My entire body trembled, my heart pounding as Gail Jeanne and I made our way down the aisle to our center stage seats.
We weren’t teenagers anymore, but we’d been too young the first time around, back when The Monkees were in our living rooms once a week, and there was no way my Father was going to let single-digit me go to a concert no matter how many tears I shed.
My Parents indulged me enough when it came to my Monkee Mania. The Monkees lunchbox, a Monkees hardcover binder for my schoolwork, every Tiger Beat and Sixteen magazine with every important update about Micky, Davy, Peter and Mike I could find. I even had a groovy little white and red plastic record player that only played records when you closed it (because the needle was in the lid) and every single album and 45 the Monkees put out. If it said “The Monkees” on whatever it was, I wanted it. Although I never did get that 4 headed Monkees talking hand puppet.
And yes, I even wore a Monkees costume one Halloween, Micky Dolenz because he was my favorite Monkee.
But I digress.
I don’t even know how it happened, it’s all a blur when I look back on it. I was heading into my late 20′s and I turned into a giddy teenage girl finally getting to see her teen idols when Gail and I somehow became cohorts in that Immortal Summer Of Monkee Mania.
Atlantic City was the first show in New Jersey, a two hour drive give or take, and don’t hold me to it but I’m pretty sure we listened to Monkees music the whole ride. All I can remember is giddy girlie giggling.
I mean, we were about to see our Teen Idols, we were excited!!!
They were doing two shows that night and we had tickets for the second show so we wandered a little bit around the casino. There may have been cocktails, after all, we were seeing our Teen Idols but we weren’t teenagers anymore.
Standing outside the theater was driving us crazy, knowing they were right there on the other side of the annoyingly soundproof wall and I just kept checking my watch trying to make time move faster.
Gail had a better idea.
Like opening the doors and walking right in.
It was the encore as I recall, so security was lax.
When we walked into Daydream Believer I was 8 years old again and I couldn’t help it. I immediately cried.
Shut up you.
They weren’t heaving sobs, just the kind of tears you get when you’re so happy your eyes get watery because you’re smiling so hard you hit your tear ducts.
It’s a thing.
Then came our turn, our show, time for us to finally see our Teen Idols.
Ok so money was exchanged so we
could bribe our way were shown to front row seats, it was The Monkees! We had to be up front!
Remember how I said it was a blur? It really was because I have no linear timeline in my head for that whole crazy Monkees Summer, all I remember is the feeling of pure happiness, right there, just a few feet away, close enough to touch and, one minute we’re singing and screaming and then Gail goes for it and jumps up onstage and throws her arms around Micky. At that moment in time, Gail became my hero. It was awesome! Micky was having fun with it and then the security guys came onstage and gave her a talking to and uninvited her from future visits to their fine establishment which was actually pretty cool of them to not call the police.
I felt so bad she couldn’t see the rest of the show that night. After we got her out of the security office Gail and I knew we had no choice, we had to see them again. As many times as humanly possible.
Talk about a blur, I just have flashes of show after show in NJ and NY, always up front. Gail talking our way backstage and getting their autographs and photographs taken with each of them which they later autographed at another show.
The night we saw them at the pier in NYC Gail and I took the train in. We decided we needed a “We love you Monkees” banner because, um, because, just because we wanted to.
Hell, we missed it the first time around because we were too young, The Monkees have a lot of awesome songs and it was like we stole the TARDIS and went back in time, those shows were just like the footage we’d seen of their concerts in their heyday. Females and males alike of every age were screaming and singing along, crying and hysterics, it truly felt like Gail and I had gone back in time and damn, they really sounded good. They also played their own instruments for any naysayers out there.
The day before that show I got a white sheet and some red and black magic markers and made the banner we’re holding in the above picture (I’m in the middle above the heart), what you can’t see is what the magazine cropped out of the picture; since Mike Nesmith decided not to do the tour it didn’t seem right to put his name there. Ok so I, as a fan, was pissed he wasn’t joining the tour so instead of writing his name I drew a bottle of Liquid Paper because Mike Nesmith’s Mom invented Liquid Paper.
Well the Monkee-boys seemed amused when they saw it.
