I started writing this piece when it occurred to me that I needed a short piece for the magazine, and I thought a piece about writing would be easier to write than it turned out to be. The piece presented itself as a response to watching a documentary called Greenwich Village: Music That Defined a Generation. Fred Neil, The Lovin’ Spoonful, Eric Anderson, Phil Ochs, Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Peter Paul and Mary, and of course, Pete Seeger; all as prelude to Cindy with the luminous red hair, and leather. Richard Thompson (Fairport Convention) said that red hair and leather were his favorite outfit. It seemed so simple then, and of course it wasn’t; what it was was innocent and naïve. And sweet. Romantic in every sense of the word. What does this have to do with writing Chapter 2?
First thoughts;:The way back came back with a rush. Cindy and all the others, young not yet broken for the most part by life itself, remarkably hopeful, and energized daily by the passions of their times: the Vietnam war, anti-nukes, the drugs and freedom that being in full-fledged revolt against the “Machine” demanded. Most of the memories ended with putting the old vinyl back into their covers and placing them back on the shelf with great care and some hesitation as If putting them back would doom both them and me to the proverbial dustbin of history and dreams as yet unfulfilled.
Second thought: Charlie is just back from rehab. He had bottomed out after a torturous affair with a woman, a girl actually, half his age, a crack addict with whom he fell in love in the absolute way that aging romantics do with the fallen angels of their delusional worlds. It was as if he could learn something from the distance in her eyes and the hardness in her heart as long he employed the old tunes to invest the horror show of his own life with remnants of romance. He knew that she lied with every breath but he didn’t care; so long as there was dope and sex, life was “all good.” And if not exactly good it was all he wanted. He was as addicted to her as he was to the crack cocaine. It finally fell apart when she disappeared for two weeks, came back with no explanation and like the old song says “a hand full of Gimme and a mouth full of much obliged.”
Next thought: Teemu had been Charlie’s dealer and his best friend since college. Neither of them missed the irony of Charlie seeking Teemu out at the bar, as usual, despite spending the previous six months in rehab. After Teemu makes his offer, Charlie goes home and gets lost, dreaming about what his world looks like. A vast open space yawns before him. Can he go back to being the private investigator that he was before rehab? Is there any real work that he can do that will support him and keep him interested in real life without the drugs that he has always used to ease his way? Like most returning addicts he has the sure and certain knowledge that most doors are closed to him. He has been refused recently at the local paper as a photographer, having something to do with blowing off an important assignment at the last minute and calling his editor from County jail where he wound up after a week-long binge. His editor refused to pay the bail money. Charlie appeared before the only judge with whom he had a give-and-take relationship based on Charlie’s having helped said magistrate with the search for his missing daughter. Charlie was given the choice between jail and treatment and while he did not really see the difference between the two he thought that the treatment center food would be better than the jail cuisine during his withdrawal.
Final thoughts: Stop thinking and start writing and let the story come to me. Based on who these people are they will do what they know how to do and have always done even though it may not be in their best interest to prove the living truth of the old saw that “those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it.” These people are tied to one another by their pasts, and their insatiable need to do what they have always done, perhaps for different reasons, which obscures their vision enough to allow them to expect different results each time. All that remains for me to do is stay seated in front of the computer and let these”friends” of mine lay out their stories for me to write down. Michael, remember this: ”T’is a tale told by an idiot…” who may or not be you. I said that.
Photo by Michael Lebowitz. All rights reserved.