was a big stinky phalanx of stoners winding all the way into the automotive section. The ticket office window was so far away, I could barely see it. Spot and I chewed our nails and waited with baited breath, hoping there would be two with our name on them. Alas, as you may guess, as we approached the window, verily the next hopeful customers in line, it slammed closed. The Stones were sold out. My disappointment was bitter.

I learned a few valuable lessons that day. First, I hate cops, especially officer Duane, the un-neighborly bastard. Second, I needed a credit card. Third, I was wasting my fucking time in Art School. If I hadn't been at University dicking around, I would have been better prepared for the elementally important things in life, namely, like rabbing my bud' Spot and snatching up those fucking Stones tickets. My time would be far better served, it seemed, back in the hub, where my old band mates were handy, in case the urge to jam struck. Lesson four, I should never mix Kool Whip with peanut butter; I had a wicked stomach ache. So, withtin a very short time, I quit the college life and soon was plying my musical acumen with my old buddies..."too cool for school, too stupid for the real world...hey, I know, I'll start a band...

Anyhow, to think I could have been working.

" got to scrape the shit right off your shoes..."