Heroes: A communiqué
By Patti Smith
I had the fortunes with me. 10/20. rimbaud's birthday. I was in koln. so were the several young and lusty terrorists. the tone of the country was meditative, metallic. west germany had an extreme distaste for overt military tactics. murder. hi-jack. the need for counter militia was an embarrassment for the new middle class as well as detrimental to the tourist trade.
the customs official found my sunglasses offensive. italian bodyguard shades. lying on the table with my keys and kools they seemed to take on the flesh of a dangerous drug. i refused to part with them and soon hit the streets with an armed escort. there was no one around save servicemen and teenagers. i arrived at galerie veith turske late greasy and mean.
one of the boys followed us. his name was dominique. he sat across from me in the music room. i imagined cradling him. picking him up and drawing him in. he had all the motion of a twelve-year-old girl. the perverse sensuality of innocence.
another boy came in. he was older and very cute. maybe around 22 and very eager. he had an offering in a wax bag. he said it was the new Bowie album. i was very happy. i was nervous and alien in this town and the record was a connection. it was also his contribution toward the raising of souls in this domestic domain.
i asked Dominique to display his drugs. he unrolled what he had from a piece of grey felt lined in smooth rubber tubing. it was green devil and very sticky. he divided the drug. i was given twice as much. i took this as a token of respect and did not protest. veith came in with hash and alcohol. he also brought an exotic dessert composed of the foam of various liquors whipped with egg yolk.
boy-2 put side 1 on. i had difficulty focusing. being among others I was unable to relax and submit into a groove of total aural adventure. it was also impossible to glitter and obliterate before a trio of languorous young men.
i was expecting a thrill though. since young americans i have been a quiet yet ecstatic fan. station to station inspired radio ethiopia. message units are sprayed liberally between the buds of poppies. when low hit i was in a period of disgrace. of total immobility. low. the fall and potential rising of thomas jerome newton. the soundtrack of Bowie's escape into film. a backdrop for months of head-motion. low provided a state of connective id-mutual non-action. of dream and beyond into creation. a stiff neck person can indeed inter/enter the wrath of the creator. and so I was remembering. i was sliding into the dark backward. revisiting all the carnal landscapes of the bruised interior.
the boys were discussing Bowie's pronunciations. in koln heroes is sung in sectioned german. i asked them what they thought of Bowie's interpretation. they said it was not rock n roll. it was cabaret.
behind my shades i can imagine him. there in berlin. in the abandoned section. i imagine him stumbling thru old boxes and props in the street. i imagine him in love with the whole world or totally dead.
i imagine the last show of thomas jerome newton escaping into life. we are interrupted by a profile. bowie-the-neo-somnambulist enters the atelier of hugo ball.
he is the angels of kandinsky. he is the incredibly spiritual phony. a member of a most expiring race - an actor. specifically designed for the silent screen. One w/the conceit and innocence of the true silent actor.
in sons of the silent age he is the metropolis valentino- very mythic very manic and very misunderstood. harmonious gossip resounds. everyone is murmuring german. i get some kind of anger/anguish out of blackout. dehumanised speed of the japanese laborer. we can't compete we just get wiped out. i think of my mom losing her job in a factory cause the japs do it faster. i think of transistor you can get for only seven dollars that really works made in japan.
his new work is not immediately accessible but neither was exile on main street. beauty and the beast is a shock that is eventually absorbed into shining acceptance. joe the lion is startling too and stretched out by some great guitar. it takes some time to get under the skin.
records sound different in europe. i think the turntables are faster. theres more treble. i couldn't enter into V-2 schneider the way I wanted to. not til much later when i came home. i got off the plane and went downtown and brought the record. i wanted to keep the feel of being in transit. new york-koln. i don't usually buy a record unless I'm in love (stones) or in a state of hot suspense (idiot).
i listened to the record for 72 hours. day and night. watching tv and in my sleep. like station to station and low, heroes is a cryptic product of a high order of intelligence. committed to survival. the rhythum tracks are intel-disco. lysis-discos. the disintegration of brain into lingua into pulse of rhythum. high east coast wherein all the musician play w/grace and taste.
the title song is wonderful. it exposes us to our most precious and private dilemma. he has captured in this song that desperate moment when one will die for love. the track is pure. i am waiting for my man. but i love that song too and what we love we love repeated. the lyrics are really beautiful. one falls in love and gets lost in its swirl. one projects far aware and across the boundaries of space and placement. we are in dream alive. we are not planets away but seperated by a room or a wall of wire. thats all.
heroes is the theme song for every great movie. made remade or yet to come. we the living. we are the girl in a torn wedding dress escaping thru wire into the crown of a bullet. we are the soldier blowing kisses from the back of a train.we are drunk and raging and kneeling in/time in a dead hotel room. we are the heroes of rimbaud's poem royalty. 2 people mystically colliding.
En effet ils furent rois toute une matinee....
morning in koln, side 2 is still on. sometimes we are the victim of the senseless anxiety accompanied with sense of doubt. man desires the immediacy of sense in/life. he stalks the stars like alien candles. birthday scars and scars of truth and immortal love. man desires to drift shamelessly into the realm of beauty. in the garden the birds chirp. the garden imprisons an egg which encases the breath of a quivering question. the question mark becomes the curve of a saxophone. Bowie is going to bend and pucker and blow like the pusher (pierre clemente) of steppenwolf. instinctive as to beauty down and thru a cellar of noise into a relaxed system of notes and merge with the actor he truly is.
the boys of koln cut out. the younger stayed longer. he had passion for MC5. he was going to quit school and play guitar all day. secret life came on. i was packing for america. he was telling me how it felt when he plugged in and connected with his weapon. he was saying a lot of stuff and i was thinking about heroes. find them where they're sleeping. know them where they lie. deep in another system. deep in the heart and motor of the most despised cities in the world.
Hit Parader, April 1978