Friday, April 13, 2012

Friday the 13th, Iggy Pop, Bad Luck, Stolen Keys, Kurt Vonnegut, and Dead Dogs

In honor of today's anniversary, this one goes out to the good Mr. Voorhees:


That's one of the three decent tracks on The Weirdness, the third album by The Stooges (or the fourth if you count Raw Power, when they were Iggy and the Stooges.)  It's a mediocre record at best, but it gave them an excuse to do a reunion tour while Ron Asheton was still alive, so we can forgive them for that.  Anyway, being that today is the holiday of everyone's favorite hockey mask-wearing slasher-film hero, I thought it fitting to play a song with a chorus of "My idea of fun / Is killing everyone."

I was going to leave it at that and wish you all a safe Friday the 13th.  But then it occurred to me that The Stooges are deeply associated with the unluckiest day of my life.

It was 2007 (and the middle of April, now that I think about it.)  I was still living in Philly, and my luck had finally taken a turn for the better.  I'd just landed a decent job after a long period of underemployment.  What's more, The Stooges had just put out their first album in thirty years, and were in the middle of a world tour.  I'd been to one of Iggy's recent gigs, so I knew he still performed like a juggernaut.  Now I had the chance to see the original line-up of the band who invented punk rock.

The show was everything I'd wanted.  The guys played their asses off, hammering out nearly every song from the first two albums, and most of the new one.  I was there with my buddy Jeff, who'd turned me onto The Stooges years ago, both of us feeling that somehow our friendship had just come full-circle.  We were front-center on the main floor of the Electric Factory, which was packed wall to wall with people who'd grown up on this music and were hearing it live for the first time.

Iggy tore it up in nothing but his sixty years and a pair of skin-tight gold-colored pants.  Cynics will tell you that reunion tours like this are nothing but chances for aging rock stars to relive their youths and cash in on old hits.  They argue that old guys look ridiculous in leather pants, and that in trying to revisit a lost era, they reduce their art to a cheap nostalgia trip.  And sometimes they're right.  But watching Iggy in action, the lesson learned isn't "grow up and act your age."  What he shows you is that it's possible to continue rocking hard your whole life.  The fact that they had Mike Watt filling in for the deceased Dave Alexander on that tour drives the point home: you couldn't kill this thing if you tried.

It was one of the best shows of my life.  Unfortunately it all went straight down-hill from there.

We'd parked Jeff's girlfriend's car on the street.  When we got back to it after the show, we found that someone had broken into it with a coat hanger or slim jim.  They made off with her XM radio and my satchel, which unfortunately contained my wallet, phone, and keys.  It had also contained a pay stub, so they knew where I lived.

They drove me back to my house on North 2nd St.  As I sat in the back, alone with my agitated misery, I cataloged my fresh batch of inconveniences.  It went without saying that I'd have to change the locks on my front door.  I'd also have to have a new set of keys made for my car, cancel my bank card, have my license reprinted, buy a new wallet, and buy a new phone.  Also, I'd really liked the fucking bag.

When I got home at around 2am, I was let in by my roommate.  After I poured the story out to him, he told me that it was probably bad timing, but Kurt Vonnegut had just died.  That hit like a kick in the guts while lying on the sidewalk.  Of course it can't be said that Kurt died young, but I was in a pretty shaky mood to begin with, and it's never fun to hear of the passing of a hero.  I drank some whiskey, read from Breakfast of Champions, and passed the fuck out.

First thing in the morning, I got to work on damage control.  I alerted my bank, called a locksmith, terminated the phone, and tied up as many loose ends as I could.  All things considered I felt like I was handling the situation pretty well, and each step I took made me feel that much closer to stability.  I was fortunate to have the help of a few good friends who loaned me some cash, let me borrow their phones, and talked me down when I felt like putting my fist through a wall.

After dinner that night, I borrowed my roommate's phone to call my parents.  I wanted them to know what had happened in case they were trying to call my old number.  When I got through to my mom, I recounted the events of the day.  She told me she hated to add to the load, but that my dog had just died.

This all happened within the space of twenty-four hours.

Ironically, the clock just struck midnight on this year's Friday the 13th, and now that I think about it I had a pretty good day.

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