The high view, then and now.

J.V. and I stood on the roof of a small college in 1980 Texas because we were waiting, and because it was an interesting roof. The roof was covered with all kinds of different levels and parapets and porticos. We were waiting for a concert. A famous trombone player had spent the last two days rehearsing with our band, and would be performing with us later that evening.

The first thing we discovered up there was that the main roof was criss-crossed with small work paths. The second was that beer tasted better with our feet hanging over the edge.

One of my teachers that year was a very athletic seventy-two year old New Yorker, who used to laugh at me for doing push-ups in my practice room. I thought they were a good break from the music I was rehearsing. He said a break is fine, but no one cares that an nineteen year old can do push-ups. Much more impressive in your seventies (laugh).

MTV hadn’t launched yet, but would not have covered our work. Jimmy Carter was just wrapping up his set at the White House. None of us had any children and New York was still just New York. The list of things I thought I didn’t understand was much shorter. There was also another list.

We all have our own wish list. Mine included the opportunity to shop for groceries, without counting the cost of each item before placing it in the cart. Seeing Margaret naked, the red headed piano player, who was always dating thirty or forty somethings. I was already married so it didn’t really matter anyway. And last, a place to think. I have always preferred to stop and think for a minute before answering questions. There is a vast group of people who are offended by this practice.

That’s another reason that roof was so cool. It was a place to see and think, without the distraction of someone staring at you and saying, “Well, are you just going to stand there all day or are you going to say something? What are you thinking about that is so important?”

The drones start flying in 90 days. The rooftops are now closed. The illusion of privacy is getting harder and harder to hold.


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