I’m in New York City. At least, I’m reasonably sure it’s New York City. So I’m not sure why Richard Hell has a hotel room when he lives in New York City, and I’m not sure why I’m sharing his hotel room in New York City, although I’m supposed to interview him.
He’s wearing a leather jacket and street clothes and sleeping on a small foam mattress, only a little bigger than his body. He has luggage near his mattress, a camera, and a mini-cassette tape recorder.
He wakes and we exchange pleasantries. He makes his way to the bathroom. The whole hotel room is smaller than my apartment, so it can’t be much of a hotel. I’m thinking maybe this is where he lives, after all.
Then I break some shit. Mike and Brian show up because they want to see me interview Richard Hell. While Richard Hell is still out, I try fixing Richard Hell’s mini-cassette recorder, but it keeps turning into other things. I get the camera most of the way back together and it gives out some digital bleeps, but at least one piece seems missing. Even with the bleeps.
The clear windows of the room, admitting sunlight, suddenly turn snowflake-patterened and I ponder questions to ask Richard Hell. What was he like during Smithereens? How did he enjoy or not enjoy acting? Why did he waste so much time? Is he off heroin for good this time? How does he write songs?
But we both go in and out of the bathroom, and I can tell by the expression on his face that he’s not happy about the broken shit. I do not think this interview will come together. He looks like Bruce Springsteen when he scowls…
I’m leading Mack on a scavenger hunt that’s more like a romp through a big house, and he’s got headphones on and he has to find where the headphones are plugged in. He thanks me for the ska band playing on the headphones, and we agree that we don’t like ska in general, but we love this band’s metaphysical ska. We love the band name which sounds a lot like some other band’s name, but not quite…
…then it’s time for me to flood and drain the clear plastic fishless tanks in my old bedroom. I pump the water into the tanks, but the amount of sand in each tank just keeps increasing. I hit the “pump” switch over and over, the sand gets thicker and thicker through the water, and then a blinking sign advises me that I won’t get any more water for 24 hours because the water maintainer is “out or having a relationship.”
So I have to dump the sand out the north-facing window, by my brother’s bed. The sand turns into various pathetic little people and pets as I dump it out, and people passing by upbraid me for my heartlessness.
I’m singing “You Don’t Know Me” at karaoke except my consciousness flies across Richard Manuel singing the song with the Band, and Ray Charles singing it with Diana Krall, and Lizzy Caplan singing it in “Masters Of Sex.” She’s singing it in a record-a-disc vinyl booth and I wish I had one of those. I’m singing the song for Dori and I sing for the exhilaration of being found out and the dark deep sweetness of holding a secret. I can imagine her face as I sing but it’s layered in with everything else. In real life Dori’s married and happy and I think she knew how I felt, that was long ago. I wake up and everything returns to its waking place. I sing better in dreams, too.