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Even on April Fool’s Day

April 1, 2015

What meets the eye is sometimes blurry. Emotional reactions may first seem irrational and therefore swept away in defense. But sometimes, that’s too hasty.

Be still. There’s nothing foolish here. Life’s enrichment sits past your gate. Where the fog clears. There’s wisdom. Even today. On April Fool’s Day.

Come, be my April Fool
Come, you’re the only one
Come on your rusted bike
Come, we’ll break all the rules

We’ll ride like writers ride
Neither rich nor broke
We’ll race through alleyways
In our tattered coats, so

Come, be my April Fool
Come, we’ll break all the rules

We’ll burn all of our poems
Add to God’s debris
We’ll pray to all of our saints
Icons of mystery
We’ll tramp through the mire
Where our souls feel dead
With laughter we’ll inspire
Then back to life again

Come, you’re the only one
Come, be my April Fool
Come, come
Be my April Fool
We’ll break all the rules

– Patti Smith

From → Life, Poetry

34 Comments
  1. I just finished reading JUST KIDS — what a gift to to get a picture of a life dedicated to art, and love.

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  2. I’ve heard so many people say that they enjoyed that book. I must try it.

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  3. Nice Bruce. Great day to be on a bike. I’ll have to give it a spin.

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  4. Come on your rusted bike

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  5. And a Happy April Fool’s Day to you, Bruce. Go forth and “break all the rules.” –Curt

    Liked by 1 person

  6. “Life’s enrichment sits past your gate.”—Love that sentence.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. It is latish at night in India. I am prepping for a good night’s sleep after a long day’s drive and adventures. Thanks for sharing. Appreciated. Mathew

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  8. I’ve been Patti Smith’s year-round fool for almost 40 years. When I was a college kid living in San Francisco and going to SF State, she was appearing at a book signing for Babel, at B. Dalton on Kearny Street in the Financial District. I had seen her perform at Winterland the day before. It was a great show and Joel Selvin gave it a rave review in the Comical. (He taught rock and jazz classes at State; I took both.) When I arrived, the line streamed out of the store and down the block. I didn’t have a hope in hell of getting in to have my book signed and to take her picture. My camera, a Minolta SRT201 that my parents gave me for doing them the honor of graduating high school (I was to put it politely an indifferent student) looked professional enough. So I said to a store worker who came outside to announce that we would not gain entry, that I was supposed to photograph her for the Phoenix, State’s campus newspaper. Yes, that was a bald-face lie. He instructed me to go to the freight entrance where she’d be exiting. So, there I was, 19-years-old but could still easily pass for 12, with the real deal press. When she exited that elevator, I jumped in front of all those guys, and started snapping shots. She wrapped her arm around me. I kept taking pictures basically up her nose. It was very cool. My andrenaline was pumping. When she saw the beat-up VW van her record label had waiting for her, she said in an incredulous tone, “I came early and I stayed late and this is my limousine? This is the best that Arista can do for me?” Then, she turned to me and asked, “Wanna go to San Diego?” She held me closer and insisted, “C’mon!” A security guard the size of a redwood approached and ordered, “Let the kid go.” Then, he seemed ready to grab me, but she let me out of her grasp and entered the van, gesturing to me to get in. I didn’t. I had to head over to Petrini’s to pick up the fish for the family dinner that night. But I still wonder what might have happened had I accepted her invitation and entered that van; had I pursued my groupie moment. Then I reason that that no-nonsense guard probably would have pulled me out with such force I might have ended up in the middle of the Pacific. 30-odd (literally and figuratively as I reflect on my life) years later, I saw her again at the screening of a doc about her at Film Forum here in NYC. One of my friends urged me to bring some of those photos to have her sign them. He joked, “Maybe she’ll try to pick you up again?” That lightning didn’t strike twice, probably to the relief of both she and I, but she’s still as cool as ever in person. Maybe even cooler.

    Liked by 5 people

    • Forgive me for being such a comment hog.

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      • Are you kidding me? Any time. I love this story that you told. Thank you for doing so.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Thanks for being such a gracious host. I loved your story about your story about the guy practicing the clarinet, but I probably would have wanted to beat him with it if his playing was only half as horrific as you implied. Of course, that ability to get apoplectic at warp speed is why I fit in much better in NYC than SF. But the bread in SF is still the best in the entire country.

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      • Fun! I look forward to it. Do you want me to snag a photo of the storefront as it looks now before you complete your blog?

        As for Reese and his clarinet, I think you would have backed down. He was a smart, polite and kind man who needed his clarinet time. He got big points for learning an instrument so late. And of course, then he would be welcoming to anyone of us who climbed out of the hole into the bright lights of the store (three floors, as I recall). Plus, his practice sessions were just all a fun part of the basement scene.

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        • Good point about learning an instrument late in life. I’m glad tht Reese didn’t take up ice climbing. Are you in SF regularly Bruce? I don’t want you to go out of your way for a Lame Adventure. Out of curiosity, what is there today? Did it become a Barnes & Noble? That’s what happened to the Dalton’s near me on 8th Street when I lived in Greenwich Village back in ’82. Now I’m not sure what’s going on with that storefront, but as we know, free standing bookstores are more and more a relic of the past, up there with phone booths.

