Patti Smith at the Bagdad

“I hate being odd in a small town
if they stare let them stare in New York City
as this pink eyed painting albino
how far can my fantasy go”


– Lou Reed


Occasionally somebody interesting will come through our big little town. How nice when they come to the Bagdad Theater, just a couple blocks down the street. Oddly, we are at our worst in the grace of the great. I wasn’t there when David Byrne spoke at the Bagdad recently, but from everything I read it was a feast of the small-minded and self-important hosts.


Portlanders gracious hosts do not make. We set up a plush arm chair with dim lights so a poet and musician from the New York City punk rock movement can read from her book about groundbreaking photographer Mapplethorpe. Well she may be over sixty and have trouble reading in poor light, but to her credit Ms. Smith ain’t gonna sit in the armchair to do the story hour.


We wanted to disappear from embarrassment in our imagined plush armchairs when our fellow Stumptowners proceeded to loudly put away dishes in the background, take flash photos from every which angle and parade four starstruck yet self-important questioners from the audience.


Amazing grace. I am in awe how Patti Smith held her composure and gave earnest answers to awkward questions. We have much to learn.



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