jim santo’s baseball cap.

On October 5, Footstone played a show.  Somewhere (my calendar doesn’t say where).

I felt like I needed to go.  Not because I wanted to see Footstone or anything, but because I’d had absolutely no contact with any of our bands (or our “old” bands, as it were) in nearly a month.

When Jenifer Convertible came to our house to eat hot dogs and sign the contract for Wanna Drag?, Jim was wearing a baseball cap.  At some point during the evening, he took the cap off, and when he left, he left the cap at my house.

Even though I figured I’d never talk to Jim again, I hung onto the cap, thinking it would be a good lead-in to start a dialogue with him.  After a few weeks I sent him an email that basically said “Look, I hope you’re not mad at me.  And I have your baseball cap.”

It was actually a pretty long-winded email (as you’d expect).

Jim’s response was “What baseball cap?”  And that was it.  Just the one sentence.

Clearly, he was pissed.  And clearly, he had a right to be.

The cap became sort of a metaphor for all things Dromedary for me.  I hung it behind the furnace, on the corner of one of the shelves that contained all our inventory.  It was a piece of one of our bands, and I still had it, and I sort of thought that as long as I had it, I would eventually have to give it back.  As long as I had to give it back, that meant that I would eventually have a conversation with somebody who was in a band.

Magnet magazine was another big one for me.  As an advertiser in Magnet, Dromedary got a free copy of each publication in the mail.  I would open each issue and read every review – mostly not to discover any new music, but mostly to see what Magnet was saying about my friends and their records.  I’d open it up and go through the issue and say “I know them.  I know them.  I know the guy who runs that label.  I know the guitar player in that band.”

I figured that as long as I could open an issue of Magnet and know somebody in there, then I was not completely out of touch with music.

Anyway, I was worried that the Footstone guys were pissed at me, a thought that I really couldn’t bear.  They were our best Dromedary friends, and Ralph and Mark were some of my better friends, not just Dromedary’s. So I went to see them play.

When I got there, Bishop came right up to me and gave me a hug.  I actually got a little emotional, and I said “Mark, I’m so sorry.  I just ran out of steam.”

He looked me right in the eye and asked “Remember that night we had the party at our house in Livingston?  You and Sandy came with the baby?”

He was talking about our first night out, just a few months after Ryan was born.  “Sure,” I said.

“That day was the day I knew you were going to shut down Dromedary.  You actually lasted a lot longer than I expected you would.”

I was pretty blown away by that.  At the time, I thought I was doing a pretty good job hiding the conflict from everyone.  Evidently not.

The other guys in Footstone were friendly, and warm.  When I apologized, each of them told me I had no reason to apologize.  And Ralph handed me a beer and said “You need this.”

I sat in the crowd and watched Footstone perform for the first time as a spectator that had no vested interest in them.  The crowd loved them.  They played only their fastest and most aggressive songs, and they sounded fantastic.  Objectively, they were better than 90% of the shit that was out there that people were buying, requesting on the radio, and watching on MTV.

When I first met them, they were comparing themselves to Kenny Loggins and Aerosmith.  Now they were something so much bigger and better than that.  They had a unique sound, a passion for playing, an ability to knock people out with their vicious live performances – but make them laugh at the same time.

After their set was over, we stuck around for a while and had a few beers.

“So, what are you going to do?” Eric asked.

I didn’t know the answer.  “I need to find a new dayjob.  I need to re-prioritize my life.”

“How soon do you think it will be before you come back?”  Even then, he knew.

“I don’t know.  I’ll definitely be back.  I enjoy it too much.  I just don’t know how I’ll be back, or what I’ll be doing.”

“Are you going to be able to stand being away from it?”

“No,” I replied.

Later that night, Jim Testa approached me, and told me that the gentleman who wrote the Quiet Corner column, a long-time writer for Jersey Beat, could no longer do the column.  “That would be a good opportunity for you to write for the zine,” he said.

“Isn’t that, like, a folk music column?” I asked.

“It’s quiet music.  Not only folk.  Acoustic music.  Jazz.  Ambient music.  Whatever you want, really.”

“I’ll take it,” I said.

“Okay,” he said, “I’ll send you a bunch of CDs and you can get started.”

And with that, I became a columnist for Jersey Beat, writing record reviews for the guy who wrote the very first article about Dromedary, the day of the record release party for Nothing Smells Quite Like Elizabeth.

~ by Al on November 21, 2009.

3 Responses to “jim santo’s baseball cap.”

  1. seriously, what baseball cap? i am forever losing hats and i have the worst memory. i forget, did you ever respond to that question? and more importantly, do you still have it?

  2. I’m sure I responded to the question, but that’s lost to history. So is the cap, unfortunately – I don’t even remember what was on it, other than it was gray and had a velcro size adjuster with a cloth wrap around instead of the plastic kind, which I had never seen before.

  3. Hmm. I wonder if it was the 1920’s reproduction Yankees cap that I bought at Cooperstown. Oh well. I have no memory of getting that e-mail, or of losing that cap, or anything related to it, so this post was a big surprise. My response, as you related it, was in character, I’ll admit. I mean, you shut down the label, you explained why, I had accepted that, what more was there to discuss? Life goes on. I doubt I was still pissed off when I got that e-mail about the baseball cap. Had I been, you would not have had to guess; I would have made that abundantly clear!

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