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      • Well, forget about the photos of the store front. I went into the City (capitalized, courtesy of Herb Caen) today. It was all papered over with big “For Lease” signs. I took photos, but set the camera incorrectly and they were all overexposed. My creativity had hit a wall trying to find something creative and useful for your blog post, so I am not sure the overexposure is much of a loss.

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        • Ha! I appreciate the effort. My next post is going to be about dogs, but I’m writing “our” Patti post after that one. I now have all the image scans.

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    • Virginia – this is such a fun story. Easy to say (for me) all these years later, but I think you might have had a good time had you jumped in the VW bus. SFO was your safety valve. Or did it seem that she was sitting in the bus all the way to San Diego. That’s not possible, is it? Petrini’s fresh seafood could wait. (They had good stuff, didn’t they?) I know, this is all very easy for me to say. Your story is amazing on its own and for good reason, you seem to still remember that day very well. I guess I was just caught imaging the alternate ending to that movie.

      It’s nuts that she made the offer to you. Just the kind of endearing move that makes me a fool for her. Do you still have the photos that you took for the Phoenix (wink)? Did you indeed submit them unsolicited to the Phoenix?

      More to tell you. I once knew that freight elevator very well. You see, when I was a student, I worked in that B. Dalton bookstore on Kearney and Grant Streets. I mostly worked downstairs in the basement unpacking books that came down the freight elevator from the first floor. I’d sort through them, stamp them with price tags, pack them up on a cart and the folks from the retail floor would take them back up to place them on the shelves. All of us were reading and exploring them all the way through. There were three or four of us in the basement. We couldn’t have been more different than one another, but we all loved books and got along pretty well. Our work space was well lit and as organized and clean as we made it, but the lights only went so far and there were areas just a few feet away in that deep, very old basement that were pitch black. One of the guys, a middle-aged man named Reese, who worked upstairs and wore a shirt and tie (the store policy) was learning to place the clarinet. He brought it to the store so he could practice on his breaks. He’d carry his case and a folding chair off towards the dark sections and play away. We’d turn off the radio and listen to him play. His instrument squeaked and groaned for 15-20 minute stretches. He was awful. He knew it. But he kept at it and we all encouraged him. I hope that he eventually learned how to play. I think it would have brought him a lot of satisfaction.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Wow, you worked at that B. Dalton, Bruce? That’s wild! It really is a small world, especially when you think that almost 40 years later, you live in the Bay Area, I’m in NYC and we met through our blogs. After writing that comment here, I did look for those photos. I had them developed at Brooks Cameras in Stonestown on May 15, 1978. Remember that before Brooks became Brooks, it was Fast’s Cameras? I wonder if Fast was the owner’s name? Were you working at that Dalton’s in May 1978? Back to the photos, I brought them with me to The Grind today. My colleague, Godsend, scanned them. I think I might turn this tale into my next Lame Adventure. Of course, you’ll get a “screen credit”.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Kearny and Sutter Streets, of course. Not Grant Street.

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          • I knew that it was on Kearny Street, but I blanked on Sutter. It’s been such a long time since I was anywhere near that intersection, but the street names come back to me when I hear them so I’m not entirely senile. SF today is so different from what it was when I lived there, but the same could be said about NYC between 1982 and the present. What place stands frozen in time? SF is the best city in California to me and it comes in second to NYC in my affections. Growing up there was perfect prep for moving here.

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  9. Bruce, yours is the first blog i’ve visited in weeks. Oh this campaign…
    What. A post to choose! I love everything about it. The image, your words, Patti’s words, and the wonderful comment section.
    I feel somehow more at peace this morning as I anticipate the challenges of the day.
    Thank you and I hope there’s laughter for inspiration for you today.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Hello Laurie, Good to hear from you. It’s been quiet over there with Adventures on the Bike, as Other Fab Things, such as running for office, have taken a priority. I’ve tried to find news of the campaign, but not found very much. I hope that you are enjoying it and of course, that you are making the progress that you want.

    It’s very kind of you to check in. Ram On is always better with you here.

    May laughter inspire you today, too.

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  11. Love the poem! This year my fool’s day was quieter than usual. I didn’t break any rules, to my knowledge. But that can of course change quickly, it’s a new day soon 🙂

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  12. I have always loved April Fool’s Day. My family doesn’t, because they’ve been the ‘butt’ of my silly jokes all of these years. But I say, like Patti, break the rules and inspire laughter! However, I can’t burn my poems. I just can’t.

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  13. Oh, the pranks I’ve pulled on April Fool’s Day, most definitely going forth and breaking all the rules, much to my husband’s chagrin (as he was often the butt) and my children’s delight 🙂 A great post, Bruce!

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  14. Carrie beat me to it, since I had planned to say how much I liked the line about the gate. My life right here within my reach is a good one, yes, but the real adventures begin outside that gate. Best of all: when I get out there, I meet other people who have climbed over their gates too!

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  15. Love your intro here, Bruce. So well-written. And great choice of a poem for National Poetry Month!

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Trackbacks & Pingbacks

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