They told us that the road to Fame
went through Maine that Friday night-
so the band ended up in New Hampshire.
I was the roadie for a pack of Boston rockers
who worked at liquor stores and copy centers between gigs.
The only band member who owned a car
was the drummer, and we named his
1978 Chevy Impala station wagon “Jumpin’ Jack Flash”.
Our bassist worked in a screen-printing shop
and supplied all the weed we could smoke for our road trips;
we never worried about the cops-
sure, they noticed us,
but a gold station wagon
with its back bumper duct-taped in place,
red and blue lightning bolts spray-painted
on the doors and the hood-
that may be the sort of car you do drugs in,
but it’s not the sort of car you haul drugs in.
We got laughed at a lot-
but never stopped.
I wish they would have stopped us that night,
just to ask us where the Hell we thought we were going,
because we had no idea.
Our lead singer was the navigator;
to him one interstate looked pretty much
like every other interstate;
in those days before GPS,
before the small talking box on the dashboard
which we would name GiGi
who would tell us exactly where we should go-
all we knew was that
the interstates tagged “Ninety-three”
both began with “N”,
and North begins with “N”,
and Maine is north of Boston, so-
how much difference could it make?
The Friday night lights in
1980s Concord, New Hampshire
did not exactly rock, at least not for us-
the bar we were aiming for was in Portland, Maine.
But if you hang a sharp right in Concord
and head east,
across Granite State hill and dale,
on roads with names but no numbers,
past farm and lake and bar and diner,
you will eventually
hit the Atlantic ocean.
Turn left then and head north again,
taking care to stop short of Canada.
If you hit Canada you’ve gone too far.
We did not hit Canada,
not that night, anyway.
It’s a hard fact of rock and roll roadie life
that when you and the band arrive at the bar
in Portland two hours late
that’s always the night,
(and the bar)
where the booking manager went on a bender-
- hit the bar owner
- hit the road
last Saturday night.
Nobody knew we were late
because nobody knew we were coming.
The manager took the amps and mics
with him when he left,
not that it mattered,
because the owner and the band
and three drunk college co-eds
were the only ones in the bar anyway.
So we bought everyone a round and a pizza,
played some pool and pinball with the co-eds
(one of whom looked startlingly
like Catherine Zetas Jones)
and called it a night,
starting out on the long drive south
on Interstate 95.
-That’s when the trip really went south;
we didn’t stop to realize it at the time,
but just as interstate 93 north
does not go to Portland, Maine,
Interstate 95 South
does not actually go to Boston-
but that’s a poem for another night.