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Rich: I've been off the list for years, but was here in the very early days.
|Image © Susan J. Michael 2005|
You probably know that Joni spoke tonight at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco. I was one of the lucky ones who got a premium seat, which meant I got to get into the reception with Joni after the event.
She was charming and graceful and thoughtful during the interview. When she
came into the reception, I was hesitant to push my way towards the front of
the line. A few friends encouraged me and I perservered. I brought a copy
of the catalogue from the Mendel Gallery exhibition with me. She signed it
to me with"good tears".
I have to admit, I got all choked up when I finally got to speak with her.
My eyes welled up with tears. I thanked her for all the joy she had given
me throughout my life. And then I hugged her. And she hugged me. And I
hugged her again. And she hugged me. And I kissed her (twice!). And she
said something lovely to me about men who were able to shed tears. I was
(and still am) ferklempt.
She was so warm, open, and loving. And generous and kind. I have to pinch
myself to believe that this really happened.
Darice, Julius, and Kakki were there as well so I'm sure you'll here some
other reports about the presentation. It was the first time in years that I
had been with other jmdlers other than Darice. It was a very special and
A news bulletin from the reception: she said that she would love to record
some of her songs again with a live jazz trio --especially some of her old
partners. I'm too exhausted to think for now (I flew back from Denver today
just to make it to this event.) I know she mentioned Lyle Mays --- maybe
you can help me fill in the rest as I'm fading.
I'm here briefly again for a while. Just wanted to check in with some old
friends, particularly Les, to share tonight's lovely experience with you.
|Image © Susan J. Michael 2005|
Julius: What a night in The City! Joni's talk at the Commonwealth club was a one in a million chance of a lifetime, and I feel so blessed to have
been so up close and personal with Our Lady of Duality. I've been
speechless. My apologies for taking so long to post this report. I'm
floating down now, gently, from the clouds...
Whatever my lofty impressions of her were before I met her, she far
exceeded them. She's personable, sensual and ever so down to Earth.
And to my eyes, she's as beautiful as ever.
I'm amazed at my good fortune! I had befriended the usher at the
auditorium door where Kakki, Darice and I had entered the 200 or so
seat auditorium. He's a good-natured, tall lanky kid with braces. I
had left the room a couple of times during Joni's talk to have another
glass of wine or use the restroom. The first time I left the room, I
almost tripped over the long legs of San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsome.
They had seated him outside the open auditorium door, I guess because
there wasn't an empty seat to be found inside. On returning I pointed
to the mayor and said to the kid "Gavin Newsome, wethead." On account
of His Honor's slicked-back coif. The kid giggled hysterically beneath
his breath. The next time I re-entered, I asked the usher for *his*
ticket. He laughed.
Anyway, after Joni's presentation in the main hall, Kakki Darice and I
sipped on wine and chatted with JMDLer Rich Newirth, who I had met back
in '98 at a pre-party MG and I hosted in San Jose before the Joni's
concert with Van Morrison and Bob Dylan. Rich was in the company of
two of SF's most illustrious luminaries: Leah Garchick, who had
written the column that Les posted here announcing Joni's appearance,
and uber party planner of the world and art-god, Stanlee Gatti.
Rich and his friends were getting ready to enter the reception, and we,
the premium-ticketless, were just hoping to get a moment with Joni
before she entered this, the only door into the reception area.
|Image © Susan J. Michael 2005|
I felt a tap on my shoulder...it was the usher kid. He pulled me
aside. He said, "Sir, you said you wanted to speak to Joni Mitchell?
She's waiting over there by the elevator. Better hurry."
I excused myself and walked briskly in the direction he pointed to. I
made a left turn down the hall, but I didn't see her. Kid runs up
behind me and says "No, over there!" Pointing to another hall. This
time I ran the few yards distance.
I turned the corner and there she was, with the gentleman who had
escorted her to the podium and and a Commonwealth usher-type person. I
gathered myself and walked up to them. Just then the elevator door
opened and they all got in. I looked in as the door was closing and
said "Joan!" With the door closing she said, "You want to get in
here?" I said "sure!" and tomahawk chopped my arm into the now 2 inch
wide crack I was looking at Joni through.
I sent up my prayer: "Lord, take the arm, but please let me on this
elevator..." And the door parted.
