Authors: Bill Ryan
Copyright © 2013 by Bill Ryan
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First Printing, 2013
Printed in the United States of America
A WheelMan Press publication
Cover illustration by Gregory Banks
Formatting by Julio Vazquez
Table of Contents
This book will tell one thing: I’ve had many jobs. But with the end of each job, till the start of the next, there is some period of being out of work. At these times, I would have to fall back on my parents to help me pay my rent, my bills, or just to lend me some money to keep going. I want to dedicate this collection to them; without their help and support who knows what would’ve happened. If you are going to live the life, you will need supportive and generous parents, even if they can’t understand why you do it. This book is for my parents, Rhea and Bill Ryan, and their ability to pretend to understand.
I would also like to thank my wife, Debra Bard, and our daughter, Rachel, for all their love, patience and support.
I would also like to thank Patrick Cannon for reading way too much of my work and all the help he gave me.
Bill Ryan is a writer living and working in Los Angeles. Please check out his website at:
Smoking with Mick Jagger
n 1982, I was going to acting school in New York City. I drove a cab three nights a week and I was living at the Westside YMCA.
In those day when you drove a cab, you rented the car for twelve hours and what you made above the lease fee, union fee and gasoline, was yours. I used to make on the average a hundred dollars a night, after paying out the fees and gas but I had to drive the full twelve hours to do that. On the nights that I drove I would usually be up all night, then catch a few hours of sleep, get up and go to acting school. There was a terrible period when I suffered from insomnia. I had never had it before but I think due the constant change in my sleep from the cab driving on the nights I didn’t work, I couldn’t get to sleep.
After driving all night and going to class one day, I went back to my tiny room at the Y and finally fell asleep. I ended up sleeping about four hours and waking up around nine at night. I decided to go to a deli around the corner and get some dinner. It being the winter, I bundled up in my pea coat, scarf and a fashionable (for me) beret (after all, I was an artist now) and went out.
When I left the YMCA there was a light snow falling and a few inches of snow had already gathered on the street. I put my head down to walk and started walking into the falling flakes. I reached into my pocket and took out my trusty pack of cigarettes that got me through long nights of driving, boring scenes of my many untalented classmates and about everything else I did in my life. I took a butt out and lit it with a Bic lighter.
As I was trying to light the cigarette, because it was wet or maybe the lighter was running out of fluid, I was having a hard to time getting a spark when suddenly a pair of very expensive cowboy boots appeared in front of me. As I stopped short, I realized that the owner of the cowboy boots was also wearing a very long fur coat (this was before both smoking and fur coats were considered social-terrorist behavior). I followed the fur from the boots and up to the face of the owner… without thinking I blurted out, “You’re Mick Jagger.”
Mick smiled, and said, “Yes, I am.” He pointed to my almost lit cigarette and asked “Do you have another?” I grabbed the pack of Merit Ultra Lights from my jacket pocket as my mind raced. All I could think of was, “This is Mick Jagger. Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones… those are nice boots.”
I tried to coolly tap a cigarette out of the package, but in my excitement the cigarettes were flying everywhere. My mind was in a total panic. “Hey, we’ve got Mick Jagger here. What do we do?” Answers flashed as Mick realized he had better take a cigarette before I dropped them all in the snow. “Ask him something?” My brain kept saying “…A good question, a smart question.” Then from the other side of my head a voice said, “We already asked him a question, if he was Mick Jagger?” Obviously, this was anti-ego because it started laughing wildly, followed by all my other voices “We asked if he was Mick Jagger! Oh, God. What are we an idiot? Are you Mick Jagger? He knows he’s Mick Jagger!”
With my hand shaking, I raised the lighter and aimed for the cigarette that was now sitting in Mick’s big thick lips, where Mick had placed it. Hysterical panic ran through me, “Don’t try to light it, you’re going to burn him!” With carefully determination I clicked the lighter violently trying to get a flame. “Don’t burn his lips” my mind screamed, “He may have a show to do.” Somewhere else in my mind, another voice said, “Show!!! See if he has a show and if he’ll give you tickets?”
