There's a news story about a guy who has just awoken from a coma that began on July 13, 1984. Apparently, the guy is talking a blue streak, and he still thinks Ronald Reagan is president. This made me decide to play a game, "What If I Was In A Coma?" The idea here is that everything is still 1984 to me ... the Reagan thingie is the example of what I mean. What needs to be explained to me, to get me up to speed?
Well, first the whole president thing needs explication. I went into a coma in July of '84, just like the guy in the story. I don't know how that '84 election turned out ... Reagan took every state but one from Mondale ... then the Vice-President, Bush, became president, but he lost in '92 to a Democrat who stuck around for 8 years, and now we've got Bush again, only this time it's the old guy's son.
There's no more Berlin Wall. There's no more Princess Di. There's no more World Trade Center.
But Bob Hope is still alive.
When I went into a coma, the Giants were the worst team in baseball. On July 13, 1984, they lost both ends of a doubleheader with the Pirates. Among the players for the Giants that day were Mike Krukow and Duane Kuiper ... sorry, Steven, they don't play anymore, they are the Giants' announcers ... Dusty Baker and Bob Brenly ... sorry, Steven, they don't play anymore, Dusty managed the Giants to the World Series last year, Brenly managed the D-Backs to a World Series championship awhile back ... and Johnny Rabb ... sorry, Steven, I have no idea whatever happened to him.
When I went into a coma, the #1 song in the country was "When Doves Cry" by Prince. Prince is still around, but he changed his name a few times, but now he's Prince again. Steven, if you want to catch up with all the great music Prince has made in the last 19 years ... well, here's Sign o' the Times, now you're caught up. Oh, and that guy you love, Bruce Springsteen, who was touring behind Born in the USA when you went into a coma? He is still around, still respected, still playing monumental concerts. No one in the band has died yet.
Those Oscars you watched a coupla months before you went into a coma? The ones hosted by Johnny Carson? He's not on teevee anymore, but he's not dead, either. That guy Steve Martin you remember from Saturday Night Live is the host now. Oh yeah, SNL is still on, but lots of the old stars you remember are dead.
The teevee shows you remember, like Dallas and Dynasty and Knot's Landing? They're not on anymore, but we still have shows like them. There's this one, called The Sopranos ... oh, BTW, you can say "fuck" on teevee, now. And Mr. T from The A Team became a cult icon since you went into a coma.
That DJ on KALX, Dr. Frank? He and some other locals formed a band, the Mr. T Experience. They're still around. Dr. Frank might actually be reading this ... hey Frank, say hi to Steven, he just came out of a coma and thinks you're about to bust into "Green Eggs and Ham" ... Dr. Frank has this thing we call a blog, it's a good one even though you won't agree with a lot of what you read there. He's a great writer:
One of the strangest and most powerful things about the singer-songwriter/audience relationship is this disconnected but oddly genuine-seeming intimacy you can feel towards someone you don't actually know. I know from the experience of being on the other end of it that this intimate "knowledge" of another tends to be inaccurate, sometimes wildly so. Knowing a person in person just happens naturally, while knowing someone through their songs takes some work and diligence, and there's no real way of knowing whether any inferences you make or impressions you get about the real guy are true. It doesn't matter whether or not they are, really. I can hear Bob Mould's often cryptic or buried lyrics, feel genuinely moved by them and try to explore why; in the process I may learn something about him, or I may not. His songs have meant something to me, so I feel this sort of affection not just for the songs but for him personally, which is the most natural thing in the world, but which is in a way kind of turning the concept of "affection" on its head. What I'm getting at is, it's not the same as a real relationship with a real person. But it can sure feel a lot like one.
Your family is fine, Steven. Robin is as terrific as you remember. Your kids are grown now ... Neal got married last year to a woman named Sonia, Sara just graduated from San Francisco State. The other night, we had a bunch of friends over for dinner ... there was Jillian and Doug, and Charlie and Kim and Skylar ... but you don't know any of those people, so you don't know what you've missed, but you've missed a lot.
Oh, and while you were in a coma, you quit your job in the factory, went to a couple of local junior colleges, wrote a sappy story about your grandmother that got published, you got paid for that computer program you wrote, you took several writing classes, you transferred to Cal, you got a B.A. in American Studies, you went to graduate school and got a doctorate in English, you've had several other things you wrote published, you've done some writing about baseball, you've taught English and American Studies and Humanities and Mass Communications at three different institutions of higher learning, you've had your 30th wedding anniversary, you've met Gregory Peck (he's dead now), you take a dozen meds a day, you just turned 50, and you're about to be unemployed. You have a great life, but you don't know it, because you've been in a coma. Welcome back.