Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Get back

If you could time-travel, what era would you go back to and how long would you stay there? 

by Dietrich &
A science fiction question for a crime writer. If I could get some help on this one, I’d ask Dr. Emmett Brown to rev up that Delorean and drive me through time. There sure are some people I’d like to meet. 

First off, we’d pack along some scotch and coffee and blast back to the late 40s, find Jack Kerouac somewhere on the road when he was laying the groundwork to one of the greatest novels ever written. There’s so much I want to ask about that endless scroll. 

While in the forties, I’d ask Doc to zoom us to New York so I could be there to witness Jackson Pollock drip genius on that canvas he called Full Fathom Five.

Then off to Chicago and a decade later to bump into Vivian Maier walking the streets with her Rolleiflex, taking those incredible shots, the genius of which wasn’t recognized until long after her death.

“If you remember the sixties, you weren’t really there.” While I do remember some, there’s much more I missed, so I’d ask Doc to blast to the time when a Mini Cooper could be had for about sixteen hundred bucks, or a Ford Mustang for just a few hundred more. No Deloreans yet, not until ’81. 

It was a decade of incredible music, and I wouldn’t miss the chance to catch Hendrix liberating that Fender, or Janis belting it out at Monterey Pop, or how about a front row seat at the Royal Albert for Cream’s farewell concert. Then we’d head off to London to set down on that rooftop for the final performance of the Beatles at Apple Corps. Then off to Max Yasgur’s farm to witness Santana soul sacrificing in front of that sea of people.

Forward to the early ‘70s for a talk with Hunter S. Thompson around the time he wrote those opening words: “We were somewhere around Barstow on the edge of the desert when the drugs began to take hold …” 

Then spin forward to the mid-seventies to catch the Ramones at CBGB. From there we could practically walk to the Chelsea for tea with Patti Smith. That place could be a one-stop time-travel destination on its own. Time not being a barrier, I’d just go around knocking on doors, meet all kinds of interesting people who stayed there: Mark Twain, O. Henry, Dylan Thomas, Tennessee Williams, Allen Ginsberg, WIliam S. Burroughs, Dennis Hopper, Stanley Kubrick, Jane Fonda, Tom Waits, Marianne Faithfull, Bob Dylan, Sid Vicious, Leonard Cohen and Robert Mappelthorpe. I’m sure I missed a few.

And I’m still kicking myself over the time I missed the Cockroaches at the Toronto’s El Mocambo in ‘77. A couple of friends called up and asked if I wanted to go down to the Elmo, a favorite haunt under the neon palms, but hell, I had better things to do. Turned out the Cockroaches were the Stones in disguise, playing their first club dates in fourteen years. The two nights ended up being recorded as Love You Live. It would sure be nice to have some memories to go along with the record.

Lastly, I’d want Doc to zoom to ’79 for Dylan’s Rolling Thunder Revue at Harvard Square, just nine bucks a ticket. With a backstage pass I’d get to meet Joan Baez, Roger McQuinn, Ramblin’ Jack and T-Bone Burnett, along with Dylan himself.

Well that was fun, but you know, writing and reading fiction lets me do that, choose a setting and travel to different times and places. That kind of escape waits on every page, and when I’m writing I love getting lost in images of earthquakes, western gunfights, bank robberies and long lost music scenes. I also relived some of my own past when I wrote Poughkeepsie Shuffle, set in Toronto during the mid-eighties, bringing a lot of memories back to life, adding some color to that story.


Paul D. Marks said...

Hey, Dieter, can I hitch a ride with you. Sounds like a great blast to the past. And I did see many of the bands you mention, including Cream and Hendrix, Stones and more. Would love to go back and see them "again"!

RJ Harlick said...

My, what a grand time you would have. I'll hitch a ride too. Your Mini Cooper reminds me of my 1960 Morris Minor bought used for only $500. I had great fun with that car in my university days. Terrific post.

Susan C Shea said...

Greedy, aren't you? Not one era but the whole period of 20th century post-war rebellious creativity. Can't say I blame you in a way but it was a messy time. I lived in New York in the 60s and up close, much was exciting and much was crazy! Still, much better than the sugar-pop 80s and greedy 90s. I visited Pollack's Long Island studio ten years ago, right before it opened to the public, and with booties over my shoes, was allowed to see the place where he did the masterpieces, still lavishly splattered with paint. It was memorable .