Many years ago I had a friend, Ed, an entrepreneur who owned a recording studio in Washington, DC, where the likes of Emmy Lou Harris, Dolly Parton and Cheech and Chong had cut tracks.
Ed was a charmer—young, vibrant, good looking, one of those guys who has as many ideas in a day as the rest of us have in a week, and even admitting that most of these ideas weren’t any good, he was still a fascinating person to have around. He was well plugged in to the music business and could almost always get you into sold out shows and backstage afterwards. Keith Richards once called Ed at home at three in the morning to ask that the studio be opened so he could record a few hot guitar licks.
Ed’s biggest idea was to buy an island. He had found one off the coast of Maine and it was for sale for $100,000, a massive amount of money at the time. He wanted to gather investors from among his friends who were mostly musicians, artists, writers and singers lucky on any given day to have shoes that didn’t leak and a five-dollar bill in their jeans. I was married at the time to a woman who had a good job with a steady income, and I was making decent money as well free-lancing for a bunch newspapers and magazines both inn the US and overseas. Owning an island was a pretty cool notion.
But it wasn’t simply owning an island; this would be a political and social statement, a move away from a city and a nation that appeared mired in scandal and obfuscation, a chance to start everything again.
Details never really bothered Ed. At the time, he was planning to marry his gorgeous blonde cousin and they were living in a cabin on the estate of an impoverished landowner. He was proud of his relationship with this woman, and was going to challenge Virginia law that prohibited sanctioning such a union. They wanted to have children on the island, which they would home-school while living off the land. When others pointed out that winters might be harsh in the North Atlantic, Ed would point out that Edland, as he named the island, had plenty of firewood. Food? Fish and lobsters, potatoes he would plant, and apples from a long-abandoned orchard. Ed even had plans for an acre of two of tobacco so he wouldn’t have to stop smoking, as well as a vineyard for wine. He would bring in a diesel generator and enough fuel to last through the cold season, and I’m sure he and the cousin planned on keeping each other warm.
I was thinking of Ed and his island because this is the season I would rather be Elsewhere, but of course I have been Elsewhere and, as Jack Kerouac once wrote, no matter where you go, there you are.
One day I went to visit Ed and found the studio padlocked. A few calls revealed that he’d absconded with the studio’s working fund, as well as a sizeable recording down payment made by a famous rock band. I never saw him again.
A couple of days ago I was in Ed’s neighborhood. I hope he’s OK, and that he and the cousin had children, which I guess would be both direct offsprings and second cousins. I Hope he’s happy and that he’s an islander.
So here’s to you, Ed, to Edland, and thanks again for the Stones tickets!