I recall seeing Norman Mailer in his eighties, slowly walking across a wooden stage, clutching two canes which made hollow thuds. It was in New York City. He was there to conduct an interview. He knew he was old, apologized in his own way for his declines and explained it’s only natural for the body to significantly break down when we reach our eighties. He passed a few months later. When I am 88 I hope to be able to entertain a crowd of great grandchildren. I imagine what the future will be like. The children will be induced with an artificial personality. Their entertainment vehicles are implanted - since birth - to their sensitive brains. Thanks to government of the United States of Google. Perhaps they won’t care if I told them about seeing Mailer or BB King. I hope someone tells me when I repeat the same stories, like BB King did…last night…that it’s time to retire. BB did it in front of hundreds, maybe there were thousands in the field. Many smacked beach balls up to the stage, smoked their cigarettes, reeked of patchouli oil and drank their amber beer from plastic cups. It was my introduction to a summer ritual in Patchogue. I was at the Great South Bay Music festival. I was there for a purpose. Make it two; to see BB King which is why I paid for a VIP ticket. It may have rained and I missed seeing BB King at Jones Beach a few years ago, the concert was cancelled due to an impending hurricane. I also came to the event to see if I can find my old friend from elementary school. Both of us served time in the prison known as St. Philip Neri in Northport. I saw JP. He is a cancer survivor. We hugged and reminisced till be told me he had to sit down. I went back to watching the almightily Scofflaws who I wrote about before; see my English Beat review at the Paramount. The Scofflaws are professional entertainers and I will go far to see them. In front of the stage, whole families were dancing. Grand- parents were twirling canes and passing spliffs to strangers. Father’s in t-shirts had serene expressions as intoxicants circulated in their empty bellies. They were smiling and grooving to the rude boy SKA beat. It was magic and then the night came. The cool breeze blew in off the bay. BB’s band came out and played a tight blues mix for fifteen minutes or so. Then the one and only was introduced as the world’s greatest blues player. BB KING. Not that he played much, but his voice bellowed from the speakers, Rock Me Baby. The Thrill is Gone, and You Are My Sunshine. Why? Why did you play You Are My Sunshine, not once but twice and why did you introduce the band and your daughter before you played a lick off Lucille? By the time You are My Sunshine was played, the crowds were moving out. Beach chairs were flung on backs, Kids were picked up, and the rush to leave reverberated in the crowd. Why are you leaving? Let me vent here: This behavior is a Long Island curse. Leave before the play is over, before the game is finished, before the mass is over and blessed, before the birthday gifts are open and the paper is discarded on the floor. We are an impulsive group who hate to wait. We whine about waiting in the traffic. Whine about the lights, for the tardy doctor, for the shit head in front of us at Taco Bell. Hurry up. What are we rushing out of? But you see you impatient…fleeing little shits…I got out from the big VIP tent in the back of the field and made my to the front - as far as I can go. I was close. This is where the real fans were. I snapped some pictures. BB KING tossed little necklaces to the women. “Women, I love you. Men…I love you too.” He was assisted out of his chair, dressed in a long black coat and wore a white hat as he waved good-bye. With all respects, please consider retiring Mr. King. I’d like for your reputation to stay intact. It seems we are paying to catch a glimpse of the legend before the voice fades away.
Thank you for reading this.