‘You just keep me hanging on … ‘

Group consciousness in action? In the weeks after so many of us got back together for May’s Che Games at the Casbah (and the lovely Graveyard Park picnic that followed), I was struck by the number of references to Lou Reed’s “Perfect Day” dropped by attendees.

Never mind its post-“Trainspotting” ubiquity: “Perfect Day” remains a haunting paean to love and loss, as the narrator muses about a perfect day with a companion who made him feel like “someone else … Someone good.”

It’s also makes me think about the “perfect days” of our youth … And days that approach perfection now.

Can you tell us a day or two you remember from back then that seemed perfect? And have you had any perfect days recently you’d like to share?

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31 Responses to “‘You just keep me hanging on … ‘”

  1. Mmrothenberg Says:

    Then: Driving Dave Fleminger, Jeff Lucas and Jerry Cornelius to Tijuana in late spring 1983 for a day of shopping and eating was really boss. I’d just gotten to know the Answers, and it was just so much fun to do this mini-international road trip with them.

    1. Going to the drive-in movies in Muskegon, Mich., with my kids and their cousins.
    2. Spending the day visiting galleries in Chelsea with my wife, then going to our fave Mexican restaurant on St. Mark’s.
    3. Every day of the Che Games weekend was perfect.

  2. Robin Says:

    Then: I remember a perfect beach party on a night with a full moon. Dan Howland, Tammy West, Joyce something, a few other people. Sometime after midnight, when no one else was in sight, we took off all our clothes to go skinny dipping, laughing like children for hours.

    Now: Sunday we took our daughter to a party with a carousel ride, mini golf, boat ride around a lake. It all felt just like it did when I was 7.

    The first night I worked in a hypothermia shelter last December, people came in desperate. I thought one woman had two black eyes, but it was circles from being too scared to sleep. We served herbed chicken, twice-baked potatoes, salad, roast vegetables, and brownies. I played chamber music CDs and served chamomile tea at bedtime. I remember the looks on their faces when I assured them someone would be up all night watching over them and their stuff, that there would be eggs and orange juice for breakfast. When I walked through in the middle of the night, they all looked so peaceful and content in their sleep, tea cups next to their cots. That was the best I’ve ever felt.

  3. mcc Says:

    and deservedly so!

    robin, could you please list a handful of your favorite chamber-music cds? it’s come to be my favorite style of classical music and yet i’m so in the dark as to what comprises the essential works.
    any suggestions would be appreciated.

  4. Mmrothenberg Says:

    Mini-tangent: I didn’t include this version in the main post, ’cause it is kind of absurd on the face of it … But you know, speaking of guilty pleasures … There’s something about Pavarotti singing the chorus that’s both ridiculous and kind of affecting. I dunno. It’s weird.

    I laughed my ass off the first 10 times I watched this. It’s still pretty gonzo — why do I sort of, uhhhhhhhhhh … like it?

    Robin: You are rad.

  5. Bruce Injection Says:

    Worlds are colliding!!

  6. Mmrothenberg Says:

    Other perfect days (or bits of days) from then …

    • Hanging out at the shack in Cardiff with Hair Theatre and Fleminger and Dave Rives and other wonderful, mad people;
    • Playing acoustics with Jeff and Jerry at the Organ Pavilion;
    • Playing acoustics with Dave Ellison, Paul Brewin and Brian Phillips under the UCSD Sun God;
    • Visiting Paul Kaufman at UC Berkeley;
    • Any warm evening in Balboa Park …

    It’s hard to remember a whole day, you know? An event or occasion is easy — and if that event is lengthy enough, you’ve got a day!

  7. tony Suarez Says:

    Then: Swapmeet or thriftstore scoring. Going to shows and or parties. Balboa Park walkabouts with the blaster blaring (remember those Dean?)
    scooter rides during the heat. TJ trips or road trips up the coast with the friends.

    Now: The beach with the kid and wife. Thrifting with the wife (it doesn’t happen as often as it should). Staying cool in the pool from the heat. Sunday drives up the coast to beat the heat.
    It doesn’t take much on our end.

  8. louis damian Says:

    i thought i was
    someone else

    someone good

  9. louis damian Says:

    you guys really
    did make me forget myself
    way back then

  10. Mmrothenberg Says:

    Had a great run down to Tijuana with Louie and Paul Kaufman, I think … When Lou traded me a copy of “Coney Island Baby” for dinner at La Vuelta … That particular disc was to become real important to me in a way I can’t tell ya, but I know it’s mine …

    (“This We Swapped” would be a good subject!)

  11. Kristen Tobiason Says:

    That picture of you and I still makes me cry.

  12. Mmrothenberg Says:

    >>That picture of you and I still makes me cry.

    Kristen: It’s a great one. One of my all-time favorites. :-)

  13. Kristen Tobiason Says:

    * A day at Funland playing pinball with Paul Howland. Or at the Sear’s basement arcade, and then meeting Danny Howland at Topsy’s for coffee.

    * Evening discussions at the Florida street apartment, chatting with Jerry, Pat, Eric and a frequent Rick Wilson.

    * Limbo party on Tyler Street

    * Walking aboard the Starship Enterprise with Cricket Logan, his son Max, Bobby Lane, his son Sailor and my son Elijah. Beam me back there now!

    * And of course the Che reunion: especially the picnic. When Louis’ daughter sang “You set the Scene”, time stood still.

  14. Kristen Tobiason Says:

    >>Kristen: It’s a great one. One of my all-time favorites.

    You mean the hug, right?

  15. Mmrothenberg Says:

    >>You mean the hug, right?


