Linda and I were overjoyed to be in Paris, the city of our dreams. we stayed at a fleabag hotel in Montmartre and combed the city in search of where Piaf had sung, Gerard de Nerval had slept and Baudelaire was buried. we ate bread and cheese, drank Algerian wine, contracted lice, wore boatneck shirts, and shuffled happily through the backstreets of Paris.
we saw Godard’s One Plus One. the film made a huge impression on me politically and renewed my affection for the Rolling Stones. only days later, the French papers were covered with the face of Brian Jones: Est Mort, 27 ans. I mourned the fact that we could not attend the free concert the remaining Stones held in his memory in Hyde Park where Mick Jagger released 3 500 white butterflies into the white sky. I laid my drawing pencils aside and began a cycle of poems to Brian Jones, for the first time expressing my love for rock and roll within my own work.
envisioning Brian Jones floating facedown in a swimming pool was as much tragedy as I could handle.
El Quixote. it was a bar-restaurant adjacent to the [Chelsea] hotel, connected to the lobby by its own door, which made it feel like our own bar, as it had been for decades. Dylan Thomas, Terry Southern, Eugene O’Neil and Thomas Wolfe were among those who had raise one too many a glass there.
I was wearing a long rayon navy dress with white polka dots and a straw hat, my East of Eden outfit. at the table to my left, Janis Joplin was holding court with her band. to my far right were Grace Slick and the Jefferson Airplane, along with members of Country Joe and the Fish. at the last table facing the door was Jimi Hendrix, his head lowered, eating with his hat on, across from a blonde. the Chelsea was my home and El Quixote my bar.
– excerpts from patti smith’s book just kids published in 2010.
last night I finally bought a copy of patti smith’s just kids. I realized that patti smith and susan sontag are a little bit of the same person in my mind. again, I feel as if I had been born in a wrong period of time. reading this book I am reminded of where I think I should be. I wish I could reverse the time and go back to the decades when art mattered. I first felt like this when I read Bill Wyman’s book stone alone. I fell in love with Brian Jones. I might have been in seventh grade or even younger and then for my thirteenth birthday my father bought me Stones’ Stripped album (and Joe Cocker’s greatest hits), which to this day is my favorite album. because I knew the story, and everything that had happened. listening to Never Fade Away on my own disc for the first time was incredible.
but then I began questioning myself and my feeling that I do not belong was just magnified. I remember taking the tram to and from school; my favorite part of the day when I could read uninterrupted for forty five minutes. losing myself in the mess and chaos that were the sixties and seventies. almost a decade from that moment, I am in hong kong, in a small apartment, surrounded by books and various publications, with photographs of dead rock stars covering my walls, reading just kids and feeling the same way I did when I eleven years old. music today doesn’t matter as much as it did before. and you have to search for smaller circles of people to find those who even just remotely share your point of view. I wish I could transfer myself to a different point in the history; live in a different time period. live differently, with other people. other artists, musicians and writers.
I like that I seem to share my eternal love for Brian Jones, Bob Dylan and Dylan Thomas with Patti Smith. somehow it makes me think that maybe all this time spent on nothing wasn’t really nothing.
today I am only reading, writing, listening to horses and unplugged in new york. because the australian called last night, we talked for a while, and then he played me where did you sleep last night over the phone. he used to do that before, too. I realized that at that moment something loosened up inside of me. maybe, I thought, maybe I am not entirely alone and lost. maybe there’s still people who care. maybe I had been born in a wrong decade, but somehow that short conversation last night made me feel better. but.
I will never stop wishing I lived at a time and city where you could run into Jimi Hendrix having dinner or sleep on the floor of the hotel room where Bob Dylan wrote his songs just weeks before. because I feel like there’s nothing good left in contemporary world. everything has been taken over by the media, mass communication, networking and the ability to be in different places around the world in the matter of hours. I would exchange my blackberry for a pay phone in a dodgy street in new york city in a heartbeat. and then I’d go over to max’s and I have a coffee with edie.
March 8, 2011