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  (& Now) Diner
  For John “Ace” Stevens.
  Liner Notes

(Good evening, Mr. & Mrs. North and South America, & all the ships at sea ----- let’s go to press! & Now . . .)

In the east end at my favorite local diner,
Joel cleans his plate while writing parodies of radio hits.
We could’ve been good friends; instead, I soon dropped off the earth
& he went up the river. Evan chants, “Let’s kick some shit!”

Sweet Angie’s telling anecdotes ‘bout working Fannie May
& getting held up by a guy who went “nuts as a Payday,”
While wiry Matt Chada practices telling his reflection to “Drop dead."
Ted’s to the right pitching his latest real estate,
While next to him Chilelli unwinds another of his great
Yarns: piercing his ear in English Comp with a paper clip (or so he said).

& now Heavy Metal Heather in her Boston tee
Switched to her second stage: collecting glass figurines,
& my ex, Allie, bust bursting through that New Wave dress (silver buttons all down her back).
Waldo once punched a dog chasing him in the snout;
He’s been Magooed by faith’s furvor, & paralyzed by self-doubt
Is Johnny, still in the basement trying to find Joyce’s decoder ring to help him crack.

In the main booth at our favorite local diner is
“Uncle” Rick Anselme, whose skate shop we helped turn a profit for.
He named his cat Guido (though hadn’t seen ),
Then had to close down: couldn’t file as losses anymore.

Well, McCoy got thin, he’s on tour with King Diamond,
Har became Wayne Campbell in Aurora, full-timing-it,
& Jason, who slept through Algebra (twice), writes code all the live-long day.
Smotz, who tore down the street like he was leading the heat,
Returned from his mission as one of God’s most . . . unique,
& Al, who could’ve had any girl he wanted, went gay.

& Ryan, who once told me “feet are neat” earnestly,
(Some stuff makes sense) went into podiatry,
& Angela told me to stick with the writing through all weather in a voice like she couldn’t hate a soul,
& Chilelli, with his stories ‘bout his girlfriend’s car crashes,
Came back from Marine basic training with his eyelashes
Turned stiff-grey & couldn’t even touch the soup in his bowl.

I got no more taste for co-opted geniuses who run on fossil fuels.
What did we do with all that kharma to burn?
Did we get drowned-out by the rules?
Remember when we plotted tactics in my basement -----
“Have the whole world kiss our rings by the end of one sunset!” -----
Now we can’t even make our minds up on what we wanna do tonight.
(I think I could’ve been better friends with Joel had I not been so consumed by fright.)

On my left side at some two-bit 80’s diner
Sits Evan reading “Oceans,” pensive eyes swimming their coasts.
All vow to keep in touch; Ace says, “You won’t remember me,
So let’s not lie.” & he’s the one I think on most.

Shy Sammy used to play with Bill Carpenter’s lighters
In the corner, now he’s on his way to big stage performer,
& two of our brightest make ends meet delivering pies,
While some of our dimmest went & got their degree.
Matt C got huge from lifting & got me sold on it completely,
& Rella, who cried in Dumb and Dumber, dumped me with dry eyes.

Now Rick talks down suicidal suburb queens;
“Easy Does It” was one of Luther Beydard’s theses,
Now he pops open can after canned laughter on those shoulder-padded Saturday nights.
RPM moved to Danville but he never left here;
Ace is a 10-minute-drive, I call him once every year
At Christmas, & I wish we’d never split up,
‘Cause I think I lost all of my fight,

& our favorite place got closed by FDA,
So I swirl to each new diner by night,
& I’m the only one left, but I see ‘em sometimes
Eating cheese sticks (I hear they’re alright),
& I think: I still dare to sing out loud “No Surrender”?
I swear if Bruce was here he’d coldcock us with his Fender,
With his Fender!

More nostalgia: “Cherry Bomb” in a diner, with us coercing two of our favorite 20th Century prose styles (Kerouac’s Roman à Clefs & Winchell’s dialects of coded slang) into a late-nite sit-down for this bittersweet ode to a constellation of friends we've lost touch with.

Ray Charles - “Hardhearted Hannah” / Tom Waits - “16 Shells From A Thirty-Ought Six” / Charlie Sexton - “Graceland” / Marshall Crenshaw - “Someday, Someway” / Television - “Beauty Trip” / Liz Phair - “Baby Got Going”

“Now the rooms are all empty down at Frankie’s joint
And the highway she’s deserted clear down to Breaker’s Point
There’s a lot of people leaving town now, leaving their friends, their homes
At night they walk that dark and dusty highway all alone
Well Papa go to bed now, it’s getting late
Nothing we can say can change anything now
Because there’s just different people coming down here now
And they see things in different ways
And soon everything we’ve known will just be swept away.”
- Bruce Springsteen, “Independence Day” (1979)

“You don’t have to stray tho oceans away
Waves roll in my thoughts
Hold tight the ring . . .
The sea will rise . . .
Please stand by the shore . . .
I will be . . .
I will be there once more . . .”
- Eddie Vedder, “Oceans” (1991)

“All the people we used to know
They’re an illusion to me now.
Some are mathematicians
Some are carpenter’s wives.
Don’t know how it all got started,
I don’t know what they’re doin’ with their lives.
But me, I’m still on the road
Headin’ for another joint.”
- Bob Dylan, “Tangled Up In Blue” (1974)

“Big clouds pick on the little ones
Evening shade drives out the sun
Sorry for the stuff I’ve done
To me your still the only one . . .
Cold winds blowin’ from the edge of town
Circus tents all got blown down
All freaks are running ‘round
And I lost every friend I’d found
I’m wanderin’
Lost and wanderin’.”
- Chris Isaak, “Wanderin’” (1999)

“Remember me when it's over
Remember me when it's done
Remember me when it's raining
Remember me, I'm the one

And if somewhere I let you down
Or ever made you blue
Remember me for the way it was
And I'll remember you

Remember me when you're happy
Flyin' free in the sky
At 3 AM and the car door slams
Remember me when you're high

Remember me when the picture fades
Or your doctor makes a call
Remember me just for old time's sake
Or you just might forget it all

And everybody's got lessons they must learn
These days I feel a lot less time to burn
What one love will lose another love will earn

Remember me when it's midnight
Or when it's hot and high noon
Or when the wind won't stop blowin' cold
Or when you heat up your spoon

Remember me when you feel alone
Helpless, without a clue
Remember me for the way it was
And I'll remember you."
- Stan Ridgway, “Amnesia” (1995)

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