|The real Renee|
As Brown said of Renee "I was just sort of mythologically in love, if you know what I mean, without having evidence in fact or in deed.
It seems sometimes the story or simply the telling of the mythology is sometimes better than an anticipated act. I had heard David Lowen tell the story of Brown and Renee at a concert many years ago back at Big State U. Hearing him now retell the tale was like taking a quick therapeutic vacation to a warm happy memory. My mood changed from morose to content and I savored the conversation.
In the XM radio interview David Lowen spoke of meeting Michael Brown in his hometown and walking the neighborhoods and streets of Brown's youth and talking about songwriting. Lowen spoke of being stunned as Brown pointed to a "One Way" sign and mentioned the exact sites that were the set pieces of his lyrics. Lowen said it was such a treat to peak into that window of Michael Brown's life, the life that produced the genesis of such lovely lyrics. I wonder if it was similarly pleasing to Brown sharing the sites that created his stories with a friend and colleague.
At the risk of sounding dramatic I recently had such a moment. One of my best blogging friends, the "text-tress" herself, Sassy of Same Sassy Girl (see her thoughts on our visit here) offered to pay my humble town a visit on the way back from a Thanksgiving holiday trek to the Midwest. Now I don't think I'm giving ourselves away when I say my hometown does not lie along a congruent path within that line between her home and her Midwest destination. But I had told her of the sites around my home and some of the great restaurants in the area so on a lark she decided to aim along a more Southern angle back toward the Eastern Seaboard and make this a layover on the way home.
I guess now is where you would expect the gratuitous wanton sex and debauchery to be listed out. I suppose it could have happened and surely would have been enjoyable. But as with Lowen and Brown and their time together I so wanted to show Sassy a glimpse into my world and the environment that inspires me and perhaps retell tales and revisit stories past enjoyed. I tend to be a creature of my environment; some people have said this town suits me well and I suit it well. I wanted my story to come to life for someone special to me so they might understand who I am and how I came to be. And of course I wanted to attach real images to the stories I have come to know and enjoy telling so well.
It was the Friday after Thanksgiving and though the night was chilly it felt so warm to walk down the old stone stairs of that so familiar tavern where Sassy was finishing dinner with her hubby. I pushed through the door as I have done so many times. But this time a somewhat familiar face was there just inside to greet me. I said "hi" and shook hands with hubby and then entered into the bar with Sassy as her husband left. We ordered two drinks and then talked about nothing in particular; perhaps mostly how it was that we were now sitting next to one another for the first time and yet not so much as strangers. I could only stay for one drink that evening as an emergency had given me cover as to why I had to linger in town behind the rest of the family who had just finished dinner at another restaurant.
The next morning ballet lessons gave me cause to come into town and about two hours to gleefully show Sassy the sites of my world. I drove her through town showing her the coffee shops, bakery, and stores Sandee and I haunt. We drove up to the heights above the river where we could see the trails Sandee and I walk and the place we launch into the river with her canoes. I enjoyed showing my story now as much as I had enjoyed writing it.
We then went over to my office, sat, and chatted. I was interested in Sassy's stories as well and more importantly hearing them through her lips and seeing the emotion the stories took from and imparted to her. Her description of Phil tugged at my emotions, her stories of the funny men from AM that have flitted through her life brought a smile, and her connections to real people of the blogging world brought tranquility to me that so many of us are conducting similar journeys of discovery that we chart on these blogging maps we write. For me Sassy has always seemed much like Valentine Michael Smith or even Moses as the proverbial "stranger in a strange land." Such a kind and caring women paddling through these odd waters of Ashley Madison seeing and describing the strange species of men passing alongside her boat and politely wondering what drives them. Perhaps I wanted now to be one of those men for her to analyze and describe in one of her blog posts. What would she say of me? Oh let's be real, ego drives me to wonder what facial image she would use to depict me. Perhaps us men who do flit around Sassy are much like those forgotten toys on that Island of Misfit toys seeing in themselves the hope of what they were meant to be yet always suffering some critical malady. Perhaps they just wait for a tinker such as Sassy to mend them just a bit. Yes maybe on her blog I will be a two dimensional character but for now I will be alive and real and she to me.
