The Critical Mass

The Jane Mutiny celebrates The Beatles at WXXI. Photo by Sandy Embury Gianniny.

 

The Persistence of Memory

Connie Deming was playing at the Little Café Saturday night when a stranger came up to me. “I loved your stuff,” he said, and handed me a glass of wine. That’s been happening a lot since I got laid off by the local newspaper on Sept. 16. It seems like half the city is trying to get me drunk.

But I’m pleased they remember.

I’ve been writing a lot. Reading. Cooking. Doing laundry. Getting my web site updated. And going out. At Connie’s show that night, My Friend Bob told me about how he was walking through his living room while his granddaughter was watching television. Supergirl was on. Supergirl, Bob noted, has pierced ears: “How do you pierce Supergirl’s ears?” And yes, Bob’s right. If you’re aware of the Super family genes, bullets bounce off of these people. So how do you poke a hole in Supergirl’s ear lobe?

How could the writers of the show not remember that? Bob did. And he’s not even a fan.

WXXI was putting on a Beatles celebration later that night, showing the documentary The Beatles: Eight Days a Week – The Touring Years, followed by a half-hour live broadcast of the Rochester band The Jane Mutiny playing Beatles songs. “Across the Universe,” “Hey Jude” and a nice version of “Blackbird” that was hard to categorize; a little pop, a little R&B, a little soul. Everyone at the studio was remembering The Beatles, who haven’t been a band since 1970. My Friend Ken was talking about how he’d been going through some things at his mother’s house and found his old Beatles bubble-gum cards. He seemed a little more excited about it than a middle-aged man should be.

Mom’s been visiting this past week. I picked her up in Cleveland and, on the drive to Rochester, slipped a CD into the player. It was a new release, Triptych, a singer doing old songs with a big band. Mom loved it. She wanted to buy the record. All week she’s been talking about it, except she can’t ever remember the singer’s name. “Who’s my new favorite guy?” she keeps asking.

“Bob Dylan, Mom.”

She’s 88 years old, and doing pretty well. But we have some odd moments. When she visits, Fox News is off limits. I’m dismayed at how those people have distorted the worldview of this otherwise nice old lady, although she does seem to have finally accepted the news that Barack Obama was not born in Kenya. When Mom’s brain is not cluttered up with weird conspiracy theories, she does display an unexpected ability to recall ancient facts.

“Remember that little girl who disappeared in Cleveland?”

“No. Recently?”

“A while ago. Beverly Potts.”

I fired up the Google. And there she was, dozens of posts about Beverly Potts. Wikipedia, even:

Beverly Rose Potts (born April 15, 1941) was an American girl from Cleveland, Ohio, who in 1951 became the subject of a famous missing persons case when she disappeared only a few blocks from her home, after attending a show in a nearby park. She has never been found and her disappearance remains unsolved.

Mom can’t keep Bob Dylan’s name straight, but she remembers the name of a little girl who disappeared 66 years ago.

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