43 Comments

Very Nice, I really enjoyed the story. There's nothing like junior high and high school memories. I seem to remember the stupid things I did best, and occasionally some of the crazy things others did. I loved how people could become stars in everyone's eyes in a school talent show and this description was perfect.

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I was quite happy to see your name here, on Substack. I've read many of your works. I remember you once compared a person to a perfect paragraph. Brilliant. I am putting an old collection on Substack, kind of building a history. My current work appears weekly on Facebook. If you would care to read any of it, for whatever reason, I'd be honored. https://www.facebook.com/chris.gartland.73

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Dec 29, 2023Liked by Sherman Alexie

I was in a rock band in high school (in the 60's). Reading this essay brought back memories of playing at church dances and reveling in the reflected glory of the songs we were playing. Sadly, for me, all the girls who were loving us were way too young (12 or 13). I truly thought that if only some high school girls went to these dances, then I might get "lucky." Looking back, I had no idea what "lucky" was. Being young is such a wonderful thing. I love to see my current high school students acting young, because I know that it is such a fleeting thing. I think I will start playing guitar again!

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Gods of thunder and sixth grade. Gave me chills of nostalgia. Four of us played the Fab Four in sixth grade. This may reveal my age. We did not lipsync. We sang their songs acapella. That may have been all the tech we had. The girls loved us. As with your story, they wanted autographs, but not our real names. I misspelled Starr.

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"... are afraid of sweaty electric guitars." Either they are afraid of it, or they just cannot even see it.

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“We’re all the unreliable narrators of our lives…” dig this ❤️

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Love it! In the 1970s, my brother and I papered a whole wall of our bedroom with KISS pictures from magazines. And we had several of their albums. Worried about our souls, our father, who ironically was kicked out of his home at 17 for playing "the devil's music" in the 1950s (my hometown is the birthplace of Rockabilly music), asked two men from our Baptist church to come pay us a visit. They told us the whole jazz about "Kids in Satan's Service" and then proceeded to tear down all of our pictures and break our albums. For some reason, our parents were OK with that. Later, we told our grandmother about it. She was the cool grandmother who had long red hair til the day she died and loved all kinds of music. She was furious and took us to the store and bought us several KISS records. When she brought us home, she told my father that she had "loaned" us some records and wanted to make sure nothing happened to them while we were borrowing them.

PS: This grandmother was my maternal grandmother, not the one who kicked my father out of the house for playing the devil's music.

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I love this story! I remember a kid in my 6th grade class who would do KISS lip sync. His name was Richie Bobkin and the only thing that would motivate him to do his school work was the carrot of doing a KISS show for us. So our teacher Miss O’Brian went with it! The rest of the class tolerated it. Apparently we weren’t as rabid for KISS as Richie was. My only other memory of Richie was seeing him on the roof of his house throwing a rubber chicken on a string off the roof and into the garage door below him. Richie was a strange little kid! Thanks for sparking the memories, Sherman!

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Jun 10, 2023Liked by Sherman Alexie

Just found this. Another treasure. Will be looking into all the posts I missed before finding your Substack. Bought a ticket to the 25th Anniversary showing of "Smoke Signals" at the Mt. Baker Theater. Grateful for the blessing of rain this morning. Keeping It Simple Spiritually.

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May 10, 2023Liked by Sherman Alexie

Great post - love KISS, what a fantastic story! Thanks for sharing.

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Really glad to find you here Sherman.

My late brother-in-law, Mike, was an anthropologist. His masters thesis was on the dream life of the Mojave and he did his research around Parker, AZ. They liked the area so much that they relocated from Wichita, KS to Parker. Mike got a job with the Colorado River Indian Tribes and my sister, Judy, got a job as a public school teacher. Mike's doctoral thesis was an assesment of the Tribes' education needs. Working with the tribes they created a summer educational program for children and adults. The house they bought was actually within the boundaries of the Parker Reservation.

Many years ago Mike told me that if I wanted to understand reservation life I should read "Reservation Blues." I loved it! I should add that I am much more a fan of Robert Johnson (and his guitar) than of Kiss. Later I read "The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fist Fight in Heaven" and several other of your books.

My memory is a little fuzzy but as I recall I read some account you made of a book tour you did after "You Don't Have to Say You Love Me" was published. I ordered it from Amazon and when it hadn't been delivered after a couple of weeks I went to the website and found that there were several reviews saying that people had ordered the book but the seller hadn't delivered it. Amazon refunded my money and I decided maybe I wasn't meant to read it. I did buy it a few months ago and it has been sitting on top of a stack of books to read. I have browsed through it now and then. I am now going to read it now.

I can't end this without saying how much I loved "Smoke Signals." First I found some clips on YouTube and then located the whole movie. Brilliant! I'm not sure if it was more funny or sad. It should have reached a broader audience.

Thanks for everything!

David Watkins

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I remember reading one of your books, so long ago that I can't remember exactly which one. I was living in Seattle and driving the Olympic peninsula on long grey days, still longing, myself, to become one of those four guys. Back in San Francisco right around the same time as you saw 'KISS' — it would have been 1979 for me, my buddy Gio and I dolled up his parents' garage with a purple-painted lightbulb and "played" brooms while Destroyer played on his older brothers' 8-track. We did our best to produce some "sweaty electric guitars" -- great line -- but we were only nine.

I love KISS, I mean, you gotta give those guys credit, they were originals, and they went for it.

My friend Michael Mohr has mentioned you, and and it's great to find you again here Sherman!

Here's the chapter of my own memoir that covers the time I was living in Seattle (no mention of KISS however)

https://open.substack.com/pub/bowendwelle/p/09-i-let-confusion-in

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Mar 22, 2023Liked by Sherman Alexie

Sherman Alexie, you are a rock star! I saw you a few years ago at the University of New Mexico--standing room only! I would have screamed, but I was with my adult son, and he would have been mortified. I should have screamed anyway. This essay is brilliant. It's real. I love it.

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Thoroughly enjoyed this, Sherman, even as I'm well over a year "late for the dance"! I, too, have a "Detroit Rock City" story...while a cool memory, it's nowhere near as endearing as your recollections! I was behind the mic on FM rock radio back in the day, and discovered a way to "alter" the song, at least to a degree that wouldn't trigger Gene to file a lawsuit (I didn't toy with the music)! With your kind permission, if I may: https://bradkyle.substack.com/p/behind-the-mic-a-personal-peek-into-870

Many thanks, Sherman, and I look forward to digging into more of your 'Stack efforts!

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I bet that was quite a performance back then. I also grew up in the era of Kiss but never seen a lipsync cover band of them. Reliving happy memories is always fun. Thank you for sharing.

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Feb 23, 2022Liked by Sherman Alexie

As ever, beautifully done. All my favorite story experiences: engaging story, every word flexes its muscles eloquently, thought provoking, bittersweet, funny and heartwarming. Thank you.

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