The Human Fly
And then there was George Willig, "The Human Fly," who walked up to the old World Trade Center in New York City back in 1977 and, as casual as you be, he grabbed onto ledge and windowsill and climbed from floor to floor up that mighty building. High above the crowds, among the high winds, he kept climbing until he reached the top where the police were waiting for him and with a helicopter they took him away to court. When the judge asked him why he'd done such a thing, Mr. Willig replied simply, "It was there." Then when the judge handed down the fine of a penny per floor and Willig paid it he passed away into legend. And in such a way was the old Tower sanctified.
For The Secret To The Blues Look In Your Soul
So they said that Robert Johnson was buried close to the crossroads by where he sold his soul to the devil for the secret to the blues. Truth is, no one really knows where the man is buried.The location of his remains are a mystery to all. But the mystery lives on of how the worst guitar player in the world overnight became the legendary blues singer of all time. And some say it all happened right there where those two roads meet...
Freddie's Show Of Shows
And so when the critics accused Freddie Mercury, singer with the band Queen, of alienating his audience with the sensation he caused wherever he went with his procession of male and female lovers, Freddie could only reply, "Darling, don't you know a show is all there is to this life?"
So he danced and he sang and he made love all the night through and when he died the critics had to admit something died right along with them...
And then a fevered dream came to me this morning of me as a little boy in my overalls on the porch of some young black family's shack as they all gathered around me and cooed and ahhed over me and said "He's all right" to each other. The year was 1965 and I was alive in a way as a little boy I would not be again for a very long time. Then I woke gray-bearded and old in the early morning light. Blinking my eyes, I knew only that I would have to start over all over again. It was a quick trip to my window to be sure of things and then I was on my way.
Then, too, I think of Alma, the fat bellied cook at the restaurant down the road from here that drove her dishwasher friend and me all about the county some summer nights all while we guzzled our whiskey and beer and joked and laughed and made fools out of ourselves in the night. Alma, who drank not a drop and kept a stern eye on us boys so that we didn't take our shenanigans too far. Alma, who cackled with ease as she told us dirty jokes on the hour.
"Alma!" I called out to her. "Have some whiskey. It's on me!"
"What do I want with that?" she asked.
"Well," I said with a chuckle. "I'm told that it puts hair on your chest."
"What if I don't want hair on my chest?" she asked.
"Well then you don't have to drink it," I said.
"You got it, boys," she said, laughing. "I don't have to drink it."
And so she drove us around another bend of the night and we drank and joked some more. Soon, she left us out. Soon, we moved on. But for now the night was ours. We were young and alive and the whiskey tasted good. We looked ahead. The night rolled on and so did we.
Another Time, Another Place
I'll never forget Walt. Him, just standing there in the doorway, smoking a toke - or toking a smoke, if you prefer - with his Afro, his halfgrown beard, and his horned rim glasses, saying, "Come on in, won't you? Come on in." And then there we all were - Beebee, short, round and black and constantly in a lotus position like the Buddha he resembled; Betsy there, having made her way out of Vietnam at the height of the exodus at the controls of a renegade helicopter; and Veronica with her bushel load of kids. Oh, yes, and me, Josh, with my long stringy dirty brown hair and halfassed goatee coming in for just a short stay from the country.All of us, yeah, short moments from eternity fitting somehow luxuriously in those four large rooms of Walt's as if we had planetwide spaces to spare there.
It was as if we had all our lives to live there, drinking that cheap rotgut wine by the bottle and smoking joints as big as Groucho Marx's cigar. Never mind that it was already the 1980s and Ronald Reagan was in office with his greasy, slicked back hair and his welfare cutting ways. We made believe that time was ours and it would all stand still if only for us.
And then came the time to move on. We were growing up finally, kicking and screaming, throwing all our tokes out the door. Beebee ended up checking into a drug rehabilitation clinic never to return. Betsy got involved with Vietnam Veterans of America and rode her motorcycle out the open door of Walt's house, likewise never to return. Veronica's kids simply grew up, she needed another place. And, me, I was destined to give graduate school another shot, taking my schoolboy classes places where they had never gone before. All of us without exception were growing past it all. Past the tokes. Past the rotgut wine. Past those alternate states of being. There was no looking back.
Poor Walt never got past the heartbreak.