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Op-Ed

A brief affair

December 23, 2022

A reporter must learn to remember quotes exactly, without taking notes. This is especially true on important and dangerous stories, like this one.

Robert Kahn

By Robert Kahn

Deputy editor emeritus, Courthouse News

(This is the important part)

As I headed into the Kroger t’other day to hunt and gather, a guy was loading up his car with groceries — damn near old as me. Him, not the groceries. His bumper sticker said: “I may be old, but I got to see all the cool bands.”

“Cool bumper sticker, man,” I said as he stood up and turned round. Fist bump.

“You ever see the Dead?” 

“Oh, yeah.”

“I saw them at the Fillmore West that night that Janis Joplin jumped onstage and sang ‘Turn on Your Love Light’ for half an hour as they ended the set.”

“Oh, man, you were there?”

“Yeah, man.”

“When was that?”

“1969.”

We beamed at each other. 

“You ever see Cream?” 

“Oh, yeah.”

“Where?”

“Umm …”

(That guy never saw Cream — you would not forget that — unless he was higher when he did than I was when I did.)

“I saw them at the old Chicago Stadium, man. Terrible house, but what a band.”

“I saw their drummer with his other band. What’s his name?”

“Ginger Baker.”

“Right! With …”

“Blind Faith.”

“Naw, the other one.”

We thought about it. Stumped.

“What about Country Joe and the Fish?”

“Yes!”

“Man, that was a hip band.”

“I saw them in San Antonio.”

“You know, Country Joe sang anti-war songs, but he did a lot for veterans.”

“I know he did.” 

We stood around, proud of … what? 

Another fist bump and out of there. 

I entered the Kroger to hunt and fish.

(This is the dangerous part)

There, abutting the spaghetti squash, hoisting a yam, stood an age-appropriate woman, in a tie-dye psychedelic T-shirt.

“You look like a hippie,” I said, eying her tuber.

“I am,” she said, bright eyes smiling. “I was.” 

She had a black & white peace-sign button on her T-shirt.

“I still believe in that stuff,” she said.

“Me too.” 

Fist bump. We looked at each other. She spied my cucurbit. Shook her head … moved on.

First question: Hey — what’s wrong with spaghetti squash?

(Bonus Questions — Only for CNS subscribers)

Q. Who opened for the Grateful Dead that night?

A. Woody Herman and his Big Band

Q. Any good tenor sax players in the house?

A. Sal Nistico (1938-1991)

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