I continued minding my own business until a seemingly fortuitous chain of events led to a shower in the spring of 2002 followed swiftly by participation in St. Patrick’s Day festivities that, relative to the mean, appeared to be those of an average man.
The next day however I was not feeling such the average man. I used the remainder of my windfall—1200 bucks I found bound with blue rubber bands in the Queens Aqueduct parking lot—to slouch in a bar gingerly sipping vodka and sodas. The windfall’s remainder, by the way, consisted of roughly 120 dollars. I hadn’t the faintest idea what the rest had gone toward, although I admit taking a room at the Waldorf Astoria to get cleaned up in might not have been the most judicious first move after finding the money.
And that’s how I came to witness my brothers being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. I had just achieved a respectable altitude and was chewing a refreshing lemon rind when the bartender shut off the jukebox and turned up the TV. There was the stage, there were my brothers, the speeches, the golden shiny thing they hand out. There was me in the bar surrounded by the enraptured patrons—the Ramones family was undoubtedly the true voice of New York. I couldn’t help but preen a bit as I ordered another drink and temporarily melted into the apple-pie scent of their collective adulation.
No sign of Danny Fields, although he was mentioned. His absence shattered the ice covering my subconscious—I watched his evolving images in my mind in the manner of one flipping the pages of an animated cartoon book of yore. I thought about how the original Danny Fields—laconic, physically powerful, indelibly working class—was nothing but a pastiche of illusions that Fields had been controlling all along. His absurdly keen intelligence had always been on display; why had I so readily accepted the Fields of monster trucks, NASCAR, sleeveless sweatshirts, anchor tattoos, and screeching boatswain whistles? Throughout the years, many were the “friends” keen to show me the latest Ramones propaganda piece. There was the other false Fields: hair long, eyes ablaze. Fields the scene maker: sunglasses, sport coat, subtle grin. And what of these relations with supermodels, members of the Beatles, Ramona’s beloved Jim Morrison, Andy Warhol, David Bowie? I knew he was the author of the seemingly endless false biographies that covered up my brothers’ treachery, this supposed Feinberg born in 1941. I imagine all his “rock and roll manager” personas were chosen with great hilarity all around. Our Danny once painted the entire interior of his singlewide black, including the windows and bathroom fittings, because his wife had been relentlessly bitching at him to paint the house while she wallowed in a booze stupor. Their Danny roomed with Edie Sedgwick and stopped supermodel Ivy Nicholson from jumping out a window in Andy Warhol’s factory. Who was he really?
I knew that what appeared to be a comedic romp to my brothers concealed Danny’s true power: he traveled the Arcs. And not the shoddy Arcs emanating from New York alleys that offered cut-rate trips to Budapest aboard the galactic equivalent of a Bombay train, but the glistening blue and white Arcs that led directly to Prague. I realized that the whole mess of fragmented mirror spinning around in a glass barrel over a spotlight was some type of cosmic duping at Field’s hands. I was blinded by the dazzle, but I couldn’t turn away. But, rather than figure it out, I smiled at his cunning—nobody loves being sold more than a salesman.
Photo: Closeup of Polaroid by Brigid Polk