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jimi-headstone

PRE-SCRIPT: I dedicate this one to Ana for so nicely asking where my writing went the other night. This goes way, way back to the very late 80s, before cell phones and Google and Maps on a phone. This is also dedicated to Ken Brock –RIP my friend, gone way too soon. What a crazy fun night this was a long, long time ago. I wrote this then and have tried to keep my current, old LA self from polishing and politng my 30 something NY self.

I flew into Seattle on a Wednesday courtesy of a free trip from Customs. I met two of the usual Custom cohorts.   I so wish I could remember who the other one was. We went out to dinner. All through the flight from LA and half way through dinner, I kept getting this nagging thought that I was forgetting something. “That’s IT, I yelled in the corner booth at Charlie’s, a little place in the Capital Hills corner of the city. My friends jumped and said what?? What’s it?? Jimi’s here, I said, man I gotta find him. What the hell are you ravin’ about they asked? Jimi! He’s here. He’s buried here. Hurry up and eat, we gotta find ‘im. All of a sudden my brain closed down. Where is he buried? I’d read countless books and articles on him but I just couldn’t remember what cemetery he’s in.

Will there be anything else, this Seattle waitress says to me. Yeah, do you know where Jimi’s grave is? Ah well I think it’s Queen something Cemetery, but I ain’t sure. Could you ask the cook or any of the other help I say? So she did. She asked the cook, the dishwasher and a bunch of guys in the back of the bar she called the trivia experts. Personally, I didn’t see anything trivial about it. Ok, it’s Volunteer Park, definitely Volunteer Park, she volunteered. It’s where Bruce Lee is too. It’s a cemetery at the north end of the park. I didn’t know Bruce Lee was dead says my friend. Well he is and apparently he is there too. We got the directions. Written on a piece of paper with a pen- amazing, right? I now have us riding around this cemetery looking for a headstone shaped like a guitar. Ok so I have a little trouble processing information correctly sometimes. Round and round the graves we went but no cigar- or in this case- guitar. Quick, stop, there’s a man over there that looks like he spends a lot of time here let me ask him. Excuse me, come here a second, do you know where Jimi’s buried? The poor old man jumped ten feet. No, ah no I don’t and he turned and went back to pickin’ the dead flowers off the grave.

This was useless. I had to find out if he’s really here. It was 8pm at night or day actually since it was Seattle in June. The office to the cemetery was closed. Let’s get outta here but stop at a phone booth I tell my driver. We stopped a few blocks away; I jumped outta the car, a couple of quarters in hand and head for the phone booth.   I put the receiver to my ear and nearly did a Vincent Van Gogh. The top portion was cracked off. Damn it! Guys, there’s a bookstore over there, meet me in front of it. I’ll get one of the books about Jimi and look up to make sure this is the right grave park.

Hi, do you have a book on Jimi Hendrix. Wait, let me take a look. Dylan, Morrison, Beatles, Bruce. Nope, sorry no book on Jimi Hendrix. How could you not have one I said, I guess a bit too loudly cause the guy looked scared. I don’t believe this. This is Seattle. How the hell could there be no book on him. Ok, do you know where he’s buried? The guy looks like he’s in pain as he’s trying to wrack his brain. Uh ah, geez, I can’t remember. He just got a post-humous award a few months ago and there was an article in the paper but no, sorry I really can’t remember. Well, who the hell in this town would know. Try the record stores, maybe they would know. Newspapers!! That’s it. I had to find a phone booth-again. Guys gimme all your quarters quick. Hello, information, yeah I need the phone number to one of your newspapers here- any one and oh by the way would you know where Jimi’s buried? No, Sir, I don’t she says. So much for information! Seattle Times, could you tell me where Jimi’s buried? Sorry you’ll have to call 448-4537 maybe they can help you. Is anyone there now? I don’t know. Do you think maybe you could peek over the divider and let me know? Oh never mind. I called the number. No answer. I called the public library. No answer. I ran back to the car. I passed a guy on the street and asked him. He looked old enough. He just shook his head and laughed at me. Well that was better than the wrong answer.

 POST SCRIPT: And that’s where I ended that story all those years ago. I never did find the grave that night. We went back to the hotel and I did find out he was buried in his hometown of Renton and so we visited his grave the next night I think after work.  It was drizzling I remember that much. I never wrote about it though at the time.   I also visited Jim Morrison’s grave in Paris a few years later.  I love cemeteries.  Writing this out now took me back to such a crazy fun filled night with two great Customs traveling partners. Unfortunately I can’t ask one and I can’t remember the other.