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Somewhere on theJersey Shore. Late 1974. My first real memory: riding along the lonely winter beach in my fam- üy'sVW Bug. I am in the back seat with Patches, our Dalmatian. My mom is driving, and my dad is operating the tape deck. The Beades'"Birthday"fiUs the car and my toddler body jumps into action, boogying as wüdly as the seatbelt and the big winter coat I'm wearing wül allow. My parents' smües teU me that my reaction to the music is entirely appropriate. I am hooked. The Parker House, Sea Girt, NJ. Circa 1979. A Sunday matinee. The current incarnation of Dad's band plays my favorite song, the Beades' "Rocky Raccoon." Dad leans into the microphone . "This one's for my daughter, Michaela." A flush spreads across my face as people in the crowd turn in my direction and smile. I grin and bury my face in Mom's lap. I am convinced that when this band succeeds and Dad becomes famous, our little family wiU be famous, too. And I can't wait. Wall, NJ. 1981. Dad opens a recording studio with two friends as süent partners. He has switched from performing to recording, from practicing his bass to renting rehearsal space and equipment to other bands. He works at night now; most ofthe musicians he knows have dayjobs since they can't support themselves entirely by playing in bars. Late at night when Dad returns home, he and Mom talk about money. Their raised voices startle me out ofsleep. The scattered phrases I hear range from Mom threatening to take my little sister, Erin, and me and move to her parents,' to Dad yeUing that she doesn't know 109 110Fourth Genre how hard it is for him. I can hear Erin crying. I teU her that they don't reaUy mean everything that they're fighting about and that she shouldn't be scared. The next morning, no mention is made of the angry voices that slid out from under their closed bedroom door. Tower Studios, Wall, NJ. 1982. Dad's deep gruffvoice speeds through the microphone, teUing the members of Cats on a Smooth Surface to take it from the top one more time. They are in the studio itself, a big square room that overlooks a parking lot. Dad is in the control room with aU the equipment, looking at the band through a big picture window. I listen to Cats repeat the same song over and over, first the drums by themselves, then the guitar, keyboard, and bass jumping in aU at once. I wish Dad weren't such a perfectionist so we could go play miniature golf, but I keep my mouth shut. I thumb through old issues of Rolling Stone. I pounce across the tiled floor on only the brown squares. I doubt that Cats wül ever become reaUy famous since they can't seem to play their own song correctly aU the way through. Dad wül say that I don't understand the way the recording process works. Later, he'U say, "I told you it was boring." Tower Studios, Wall, NJ. 1983. Bruce Springsteen plays with Cats on a Smooth Surface for a few nights. Dad agrees to attempt to get me Springsteen's autograph, even though I don't know much about his music. When I get up for school a few mornings later, I see a smaU piece of Uned notebook paper on the dining room table. In smaU black letters it says, "To Michaela, compUments ofyour daddy. Love, Bruce Springsteen." I am thriUed. Daddy is great and Bruce Springsteen knows it. I begin to wonder if recording engineers ever get famous on their own. I dream of one day meeting Bruce myself. Manasquan, NJ. 1984. Mom wakes Erin and me up in the middle of the night. She takes us out to the car in the dark and wraps us in warm afghans crocheted by Dad's mother. The radio is off. We sit in the back seat crying as she drives to the studio, where the windows are black and the door is locked. Mom...


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pp. 109-117
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