"People have the power" - Patti's autograph in my Moleskine
Monday, June 18, 2012
Meeting Patti Smith
My first proper introduction to Patti Smith was in a small house in a commune on a hill in Vermont by a 60-something-year-old man named Phil. Phil put the needle on the Horses vinyl and sat back in his arm chair, stroking his cat, parting his lips every once in a while to tell me what he liked about the track that was playing. Since then I've been a big Patti fan- of her music, her art, her writing, her lifestyle- so this March when I heard that she was talking at the Housing Works in the Bowery, I canceled everything else (cough studying for a physics exam cough) and jumped on it. For an hour I got to hear Patti discuss Just Kids and her life with Robert Mapplethorpe in New York City. She had the wisdom of all her 65 years (and probably even more) while still containing a child-like wonder. In June I found out she would be at the Barnes & Noble in Union Sq, promoting her book of short stories, Woolgathering, and her latest album, Banga, and I knew I couldn't pass this up either. This time she read some of the narratives from the book (she has the most calming voice when she reads), shared some funny stories about the album, and then performed three tracks. Getting to hear her sing live was unlike anything else. She performed a song tributed to Amy Winehouse, a cheerful song titled April Fool, and the eponymous track, which got me really excited about everything. it's a bit punchy, Banga is. Afterwards, Kerry and I waited an hour and a half to meet her and get our belongings signed by her. We were among the very last people waiting in line, and as we were waiting, we imagined all the terrible things that could happen in front of Patti -- passing out, wetting our pants, throwing up on her, dying -- but thankfully we made it to the front of the line alive and healthy, bladders intact. I wanted to have a real conversation with her and ask her all sorts of questions, but all I was able to squeak out was a request for her to sign my Moleskine and an expression of my gratitude. either way, I met the Punk Godmother, so nothing else matters. Fuck the clock, y'all.