Sunday, January 16, 2011

Deaf Eddy

One of my first real jobs in the early 70s was dishwashing at Duff’s Restaurant. I was turned onto the job by my buddy Dominic. The West End was just building its way back up from urban blight and normal people could still afford to live there.

Washington University/Barnes Hospital hadn’t bought all the property yet. I would end up having to move 4 times as they bought up apartments out from under me.

Dirty dishes were sent to the basement by dumbwaiter at Duff’s. It was a swamp down there. There was a huge walk-in cooler and employees would sneak in there to get stoned. I remember one dishwasher who worked totally naked except for a pair of fishing boots. The famous Bill Burgdorf washed dishes down there. He told me his book store had been raided because he sold the novel Candy. I never read it but the movie was pretty silly. Do they still ban certain books?

Bill and a small group of us were smoking a joint in the alley in back of the restaurant. I started talking about traveling four light years a second past stars. Someone else started talking about Viet Nam and war in general. Bill asked, “Can’t we get back to traveling four light years a second past stars?”

My friend David Parker said, “He should be ashamed of himself. I would never be a dish washer at his age!”

I was watching a sermon given by Reverend Larry Rice late one night on TV. Parker was seated in the audience. Knowing David was atheist I could only guess he was fighting the good fight for the poor. I knew he had been politically active.

Speaking of Larry Rice, the City of St. Louis was about to claim eminent domain and kick a bunch of old people out of a building in South St. Louis. Coincidentally, it was gospel group The Lester Family’s old recording studio where our band used to rehearse. I sent Rice a little money for their defense fund. Larry wrote me a long and interesting letter of thanks. It was stolen from me years later in a briefcase I used to carry.

We were at a birthday party for a friend last summer and Parker’s name came up. Someone said he was in a jail in Nicaragua. He never had any sense of tact. I can only imagine what he did. I remember someone drunkenly calling out, “Let’s bust him out!” I must’ve been drunk because I was ready to go.

My Christmas bonus was a gram of hash.

I can’t remember if I told this story. My manager was a gay warlock named Vance. The first time I met him he pulled a large kitchen knife on me and said, “Hey lover, how’d you like whisker burns on your butt hole?” We got to be great friends.

Dominic and I wrote our rock opera Webster Hangover in that basement. It opened with an instrumental called E Harmonics that was good enough to make it to our first LP. The guitar had to be tuned differently. I think John Steffen came up with it. He should have stayed in music!

One night I was dishwashing on acid and someone sent a rack filled with glasses down the dumbwaiter. They put the rack in upside down as a practical joke. When I pulled it out, glasses fell shattering everywhere. I lost it. “I’m not washing any more dishes,” I swore. My buddy Kent jumped in to take my place. From that day forward he worked there too.

As I left that night, I walked past a character standing in the darkness of a shop doorway. He was a very tall, very thin, black man dressed in a long purple coat with a purple hat that had a long feather. It was classic pimp drag of the day. He stood silently, looking knowingly at me. In my state I took it as some kind of omen.

Years later I would come to know him as Deaf Eddy. He was a really sweet guy who had gone to the Central Institute for the Deaf. It’s supposed to be one of the best Universities for the deaf.

He told me someone had pulled a knife and stabbed him that night.

I was bartending at the Broadway Oyster Bar one night in the 80s when an old girlfriend showed up with a bunch of her friends. They were really impressed that Eddy and I were having an intense conversation in sign language. Eddy taught me words like Busch, whiskey and fart. He told me there were bands he liked and bands he hated at the Oyster Bar. “How can you tell?” I asked. He could feel the vibrations of the music through the floorboards.

The last time I saw Eddy he was playing darts at 1860s Saloon in Soulard. His initials on the scoreboard were DE. Even he called himself Deaf Eddy.

Unfortunately I don’t have any photos of Eddy. The picture of my band Jon Cotton was taken in the early 70s at the time of my days at Duff’s. The band are Dominic, Benet, John Steffen, Jimmy Hill and me.


Tony Patti said...

David Parker and I had several urgent phone conversations more than a year ago from Nicaragua. He was somehow convinced that I was the key to soving his problems with the courts down there, that if I, a man of substance in the US, were to telephone the authorities and vouch for him, he would not have to go to jail.

The tricky part was figuring out what I could possible say to exonerate someone who I have known all my life is unstable and slightly untrustworthy.

After much wrangling, it came about that the charges were for sexually molesting his daughter, which he claimed were evil lies told by his horrible, evil ex-wife in order to rob him of his famous fortune. Besides, he was really drunk that night and couldn't remember anything that happened.

He didn't want to hire a US lawyer to help him out, and the Latin lawyer he hired wasn't really helping him, and it was all up to me to help him. In the end, the vague nature of his call for help, with the indeterminate action I was to take, call someone somewhere and convince them that a great guy like David couldn't do that, and anyway, he told me he was drunk that night and couldn't remember anything anyway, led me to tell him that I couldn't help him.

I felt bad about the whole thing, especially about my uncertainty that nothing bad had happened and that poor David was framed by his evil wife.

I have no idea what happened to poor David Parker after that.

Tony Patti said...

Anyone else?

Doggie said...

That's more than I have! When I left the apartment on Sidney Dominic moved in. I let him keep the phone service. Parker moved in with him and ran up a $500. 00 bill and then skipped out. I had to pay it!

Dominic said...

E Harmonix was mine.

Doggie said...

A masterpiece!!!!

Tracy said...

I wrote the bass note for Earmonix. Just joshing, writing that would take a very small sticky note. I remember David Parker, he taught me a few things like the phrase "hey baby, make like a hoover on my ying yang" and "knock knock. Who's there? Sam and Janet. Sam and Janet who? Sam and Janet evening..." also he taught me about "Smelly Dave" the great Bob and Ray character. From that point on I always called him Smelly. I imagine he is too...

Doggie said...

I thought it was "Make like a Hoover on my wing wang".

Tracy said...

You are correct Sir! it WAS wing wang! I'm glad we got that straight for posterior's sake!