My hand was holding the clicking but flameless lighter as it got closer to Mick’s lips. He held his hair back from his face, trying to get the cigarette over the lighter. “Careful there,” He said. “Somebody, are the Stones playing in town?” My brain screamed. A bunch of my voices saying, “I don’t know,” came back. “Memory, think -- did you see anything in the Village Voice about the Stones playing in New York?” Memory could only come up with “What? I thought we were sleeping. What’s going on?”
Finally, I got a shaky flame to stand in the lighter and Mick grabbed my hand to maneuver the cigarette over it. “Is it real?” was repeated in foggy head. “Maybe it’s a dream? Maybe I’m stoned -- maybe I’m dead? Isn’t Mick dead -- didn’t he die in the sixties?” Finally memory came around, “No, that’s Brian Jones who’s dead. Mick’s alive. I’m sure of it!” There was a small voice that continued, “Ask him a question, or a smart comment.”
Mick inhaled the smoke from the cigarette and smiled at me. He nodded towards the cigarette in his hand and said, “Thanks.” And then it came to me… not a question but a statement. With all the authority that I could give it I said, “Snowing…” Mick smiled and started to walk away saying, “Yes, it is.” I waved to him and started in the opposite direction, my mind still racing “Snowing??? Snowing??? You meet a rock icon and you tell him that it’s snowing!”
I turned around just in time to see Mick make the left, heading north on Central Park West. He was probably on his way to his apartment overlooking the park, maybe have a nice warm glass of Remy Martin, while laughing with Jeri Hall on their very expensive couch, maybe later he will call Keith and they’ll write a soon-to-be number one song and then he and Jeri would do it until he fell asleep -- ah, sleep.
I walked to the deli and got some really greasy fried chicken, French fries and a soda, went back to my tiny room at the YMCA, memorized some of the scene I was working on in Shakespeare class, watched both episodes of “Mary Tyler Moore” and “Bob Newhart” and realized that I wasn’t going to go to sleep tonight. When suddenly it came to me “Did this cigarette give you
So, it was about six hours too late -- at least I had all night to think about it.
Joni Mitchell Writes on Tables
n the mid-90’s, I worked in a restaurant on Melrose Avenue, in Los Angeles, as the day Bartender/Assistant Manager. I tended bar, seating customers while helping the wait staff with any problems. It was a fun place to work and the people I worked for were also a lot of fun. One of the cool things that happened there, was about once a week Joni Mitchell would come in to sit in our smoking section and have coffee. Sometimes she came alone and other times she would have company.
The two things that stand out with Joni; one is that she’s a great artist, even with a crayon. Clinton Street Café was one of those New York type of cafes that had butcher’s paper on the tables and supplied crayons so that you could draw if they wanted. Most times of the times that Joni stopped in, she would leave a real work of art; whether it was a portrait of the person she was eating with or a print of the restaurant across the street or a still life of the cappuccino she was drinking. The staff was under standing orders that the pictures were to be collected and then eventually displayed on the walls of the restaurant. The other thing was; she smoked like it was about to be outlawed (which, as you know, it was). The waiters and waitresses usually had to change her ashtray a couple of times during her stay.
This one afternoon there was just a single waitress on and this waitress wasn’t my favorite. Not because she was bad but she was a bit on the ditzy side. One incident stands out; during a previous lunch, another waitress alerted me that there was a homeless man asking our customers on the patio for money. Following the rules I was given, I went out and asked the guy to leave. He wouldn’t and then I told him to leave. The homeless man grabbed a customer’s cigarette package and danced away. I started to step over a low fence that designated our patio from the sidewalk, to recover the cigarettes. As I was stepping over the fence, my homeless friend swung at me. I attempted to block it but the ditzy waitress grabbed my arms, trying to break up the fight. The homeless guy got me with a free shot in the face, since I couldn’t protect myself. The ditzy waitress and I fell backwards and the homeless guy ran away. After I got up and apologized to the customer who lost his cigarettes, the ditzy waitress complained to my boss that I started the fight and then I knocked her down -- even though I was the only one who got hit. Fortunately, my boss wasn’t a fool and went with my version of the incident, maybe because I was the one with a bruise on my cheek.