Tuesday, March 17, 2009

'Moto [a/k/a Victoria Lenti] Remembers Mel [a/k/a Jerry Melin]

click to enlarge - Vicki Lenti on the Staten Island Ferry (with Our Lady Of the Harbor in the distance)

Vicki Lenti, or Moto, as we often call her, which is really short for Lentimoto, sent me this nugget about Jerry Melin a long time ago, and for some reason I am just getting around to posting it.

It's kind of appropriate, because tomorrow is Saint Patrick's Day, and it was exactly ten years ago on Saint Patrick's Day that Jerry Melin's funeral was held in Ross, California. Namasté, brother!

Jerry Melin
By Vicki Lenti

Catfish was how I was first introduced to Johnny [ed's note: often now known as Jack]. The year was 1972 and I met Chris (Milo) Petersen at Green River Community College. Little did I know that the course of my life would change after that meeting. With Chris came his friends. . .and they soon became my friends. I was introduced to John, Johnny, Jack, “Cat” ”Catfish” Brummet, Jerry “Bart” Melin, Kevin “Scooter” “Mort”, “Tibbs” Curran, Keelin Curran, and Frances Hayden. I was one of the lucky females to get a nickname, and that was Moto. I remember Jerry giving me that nickname, but it may have been the combination of Jerry and Johnny. Anyway, 36 years later, I will still answer to it.

I was taken aback by this group of people when I first met them. I remember thinking that they were the hippest (1972) group of people I had ever met and that Keelin and Frances were (and STILL are) the epitome of “together” females. From Tacoma to Kent to Bellingham to NYC and back to Seattle, my life has been blessed with knowing them. Through them I met so many others, like Nick Gattuccio, and the list goes on.

So many memories come to mind, it is hard to know where to start. I found this blog by searching under Jerry’s name, so I will pay tribute to him. I LOVED JERRY. I loved all these people that I met in 1972, but Jerry and I had something special--as I know Jerry had something special with all the people he loved and I feel so lucky that he loved me.

click to enlarge - Jerry on Bainbridge Island, visiting Jack and Keelin

When you were with Jerry, you were important to him and you felt it. I remember some early memories of Jerry; one of the first was that he had that long fingernail (his pinky finger). I remember having a bad cough at the time and got some codeine cough medicine. Jerry asked for a swig and drank half the bottle.

Jerry always pushed the limits, and I don’t know how many of the stories I heard at that time were true (I believed them all), but the image I had of him was like “Neal Cassady or Dean Moriarty,” Jack Kerouac’s friend in On the Road. I loved this about Jerry and I was even a lucky recipient of a Jerry Melin “fake” driver’s license. [ed's note: see Jerry Melin, Master Forger and Craftsman].

I had a green Ford Maverick in those days and something was always happening to it. One day I went out to drive the car and it was gone. In calling around, I found out someone had hit it the night before, and it was slammed into a building. The city had towed it away. Jerry rose to the occasion, donned his leather jacket and (I think) with Milo, went to the tow yard to retrieve the vehicle and make sure I didn’t have to pay a fee.

After many mishaps to that car, I was sitting in an apartment. that Jerry and Fran occupied. We heard a crash, looked out the window and Jerry says “it’s Moto’s car”. We all ran down the stairs and confronted the person who hit me. My car, which had been hit several times before, looked like an accordion. The person who hit me had insurance and since I was only in town for the weekend, we met with the insurance company to settle matters. Jerry went with me and the agent offered me $1000. This was big $$$ at the time and the car wasn’t worth much. Jerry told me beforehand not to say anything too quickly. When the agent offered the $1000, Jerry and I were silent, then Jerry looks at me and say’s “Well Moto, what do you think?” To which I replied “I guess that’s fine”. I thought I would have to pay at some point to have this car put down. This was a jackpot and we laughed all the way home.

In 1982, I was lucky enough to drive with Jerry cross country to New York City. Jerry pushed my dark side somewhat and we ended up in the kind of places I would only end up with him. We stopped at a strip club in Amarillo, Texas and listened to the Blues on Front Street in Memphis. As we approached Washington D.C., the same day as Ronald Reagan’s inauguration [ed's note: Vicki must have the dates wrong...RR was inaugurated in '81], he told me that if anyone asked what we were doing there, to say we were on a mission from Jane Wyman to buy the Blair house and not to give out my last name.

Arriving in NYC, on the doorstep of John Brummet and Keelin Curran, we entered a new chapter. First, I must say that John and Keelin were incredible. They let us stay until we found a place and that whole time is such a wonderful memory to me.

Happy hour took place daily at John and Keelin's with red wine, and new WAVE music was in the house. They introduced me to the “Talking Heads” the “Pretenders” and all the wonderful bands of the time. CBGB’s, NYC. . .what more could you say? – good bye disco!!!

Jerry and I got an apt. on Ave. B, which at the time was dicey (now trendy). Jerry “greased” the super’s hand and we got the apt. We quickly named it B flat and started to fix it up. Jerry started substitute teaching and his first job was at a Hassidic Jewish school. I remember reading (AND busting up over) the scraps of paper on that table, that the kids wrote, answering Jerry‘s question on what they learned today – not a good question to ask. Part of that first check was spent in a little storefront room up the street (by Kevin’s place) where pot was openly sold by the Moghrebis [ed’s note: the St Mark's Place Puerto Rican Pool Hall, reefer & hash Emporium]. There was NEVER a dull moment when were with him. His wit, his attention to detail, everything…I MISS JERRY very much!!

There are so many stories about this great group of people. These are some of my memories of Jerry, and I hope to add my memories of others at a later date. Unfortunately for me, I have not been the best at keeping up and I miss and love all of the above. Thank you for enriching my life and introducing me to so much, and being involved, and who you are.

Love to you all,

MOTO (Vicki Lenti)

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