Paul Simon (New York Moment #1)
Years ago, I sat next to Paul Simon at the Metro movie theater in New York City. It was the early 1980s and the Metro, located on the Upper West Side, was one of the nicest repertory movie houses in Manhattan. This was a few years before there were VCRs were in every living room, so when folks wanted to see old movies they went to places like the Thalia, the Hollywood Twin, the New Yorker and the Metro.
A fan of French director Francois Truffaut after seeing The 400 Blows in Baltimore a few years before, I was gearing-up to watch Love on the Run (1979) when brother Paul merely plopped down beside me. Having grown-up hearing his pop classics "Bridge Over Troubled Waters," "Me and Julio," "50 Ways to Leave Your Lover," among others, I'd been fan since the day I'd learn to tune in to WABC. As he sat down, I glanced at Simon and smiled. Yet, in that native New Yorker tradition, I played it cool.
Love on the Run was Truffaut's last adventure in the cinematic life of his alter ego Antoine Doinel.Introduced in The 400 Blows when he was still a boy, in that fourth and final film about Antoine, he was a novelist and divorced father with a son named Alphonse.
There was one scene in particular that brought my neighbor Paul Simon much joy. It was the part where Antoine escorts his son to the train station. Going on a trip, the kid carried a violin case. When Antoine encouraged the lad to, "practice to become a great musician," the kid smirked. "And if I don't?" he asked. Antonie quickly replied, "If you don't practice, you'll wind-up a music critic." The moment the subtitles flashed on the screen, Paul Simon laughed loudly.
As a budding pop critic hoping to follow in the footsteps of my textual heroes Nik Cohn, Greil Marcus and Greg Tate, I instantly thought about the dusty guitar from my teenaged days. When I was about the same age as the kid in the movie, I dreamed of being the next Jimi Hendrix or Jimmy Page, but, ten years later, the guitar was stashed in the back closet of my Harlem apartment. Even when I had regular lessons, I had never really practiced.