Thursday, May 11, 2006


After my reunion with Chris Parker, where we reminisced into the wee hours, I was even more jazzed about making Everybody I Shot Is Dead. I knew the first thing I needed to do was see what photographs had survived the years and my many moves. Since I hadn't really looked at them since they were taken, I had no idea what was there. I could easily look through the color slides but I also have sheets and sheets of black and white negatives with no contact sheets. After a little computer accessory research, I finally went out and bought a new scanner.

Of course, the first set of negs I had to scan was the sheet marked 'Me by Chris Parker.' My opportunity to visually relive our first encounter. What a sweet journey that turned out to be. (if this is your first time here, you might want to head to the archives and check out all five parts of the "Chris Parker & Me" serial)

So, what next? Could anything top that memory? Like 'Me by Chris Parker,' most of my neg sheets are marked with the band's name. Brilliant, right? Except, for some reason, I have ten or so sheets that are unmarked. Not a name to be found. Nada. Just meaningless numbers in the corners. And I can tell you it's a real pain in the ass to crane my neck and identify some unidentifiable seventies musician in negative form by the light of a ceiling fixture.

Now, where was I? Right. Could anything top that memory? With that question, I decided to blindly pick out one of the unmarked sheets and see what was there. My own sort of pot luck. I randomly selected this page:
Before I pulled out the first four strips to scan, I glanced at the sheet. My eye immediately focused on one frame. I knew exactly who and what it was. A picture that I never printed. I didn't have to. It was emblazoned in my memory. My whole body flushed as I fumbled to get it into my scanner. Out of all the pictures I've taken, how did I randomly choose this sheet? I couldn't wait to see the image materialize on my computer screen. Suddenly, it appeared. And just as suddenly, tears were streaming down my cheeks. Something very unusual for me. I'm a pragmatic person. I've even been accused of being unemotional, although that's not really true.

And now you're gonna be really pissed off at me because I'm not going to show you the picture. I can't. I'm saving it for the book. It's my all-time favorite picture. But I can tell you it was taken in a hotel room. Okay, stop right there. I can hear your thoughts. Is this a pattern with me? No. Am I really the skanky groupie I keep denying I am? No. And I'm pretty sure this is the only other hotel room photo session I did with a musician besides the Chris Parker scenario.

Which makes the strange part of this story even stranger. I didn't plan to pick this particular sheet. It was completely out of my control. Hence, the title of this post. It's a picture of me and my all-time favorite person. I took the picture with the self-timer. It's a picture of me and Michael Bloomfield. I'm not going to go into any detail of my MB encounters here - you'll have to wait for the book. But the story I'm telling here may or may not end up in the book. I'm not sure if it belongs. You tell me.

So here it is. After I randomly picked out my Michael Bloomfield negative sheet and scanned all the photos and cried for two hours awash in my sweet, sweet memories, I filed the sheet and chose a new set of negs to scan. This time I intentionally picked one with a name on it. No way was I going to chance another emotional rollercoaster ride. I chose a sheet labeled "Blues Jam." It was a concert I shot at the Vancouver Coliseum. A show with a bunch of different blues guys playing and I needed to figure out who they all were, you know, in case any of them belong in the book.

I scanned the neg strips and made contact sheets. I blew some of them up but couldn't for the life of me remember any of the players by name. I went on google and searched "blues jam + Vancouver" hoping something would come up. I clicked the first hit on the list and was taken directly to an article on the Chicago Sun-Times website, written on February 12, 2006. It was now February 18, 2006. Reading the headline, I couldn't believe my eyes. The title of the article was, "Burning for the Blues" with a sub-title, "Chicago's Michael Bloomfield played it as he pleased."

What the fuck? How could that be? The only matching word was "blues." Nothing here to do with a jam or Vancouver. And I had put my search in quotes. No way this article should have come up. I guess I better read it. A few sentences in I realize this particular week was the twenty-fifth anniversary of Michael Bloomfield's death. More tears. I read on. Wait a sec, I need a sidebar here. The last night I saw Michael, he told me about something he did that I'm not sure I ever quite believed. Okay, back to the article. Reading...reading...reading. Stop. There it was, like a personal message from the other side. A revealation. Something that verified what he told me was true, even though the person quoted didn't have it completely right. "Chicago's Michael Bloomfield played it as he pleased." No kidding. He was playing me as he pleased. Making me smile when he's not even here. Or, is he?

After reading the article, I went back to my search for the Blues Jam players. I was completely unsuccessful with all the searches I tried. So, I re-entered "blues jam + Vancouver," just to see if I missed something. Guess what? The Chicago Sun-Times Michael Bloomfield article didn't come up. Huh? It hadn't been more than a half hour since I read the article. Why didn't it show up again? I don't know. I'm thinking he wanted me to know that little truth before I wrote my book. Does that make me a freak who thinks she can talk to dead people? Am I going to lose readers over this? Let me know.

I finally found the article again with a different search - "Michael Bloomfield + Chicago Sun-Times." The next day I sent an email to Jeff Johnson, the brilliant author who wrote the MB article. I told him the story. Not the whole story but a lot more than I could tell here. (You can email him...maybe he'll fill you in.) And I also sent him the picture so he would know I actually knew Michael. I didn't want him to think I was a freak who thinks she can talk to dead people. To tell the truth, I was a little worried about that. And even more so when he didn't write back for three whole days. What's up with these Chicago guys? But then his email arrived, and the first four words he wrote back were, "I love this story."

You can and should read Jeff's Michael Bloomfield article here. When you finish reading the article, find some Michael Bloomfield music to listen to. He was an amazing guitar player. A great, great player and an even better person.

And, believe it or not, there is a Part II to this Michael Bloomfield ghost story. So, tune in tomorrow. Same time. Same channel. To my very own visit to, The Twilight Zone.


Harry Funk said...

Either those are some eerie coincidences, or Michael might just have been trying to tell you something.

I remember when he died, when I was in college. My roommate and I were just about the only ones on campus who'd heard of him. And that's a shame.

I have a CD called "East-West Live" that's exactly what the title states: the Butterfield Blues Band playing three versions of Michael's signature piece in late '66 and early '67. The last one stretches on for about half an hour. The sound quality leaves something to be desired, but as that same former roommate said the first time he played it, "That's some of the most intense music I've heard in a long time!"

Peg said...

If you don't include your Michael Bloomfield story in your book, I'll never speak to you again! ha! Seriously, let me be the first to ask you to "please include your relationship with Mike in your book"!

I adore him!