Monday, May 21, 2007

High on a Mountain

Ollabelle played Joe's Friday night and the whole experience made me sort of wistful and nostalgic in the best way.

When I was nine, my Mom, my sister and I lived on the second and third floor of an apartment at the corner of Oakdale and Racine in Chicago. The third floor had two massive rooms--one with a huge arched ceiling. My sister and I shared the large bedroom, and the bands Mom managed rehearsed in the room with the arched ceiling. Later, our bedrooms were moved into the arched room and we shared our living space with the musicians. My bedroom door at that time was a draped American flag.

Mom had two room-mates, Annie and Rosalyn. Rosalyn was a teacher, I think, and she was also gay--or so Mom said--I don't really remember any of her girlfriends. In any case, she didn't live with us as long as Annie. Annie was in one of the bands that Mom managed, "Rocco and The Hat." Rocco was Annie's boyfriend. He had curly dark hair and a big bushy beard and moustache. Annie was 'The Hat." Rocco went on to compose the music for Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up? and a couple of David Mamet movies. Annie married Elliot, who Mom had also dated for a while and he ended up writing for Saturday Night Live in the 80's. I lost touch with everyone after I moved to Virginia--except once when we went to see Annie in Grant Park. "I'm Michael," I said when she saw me and she held me like a lost child. After that, I never saw her again.

None of which has anything to do with Ollabelle, except that the music that they played Friday night took me back to lying in bed on the other side of the plywood walls and the American flag in the room at the top of the stairs.

My sister has this to add:
"Rosalyn never had a gal around when we were there. Years later Mom claimed that Ros made a pass at her and that was why she was gay. Mom also said the girl she roomed with in college made a pass at her and that she used to hide in the closet whenever the roommate entered . . . I think Mom was convinced no one could be in her presence and not make a pass at her . . . Who knows? Annie tried to teach us to tap dance and I found out I had two left feet, so instead she made me a little Bo-peep dress (which I still have as a costume for some child someday), and you did pretty well as I remember. At least, she suggested to Mom that you should get lessons (I remember being jealous about that). I remember your flag and that we always made sure that one of us was awake before Mom to clean up the “gifts” that the cat left in the kitchen every AM. I remember the music and the smells, which made my first pot smoking experience a nostalgic one, and I remember the late nights at the bars locking myself into the women’s bathrooms till whatever band was onstage sang the “Tigger” song. It still makes me smile and look occasionally to see if I have a spring to bounce on behind . . . "


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