Seattle Stories: 2012, meet 1977. I think you two might get along.
I have been inadvertently plunged back into the 1970’s this weekend.
Firstly, I learned yesterday that one of the biggest influences on the evolution of my sense of humor, Peter Bergman, 1/4 of the Firesign Theatre, lost his battle with leukemia. Goodbye my friend. I still recall the days back in 1977, up on Capitol Hill in Seattle, when I’d climb the rickety slapped-together outside staircase to the second floor of the Victorian house I rented a slice of (oh it was SO badly hacked into 6 bizarre apartments) clutching my latest newsletter from Four or Five Crazy Guys. These were the days before the internet. Hell, these were days before average schmucks like me had ANY sort of electronic device beyond a telephone, radio, simple stereo with turntable, a television, and if very lucky, a Texas Instruments calculator. The US mail service *was* social networking. And amongst my bills, weekly letters from gramma and those damnable Fingerhut catalogs was the coveted, crudely made, absolutely brilliant newsletter David Ossman used to send out, known as the Edison Electric Journal. I loved it. I devoured every word, I fondled the ink, I wrote letters back with my reactions and feedback. It was a point in time when you did such things. Sometimes they’d write back. People had more time for actual letter writing then. I regret that I no longer have my stack of EEJ’s, but I can still envision them in my mind, and the memory makes me smile.
Oh, Peter. The Firesigner I shared a November 29th birthday with. My Lt. Bradshaw. The one with the best toothy smile mankind has yet produced. Thank you for everything. Doors open in five seconds. Pluck a duck, who have I got to lose? Peter – follow the rubber line to your seat. The rest of us will be along soon enough. Because, in the long run – aren’t we all Bozos On This Bus?
Peter Bergman – parting words on Radio Free Oz March 6th 2012
And so Friday was spent in reminiscence of Peter, and of Firesign Theatre. But Saturday was a day to think of the other big influence on my life in the 70’s… Al Stewart. Ah, you know. Really – you do! The guy who wrote and performed Year Of The Cat. Al played this evening at the Charlotte Performing Arts Center – which seats a max of 825 folk. Really a nice little venue. And we were there. Al played side by side with a wonderful guitarist named Dave Nachmanoff. Look for Dave’s music, it’s worth the search. It was a great evening – topped off with the fun of blowing some cash on a pile of CD’s, and getting them signed by Al and Dave. I was lucky enough to get a bit of time after the show to meet Al, and listen to him talk about the art of crafting songs. This included a “How To Write A Song” tabletop demonstration featuring a conceptual cucumber, a cd case, and drawing of invisible fingertip lines on the table. The Secret now remains safe with me. 🙂 Just as Firesign Theatre has been a big influence on my sense of humor, Al has been important in my appreciation of wordsmithery – illustrated nicely in Soho – Needless to Say and also in Terminal Eyes. Beyond that, I hesitate to speak of all the various ways Al’s music affected my life – especially in the 1970’s. I do not wish to overly shock my friends. (but I DO wish to leave them intrigued!)
All of this, and yet I still have one-half of my weekend left to experience. I wonder what Sunday will bring? Whatever it is, I shall hold onto my 70’s roots, and face you down. Hell, I carried a wood and rattan rocking chair upside down on my head all the way up Capitol Hill from downtown Seattle, back in 1974. I can damn well take on whatever Sunday, March 11, 2012 cares to throw at me. I’ve passed the tests. I’m tempered by the best of times. I’m tough as steel. I’m vintage gold. Bring it. Let’s dance.