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Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Man Who Sold the World 

I was coming out of the laundromat earlier today, and I saw the street people sitting by the dumpster.

They usually sit on the short dividing wall right next to the laundromat, but today it was very windy. Very windy! The Antelope Valley is a very windy place, but today Old Mother West Wind was blowing through Lancaster with a mad force, and the street people had nestled into the space between the dumpster and the wall because the wall is a little higher there and offered more protection from Old Mother West Wind.

Somebody had tossed an old green recliner next to the dumpster and one of the street people had snuggled into it and wrapped himself in a blanket and seemed on the verge of dozing off. (He was freezing, he said. He was so cold that, when the others were passing a cigarette around, he wouldn't take his hands out from under the blanket to hold the cigarette. Fortunately, the street people take care of each other; one of them held the cigarette to his lips so he could take a puff.)

The lady who calls me "Bookworm" was there. She gave me a book last week, a Reader's Digest history of America from the 1970s. I love that stuff! Lots of pictures! It is awesome! I thanked her for the book and told her how much I love that stuff! She was so happy that I liked the book! I wish it was always so easy to make people so happy! All I did was take a book and tell her I liked it. She is awesome!

The third guy had just spent his last fifty dollars on a guitar! At the pawn shop!

He was finishing up "The Man Who Sold the World," not really that well, but with a certain weary elegance that I found irresistible. He had a bit of a tendency to mix up the pronouns rather randomly. And, whenever he couldn't remember a phrase, he would throw in "we spoke of was and when" to fill the space.

I felt great joy listening to him, and then joining for the final chorus.

I asked him if he knew any other David Bowie songs and he sang one verse of "Space Oddity" (which he called "the Major Tom song") but he couldn't remember any more of it. So he switched over to The Beatles and played "Day Tripper."

And then I asked him to play "The Man Who Sold The World" again so I could hear all of it. I sang with him. It was delightful.

I laughed and shook his hand. I made my way back home. I searched for form and ham. For chips and beer I roamed. I gazed a gazely stare. At all the scallions there. I thought we died alone. A long long time ago.

Maybe we did.

It's such a great song that it doesn't matter who does it. Bowie, Kurt Cobaine, Lulu, The Bug Funny Music Foundation, me (all the time), or a street guy who spent his last fifty bucks on a guitar.

He said I was his friend.

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