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"Dairy Queen Madness"
posted July 5, 2007 @4:37p
Yes, there was a Dairy Queen. And a Wal*Mart. But this town called Massena, located in upstate New York - very upstate New York - was one of the most remote I'd ever visited. So I had to inject my veins with some city.

After calling every rental car agency in the town and surrounding areas, and even after considering buying a scooter or bike to get to New York City, I finally found a flight at the small, local airport. For a hundred bucks, I could be in New York in a few hours.

By 3:00pm Friday, I was on my way.

Whenever I visit NYC, at some point I have to relax in Washington Square Park; this time was no different. Even though I didn't have a guitar with me, it's still fun for me to listen to other musicians while cooling my feet in the fountain. So we took the train down, and I headed straight for the water.

Flip flops make for easy foot dips.

Once my feet had cooled down sufficiently, we had planned to make our way over to Bleeker Street. There are a couple of good record stores down there, and you never know what you'll find.

So after soaking, I stood up, dried my feet on the smooth, round concrete ring around the fountain, put my flip flops on, and began walking towards the W 4th Street entrance where all the chess players and dealers hang out.

But I only made it a few steps before I had to stop myself.

I wanted to be sure before I spoke to him. It took a few seconds and several stare-then-quickly-look-aways, but I was almost certain I saw Gene a few yards from me, plucking away on his guitar.

I had performed in the park with Gene nearly two years ago, on the night before the forty-year Jewgrass reunion (at which I had gotten to play with John Sebastian of the Lovin Spoonful).

When his song had finished, I approached him. I asked, "Is your name Gene?"

He hesitated, "...yeah, it's Gene."

"Man I played with you about two years ago, right over there by the entrance... when we had that big crowd..."

He thought for a moment. "Yeah, yeah - I thought you looked familiar..."

At this point, I figured Gene was trying to be nice. But then he corrected me. "Well, actually... we started playing over there first. Then we moved... It's good to see you, man. You look good."

We spent the next few minutes talking and catching up. He'd gone through a lot of life, and hadn't performed in the park in a long, long time - maybe not since I played with him back in 2005.

It's strange to happen upon somebody you know in a city with so many people. I wonder if anybody in Massena would remember me after two years...


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