December 23, 2002

I wanna tell you a story about the too-soon-departed Joe Strummer.

My (and my pal Mike's) friend Dave is a big Clash and Strummer fan. Collector of editions type guy. Loves it, introduced me to "The Last Gang in Town", he and I caught the last two performances by Joe and his band here in Chicago.

So a few months ago a friend of his in NYC is moving, and his buddies put on a big shindig for this friend. Because Dave is self-employed and in the midst of some project, he was unable to attend. Not that his buddies didn't try to put the screws to him. "C'mon, Dave! You have to attend! It'll be a whole weekend thing, we're gonna go see Joe Strummer play one night, drink a lot, etc. We gotta show off in style, and you HAVE to be there!"

But Dave can't make it. Work is a harsh taskmaster in our capitalist society.

So he stays here in Chicago, and his buddies whoop it up in NYC. That weekend they're wandering around in the St Marks area, scoping out the stores. They pop into a little record store down there, and who should be flipping through the vinyl but Joe Strummer himself.

So they approach him and say "Joe, Mr Strummer, er. Look, we have this friend Dave, and he's a huge fan..." And they did embellish a bit. "He introduced us to the Clash. He's really a big fan." And they get to the point. "Do you think we could ask you to sign an autograph for him?"

Joe's a gentleman. "Of course. You have anything to write on?"

A mad scramble ensues. Joe has a sharpie on hand (always be prepared), but no paper. Dave's pals don't have any either. They look around.

"Hold on!" says Joe. "We'll get him a card."

And so Joe Strummer goes tearing out of the record shop, across the street to some sort of card shop with post cards. Dave pals are running behind Joe trying to keep up.

Joe proceeds to flip through the poscard rack. "No, no. This is no good. This one? No, not that. Hm. Aha!"

Joe picks out a card. He won't let Dave's friends pay for it. They try, but he's not having any of it.

Opens the sharpie. It won't write!

Plays with the pen a bit, gets the ink to flow. Signs the card, something like:

"To Dave. Keep spreading the word. Joe Strummer"

Dave's friends send Dave the card. It's obviously a prized possession, not least because the guy who signed it was not just a great musician, a great writer, but he was totally a class act.

Joe, we're gonna miss you, more than you'd ever know.

Posted by esinclai at December 23, 2002 01:09 PM |

I can't believe St. Mark's dinna have a Clash record!

Never saw Strummer live or the Clash either, drag.

Posted by: mike on December 23, 2002 02:32 PM

2001 & 2002 have been harsh. Joey, Dee Dee and now Joe. The two greatest punk bands are gone and now can not come back. Makes me feel old.

Posted by: Kirk on December 26, 2002 10:16 AM
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