Years ago while working at a Manhattan movie theatre, I discovered that one of the projectionists had been a guitarist for The Left Banke, a mostly-forgotten band of the 1960s responsible for the pop song “Walk Away Renee”.He had actually been kicked out of the group before that single, now a staple of oldies radio and supermarket Muzak stations, was recorded and the band hit it big. It doesn’t matter, since most people are unfamiliar with the name of the band, let alone its roster of musicians at any given moment during its heyday.I just thought it was neat to be working beside a one-time rock star.Now I wonder where were the more prominent members, such as Michael Brown and Steve Martin, at the time?Were they also integrated amongst unaware civilians like myself?
scene in the documentary New York Doll features the co-workers of Arthur
“Killer” Kane, once bassist for ‘70s punk band The New York Dolls, now employed
in a genealogy library run by The Church of Latter-Day Saints. Two elderly women maturely discuss their
relationship with Kane, telling how well he performs his job of filling copier
paper trays and how ignorant they are of his former life. Of course, he isn’t dolled-up with makeup,
hairspray and a striped leotard, as was the custom of his old job.He’s a cleaned-up Mormon, paying to the
Church 10% of his paycheck from the Los Angeles Family History Center.It is probably hard for them to imagine their
superbly mannered, conservatively dressed associate primping about on stage, basically
in drag, side by side with junky hedonists like Johnny Thunders.Later, rather surprisingly, the old ladies
transform into giddy schoolgirls when asked about whether they’d be his first
new groupies if he’s given a chance to perform again, something Kane’s
been praying for ever since finding religion.
If New York Doll shows anything
of substance, it is that former rock stars are walking among us.They have mundane dead-end jobs, attend AA
meetings and eat at popular restaurants without being bothered for
autographs.They are everywhere, and no
special glasses can help unmask them.But if you’re observant, you might just spot one in your local grocery: he is the guy suddenly paused and
sullen-looking, having just heard his band’s classic tune played over the
store’s speakers, and he’s weighing his current situation against his earlier
days in the limelight.