Actually they all signed it and Gail and I share joint custody of it. It’s almost my turn with our autographed baby.
That entire summer was based around The Monkees but alas, I wasn’t able to go to Las Vegas with Gail to see them, where she not only spent time with them but also, if I’m not mistaken, did some babysitting for Davy and his wife. During the summer we’d become such familiar faces and eventually met them and most of their spouses and some of their children. One of my favorite memories is sitting with Davy Jones’s youngest daughter, I think she was around 4 or 5 years old; anyway she was fascinated by my armful of dangly glittery bracelets so I gave her one and I can still remember the smile on her face. In some strange way it was almost as if I had come full circle, as if me giving something of mine to a Monkees’ daughter was a way for me to give them back something for all the joy and happiness they gave me over the years when I was a child.
And yes I do realize you might have to bend your vision around a few corners to see my point, it makes more sense in my head.
They usually say never meet your idols because you’ll probably be disappointed.
I’m happy to say in this case, they are wrong.
AUTHORS NOTE: While there are still a lot of fun little details to be told about the Summer of Monkee Mania, I have to hold something
back for my WIP…I will give you this though, I will be producing photograph proof of Gail Jeanne onstage with Micky Dolenz. Because it’s kinda cool…
out of nowhere i’m back there
flying head-on into my past,
it hits me hard and
like the time you slapped me across the face
outside that store on st. marks place
mad because i was without you
or your permission,
a stranger walked by and told you to stop,
in retrospect i’m surprised you did
but i just filed it away,
forgot it like the rest of the night and like so many other times, i made my fake excuses,
i left with you because 17 knew no better,
a self proclaimed king possessed you
and you sat me on red velvet because i was your queen,
meant to be at your side,
everybody worshipped the you they imagined
and your puffed-up pride inflated
along with your legion of fans
but i always kept your secrets,
that other version of you showed up again,
when you backed me against the bathroom wall of cbgb’s
before you smacked my face for talking to someone who wasn’t you,
my words were meant for you alone,
that’s what you told me so that’s how it was,
and i walked out the door with you, hand in hand
because you loved me,
you drove my car into a telephone pole that night
even though i was driving, you grabbed the wheel,
but still, it was my fault you said,
right before your knife slid into my thigh
and blood dripped down my leg,
it wasn’t your intention but
you woke me up that night, brought out my violent
when my fist hit your face without thought,
truth is i was more upset about my ’68 chevelle than bleeding on my favorite jeans,
but you finally brought out my irish and i kept on walking,
deaf to your promises of white picket fences and a dog on a leash,
i walked away,
it was the other ones,
‘friends’ crawling out of the mud
because they all knew you when,
they made you a legend after you died
living your rock star dream,
but even after all that time,
inbetween the always phone calls
and all the ‘we shoulda’s’ from you up to the bitter end
we both know without a doubt,
the last thought you would have would be of me
you reminded me the other night, we were right,
when you made your latest dreamtime visit,
to tell me you still love me
because the night can hide a multitude of sins
or expose the brilliance of countless stars,
it keeps me doubtful of it’s loyalty,
i’m unsure of where i stand,
who i trust,
i’m fearful of the shadows and unable to determine
we switched the order of day and night,
living like vampires we fed off each other
and the whole world went away,
we barricaded the doors and locked the windows
until we nearly ran out of air,
i followed you then, straight into the sun,
the heat was welcome but i was blinded by the glare,
before i knew it i faded away,
every trace of me scattered across the vast wasteland
and like a waning moon,
you never even noticed i was gone,
cover me in silence
keep away the light and leave me,
stuck inside myself,
for the outside sounds are harsh
and i’m already broken, or
whisper to me, if you would,
a lullaby, just for me,
an epic story for the ages,
a ballad to restore my soul
for i have been abandoned,
join me in this hollow space
far beyond the visible,
unarmed and unprotected
for these fortress walls are strong
and we can keep each other safe,
although it’s been a very long time,
trust was once believable,
and i’m unsure if i can find my way back there,
so please, throw my name into the wind,
if i can grasp it in my hands,
or scent you in the air,
we can meet between the pauses,
where you can remind how the sun feels again
and i can remember how to breathe
It’s no secret I’ve always been a Mama’s girl.
