Thursday, August 7, 2014

All The Young Dudes

Well it's been quite some time since I have written anything and it feels odd to be sitting here in front of a blank screen, white page, ready to go.  I have had a turbulent year, and an active couple of months. I almost died from a "dead gallbladder" but I didn't, and that's kind of cool. SO to celebrate my still having a brain that works, I thought I would  I guess what brought me to the blank white page on this evening is the wine of course, and the fact that my favorite band from "the day" is doing a reunion show this weekend, 2 nights at Jilly's in Akron.  I have been talking to friends and everyone is all a glow about having potentially 48 hours to relive our youth, reconnect with people we shared something so very special with and I am reminiscing as well. Hammer Damage was the first band I saw at The Bank in downtown Akron, 1979. I had never seen "punks" I was from Fairlawn and I wore Gloria Vanderbilt jeans.  But once I stepped in there I was, so beyond, hooked. Not only was that band amazing, they were all so damn good looking, skinny and edgy and they just looked like trouble waiting to land on someone. I, of course, was hoping one of them would land on me. I have no idea why I remember this but I do, I wore a denim skirt, white shirt and black tie, tights and canvas mary jane shoes. I moshed in the pit, but it was probably way before they called it that. I was there because Liam Sternberg's (The Bangles Jane Aire and The Belvederes ) parents wanted me to "make it in the biz" and they talked to so and so and they thought if I did a song with Hammer Damage, I would be on my way, so I was there to check them out and meet with their manager, Dale. I don't know what it was but I fell in love with everything about the energy in the place, the energy of the band, their rabid fans and life in that club.  I never did record a song with Hammer Damage they were far too cool to add an 18 year old chick from Fairlawn, but I started my own band and we went on to open for them more times than I can count.  We even went on to NYC to showcase with them the next year. We were the "it" crowd, we were the Akron version of what was going on in New York during the Andy Warhol Edie Sedgwick period, or we thought we were anyway, we tried to be, it was quite the scene.  I became very serious about creating that music, that energy and I wanted to absorb it all and spew it back out. I walked the walk, talked the talk, drank the booze and wore the clothes.  Even when I wasn't playing out myself, which was not that often back then, I went to see Hammer Damage, I danced all night and I was in love with all of it. I made so many friends, well...acquaintances back then and we all would meet up and just dance, drink and dance some more. I thought they were like The Beatles, they had the cool look, the shaggy hair and the cool suits and every single girl I knew had a favorite. Mine was George with his tight pants and cigarette hanging out of his mouth, he was and is, one HELL of a guitarist. It was really very innocent, it was just that we were lucky enough to have our favorite band in our city.  Like the girls at The Cavern in Liverpool, we could go whenever and the world did not own these guys ( the case of The Beatles).  Hammer Damage should have been such a huge thing internationally, but they had their bit of success, George went on to play guitar for The Dead Boys in their hey day (is that one word or two)?
Now it's 2014 and I am not 18, I am 55 and I am still incredibly excited to go see Hammer Damage, in Akron, at Jilly's and I know there will be so many people from "back in the day" and it will be so strange and so exciting all at the same time.  I hope I can forget that years, decades really, have gone on like a clock ticking frantically to get nowhere. I hope I can forget that I am an old woman just for this weekend. I hope I can just relive a little of what was then, with what I know now, how magical is that? It's like Time Travel, and though everyone is gray or fat or bald or wrinkled they will be just like me...trying to turn back the clock to a time when we were all young, wild, beautiful and full of everything that ever was, full of hope, not beaten down by money, failed marriages, death and dreams unrealized.  For just a little while, all those hundreds and hundreds of people from the Akron Scene in the early 80's will gather again to dance a little slower, to hear a little less, to dress a little less provocatively and to appreciate it all one hundred million times more. Most of our children are grown, our parents are gone (so we can stay out all night) and our dreams lay dormant somewhere but that's OK because our hearts are the same, our souls are the same just housed in bodies we don't really understand anymore. I would love to wear my purple spandex pants, or the black ones, but alas that ship has sailed so I will skip the spandex and skinny tie, though I may be rebellious and break out the skinny jeans and my hair will be less Debbie Harry, but I will still have cool shoes, shoes are the one thing you can get away with forever. I will see gray versions of all the boys who once loved me.  I recently had a conversation with an old friend, also a singer, she had way more success than I did and she was quite a thing for quite a while.  We were talking about how "all the young dudes" adored us and we abused the power so many times and we pretended like we didn't know, didn't care but we did and we did. Thinking of seeing all the fan boys in all their middle aged glory is hilarious, I doubt they will recognize me I am most definitely not that girl anymore nor should anyone expect that of me, nor I of them and I don't. I am so anxious to know what everyone has gone on to, how they fared through all these years of "adult time".  Fan boys turned into fan men, fan Grandfathers, still Hammer Damage fans, all of us. I ran into Mike Hammer today at The Bomb Shelter while looking for cool new things for my cool new apartment..he had no idea who I was. We used to hang out, he came to my house, we played softball on Sunday's and we shared the bill over the years SO MANY TIMES and yet it was all gone, he had no idea that I used to be Tracey, his pal from Unit 5.  Time has not been all that great to me and I was not bothered by it to any great extent but it made me wonder about, moments, memories. It's not possible to get through unscathed, we all have our demons, battles, trials and tests. I have had more than many and I am not the light hearted, ditzy blonde girl I once was and for some reason everyone still expects me to show up to things, 20 years old looking like Debbie Harry.  Time stands still, in our minds until it doesn't and then, we realize how very fleeting it all is which makes events like these all the more special because once we get over the fact that we are all no longer 20 and looking like Debbie Harry, we realize that we are all still here, and fabulous and ready to dance...however Hammer Damage one more time.

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