Tag Archives: Rion

Story of the Day: 2-19-11


The Beast in the Hall

When Don and I moved into 21-20, we were given explicit orders from our landlady, Mrs. Talgot.

“No guest,” she said. “No party.”

“No guests?” we asked. “We’re from Michigan. Our relatives don’t live around here. We’ll definitely have guests.”

“It’s okay,” she said. “No long stay.”

Okay, we agreed. No parties. No guests for long stays. Should be easy enough.

The week after we moved in, our friend Rion from high school came out to visit. He was planning on moving to New York and he needed a place to crash while he looked for an apartment. We were not real excited to break one of our two rules in our first week living there, but we thought as long as we kept it quiet, no one would ever know. Rion would hang out with us for a few days, find a place, go off on his own, and no one would be the wiser.

We really should have known better. Mrs. Talgot lived in the apartment next door, and no one who lived in our building ever left. With Scary Gary patrolling out in the front and his mom rooting around in the garbage all the time, it was impossible to go in or out of our building without everyone knowing you were there.

The second day Rion was there, Mrs. Talgot knocked on our door.

“I see man. He leaving. Who he?” she asked, suspiciously.

“Oh, that’s our friend Rion,” we said. “He’s just here for a few days.”

“I don’t like. He leave,” she said. God knows what Rion had done to upset her. He did have blue hair, but then, so did she.

“Well, he’s looking for an apartment,” we said. “He’ll be gone in a few days.”

“Okay,” she agreed. “Few days. After that, gone.”

The few days stretched into a week. Rion was having no luck finding an apartment and in our estimation was not trying particularly hard. We told him about our predicament, but he didn’t seem to grasp the difficulty of the situation.

“She’ll be fine,” he said. “Who ever heard of an apartment where you weren’t allowed to have guests?”

Which, in retrospect, is absolutely true. It was our apartment, we were fully grown adults, and if we wanted to let our friend crash on our couch for two years it was nobody’s business but ours. But we were fresh off the boat; we didn’t know how things worked in New York, and we didn’t think it was advisable to piss off our landlady who lived right next door in our first week in the apartment.

Everything came to a head after about ten days. Rion went out for the night and for whatever reason, we neglected to give him our keys. He got home early in the morning, around four o’ clock, when Don and I were both dead asleep. He rang our buzzer repeatedly with no response. Somehow, he managed to get in the building … I’m still not sure how that happened, ’cause that place was locked down tighter than Al Capone’s vault.

We woke up around 7 to find Rion and Mrs. Talgot engaged in a screaming match in the hall outside our door. I went out in the hall to find out what was going on.

“He sleeping!” she screamed. “He sleeping in hall!”

“I had to!” he shouted back. “They wouldn’t let me in!”

“I want him out!” she said to me.

“You get out, you old bitch!” Rion screamed back.

That was the last straw. Rion had no money, so Don and I gave him $100 to find a hotel for the night. He begged us to stay, but we felt like we didn’t have an option. We sent him out into the streets, and I didn’t hear from him again for almost eight years.

It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do, and I still regret it. Yes, he probably could have been a more conscientious guest. If I’d been in his position, I would’ve found an all-night diner to go to instead of sleeping in the hall of our building, right outside the door of the woman I knew was gunning for me. But hindsight is 20/20, and as one of his close friends, it was a pretty shitty thing for me to do.

The next time I saw him was at my going-away party, when Sarah and I were leaving New York. He had gained about 30 pounds in muscle mass and he was now a renowned hairdresser who operated under the name Orion. Things had turned out well for him, it seemed, which eased my conscious a bit. I don’t know where he is today. But Rion, if you read this and you ever need a place to crash in LA, please know that you’re welcome to stay as long as you like. Just try not to call my wife an old bitch.

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Story of the Day: 2-18-11


How I Missed the Pixies

If you know anything about me, you know that my favorite band in the entire world is the Pixies. I have loved the Pixies since I was in 8th grade. I was not the first person in the known universe to love the Pixies, but I was definitely the first person at George R. Carter middle school in Clio, Michigan to love the Pixies.

I was part of a tiny contingent of people in my class who really liked music. I mean, I’m sure there were other people who really liked music. But we were the music snobs. It was hard to be a music snob in Clio in 1989. The only radio stations that played interesting music were in far-off cities like Detroit and Ann Arbor. We didn’t have cable so I couldn’t watch MTV. There was a music video show on the local PBS station that I watched rabidly, but it was only 1/2 an hour a week. My friend Rion, another music snob, would sometimes tape 120 Minutes for me, but he also had a tendency to get mad at me for hard-to-understand reasons and show up at school with bags of candy and give candy to all of the rest of our friends and none to me.

I mainly learned what was new and cool by reading Spin and Rolling Spin. That was where I first heard of the Pixies second album, Doolittle. It initially caught my eye because my 5th & 6th grade band teacher was named Mr. Doolittle, and I thought it would be cool to buy it for him as a gift, even though we weren’t particularly close and I hadn’t been his student for two years. That should give you an indication of what kind of student I was. The kind that fantasized about buying gifts for his old teachers.

But before buying it for Mr. Doolittle, I bought it for myself to give it a test run. So I biked to Manufacturers Market Place outlet mall in Birch Run with Brian Fairweather to buy Doolittle on cassette.

The first time I listened to it, I knew this album was something special. I immediately became obsessed and spent the next 10 years of my life seeking out every piece of music the Pixies had ever recorded. Which wasn’t very much; they only released four albums, an EP, and a handful of B sides. Today you could buy those 10 years of my life for about $40 on iTunes.

I only managed to see the Pixies live once before they broke up, on the Trompe le Monde tour. They hated each other and seemed to just be going through the motions. Plus it was in a seated venue and we were kind of far away. After the show, my friends and I waited behind the venue for an hour in the hopes that they’d notice us as they were walking out to their tour bus and say, “you high school kids look pretty cool. Let’s hang out.” We did see them come out of the venue, but when we tried to say hi to Black Francis, he said, “fuck off, man.” It was still pretty cool that he talked to us.

A few years later, when Don and I lived at 21-20, Rion came to stay with us. That was a total disaster for reasons that will be discussed in tomorrow’s story. While he was crashing on our couch, he let slip that he’d gone to see the Pixies on the Doolittle tour, back in 1989 when they were young and they weren’t just playing the role of greatest band in the universe, they actually were the greatest band in the universe.

“What?” I asked. “I am the biggest Pixies fan in the history of Clio. You and I went to shows together constantly when we were growing up, and if I’d known you were going to see the Pixies, I would have gone to see the Pixies. Why was I not at this show?”

“I was mad at you,” he answered. “The week before I asked you to see Sinead with me and you said no.”

“And so you blocked me out of seeing my favorite band of all time when they were touring behind my favorite album of all time?”

“Yeah,” he said. “It was general admission, too. And they were awesome.”

It’s difficult to fathom how upsetting this was. Imagine your favorite album is Sgt. Pepper, and you had the opportunity to see The Beatles playing that album in a small club, but your friend didn’t tell you about it because you had refused to go see the Electric Prunes with him the week before. That is how Rion’s admission felt to me.

Shortly after that, Rion and I stopped speaking. I didn’t see him again until the week before I moved to Los Angeles. It wasn’t the Pixies incident that severed our relationship; it was the incident that occurred at 21-20. But to this day, it remains one of the biggest missed opportunities of my life. I really, really should have gone to that Sinead O’ Connor show.

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