Actually it’s something I’m proud of, because in my version of being a Mama’s girl, it just means that my Mom is my Best Friend.
Only now I have to say was.
Today would have been my Mom’s 85th Birthday. Last year we celebrated her Birthday in the hospital, this year we celebrate it in my heart.
I miss her so much.
But today I just want to say Happy Birthday Mommy, I love you always and I will see you again some day but until then, your blood will continue to flow through my veins, my heart will hold onto your spirit and, as I’ve been told, I will continue to become “more and more like your Mother”, to which I will always reply, “Thank you”.
Mom cutting the cake at her bridal shower; Mom (on the right) with her sister Jeananne
Mom working on a float for a parade
Mom in Branch Brook Park with her youngest sister Judy
Mom, me (on the way to a dance recital), my brother Donald
Mom and Dad
Mom 2nd from the right out on the town
I love you Mom.
Confession: when I was sixteen years old I started to become me.
Becoming me didn’t come without a price, I was pretty much a pariah once my Faerie Godmothers got their hands on me and transformed me into a swan.
You know, if swans wore red lipstick and hung out at gay bars and underground dance clubs in NYC on a regular basis.
While the other girls in school were buying prom dresses and doing whatever other normal girlie things they did, I was being plucked and primped and made-over by my gay best friends. Transformed.
I was a quiet book-nerd with not a lot of girl friends, but for some reason I had a handful of really close boy friends who just happened to be gay. I may have been 16 but they were 17 and 18, not much of a difference really but in the later ’70′s, 17 and 18 came with drivers licenses and an entrance to brand new world, where I didn’t have to have fluffy hair and bouncy boobs but instead was embraced for me, all 100 pounds of me. And at five feet nine and a half inches there wasn’t much surplus weight for bouncy boobs. But I digress.
Sixteen years old. How can it seem so long ago yet just like yesterday?
I was so lucky.
Timing isn’t my strong suit but this was one time my timing was timely.
The Rocky Horror Picture Show was just beginning it’s weekend midnight ritual, I wish I kept count of how many times I saw it but I know it was move than 50. It showed every weekend half a block from Manny’s Den, a low key gay bar in New Brunswick, and if we weren’t there, we were at The Gallery in NYC, where the weird and wonderful went to dance.
The beauty of it all was I could tell my Parents where I was going, as long as I was with my gay friends I could go out at 10pm and come home at 9 the next morning (on weekends only, I may have forgotten to mention the times I ditched school to hang out in the city for a few hours).
I can’t do The Gallery justice. A members-only club, hidden amongst dismal surroundings by the Bowery, but inside was Heaven. Nicky Siano was a friend of my GBFF Steven and it was Nicky’s club. New York Magazine called The Gallery, “one of the five most visually breathtaking nightspots of our time” for a reason; it was amazing. Balloons everywhere, mannequins, artwork of all kinds, indescribable light shows and huge gigantic puffy pillows strewn everywhere. Oh yeah, all kinds of celebrities hung there too but that wasn’t a big deal to me.
It was the music.
It’s no secret I’m a Punk Rocker at heart but a good beat is a good beat and when I can feel the bass pumping through my veins and hundreds of people are dancing while the lights go wild, well, how can you not move?
And I gotta tell you, you haven’t seen anything until you’ve seen Grace Jones carried onto a stage like Cleopatra by all these muscle men before she belts out a song.
When we were at The Gallery, me just 16 years old, we were invincible. Monday mornings always brought reality check time with it and I was (usually) back in school, another ignored teenage misfit but inside? Inside I was smiling. I was engraving those memories onto my sixteen year old brain looking forward to making more. It was good armor for the desolation of being 16 and all the emotions that come with it.
Because I’m feeling nostalgic already on this very subject, I’m including 2 links for anyone who wants to bother, you can click and see some pictures of The Gallery. It just so happens that Nicky’s movie about The Gallery is coming out this week. It’s extra sad for me that I have to add that Frankie Knuckles narrates the movie and he passed away a few weeks ago. Frankie Knuckles is a legend himself, when I went to his birthday party a few years ago he let me touch his Grammy, which is supposed to be good luck, and when we went back to his living room Chaka Khan came in and sang Happy Birthday to him. RIP Frankie, a huge loss to the music world.
