So, yeah, onward to Payne.
After we all decided to quit Chouquette St., I knew I had nowhere to go, really, and it seemed like I’d be up against the wall for a while. So, as I mentioned in the last post, I arranged with my good buddy/part-time paramour Lisa Yates to house most of my belongings in her garage apartment storage space there at 47th and G, (pics last blog entry) and began to hunt around for somewhere to live. Unfortunately, I soon managed to lose my job at the Diamond Shamrock at 38th and Guadalupe because the owner was so bored he would spend entire evenings spying via binoculars on his employees from the convenience store parking lot across the street and one night observed me lifting some Bartles and Jaymes wine coolers from the fridge and drinking them (gasp!) ON THE JOB. So, the next time I showed up to work 15 minutes late…he brought that inconvenient fact up and fired me. Oh, the ignominy!
Leaning on my good friend, former roommate, former (and now current) bandmate Bob Bechtol, I somehow managed to not only cajole him into hiring me at the Subway shop he was then managing on Burnet Rd., but to let me crash on his couch for a month or two until I got my shit together.
I am so eternally grateful to Bob, because, now, (July 2022) at the ripe old age of 60 and gazing back upon my earthly existence, I regard this as the lowest point in my life. Broken up with Betti, my belongings in storage, no job, no car (I believe this is around the time that my white 77 Pontiac Impala that I got from my parents’ transmission finally quit) he took me in, employed me, and gave me, in the immortal words of the Fall, room to live.
In fact, I was almost homeless at this point, and, one night, in a slightly inebriated state, wrote one of my better solo songs “Stone’s Throw from the Street” on Bob’s porch on his acoustic guitar. I soon recorded this song on Jon Torn’s (more about him soon) 4-track and put it on my first solo cassette (later CDR) “The Moray Eels”. Oh look! Here it is, still available on Bandcamp:
Very Nikki Sudden/Swell Maps influenced, I still like this song a lot, and as I am even now reading Jowe Head’s remarkable Swell Maps memoir, still pretty durn relevant.
At any rate, so, even though I only lived at Bob’s place on Payne St. 60 days at the most, I still regard this as a pivotal moment in my life.
Jeesh, this is turning autobiographical.
So the key memory is the porch. I remember deeply that it was elevated above the surrounding landscape, had a railing on it, and may have even had some kind of hanging porch swing on it.
But, for the life of us, neither Bob nor I can remember the exact address of the house! At first I was sure it was 505, 509 or 905 Payne Ave. So when I got on the bike, and programmed the address into my phone, that’s what I entered. WRONG! Payne Ave. only encompasses addresses from 900 to 2108, and 905 definitely was not it.
Because, you see, I had many distinct memories of my walk home from the Subway on Burnet that Bob managed to his house, and I knew that it was not that close to 905 which is almost butt up against Lamar.
Ironically, Bob’s boss, the owner of this Subway, a man called M.D. Fix, had similar surveillance habits to my former boss at the Diamond Shamrock. What is it with these guys that have nothing better to do than spy on their employees?
Anyway, Mr. Fix kept asking Bob why I needed to have my backpack with me at work. He may have even asked me personally at one point, I foget. At any rate, being on the verge of homelessness, my entire life was in that backpack! My notebook, the books I was reading, mty Walkman, whatever I was listening to at the time, my belongings, etc etc…
Mr. Fix was convinced that I was stealing whole sides of pastrami and stashing them in my backpack to eat later.
As a result of this completely erroneous belief, several times when I was walking home late at night (I think we closed at 11?), MD Fix found it necessary to buzz close by me in his car, shining his headlights on me, I guess to discern the telltale hints of the bulge of a whole side of pastrami sticking out of my backpack. Oh dear. Unlike the Bartles and Jaymes incident, I actually never took anything from the Subway – Bob was the manager, after all!
That Subway is no longer there. It has been replaced by a juice bar, good riddance. This neighborhood was much less recognizable than the northern Hyde Park area where Betti and I had spent so much time. The bike ride went off without a hitch, but it was so hot I needed to pit stop at the Crown AND the Corner Bar on Lamar by my house. Whew!