My father was in the hospital again, this time for vascular issues. He is somehow incredibly vital and at death’s door at the same time. When they got him stabilized and he finally fell asleep we took my mom out for lunch. She suggested the nearby Highland Diner. As soon as we sat down my mom was off reminiscing. She told us she used to come here for lunch when she worked down the street at her father’s grocery store. She swears the peanut butter and bacon sandwich on the menu was put there because she would order it back then. This time she ordered a Veggie Burger and a vanilla milkshake. I followed suit. They put the metal milkshake glasses on the table so you can fill your glass twice. Killer.
My mom said she hadn’t been in her father’s store since he retired so we stopped in. It’s an Indian market now and seems to be thriving. I remember shopping here with her and I remember the floors and the sawdust and the smell of freshly ground 8 o’clock coffee. My older cousin was a cashier and my grandfather, the butcher as well as shopkeeper, would give us big slices of liverwurst. Everything has changed but the floors.
Peggi’s mom was using her fingers to name her five aunts. She was having trouble coming up with the sixth name and said, “I’m afraid the hereafter is going to be very confusing, trying to reconnect with everybody.” Her sole known cousin had called and it was his mom’s name that we trying to think of. I was thinking how I have about fifty first cousins and I could never name them all.
Sparky stopped by to check up on us. We keep talking about doing a repeat performance of Polish sausage lunch we did a few yeas back. The woman who made these magical sausages died and Sparky hasn’t found a substitute. It gives us something to talk about, sausage and Pete. We gave him a cassette of Pete LaBonnes’s music years ago and he always asks about him.
When Jeanne Perri was in town this summer (she moved to Nashville in the music boom days) we sat around calling out our favorite Pete songs and then playing them on our laptop. One that stuck with me is “Punk Rock Dressing Room” with the refrain, “We’re living in a punk rock dressing room”. I was thinking of that song last night when we got home from Peggi’s mom’s place. There was an unlabeled cd in a white envelope taped to our door with “4 U” written on it. I popped it in to my desktop computer and 19 untitled audio tracks popped up so I gave it a spin. It was a live Ramones’ recording from San Francisco from the “Road To Ruin” tour. We saw them many times and this brought it all back. They rescued rock and roll and were true performance artists. Rick Simpson stopped by this morning and asked if we got the cd. I never would have guessed it was from him.
Our NetFlix movie selection of the night was The Runaways movie. Even the extras were good except there was only still photos of Joan Jett and no current video of her.
I have a lot of old paintings out in the garage and most of them are mine. Our current house has a lot less wall space than our old city house had. I’ve been organizing the garage this summer and I dusted off this painting yesterday. I bought it from Cheryl at Godiva’s when it was over on Monroe Avenue. It’s a double self portrait by Dave Ripton and Todd Beers. I played drums in the Dave’s band for a while along with Jack Schaefer and Martin Edic. We used to practice in the recording studio behind the Bug Jar. I loved Dave’s songs and I love this self portrait. He is a duel threat at least. Dave’s well meaning painting advice to me was, “I’d love to see your faces on heroin.” I think he wanted me to get real, sort of the opposite of lighten up.
Todd used to get poetry workshops at area high schools. He’d work with the kids during the day and then they’d read their work coffee house style in a dimly lit assembly space at night. He often asked Peggi and me to join them as musical accompaniment, bongos and sax. I feel very fortunate to have this painting. It used to hang over our fireplace. Someday I’ll get back on a wall.