Also, the illustrations were drawn by one of my GBFF’s Robert Ambrose. We’d sit around his room and he’d sketch me and some of our adventures. He would have been a famous fashion designer but he died when he was 22 from brain cancer. I’ll never forget him and always love him. This was sketched after a night out. Yeah, I wore harem pants and platform shoes.
it’s all me,
somewhere inside this mess
choking on my swallowed words
intimidated into silence reluctant
while i simmer inside
that’s not a word, you tell me,
you don’t just try, you just do,
easy for you to say is what my brain whispers,
my mouth agrees out-loud,
hoping you can’t see for miles
because my eyes always give me away,
my voice does too, sometimes,
so i hide behind silence and laughter,
a strange couple perhaps
yet they keep me from screaming out loud,
now the roads are closing, at least for awhile,
and i’m unsure how to breathe
i don’t know where the safe-zone is
in this disconnected space,
no matter how much you say it’s ok,
see, i don’t believe in much but i believe in the inevitable,
inevitably i end up in the dark,
alone and waiting
and now, more than ever, i’m always waiting
She slinks into the room like a cat on valium, not her usual style at all.
Usually she appears out of nowhere, either making a grand entrance or catching me off guard, but this time she’s slow, stumbling almost and she looks haggard, like she’s been through a war and barely made it out with her life.
My Muse is not very forthcoming with her adventures when she’s not here with me, she doesn’t like to share unless it benefits her in some way. Very human-like trait if you ask me.
“I didn’t ask you chica,” she snarls at me. “I have nothing in common with you filthy humans, nothing.”
She doesn’t look me in the eye. Something isn’t right with this whole picture.
“I thought you told me I might not be all human?” She hates when I question her, probably why I can’t stop myself from doing it.
“I said, I’m beginning to have my doubts about it, that’s all.” She slumps next to me on the bed, sighs, then folds one arm across her leather covered chest and throws the other across her forehead. I have no idea how she can move in that thing she’s wearing, it looks like liquid leather was painted over her body.
Gotta admit she wears it well though. Still, something is wrong.
Usually my Muse shows up when I’m sitting in front of my laptop writing. This is the first time she’s popped up while I’m lying in bed, considering throwing in the pen, so to speak. My attempts at writing had run into some stumbling blocks recently and I was so disillusioned with the mess I’d made of my life I wanted to crawl under the covers and do my best Sleeping Beauty impersonation times five. One hundred years wasn’t enough time to retreat into my shell.
“What wrong?” She stares at the ceiling as she speaks.
“What’s wrong?” I ask. “With me? You’re the one going all Sarah Bernhardt, not me. I’m just reading in bed minding my own business, is there something wrong with that? Besides,” I looked my Muse in the eye for the next part,” you disappeared as usual, as much as it pains me to say this, you know I can’t write without you.”
Her eyes flash an assortment of different shades of blue before they settle on the same shade of blue as mine.
She closes her eyes for a moment then looks up at me, a mixture of emotions playing across her face with one notable omission, there is no trace of anger.
Angry, condescending, superior, those were her usual looks my way.
I never saw what looked alarmingly close to, dare I say it, sad?
“You fucked up chica,” she says this softly, solemnly.
“What are you talking about?” She’s really starting to worry me. Even though she’s a pain in my ass I still have feelings for-
And I find myself facedown on the floor, my precious laptop luckily saved by the tumble of blankets surrounding me but my Kindle took a hard hit. I’ll kill her if it’s broken.
Did I mention one of her spike-heeled boots was painfully planted against the small of my back?
“What the fuck?” I mumble into the bare floor. Is this what they mean by ‘eating dust’? I really do need to sweep underneath my bed a little more often.
“You’re standing on my back.”
“Get. Up.” Her right hand reaches down yanking me off the floor by my hair. She uses her left hand to reach around and grab me by the chin, pulling my head back till I was staring into her eyes. I swear I was looking at two eyes filled with violent waves, stormy didn’t begin to describe the tsunami in her eyes.
