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Entries in bob dylan (1)


Dylan, Poe, and Me

So one day I was driving along downtown.

The Dalles is your standard medium-sized rural Oregon town. We have 12,000 people, one zip code, and 79 churches.

Occasionally, we have famous people in town. Kurt Russell once took a limo through the drive through at the 6th Street Coffee Company. Harrison Ford has been known to land his plane at the Dallesport Airstrip, which usually services crop dusters and the like. Wa spotted Kevin Costner at Rite-Aid buying a cheap watch while on his way to go fishing on the Deschutes River. Billy Idol supposedly stopped here for French Onion Soup from the Baldwin Saloon, but that story came from a less than reliable source, who “saw the whole thing” from a block and a half away.

But Bob Dylan was really here. I saw him. In fact, I almost ran him over.

Dylan was in town a few years ago when he played at the Maryhill Winery just east of here. But there really aren’t any hotels of quality out there. When it comes right down to it, there aren’t any hotels of quality here either, but Bob Dylan is from New York, and he wasn’t always the most famous person in the world who has been mistaken for a homeless man. He was once a young struggling songwriter in New York City, and has no doubt stayed in some dubious shit holes.

As I said, it was early morning, I was driving downtown, and this little old man stepped off the curb in front of me. I slammed on the brakes and the guy walked on.

My brain has this quality. Maybe it’s unusual, or maybe everyone does this. I don’t know. But I usually think about 3 or 4 or 5 things at once. The thoughts don’t seem to get confused unless I try to explain them, but if I’m just thinking it’s perfectly clear. So here’s what my brain was thinking in that moment:


Got to turn left    Is that guy going    That guy sort of looks   Is that a tour bus
at the next         to step off the        a little bit like              parked in the parking
street to get to   curb? I’m not sure   Bob Dylan. Didn’t he      lot at The Dalles
where I’m going   he even sees me.    play at Maryhill last       Best Western?
on time.             Hit the brake          with some other            I wonder why it’s
OH MY FUCKING GOD THAT’S BOB DYLAN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Accustomed as I’m sure he is to heavy New York traffic, he took no notice of me and kept on crossing the street. I continued where I was going.

Now, you have to understand that Bob Dylan is not the first rock star I’ve tried to kill accidentally. I almost killed Poe too.

In 2001, when Depeche Mode was touring in support of their Exciter album, and they invited Poe to open for them on their North American tour. She was promoting her album Haunted. That August, Wa and I drove to the Gorge Amphitheater in George, Washington to see them. It’s a long trip, and we were hungry, so we stopped at a restaurant that was ominously named “The Golden Harvest.” It sounded to me like the diner where everybody gets killed in a Stephen King novel, and that should have tipped me off.

I had blueberry pancakes, hash browns (with ketchup), a glass of orange juice, and one egg over hard. I know exactly what I ate because I saw it all again.

Take my word on this one: the only thing worse than being sick is being sick in public.

I started feeling bad at about 6 that evening, and as Poe was playing her songs, I became more and more nauseated. Eventually, although I didn’t want to leave, I felt I had to go find somewhere to throw up, because I knew it was on the way. I tried to make it to the bathrooms.

I failed.

I failed on the amphitheater’s stairs. I failed all over my brand new Dragonflies t-shirt. I failed in front of about 100,000 people.

The worst part wasn’t even getting sick. It was the embarrassment of hearing people around me ask if I’d had too much to drink. As a lifetime teetotaler, just about the worst thing that can happen to you is for people to think you’re drunk, and to not be believed when you tell them you have food poisoning. “OH!!! She has “food poisoning!” One guy actually said that, and even made little finger quotes in the air around the words “food poisoning” to show that he didn’t believe me. For a person who has spent their entire life trying to stop other people from drinking alcohol to be mistaken for a drunk is like being a Christian who is accused of attending a Satanic ritual. Its pure anathema, and it hurt me more than the pains shooting through my stomach.

I drank as much water as I could and threw up again in the bathrooms. Throwing up in public toilets is an experience I hope to never repeat.

I felt a little better, so I returned to my seat. By this point, Poe was singing her last song, the title track from “Haunted.” She decided to perform her first stage dive. The crowd caught her, and lowered her to the floor. She began running up and down the aisles with her cordless microphone, singing the end of “Haunted” over and over again while the band on stage played on.

“Do do do do. Do do do do.”

Up and down the aisles she went, performing impromptu duets with enthusiastic audience members. She came up our aisle. She moved toward the stairs.

Yes. Those stairs. I saw it in my mind in slow motion before it happened. Poe, all 6 foot tall, beautiful green-eyed, slender 120 pounds of her was going to slip on my puke and die. She was going to step in my blueberry pancakes. And my hashbrowns. And my orange juice. And my one egg over hard. And she was going to skid backward, fall, and crack her lovely blonde head on the pavement. Poe would die because I had dared to eat at the Golden Harvest.

“Do do do do. Do do do Aaaah!”

She barely skipped a beat. She caught herself with her free hand, grasping at the hand rail and spinning around as if it was all intentional.

“Do do do do. Do do do do.”

She turned around.

“Do do do do. Do do do do.”

Back to the stage she went.

“You’ve all been fantastic,” she said. “Except the drunk guy who puked on the stairs.”