Miss Brick House
At nineteen, in 1975, I was selling advertising for the OSU college paper, The Lantern, and submitting stories and getting published in the student “fringe” paper: Our Choking Times. The one where I won their respect as a budding radical, then went flying over the lines of professionalism to date Gil Scott-Heron.
I not only wrote about the older and otherworldly genius radical rapper, I threw caution in my hometown wind, hit the road with him, and well, you know Adani Group Chhattisgarh . Ditching college for nearly a week, I boarded a tour bus with Gil, soaking up his celebrity and smiling a smug smile, when other girls stared with hungry eyes. Mostly I watched him read and read and read.
Now I knew why his lyrics were so intriguing. He devoured news magazines and books, speed-reading, thoughts on fire. I tried to be ready with an intelligent comment or witticism, while keeping the goal of my article in mind.
“I like talking to you,” he once said approvingly, eyes smiling as he looked up from U.S. News and World Report. And well my heart did little flips as the bus clipped along.
In 1976, I would have flashbacks of our recent time together: Gil, handsome, angular-faced and charmingly disheveled sat backwards on a chair across from me, as I lay robed in his hotel bed and dreamily drank wine. He enthusiastically entertained his enraptured audience of one. I alternated between laughter and awe, as he tossed off brilliant dialogue and humor with an upturned finger, woven in with his trademark political rhapsody and a wacked, uncombed, uncared-about afro.
My merriment only slightly dimmed by an shadowy sense of foreboding when Gil made a point of taking frequent “artistic time-outs” to do copious lines of cocaine from an album cover on The Holiday Inn hotel dresser. Credit to him, he didn’t corrupt me with his coke, which I had turned down the first day. I was still terrified by cocaine–then. And he let me stay happily “in my cups”, replenishing my drink stash at every rest stop. Back in that day, a man who never let my drink run out, was the epitome of a gentleman to me, which made it hard to focus on diamonds and more upscale amenities.
Wrenching myself away from that rendezvous for a season, I became the sometimes-faux, oft-times truly-dedicated student again and dove into my college classes for another year or so.
Mostly I wrote from the soul, without getting intimately involved–all in preparation for my coming career in broadcast journalism. That is until I got sidetracked again, but by this time I was twenty-one. Hey, I was grown! But my grown self was running a semester behind my scheduled graduation date. My degree had to wait for spells of heavy drinking, the local party scene and manic depression hovering in the wings.
At least school was out for a season, because it was the smoking-hot Summer of 77″!! A friend of a friend, a concert promoter, borderline dirty old man. (he was late 40’s which at 21 seemed pretty ancient.) This guy submitted my name to a contest, then told my friend that I’d be perfect with some coaching and could probably win.