How Gracie Got on the Road

When I was in my early 20s, I briefly sang backup for a kick-ass Latin band called Estrella Negra (Black Star), in San Francisco.  Unfortunately, I don’t speak Spanish and never got the hang of rolling the r’s in the band’s name, so, with regrets, they fired me.

I was heartbroken.  My friend Michael, the trumpet player, tried his best to comfort me.  He said, “You’ve lost this band, but you’ll always have music.”  But I was inconsolable.

The next morning, I woke up alone in my Noe Valley apartment, walked gingerly down the front stairs, saw some dust motes dancing in the window in the stairwell, and decided there was no particular reason for my to be in San Francisco just then.  So I walked out the door, with $5 in my pocket, and didn’t come back for 10 days.

That trip is a story for another time.  But 30 years later, when Gracie was staggering under the weight of losing her true love Marcus, I remembered my own escape velocity moment — and she was off.


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