the punk meets the godfather



months later, I run into Tom at the same bar. He buys
me a drink, takes me to a secret room in the basement
where insiders smoke dope between sets. Curtiss A is
playing that night, we are both fascinated with him.
We are talking away about vinyl and writing and music
and life, then Curtiss A (The Man) and entourage enter
the room. Joints are passed around, I keep my cool
and wave ‘em off – the world is just not ready for a
peace, love, and understanding Billy T. The whole
time, Curtiss A sits across from me. He has an eye on
me; memorizes my face, size, position, posture. I
know, I just know, that he also has his eyes on
everyone else in the room, but especially on me the
outsider. He knows where each individual is and how
many steps every person is from him. I have gotten
that feeling any time I have been in the same bar as


Later, upstairs, the pretty girl says “somebody should
write a book about him.” Tom and I exchange wary
glances. Through the whole conversation, we have
been barely containing our enthusiasm over the Curtiss
A Mystique. “Yeah…” Tom says, “I think we’ve all
thought about that…”


It’s the end of the second set. Curtiss A comes over to
the bar where we’re standing. Tom says hey Curtiss,
this is Bill Tuomala from Exiled on Main Street
. I stick
out my hand and say “hi Curt” and immediately
wonder if people call him “Curt.” He says “yeah, I’ve
seen you around.” I mean to say yeah I’ve seen you
around South Minneapolis now and then
, but it comes
out: “Yeah, I’ve seen you around too.” He is towering
over me and he chuckles.


But the chuckle is not a guffaw – the chuckle is: Of
course you’ve seen me around. I’M CURTISS A