SUE'S ENCOUNTER WITH PATTI SMITH
so there we were – steve, laura (our friend) and
me – hoarse and sweaty after singing and dancing our butts off to a ferocious
set by the one and only patti smith. suddenly, we realized we’d been so
enraptured (and quite trapped in position at the front side-stage) that we’d
forgotten to drink during the show! easily remedied. we moseyed just a few
steps on over to the paradise lounge and ordered a round. along came lenny kaye
and tony shanahan (of patti’s band) for their own post-show brew. we were good.
we let them drink in peace. they departed shortly thereafter. on my way to the
upstairs restroom, i noticed oliver ray (also of the band) and tony with a few
folks at the upstairs bar. again, i was good and just let them be. as i sat
back down (at the table, people, at the table), fortified and emboldened by further
spirits, i asked steve and laura if they thought i should try to see about
having patti sign my first edition seventh heaven, an early poetry book of hers. their response – why not? so off i
went back upstairs. by that time, no one was at the bar, but tony was coming up
the stairs from the stage area. i asked if i could ask him a question (such a
silly query). “of course,” he replied. i began, “well, first off, let me say
the show was amazing! as it always is. and…er…ah…do you think patti would sign
an old poetry book of hers for me?” “as long as you approach her politely, i’m
sure she’d be happy to. all we ask is for people to be polite.” then he kindly
escorted me downstairs. patti was sitting on the stairs at the side of the
stage looking absolutely spent from the show and leaning on gentle oliver.
lenny sat on a stool contently eating a banana. j.d. daugherty (the drummer)
was just chillin’. tony said to patti, “this young [bless you, tony] lady was
wondering if you might sign an old poetry book of yours.” i awkwardly said
hello as i felt my knees go weak. “sure, sure,” said patti in a tired but
ever-so-gracious voice. i approached her with a grin that truly extended from
ear to ear and handed her the book. oliver seemed fascinated, “wow. it’s an old
one. turn it over. look at that. wow.” patti agreed, “yeah, cool.” by this
point, i found myself crouching at patti’s feet (dare is say kneeling before
the goddess?) and reaching forward to gently grasp her left calf. she didn’t
even flinch, just went ahead with the autograph, so i held on. surprisingly
enough, i found words that were both heartfelt and intelligible. “i just want
you to know that you are such an inspiration to me, and in a world gone wrong,
you’re one of the things that’s still right.” (not bad, eh?!) with a sincerely
humble flip of her hand, patti said, “i’m sure there are other things.” “i know
there are, but you’re on the top of my list,” i respectfully retorted.
“thanks,” she whispered with the sweetest smile. “thank you!” then i swiftly
slipped our cd out of my bag and into patti’s hands. i explained it was my
band’s cd. oliver pointed out the design, “i love that photograph.” “cool
cover,” chimed patti. “thanks,” says i, “and i’m not giving it to you like
‘patti smith, make us famous,’ it just would be amazing to know you’ve heard
our music. that’s all.” the words “cool” and “thanks” bounded about. i then
humbly took my leave, expressing repeated gratitude. i proceeded back up the stairs
where i met steve and laura. i felt bewildered, adrenaline-rushed, buoyant.
they guided me to a table, where i sat in semi-disbelief shaking my head,
pinching myself and crying at the joy of meeting one of my heroes. damn, that
MIA ZAPATA: THE PERSON, THE SONG, THE FILM
mia zapata was an amazing, energetic, charismatic punk/rock singer who fronted an equally ferocious band called the gits, from seattle, circa early 90's. adorned by critics and a growing global fan base, mia and the gits were "on the verge" as they say, but it all came to an abrupt and tragic end when mia zapata was found raped and murdered one evening in 1993 on the streets of seattle. her case went unsolved until a dna match turned up in 2002, and the man responsible for mia's death was convicted and sentenced to long-term jailtime.
that justice, however, offers little solace for those who loved mia and appreciated her talent. in the 90's, many musicians and fans discovered the music she left behind. sue and i were two of those fans. so, we wrote a song about her. the lyrics to mia tell the true story of one late july fourth afternoon in 1997. we were vacationing in seattle, walking around the city after a free mudhoney concert in a park near the space needle, looking for a place to drink. by chance we wandered into the comet tavern. little did we know this was a legendary rock hangout; seattle's version of cbgb's or the rat, if you will. after a while, sue went to the restroom where there was a ton of graffiti about a woman named mia, "mia lives forever" and what not. a woman in a gits sweatshirt was at a table across from us...probably a friend of the band. back in boston and by using the internet we learned about mia's story, how she was killed after drinking at the comet and how this was where all the gits hung out and drank. so, we wrote this song:
mia (verse 2)
well it was at the comet tavern / on the 4th day of july / we were drinkin' tea, sympathy, and a little bit of whiskey / i didn't know your life so well / i barely knew you at all / caught a glimpse of your legacy / it was written on the bathroom wall / missing you tonight / listening to your records makes me wanna start a fight / missing you alot / just to watch you sing again, i'd buy you one more shot / mia / mia zapata...
we recorded that song plus two others over a weekend in 2001 and mailed one out to gits drummer steve, thinking he would get a kick out of it. he wrote back with a link to the gits movie site, putting us in touch with the film's producer, jessy bender. we learned that the people inspired to make a film about mia came upon her legacy in a very similar manner as we did. we asked if they would consider using our three-chord punk/pop tribute song and well, the rest is history...let's hope for the best for their movie as it tells a story that must be heard!
to hear a clip of mia by my own worst enemy, go to our bandcamp page. the full-length version appears on our cd no guarantees.