A few weeks ago I read about Twisted Teenage Plot, an exhibition at American Unversity’s Alper Initiative for Washington Art, which was showcasing visual artists who played in DC bands in the late ’70s and early ’80s. That was the era when Marti and I lived in downtown DC. We knew many of these bands, even though virtually none of them broke out nationally. It was a vibrant time in Washington. Young artists and musicians were experimenting in different genres and downtown -- particularly Adams Morgan, the gay-yuppie-Latino 'hood where we lived -- was filled with inexpensive restaurants and bars, funky shops, galleries, clubs, musicians' lofts and rehearsal spaces. An amazing scene.
This gallery show was one I was heartsick to miss. Then I thought of my longtime pal Roy Comiskey, a brilliant graphic artist and one of the first guys we met after moving to DC in autumn 1978. We shared a love for this off-the-radar music/ art scene. Surely he would be going to this exhibition. I wrote to ask him to pick up a catalog for me. And today I received it!
Roy sent me the gallery catalog as a get-well gift. What a great trip down a krazy memory lane it proved to be! All kinds of recollections rushed in: the multitude of concerts we attended together in those 12 or so years, the Take Me To The Other Side farewell party he and his wife Amy hosted for us in early February 1991. (Immediately afterwards the First Bush Oil War halted international corporate travel so we couldn't leave for Paris for several weeks.) My 40th birthday party at La Fonda Mexican restaurant, followed by a slippery snowy ride to Georgetown to see Root Boy Slim & The Sex Change Band featuring Ron Holloway(!) on sax at Desperados in Georgetown. Knowing and hanging with the Slickee Boys, seeing Razz for the first time. Producing a film promo for the American Federation of Musicians (offices in Times Square) with a guy from the Urban Verbs -- and finding out later that he wasn't even in the union! My Best Man Jeff Levesque spending all of a slow afternoon in the Manassas Mall men's shop he managed fabricating a pair of Root Boy ZOOM glasses for me. Even a Paris memory.
It was a sunny, hot summer afternoon in 1993. Roy or somebody else had sent me a Root Boy Slim obit from the Washington Post. I brought it to Kinky Friedman, who was promoting his novels in front of Brentano's bookstore on the Avenue de l'Opera, right in the heart of Paris. I knew Root had opened for him at The Cellar Door or somewhere. "Did you hear that Root Boy died," I asked as I handed him the Manila envelope with the article. Kinky scowled at me and muttered, "Who are you, The Angel Of Death?" Kinky scanned the piece, then accompanied by a former Miss Texas of a certain age in full rodeo girl drag, he grabbed his guitar and led us in a singalong to his Merle Haggard parody, "(I'm Proud To Be An) Asshole From El Paso." In Root Boy's honor. The Parisian passersby didn't know what the fuck to make of this.
In the envelope with the Twisted Teenage Plot catalog, Roy also included a marvelous montage he created a while back. He thought its inherent spiritual theme would boost my confidence. It did. What a dear friend.
Thanks for everything, Roy. Especially for helping me remember those magnificent moments we shared together. A lifetime ago.
Or your precocious child. Or your captive cat. Or your slobbering dog. (Not necessarily in that order.)