I was enjoying both "retirement
" and an ecstasy flashback
, and, while on my giddy
rounds that night, made a stop at one of the local clubs, where some friends were playing one of their very first gigs. It was a Wednesday
night, and the place was nearly empty.
They came to the end of their set, and, after discussing the possibility of encores, decided against it, then changed
their mind and called me up to the stage. "Map Ref?", Johnny asked. I said yes.
He gave me his guitar, pointed out the stomp boxes - some of which were once mine. I dialed up the sound I wanted on the chorus, then shouted out
a "1, 2, uh 1, 2, 3!", launching into the intro.
Wire's "Map Ref 41°N 93°W" - one of the few songs I wasn't afraid to sing outside of the shower, and a song that, with my B.B. King disease, I could play in public, alternating singing with playing.
an unseen ruler
defines with geometry
expanse of geography
an aerial photographer
to the cartologist's 2-D
the areas where the
interrupting my train of thought
of longitude and latitude
I felt especially liberated and loose; my guitar solo, while too un-Wirish, reflected the joy of just playing, with nothing at stake, nobody to impress - the very joy that led me to a stage
in the first place, and, having lost it somewhere, had caused me to quit altogether. But now here I am, finding myself improvising rock star moves, jumping, strutting, working the mic like a pro, guitar slung to the side as I
sang. For these few moments in time, I had transmogrified from Andy Kaufman's meek "Foreign Man" into an Elvis-like entity of pure charisma.
I signal for us to end the song, and I let out a yowl and a gushing Thank yewww! Good night, Bristol! You've been great! Thank yewww! Whoo! to the applause of a crowd of seven.
The photo is of me, in my exquisite thrift-shop boulevardier regalia - chapeau, sport-coat-and-tie, cigarette in its holder, wirerims, a Strat copy hanging off my hip. I look like Spike Lee, egoing out as if before an adoring Wembley Stadium multitude, living his life-long dream of singing with The Faces while wearing the wardrobe of William Burroughs. A big change from all the other stage shots of me over the years: an autistic derelict fighting for dear life against a giant fretless bassmonster. I usually looked like I was losing.