Friday, November 18, 2005


The first really cold weather reminded me that fall is actually here, and that I need to pick the summer clothes up off the floor and put them... somewhere else on the floor, so that I'm not constantly walking on them.

Shuffling things about I came upon my old autograph book. I'd bought the plain black bound ledger at Shea's Office Supplies more than twenty years ago, needing then to gather the various inscribed scraps, flyers, and ticket stubs I'd amassed. The final impetus and last straw was loosing a full set of Devo autographs (gleaned during the "Freedom of Choice" tour, in the first of many subsequent "get back stage by acting like you belong there" adventures). I think they were washed into a blob of paper pulp in the lint tray of Mom's Whirlpool.

It was a lot easier to do that sort of thing back then. A tiny window was open just before and in the first couple of years of MTV. Most other backwater middle school students hadn't heard of any of the bands we ventured out to see. The dinosaurs of rock ruled study hall and gym dances, soon to be joined by Big 80's Pop and hair bands. The crowd at the shows had no such interests; non-frat college students, the vaguely or purposefully artistic, and post post-hippie freaks. Richid and I were part of a small sub set of misfit latch key children. We should have been home, playing baseball, hanging out at Mc Donald's or working on the pep rally like our peers. But we were too tiny, fat, uncoordinated, bright, sissy, poorly dressed, or otherwise marginalized back in our grey and brown triple decker neighborhoods of Cranston and Southie, or in the mill workers cottages and ranch houses of Washington County. The older kids/young men and women saw early versions of their iconoclast selves nervously shuffling before them. They welcomed us, advised and watched out for us, told us where to go and what to say, and what NOT to say, as we all milled about stage doors at sound checks and again after shows.

We were fortunate. Interactions between audience and talent were relaxed and informal, not the "fan" and "star" dichotomy of today. The northeast corridor was a gateway to thriving music scenes in nearby cities, a couple of hours and low cost government subsidized Amtrak tickets away. The drinking ages had just started rising in New England, and clubs and small venues transitioning their audiences allowed all ages at most shows. It was a tiny world spinning on an axis of music, OUR music. Small town Future Homos of America like us couldn't have been luckier. We survived to age sixteen, and with drivers licenses and the borrowed green station wagon with woodgrain contact paper sides, were able to take the show further a field.

So with my old book in hand, I decided to try out my little camera's "text setting" by photographing it's pages. Here's my very first autograph, from my very first concert.
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