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Coming of Age Story: One Man's Inspiration

A few years ago, I published a real-life coming of age story called “Finding Exile on Main Street: A Patchwork Confessional.” It was more of a coming of age story than an album review. After all, what is a coming of age story other than an account of one or more catalysts that make the youngster wise to the world.

Here’s the part of that essay that has the most to do with my character – some might say my alter-ego – Seamus O’Grady:

From “Finding Exile on Main Street: A Patchwork Confessional” by Kyle Thomas Smith:

I’m the youngest of seven kids. My oldest sibling Colleen is 15 years older than me. She saw the Stones twice, once at the Chicago Stadium in ’75, a year after I was born, and another time at Soldier Field when she was in college for their 1978 Some Girls tour. Once, when I was 12, I helped Colleen move apartments and she returned the favor by giving me a ragged copy of Sticky Fingers on vinyl. It was the first full-length album to feature those slag-banging Stones lips that Andy Warhol had designed. He’d also done all the cover art, where there was an actual steel zipper over a man’s bedenimed crotch. You could yank it down to expose the bulging briefs inside. Many years after Colleen had moved out of my folks’ house, I also found a program in our crawl space that she’d brought home from the ’75 show. Annie Liebovitz had done the photography. (All these little tributaries of decadence slipping into my formative years – now a mother of two, my sister teaches catechism at a Sunday school in Illinois.)

At the time I first spotted the program, my head was half-shaved. This was two years before I’d find Exile. I wore a spiked bracelet and was into Sex Pistols, Millions of Dead Cops, and the Revolting Cocks, so I feigned apathy for dinosaurs like The Rolling Stones and once even committed the unpardonable blasphemy of breaking Bowie’s The Man Who Sold the World LP in two over my knee just to show that I was over my old tastes. (David, if you’re reading this, know that I’m sorry.) But then I flipped to a certain page where I was arrested by a black-and-white, Liebovitz still of Jagger looking like he was about to fellate the microphone he was crooning into with his Hindenburg lips and doorstop mouth; his glitter-greased owl eyes upturned and a shower of white rose petals cascading around him on to the stage that he stretched his lithe, Leonine body across. I tried to cast the program aside, but I couldn’t, couldn’t put it down. Nor could I bring myself to defy my newfound punk religion (I still can’t say why, my punk-rock loyalties were whorish at best), so I placed the ’75 program back into its cardboard box with the same care a lovely child might for a fledgling that has tumbled out of its nest. Periodically, I climbed back into the crawl space for clandestine encounters with it.”

This is only the tip of the iceberg of my own story.  But it often takes something so small as a picture to spur an odyssey, and what else is a coming of age story?

Looking for a classic coming of age story? Get your copy of 85A, now!