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Kevin McGowin
Thursday 14 - Benedict of Nursia, Restorer to Perfection of Cracked Pots

Jed Palmer had been something of an Institution. He was a Folk Singer and his fame had spread Around the Globe, on Web Sites, in Chatrooms, in Coffeehouses, and in the whispered cadences of Lovers in their Beds.

But if anyone was cracking up and Needed to be Repaired Thursday it was Jed Palmer. Once a Minstrel of Peace, the Years had seen him become increasingly gripped by the worst kinds of Paranoia which, coupled with the Delusions of Grander associated with such a Malady, he was, on this day as on many others, pretty much Out of his Mind. He'd given up performing and playing guitar. It had been over Twelve Years since his last Commercial Recording. He wouldn't allow fans to distribute tapes of his out-of-print material if he could help it, or even post recent photographs of him on their Fan Pages, and his Fan Base was shrinking All the While, as he had become a recluse and essentially an invalid living in a Boarding House in Manhattan where he couldn't even play his own music since it would disturb his neighbors thru the thin and filthy Walls. He was Crippled by Hypochondria, and was only getting Worse.

And the worst part was that on Top of it All, Jed Palmer had come to believe himself the greatest and most famous musical artist who'd Ever Lived.

Sure, he'd always been a Cult Figure, and appreciated and loved by Many! But Mick Jagger he was Not. In fact, he wasn't even Jon Bon Jovi. At least he was a whole lot bigger than that OTHER paranoid and self-centered hypochondriac, Tony Bird, the other Manhattan asshole we met in Chapter 2. But Jed was losing ground Fast, and people were pretty much Starting to Notice. Mostly, because he seemed to make a Point of it.

Palmer was a Health Freak, all concerned about his Anus and the residual effects of Mercury, which he held had Poisoned him for Life during fillings and Root Canals and such. He whined about his Sorry State of Affairs so much all his friends started disliking and ostracizing him, so little was he concerned with anyone Else or Anything, even his own Music, thru which they'd come to love him in the First Place! So anyhow, he drank a lot of Carrot Juice and spent the rest of his time being Judgmental over the minor Shortcomings of Others, he who had sung against the Evils of Apartheid! (From the safe confines of the Boston Area, it should be asterisked.) And this man became obsessed with what anyone might be saying concerning his Person and was making an utter Fool of himself by Wigging out in a Serious Way.

And so One Night, an Unsuspecting Acquaintance who'd moved from the area and not seen Tony (er, uh, JED) in Several Years rang up to see how he was and had he made any new Recordings. Jed spoke with the Woman, whose name was Liza Jane Benton and had formerly owned and run a Juice Bar and Restaurant in his area, for almost an Hour. About his nebulous Heath Concerns, he would not shut UP! A boring motherfucker, and a Tedious one, to put it like a Christian.

At that point Liza Jane asked Jed (who hadn't been all that hard to find, after all, he wasn't say, Paul McCartney) to speak with a new fan of his, a gentleman by the name of Dudly Williamson, who was a fine Songwriter in his own Right, so Mr. (actually, Doctor) Williamson could express personally his admiration for Jed Palmer thru the Latter's music.

And this the two men did. At length, since Palmer had to sit there and rehash his Health Issues to a man he'd never met, to whom he subsequently gave his phone number and mailing address. Impressed, Williamson mailed the Older Man a CD of his Own recent Work.

And Upon its Receipt, and Upon the Receipt of an ill-timed Follow-up call from Williamson (who apologized for his Timing, at first), Palmer all of a Sudden went and Lost his Shit. He became convinced he was now being Stalked by Williamson, whose work, most notably the CD New Moon Visible, had Eclipsed that of Palmer in terms of both Popular and Critical Recognition. Palmer threatened to Call the Law. That's what he was saying to Liza Jane when he phoned her at her Place of Employment and, like a crazy man, which he was, kept her on the phone for an hour and a half at that time, and it was only Pity that made her resist slamming the phone down in the Jerkoff's right ear.

That was when Jed became overcome with the irresistible Delusion that he was Nelson Mandela.

This is actually not an Uncommon Delusion, especially among Psychotic White Men who live in the Boston Area, but the difference is, that 1,000 to 1 you're never gonna hear any of them actually talking about it. But today, or so late Last Night one might call it Today, this was what Jed Palmer's voice screamed over the Telly to Liza, who was asleep over 2,000 miles away. It was his Prehension, was Palmer's, that there was an Immanent Attempt on his Life, if not precisely by Williamson, then by someone who was in Cahoots with him. He was screaming this shit into the phone as loud as his Health would allow, and, pissed, Liza Jane screamed back, to the effect What a stupid, self-deluded Fool you are! Finally, she hung up the phone, but not before she heard a plethora of Threats from Palmer, the intensity of which kept her poor ass up Half the Night and Jesus! Some people, they get a Foot of Success, they take it all the way from here to Cape Town in a pea-green boat, y'know.

Though in the final balance it was Sad, really, or so Liza Jane and Dudly Williamson tried to tell themselves. And thus was the Awful Plight of Jed Palmer, author of three albums, and still well-known in Certain Circles for songs such as "Mango Time," "Song of the Tall Grass," "Rift Valley" and about a million others nobody'll ever hear, because he never recorded them. I don't know, maybe he thought he did, or that he didn't have to. Or perhaps finally that he couldn't, for reasons best known to himself and to his God, who Joined him Together with some wonderful and appreciative people, only to piss it all away before he was even old enough to know Health Problems, man.

So Goddamn. Saint Benedict have Mercy on his poor Soul, and Bless his Heart.

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