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Sally Forth: The R.E.M. Poster

Posted in Uncategorized by cesco7 on December 29, 2022

If there has been one constant in all of Ted Forth’s visits to his childhood home, it’s been his high school (or perhaps now middle school, due to the shifting past timelines of fixed present day timeline strips) R.E.M. Mudd Island, Memphis 1986 concert poster hanging in his old bedroom, repeatedly brought to beautiful, vivid life by Sally Forth artist Jim Keefe. (Ted need not have gotten it in 1986, in case you’re trying to work out some age math.) It is a real poster, it is in fact my poster, and because thanks to the linear narrative that is actual time, I bought it in college 1987 on a fall break trip with friends.

R.E.M. was the first band that I called MY band. I’d grown up listening to my dad’s 60s music on WCBS, to 80s music on Z-100, to Billy Joel music because it was a legal mandate on Long Island, and listening to The Ramones, because I needed a welcome escape from all the rest. But thanks to college friends who had far greater musical taste than I did at the time, R.E.M. was the first band in which I needed ALL the albums, ALL the singles and B-sides, all the articles about them, and every chance I could have to see them in concert. So one day in 1987, during a fall break weekend trip in the mountains of North Carolina, at a music shop we just happened to stop at, I found my limited edition concert poster. And just like for Ted, it means so much more than an incredible band and a beautiful piece of art. It is a happy memory of college, one of the happiest times in my life where I met some of the best people I will ever and—to my great fortune—still know.

It is also a memento of a memorable weekend in which after we all took a tortuous climb up at hillside only to meet a happy little puppy we named “Hillary,” nothing to do with the character in Sally Forth but after the mountaineer Sire Edmund Hillary, since the dog had not only climbed the great hill by itself but also showed us the other side it had taken—complete with built-stairs and highly accessible paths.

It was the weekend my dear friend Jeb decided to prove he could snort vodka from the shallow indent of an inverted shot glass, drank a lot more after that, and threw up all over the only bathroom the very moment the plumbing crapped out in our cabin.

And it was the weekend that on the last day, after dropping off our garbage at a nearby dump, our car died. I spent time on the side of a mountain road trying to flag down help while singing “Take Me Home, Country Roads” at top volume, alas ensuring no car would ever stop, while my friends Charlie and Tony went off to find a phone to call a mechanic, since this was 1987. After some time they came across a diner—WHERE THEY STAYED TO HAVE SOME PIE WHILE WE WAITED—and eventually returned with a newspaper featuring the headline “Dow Dives 508 Points in Panic on Wall Street.”

It was Black Monday.

Ah, memories.

The poster is now and always will be with Ted. And me.


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  1. Carl Pietrantonio said, on December 29, 2022 at 12:13 pm

    Perfect! I remember that date as well. Working one of my first months in my career and caught a guy with 1508 pounds of weed in his tractor trailer! My record catch! Good memories and I am glad both you and Ted have them!

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