Night of the legends
Thursday, December 14, New York City.

This is the big night of the tour, the originally scheduled New York date, and all the legends and starfuckers are showing up tonight.

Boy, I'd love to get backstage. I bring my dear friend Johanna Lawrenson -- widow of my mentor,Abbie Hoffman-- who has generously let me use her downtown apartment for this tour. She's helping me navigate the sea of celebs at the Beacon:Lou Reed,Laurie Anderson, Richard Gere, Phoebe Snow, Tim Robbins. Arista president Clive Davis is here, and he's all over Verlaine, who is self-producing his next album to maintain creative control. Maybe Clive will see the wisdom of paying Tom lots of money while granting him an artist's authority to produce his own work.

And there's Aaron Kaye, the 300-pound Yippie pie man, in a huge tie-dyed tent of a T-shirt. He's now got an e-mail address (pieman@calyx.com), which means that, from now on, with a few strokes of the keyboard, I can order a pie in the face for any tyrant on earth. Aaron's nailedPat Robertsonand all kinds of folks with whipped-cream pies over the years. "Hey Aaron! Do you know what William Weld looks like? He just vetoed the medical-marijuana bill!"

"He did?"

"He lives near Brattle Street in Cambridge," I say. "I hear he likes Boston cream pie."

Patti's cold has disappeared, and she's completely in control. She leads the entire theater in a shared dream-trance tonight, and gets a roaring standing ovation.

Dylan plays "Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues" for the first time on tour, and gets wild cheers with the closing line: "I'm goin' back to New York City. I do believe I've had enough."

After the show, I grab Johanna and we slide up to the side of the stage. Raymond comes out and escorts us backstage, upstairs to the sixth floor, where Patti holds court.

As we get off the elevator, Lenny Kaye is telling Richard Gere about meeting theDalai Lamawith Patti in Berlin last September. "What you're doing for Tibet is so important," he says.

Patti is on her way out of the theater, and stops when she sees Johanna. "I know you, don't I?" she says. They re-establish their shared role as Widows of Charleville. Then Patti comes up and kisses me! "Good night, Al." Sigh.

The artist Lisa Bowman walks up to Johanna. "I know you," she says. "We met in the '70s, when you were underground with Abbie."

"We did?"

"Yes, it was around '79, you and Abbie were looking at apartments in LA, and I showed one to you."

"You must have been a good friend," says Johanna. "You didn't turn us in."

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