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the long way around

The living room is a forest of mic stands and cables. A cup of coffee, a large glass of water and a shallow shot of whiskey sit on the tiny white table. I alternate between them, making sure the guitar is in tune, trying to understand if the chair will creak when I lean my head back on the second chorus.  There is a hush in the room. I can hear my own heartbeat. The lyrics are printed out on a fresh piece of paper, large and thick so I can read them easily even though I sing with my eyes closed and will surely forget a handful of words no matter what I do.

The guitar sounds dry, perfect - even honest. I can play a simple D chord with a long strum, or the side of my thumb and it sounds so different. I record a few takes, barefoot in the bright room. I am going too fast in some parts, and my fingers are already sore from the chord changes.

And then all at once, I am thinking of a show I played in an old factory in Brooklyn, way back when I had just started writing songs almost twenty y…

rocks, coins and angels

I had a blue-eyed angel in New York. I would pass him on the street at random moments every few months or more. His eyes blazing from behind his beard and a ski hat, he would smile at me. A quick smirk of recognition - - aha, you caught me. Yes, I’m here. I’m around. I know you’re completely lost, and I’m here as a sort of signpost to tell you - - you are right where you’re supposed to be.

I carry rocks and coins in my left pocket - reminders of various significant moments in my life. There was a $2 bill there for years. A little green piece of marble from Santorini. Migelli was a human version of these momentos. I kept losing him, and finding him.

In truth, he was the second assistant director on a feature film I worked on, right out of film school. I was the cinematographer for a former porn star turned-porn producer’s foray into legitimate (ok, more clothed) filmmaking. Candida Royalle (or Candice, once you got to know her) was half Sicilian, half Cherokee. Kind, generous, imaginative - -she gave me my first break and I made her futuristic, racy story of one woman’s triumph over sexual repression look like a lost Bergman film. (And, we shot it in 10 days.) Migelli was an invisible force - standing in as an extra, fixing flat tires, bringing fresh tiramisu to the set at 2AM. I have no idea how he got hired.

I would pass him on 36th street, close to 9th Avenue and a string of flat fix mechanics. I would see him at 4AM, cracking peanuts on the front steps of the Public Library. Once, I saw him crossing the Brooklyn Bridge. He did not seem to age. He always smiled. He always saw me first, but waited for me to notice him. I wonder how many times he saw me, and I was so wrapped up in my troubles that I did not.

I really thought Migelli crossed my path this morning, as I passed the Europevsky Shopping Center. It seemed impossible, but I have never failed to find such surprises in life. They seem to follow me.

I turned around, splashing through puddles to see if it was him.

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