According to her tattoo, the waitress is sinful. The eggs . . she asked me How do I want them?
Actually, the order was put in a long time ago. Life brings what it will, and on that day, it was serving me breakfast with Walter Gabriel Trachsler XIII in a small diner near the Missouri River bottoms of downtown Kansas City. The band he was traveling with played nearby last night, so “he’s with the band” sortuv; more accurately, he’s with the bus.
In fact, the first time I saw him, he was squatting beside an idling band bus drying his long wet black hair in the warm air flowing from as its AC-vents. This will forever remain on my top three “Most Memorable Meetings” list . . . and I’m still waiting for the other two entries.
We hadn’t finished the first cup of coffee before I switched from calling him “Walter” to the far-more appropriate “Gabriel” after hearing the story of his remarkable name. His chronicles from what he’s doing now (spending months on the road driving some band on its tour) to what he did back when he was the rock star cover lot of crucial, incredulous insider-randomania. Since forming his own metal hair band, The Rotting Corpse, in 1985 (with John Perez) he’s performed as musician and mechanic all over the world.
Stories abound . . . Gabriel is the repository of an entire epoch of cultural history with an “I alone survived to tell the tale” sense of duty to the genre.
There are lots of character sketches and sidebars along the way—especially from his childhood. It is understood that he was a challenging kid to a single mom, but the story of how she sent him on a one-way trip in the cargo-hold of a military plane to his even more rascally father (who lived somewhere on a boat near Puerto Rico) deserves to be a movie. I’d never heard “motherfucker” as a term of endearment before, but most of Gabriel’s stories sound like that and are full of lots of things a small-town midwestern girl wouldn’t have heard before.
I was rapt.
Oh yeah, I got stories, he says.
He’s laughing nowadays, possibly with relief. Everything that can go wrong is something he’s seen before . . . been there, fixed that. Mostly.
There’s nothing he can’t fix if it’s not human, and there have been police-radioed, breaking-news notable exceptions in the latter category.
For those, he’s put pen to paper and written his heart out. Over the years, I’ve saved his missives for the day he’s ready to serious about the great book of his own life. That’s how we’re connected and I don’t let him forget it, because the Muse won’t let me forget it.
There are a lot of people from the past fully present in Gabriel, grateful for his friendship and loyalty and integrity. They’re all crowded around the breakfast table of his birthday today in person or in legend cuz “it’s another fuckin party!” . . . (dis)ORDERS-UP!
Yes, it’s just eggs, but so were we all once . . . then broken, and made a certain way. Gabriel holds this all inside with a raucous reverence and a powerful, gentle motherfukin love.
Happy Birthday, Walter Gabriel, from Leeanne/Liana.