I don’t know how I manage to get myself in trouble without doing anything.
“Ok, ok, stop yanking my hair already! That fucking hurts!”
“You don’t know the meaning of the word ‘hurt’ chica. Yet. Now sit.” She points to the bed she just yanked me out of.
“Huh? What game are you playing now because I don’t know the rules to this one.”
“That’s your problem little girl, you don’t know the rules period. Now sit your ass down and explain yourself.”
She towers over me, the way her eyes have me pinned in place suddenly makes me feel like an insect under a microscope.
“Oh you’re an insect alright,” her voice is full of hate. “You’re less than a bug and I can squash you in a snap.”
I jump as she snaps her fingers for emphasis. My hand scrapes against a sharp corner of an old wooden bookcase. The splinter embedded in my palm is deep enough to hurt bad and a smear of blood is left behind, to remind me I’m still alive perhaps?
“See what I mean?” She leans down, yanks me up then pushes me on the bed. “You’re all skittish and jumpy. You’re a wimp, that’s what you are.”
“A wimp? Do people even use that word anymore?” I ask sincerely.
She is not amused. I don’t think I’ve ever seen her so angry, at least not at me.
“Shut. Your. Mouth. And listen,” her voice is stern, fed-up, disgusted. Everything but pleased.
“I’m not in the mood to go through the whole hows and whys thing, so I’m gonna say this once and you’re gonna listen to me. You’re also gonna follow through. Capiche?”
I just nod my head in agreement, afraid to open my mouth yet.
“I may be your Muse but I’m more than that, much more. For now, all that matters is you can’t hide one single thought from me no matter how hard you try chica. That means I know exactly why you aren’t doing what you’re supposed to be doing. You signed up for it missy, if you think you can write anything while censuring yourself in case somebody might get offended or project themselves into something you write you may as well throw that laptop out the window. Because if that’s your plan, whatever you write is gonna suck.”
I just stare at her, mouth agape, speechless. Without words. No reply. No smartass remarks. Nothing.
Because I know she’s right.
Her mouth curls up into a Grinch-like smile and there’s a sparkling green glint in her eyes that wasn’t there before.
I don’t know if it’s a good sign or a bad sign.
“Chica, it’s time to let go of that bullshit in your brain, it’s doing neither one of us any good and if you’d pull your head out of your ass long enough to pay attention, we’re in the middle of a Djinn War with a capital W and you,” she looked down her nose at my still silent face and rolled her eyes before reaching out to place a finger under my chin to shut my still-open mouth. “You, for some unknown reason, are the only one able to get us out of this mess alive.”
While I tried to digest that little tidbit she turned from me and began to pace back and forth, distracted, as if she was involved in another conversation I wasn’t privy to.
“Time is running out chica,” she leaned into me again, her mouth so close to mine I wasn’t sure who’s breath was who’s.
“You know what you have to do. Do it. Now. Don’t try to do it, do it!!!”
She planted a kiss above my eyes. It smelled of reassurance and treachery both, then she disappeared, a thin haze of smoke the only remnant of her appearance.
That and the blood red lip-print on my forehead.
I look at my laptop and sighed.
to be continued…
freeze me now
before i melt away
for the fire burns
deep inside me
and i fear i will combust,
turn the key
double the locks
keep the light away and
dim the glow
cover the essence then question it’s absence,
as the show must go on
in case anyone is looking,
this icy shell, cobweb-covered as time steamrolls by
just another day and it all piles up,
layer upon layer thickens my skin
so heap it on me,
throw me down and hold me under,
the cold will control the sizzle
and keep me hidden till i can burn again
those hallelujah moments elude me now,
hazy, a forgotten melody i’m straining to hear
slips out of reach,
the trace of fingers, feather-light across my cheek,
crumbled ashes swept into a corner neglected
as everything dies eventually,
it crosses my mind too often,
pointless anticipation inevitably yanked away,
and the wonder,
was it all a dream?
imagined or real the scars cut as deep,
because there is no right or wrong,
some puzzles aren’t meant to be solved
answers don’t always match the hypothetical
but i will burn for my sins, real and imagined,
my sisyphean lot in life,
to throw myself on the fire
in search of another hallelujah moment