  16. Robin Says:

    Clay: I can’t claim to know what comprises essential chamber music. In fact, it’s likely I’m inaccurately using the category in some cases. But, I’m happy to pass on some favorites:

    Telemann’s suite in G maj, sonatas, flute concerti
    Albinoni’s Concerto No. 2 in D min for oboe, strings, and continuo
    Handel’s English Concert
    Vivaldi’s Concerto for 4 violins in B min, Concerto for 2 trumpets in C maj
    Haydn’s Octet in F maj, string quartets (especially the Hungarian)
    Bach concerti
    Faure’s sonata in A maj for violin and piano

    bon appetit!

  17. ava Says:

    back then:

    me, jody, shawna and tamara going downtown to the thrift stores (and particularly the day where we found a cache of killer shoes at bargain center). we did this a lot. thrifting. it was our hobby. red barn, d.a.v, etc. i miss the 40’s clothes we could get for dirt cheap. i wish for most of my clothes from back then almost daily. the shoes, too.

    carl rusk, me, ron, shawna, maybe mike stax, in the suburban, touring town and stopping at presidio, down the street from carls house, to watch the sunset.

    riding on harrels/kesslers/stilinoviches/rings scooter on one of the many rallies from the summit to the ken, or from headquarters to kate sessions. i loved riding with those four. my favorite was kevins completely tricked out scoot, with all the mirrors. that thing was heavy! but cool as hell. marks swedish flag bretta. oh yeah. i liked being pals with the boys. they were good big brother subs.

    working on ZU with kelsey and brian. painting everything black. laughing our asses off over nothing. riding in kelseys postal truck. opening night of ZU.

    crash worship at che, sitting at the back and just watching the drummers. damn, those guys had serious syncopation. unreal.


    being with my son, doing something silly, or just chilling out. he’s awesome. truly.

    a day to myself in the city (lori takes over and she and hen hang), where i can sit and read, cafe style, solo, for hours. mmm…

    hiking in the park here in ashland. so many trails. it’s amazing. and maybe stopping at the peak to check the view. watching the birds, the deer, the flowers. i had a trio of deer, a mama and her two fawns, pass me on the trail a few weeks back. not two feet from me. it was like passing another human, only not. i love sharing the trail with animals. except for the baby bear i saw once. yeah, that was scary… where was mama, know what i mean? at any rate, trail hiking.

    sitting with megan on the beach in oregon, watching our sons play in a driftwood fort. THAT was a perfect day.

  18. mcc Says:

    wow robin….thanks!

    oooh…….even ava’s back!

    perfect day today.

  19. Kristen Tobiason Says:

    It was a perfect evening--
    of a picnic in graveyard park with friends and their children, a deep tissue massage, receiving an offer for freelance graphics work for some extra dough, and then emailing with a long lost dear friend.

    I’m so happy I’m going to go sleep like a baby.

  20. Kristen Tobiason Says:

    Ava, I remember you guys had amazing shoes. Later, Elaine & Trudy got jobs at Sasha’s of London.

  21. David Rinck Says:

    Anyday that I spent sitting on that old drainage pipe smoking cigarettes with Paul Howland and zenfully wondering what was gonna happen to us over the course of mad life that lay ahead…

  22. mcc Says:

    when my daughter tomi was not quite 3, she and i and our white-lab (?) mix…heaven would go down where now sits the palm ave trolley station….and i’d take this soccer-ball and kick it as high into the air as possible and watch heaven run and sit and wait for it to land just about on top of her…..and tomi would laugh and scream each and everytime this would happen and this would happen a lot.
    this was a basic ritual we’d do….those days just blur into a big timeless stretch of moment which even she remembers…..25 years later.

    that was kind of a scary neighborhood come to think of it….to have such perfect days.

  23. ava Says:

    kristen, we did. those shoes would fetch such prize cash now. unreal. they were all dead stock from a shop on university or something. the guy had a huge crate of them. i miss them like crazy. but, in all honesty, they probably went a long way in contributing to my unhappy feet now. pointy shoes and toes are NOT friends. lol

    sascha of london… o man. best. shoes. ever. after those bargain center jobbies. elaine got me a smoking deal on some knee high black suede boots that i have tried to find again since. laces, heels, butter soft.

    another perfect day back then: seth veitzer, me, karl irving, and ami stamets exploring the boundary street canyon and the streets nearby after dark. it was more like a perfect night. we watched the sun rise on the monkey bars at the elementary school. i wonder whatever happened to ami. she was cool. we were tight all through high school and then fell out. i think of her sometimes.

  24. kavik Says:

    Then: all the nights at the beach with a fire, guitars, friends, contemplating the mysteries and potentials.
    Now: Singing and dancing again at the che reunion to all those old favorite songs i didn’t even know I remembered so well, having all the energy and joy come flooding back was like a victory carrying the light across the hurdles and obstacles of time…and then seeing and hearing folks in the audience singing and dancing with Noise 292 as if, quite possibly others were experiencing it too! Sublime victory!

  25. Robin Says:

    Clay: My all-time favorite is Marais’ Bells of St. Genevieve.

  26. Robin Says:


  27. mcc Says:

    thank you robin….it looks very inviting and is on the way.
    i’ve already found and ordered the telemann suite in g maj in it’s entirey on cd some days ago….
    i’m just going to slowly go down the line.

  28. Mmrothenberg Says:

    The photomontage makes me laff:

  29. Jeremiah Cornelius Says:


    Regarding “Perfect Day” -- Jeff Lucas may remember me laughing my butt off at this song, as I realised Lou Reed’s reach for sentimentality made him sound exactly like Fred Rodgers. You could picture him untying his PF Flyers and changing out of his cardigan, as he crooned it.

    We’d decided that Lou Reed kind of was Mr. Rodgers -- just for a different neighbourhood.

  30. Mmrothenberg Says:

  31. Jeremiah Cornelius Says:

    That’s… Disturbing. :-)

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