So reading stories and listening to songs is fun but one takes so much more meaning when hearing the story passing over the lips of it's author. It was fun to show the moving pictures of my life to a friend or perhaps the ghostly remnant images of a secret life lived. For me, much like David Lowen as he was listening to Michael Brown, it meant a lot to hear of Sassy's adventures from Sassy herself.
But perhaps I should just say in near conclusion:
"the empty sidewalks of my block are not the same.... you're not to blame."
So in tribute to Sassy I want to shamelessly steal from her genre and give you a little texting ying-yang of Ryan's world with Shannon and Sandee. Texting is fascinating though. It is raw and reactionary, driven by quick emotion and thus a true window into the naked soul our calculating cognitive minds may not wish to share with the greater world. At least that sounds good, anyway here goes:
Ryan and Sandee (about a week ago on a very cold day)
Ryan - Did you get any sunbathing in today?
Sandee - Yeah I'd hate to see what it would of been like without all of the global warming
Ryan - That's the polar vortex from the ice caps melting. It's like a tea cup and all the cold air spills over onto us! At least that is what MSNBC says. :)
Sandee - That's pretty scientific. To us non-smart people we just say it's TOO DANG COLD!!
Ryan - True 'dat! :)
Ryan - You need your sugar daddy to take you to Hawaii for your birthday!
Sandee - Ohhhh I sure do! You can hire one to pretend to be mine. I'll start packing tonight.
Ryan - I could see you paddle-boarding in Tahiti.
Sandee - I could see that too! Or there's this realllly cool place in Puerto Rico where you can kayak through caves and at night you can see flourescent algae glowing! Sighhhhh
Ryan - Let's invest in the lottery and go if we win!
Ryan - But if we go caving in Puerto Rico I don't want to get caught by organ harvesters!
Sandee - It's worth the risk, Ryan honey! But I'll let them harvest me instead of you. At least it will have been a great adventure & I'll die happy!! :)
Ryan - Oh that could be fun what if they slipped my brain into a conservative body and your's into some liberal! :)
* note - Ryan is a left of center guy and Sandee is somewhat the tea-party gal but somehow they enjoy being the odd couple.
Ryan and Shannon (on-going)
Shannon - Please call me
Ryan - I'm fine
Shannon - I'm 10 miles from Frederick
Ryan - Everything is good here
Shannon - (some minutes later) I'm on ***
Shannon - Is there really any point to me coming over now
Shannon - I am stuck in traffic!!! Not going anywhere, I am sure you are happy where you are
Ryan - We are fine, ***** can take ******* to dance. I'll stay and take ****** home. I have to help out after the concert for a bit but ****** and I will get something to take home.
Shannon - This is what I'm doing, glad you are doing what you want to do :(
Ryan - Do you want us to meet you somewhere for dinner? Or pick something up for you?
Shannon - I don't want to go to CFA, I want to go somewhere that sells alcohol!
Shannon - that much I know for certain at this point. How long is ******* staying.
Ryan - A little bit longer.
Shannon - I'll come on over then.
Ryan - You can just come in, I paid for you at the door. ***** is taking money, she is expecting you.
Shannon - Well that's at least gracious of you, I'm surprised you are not demanding a check from me to pay for myself.
Shannon - Can you move the house about an hour closer to the airport? Maybe then I'll sleep with you!
Oh well they a both great ladies and do present a rather alternative world view of Ryan! :)
Some liner notes on Michael Brown:
* Michael Brown was actually born Michael Lookofsky and is the son of Harry Lookofsky a well know New York violinist who did session work for Quincy Jones and George Benson and also played in Toscanini's NBC orchestra. The elder Lookofsky co-produced the younger's hit "Just Walk Away Renee." Collectively the Lookofsky's classic musical training helped drive the orchestral arrangements of the song. The song "Just Walk Away Renee" was released in 1966 and that orchestral background conveniently coincided with the Beatles (Revolver) and the Beach Boy's (Pet Sounds) progression into a similar sound that very same year that created the Baroque Pop movement of the late 60's (also found in groups such as Procol Harum and the Moody Blues).
The Left Banke was short lived though only producing one more album in the 60's that did not chart. Brown was not part of that album. Oddly enough Michael Brown later landed in the band the Stories that hit #1 in 1973 with a cover of "Brother Louie," a funky tribute to a white boy's experience with an African American women that was very much a precursor to the Disco sound that would take over music in the later 70's from all those orchestral and singer/songwriter folks. Go figure! :)