Uptown Rantz

Don't Wanna Be No Uptown Fool

What Was Your Chuck Berry Moment?

Cheney lives in the type of place where you’d always expect there to be left over Chinese food in the fridge and lots of Diet Pepsi. There’s not. I opened the refrigerator to see a carton of eggs, a packet of tortilla shells, Brita water filter, three green apples and assorted jars of almost empty condiments with that crusty stuff around the lids. I put the 12-pack of Coors bottles on the bottom shelf, grabbed two and walked into the living area of her studio.

“Ever had a Chuck Berry moment?” I asked, handing Cheney one of the bottles.

“I met Chuck Berry once, you know, when I was interning at Nylon Magazine,” Cheney bragged and took the gum from her mouth, sticking it to the side of the bottle. “I showed up to work and he was waiting to meet with one of the photographers about a shoot. He was by himself. That was my Chuck Berry moment.”

I sat down on Cheney’s unmade bed – the only furniture in her studio. No frame, just a box spring and a mattress. “That’s not what I meant. And how can you have a desk but no chair for it?”

“I had a chair for it but it gave me f’ing writer’s block, so I threw it away. What’s a Chuck Berry moment then?” She tilted her head back to take a beer swig and maintained eye contact with me, waiting for an answer with her legs dangling from her desk, swinging back and forth.

I reclined on her bed, which smelled like perfume, holding the beer on my chest. “Keith Richards described the moment he saw Chuck Berry on television for the first time as his life going from black-and-white to Technicolor.  He knew from that point on what he was going to do with his life. I wish I had that one striking moment of vocational clarity.”

I stared at the ceiling and began peeling the label from the bottle, searching my memory bank for a Chuck Berry moment. I had nothing.

“Jesus…that would be nice,” Cheney sighed, stared at the floor and played with the crucifix pendant hanging from her neck – no doubt searching her memory bank for a Chuck Berry moment. She had nothing.


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