I walked in and was face-to-face with Joni Mitchell in a 4x4 foot
elevator. I didn't waste time. I told her how much I adored her, how
I had everything she'd ever done, I mentioned the JMDL... I could feel
beads of nervous perspiration forming on my brow. Joni was looking
straight into my eyes, listening intently to my every word. Then she
reached up, and with her bare hand, she wiped the moisture from my brow
and said "Awww..." If you've never seen a black man blush, this was a
It was then that she saw the ruby in my ear. She smiled so sweetly,
then she took my face in both her hands and kissed me. My knees went
weak, but I had come for conversation, too, so I started talking:
Me: "Joan, will you be going to the Centennial in Saskatoon?"
Joni: "Well, yes, but I won't be performing"
Me: "Joni, will you ever sing again?"
Joni: "I'll be doing one song at a children's event, but I don't
haven't any plans beyond that right now."
Me: "Oh Joan, can I have a painting!?"
Joni: She looked me in the eye, and for a moment, actually considered
Just then the elevator door opened and the gentleman was literally
dragging her away. After all, the Premium ticket patrons were waiting
upstairs and she hadn't even had her cigarette yet, which was in her
Joni said: "I have some prints..." and at that I started following her
to see 'em! She said: "Not *with* me silly. Goodbye..."
Paz says I should've asked if I could smoke to with her, but that
thought didn't occur to me just then.
I still can't believe it happened. It thought about that letter Jimi
Hendrix had written gushing after Joni kissed had him and now I knew
his joy first hand. Not to compare myself to Hendrix really, mind you.
The usher snapped one photo for me of us together. I posted it on the
Northeast Jonifest Yahoo site, but if you want to see it and can't
access it there, I'll email it to you at your request.
I should point out, while it may appear that I'm choking Joni Mitchell,
I am most certainly not. I had my arms around her just as I saw the
light indicating the shutter was about to snap, and like an overgrown
newborn baby, or an ardent admirer who had taken temporary leave of his
senses, I involuntarily clutched her beaded necklace...and she just let
Sorry for going on and on...but I know you understand.
She IS Queen Undisputed Of Mind Beauty.
After the event Darice, Julius and I were standing around
and the young kid usher with the braces came up and tapped Julius to come
with him. I said to Darice "oh oh this is IT." Awhile later Julius
reappeared by our side slightly hyperventilating with a huge smile and tears
streaming down his face. He was in complete euphoric meltdown! I heard
Julius's recount of the encounter several more times throughout that night
(I understand how it is when it's your first time meeting Joni ;-)
I'm so glad Julius invited me up for the event and also took me all around
the city and wine country during my stay. It was fantastic. Thank you SO
much Julius for everything. It was great to get together with Darice and
sweet to see Rich again and to hear of his own Joni encounter. It was also
cool to see some of the S.F. luminaries in the crowd.
The event was recorded and we are hoping that the Commonwealth Club will
have it up on their web site sometime soon.
I brought an old digital recorder that didn't work too well but did manage
to capture the second half. When I have more time, I may transcribe a bit
of my favorite parts here.
Joni had her hair up in a tight chignon with curly bangs framing her face.
She looked like a bit like a Gibson Girl from the early 1900s - very
Edwardian era. She spoke about the medicine wheel, the weaknesses of
"western thought," read the letter from Chief Seattle (and did qualify that
some think it is fictitious) and told the story of bringing Iron Eyes Cody
home from the Indian artifacts show to record on Lakota. She spoke of many
other subjects, including her thoughts toward the music industry (very
negative as can be expected) and a few delightful reminiscences of childhood
experiences with the natural places of beauty around Saskatchewan (my
favorite part). She also mentioned a couple times about the countdown
clocks at the Hard Rock Cafe in L.A. that count how many trees are being cut
down and how many people are being born.
The audience was given cards on which to write questions for her. Only a
few got asked. Julius wrote a question asking where the lost tapes of her
and Jimi Hendrix were - LOL - unfortunately, that one was not answered.
Deb asked about the old Mexican restaurant in L.A. where her friend heard
that Joni hangs out. The only one I can think of is Lucy's Cantina on
Melrose across from Paramount Studios. This is where nearly every musician
from the 60s and 70s hung out (Lucy fed a lot of them for free when their
money was short). There are tons of notes and photos from everyone on the
walls. It was the place Linda Ronstadt and former Governor Jerry Brown used
to hold court when they were dating. Jimmy Webb also immortalized it in the
song that Linda recorded - "Adios." "Ran away from home when I was
seventeen, to be with you on the California coast, drinking margaritas all
night in the old cantina, out on the California coast." Lucy's is a
landmark worth visting.