April 29, 2001:
Rod McKuen’s 68th Birthday Hollywood Walk of Fame
(Photographic proof that something happened)
Well, doll, you really had to be there, but I’ll try to convey something of the magic with mere words… we met up at 2pm on Rod’s star, directly opposite the Scientology personality test center and in front of a T-shirt and souvenir shop. The first order of business was to deck the star with wild roses, because our birthday boy has made it known that he’s strong, but he likes roses. Folks then took turns sharing their favorite pieces of Rod’s and their own poetry, while the sax, guitar, bongo (singular) and Maggot’s weird gourd/xylophone combo offered mostly tasteful accompaniment. Rod recently remembered his fave childhood birthday cake being mom’s homemade coconut/vanilla layered confection; we faked it with a 7-11 snowball with a vintage 1940s b-day candle on top. It was hard to light the candle with the warm breeze blowing down the boulevard, but we managed, for Rod. As we sang "Happy Birthday," the flame flickered, but only went out as we reached the end of the song. (Nice touch.) The blond haired gal with the Stevie Nicks look was a passerby who informed us that she was going to be famous, and her manager worked at CBS Records, so we should let her sing. Sure thing: we passed her the lyrics to Edwin’s new song "Whatcha Doin’ Rod McKuen?" and he ably played along as she slaughtered any semblance of musical meter. We love the Stevie Nicks girl. And we love the old Mexican guy who saw Edwin’s guitar and asked if he could sing a song. It wasn’t Rod, but it wasn’t chopped liver either.
Sonic snapshots. Man on a cell phone offering running commentary to a friend while rushing by: "And here are some people who seem to be celebrating Rod McKuen." Us to perplexed strollers, "Don’t worry, he’s not dead; it’s his birthday!" Thanks to London, for staying all afternoon with us and discovering she’s a Rod McKuen fan… to the cute Goth couple (the boy with a Screamers patch) and likes "Stanyan Street" best… to the young blond fellow who shared his own heart-wrenching romantic verse from memory… to Listen to the Warm, the Rod cover band who turned out in force and said "let’s do this EVERY year"… Dan, for writing Rod a poem with minutes to spare… to the studly guy who stepped on
Rod’s roses, but was a gent when we forced him to put them back where they belonged… who were in a hurry, but stopped long enough to say he owned two McKuen books to Lisa, for
figuring out that the snowball was the perfect stickum to affix Edwin’s lyrics to the star… and to all the groovy Cacophonists and Rod fans who helped make this a truly unforgettable event. Wish you were here! -Kim