The Boy Looked At Johnny (again)

During my recent visit to New York I caught up with my old buddy, Marc Wasserman, the first time we saw each other since 1990. The two of us were close friends during our junior year abroad at the University of Essex in Colchester, England. I came over in October 1985 while Marc was there for the second semester. We met right away in January 1986 – one of the Americans on campus introduced us at some disco and we instantly bonded. He hadn’t heard Psychocandy yet — it was only out in England at that time — so we went back to my room and played the cassette, knocking back whiskey from a bottle of Jack Daniels and shooting the shit. Instant rock ‘n’ roll bond. Marc and I were the two ‘weird’ Americans on campus, the only ones who had earrings and didn’t rock preppie garb, preferring Converse to K Swiss. Marc landed a radio show and I was often his guest – we dubbed ourselves the Wanky Yanks. The two of us went to a ton of shows, pubs and clubs together and spent  a month traveling the continent. If you read my novel, Wivenhoe Park, the character Johnny is based on Marc. Catching up with Marc again, I realized how parallel our adult lives are. Both of us stuck to our guns and have been involved with music our whole lives while, of course, working for the man to pay the bills. Marc has experienced success as a musician, most notably with acclaimed NYC ska outfit Bigger Thomas, while I’ve been a writer and record label guy. Both of us have mainly working in writing oriented day jobs, such as publishing and PR.

The six months I hung out with Marc in England shaped my whole life. I’m not exaggerating. I’m not sure if I would have pursued my musical endeavors with the same intensity if I had not gone to England that year and if I had not met Marc. Marc has told me the same. I’ll be back in NYC early next year for a book reading event where one of Marc’s bands (Bigger Thomas or Rude Boy George) will play as well.  We won’t go 23 years without seeing each other anymore — I hope for the rest of my life that I’ll see Marc at least once a year!


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