Sunday, January 04, 2009

Happy Birthday, Danger Man

Today is my friend Steven's birthday, a man I've known since college years. We met in a record shop in Georgetown, standing in the same aisle. He started asking me about an album that was in the cutout bin. Did I know anything about it? I did. He was just getting ready that weekend to become a dj on a local college radio station, and we sat that afternoon in his basement apartment, making up a songlist for the three hours he would be on the air. He still has that notebook of that show and other shows.

Steven told me everything back then. Everything. More than I wanted to know. He used to call me his "priest" with a vow of silence on his love life, much like Seinfeld's "vault." With my elephant memory, I do dredge up a story or two now to needle him with on the telephone. He laughs and says, "Now, now. That wild youth is staid responsibility. Back in our college days, he always wore this old beat-up brown leather coat with a leather belt. He made women laugh, and trust me, laughter goes far with women.

He had spent part of his youth living in Lahore, Pakistan and he wore a Sikh bracelet (still does, never takes it off.) and he had this whole childhood thing about "Danger Man." It had been a British drama show in the sixties, Steve grew up in Pakistan with an international group of children that brought odd ideas and expressions into their play. I know one inside joke he played out with his Sarajevo born friend, Sven, was "dangermen" (said heavily accented.) They used the expression a lot acting out all these childish dramas and over time it became an insider joke.

It seemed like Steve always needed to be outside the norm. He idolized Henry Miller's tramp existence in Paris: the poverty, the womanizing, the liberation from being pigeonholed. He ran wild. There was a tuck shop across the street from the campus, run by an older couple, and I remember Steve going in there once and stealing a snack bag of peanuts. The old lady approached him and said, "I saw what you did," and he punched his finger in the pocket of his jacket, like he had a gun, and he said, "You see this? You report this, and I will come back and get you." It sounds crazy repeating this now, but there was this whole persona of being politicially uncorrect and "not hip" about Steve because he was somehow beyond hip: an outlaw. He snuck into the women's dorm and created a lock down with security guards chasing him on every floor. He got away. Let others listen to the Grateful Dead. He could discourse for hours on the Ultimate Spinach's "Hip Death Goddess" or a rare "B" side of a Joe Meek production only released in the U.K.

For years he would do a "Pak" accent and carry on these dialogues about "berry good" and pretending to be an immigrant doofus in D.C. I decided to go back to this youth when I made his birthday card. I chose a colored paper quite literally the color of rich golden brown curry powder. On the front I printing out in Algerian font "┬┐Who Is...?" and then a cut out of the opening screen of Danger Man (a great black and white shot with the Capitol in it.) Inside was a picture of an old protesting Pak man being carried through the streets of Lahore with his glasses opaquely glaring in the sun and his raised fist, and opposite I wrote, "Carry on Danger Man....or Be Carried." The envelope was the same paper, and on the back I had a spy silouette as a seal.

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Blogger Kate said...

How could he not love this?


10:45 PM  
Blogger Daybook 2009 said...

Kate: Never heard a peep out of him. Oh well.

11:39 PM  
Blogger Cheryl Cato said...

Great blog & love the card... it is "berry goot".

9:56 AM  
Blogger Hammer said...

Your cards are personalized masterworks, Miss Cube, and I count myself as honored indeed to have had a couple of them hurled in my direction over the last couple years.

Stay thoughtful & upbeat, ya hear?

5:15 PM  

I dont like any of you !

9:17 AM  
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6:15 AM  

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