I’ll start off by saying that I don’t really believe in heroes. Except for the show Heroes which if you’ve ever followed me on a social media platform you know I mostly love because Milo Ventimiglia is in it. I will take a pull quote from that show though, you know besides save the cheerleader save the world. ( Good job writers, everyone knows that quote I mean EVERYONE ). It’s some people are born to be extraordinary.
I believe that Patti Smith is one of those people. I can’t remember exactly when I was introduced to who Patti Smith was but I will tell you that like most things I like or have learned to like, my dad introduced me to the artist that is Patti Smith. I think he bought me my first Patti Smith album a few years ago, on vinyl of course.
So let’s just say that by the fall of 2012 I knew who Patti Smith was, had listened to her album and had read her book Just Kids that past winter when I wasn’t writing essays for school. A quick bio about her is that Patti Smith is a writer, performer and a visual artist and was one of the main influencers that started the punk movement in the 1970’s. Ok moving forward.
In the spring/summer of 2013 I travelled to Europe. It was my self-reward for finishing school and something I’d always wanted to do and I managed to convince two of my friends that we should all go together on this European adventure. Cut to Amsterdam, the last leg of our trip, and a beautiful urban city which I think everyone should go to.
We didn’t have major plans in Amsterdam but it was kind of nice just not having a plan. On our walking tour which we hadn’t done in any other city but was something I convinced Amy we should do, we passed by a book store. On the outside was a sign that someone was signing their book later that day. Not just anyone. Patti Smith was going to be at this bookstore signing her book Just Kids and it was a free event. I freaked out. If I ever believed in destiny or fate or anything I had to go to this book signing. I started talking really fast and asked Amy if we had plans later that day or if we could go back to the bookstore and see Patti Smith and get her to sign a book for me. I don’t know if we were best friends at this point we were definitely close friends (and now I consider her one of my best friends) but I will always love her for agreeing to go despite not knowing who Patti Smith was and possibly forgoing any other plans we would’ve had.
We stood in line forever. We had some nice conversations with people in line with us one of whom was a big Patti Smith fan and had gone to her concert the night before, apparently she was also playing in Amsterdam. The rule was only one person per item so you could only get Patti Smith to sign one thing. This is why Amy was holding a book for someone else ( one of the people we were talking to ) because his friend couldn’t be there. Oh and no pictures. If you took pictures I think they kicked you out. So I was next in line to meet Patti Smith. I had grabbed a copy of her Just Kids book which I already owned but I mean, now I would have a signed copy ( I’ve since given away my other copy because I don’t need two copies of her book ) and I was jittery. The person in front of me had just gushed all over Patti Smith about how she was his hero and I thought I can not be that person. I want to be someone she respects and likes so therefore I must keep my behaviour intact. I went up to her and she took my book and opened it to sign it. I had to say something, I needed to say something before the moment was gone. All I managed was I think you’re so awesome and I really really love your book. And I was smiling like an idiot. She looked at me and smiled even though she had probably heard variations of this phrase all day and said thank you. And then moved onto the next person.
I of course posted a picture on Instagram as soon as I could. Of the signed book, not of her because of the whole picture thing. My dad, my brother and my friend Anna who was at home at that point, freaked out. And anyone else who knew who Patti Smith was was freaking out over Instagram. I had met one of my heroes in the most unexpected way and when I forget about other things that happened on that trip I always remember meeting Patti.
What I like, no love about Patti Smith is she is more than just one category of artist. She’s a poet, a writer, a musician ( even though people have told her she can’t sing ) and what seems like everything in between. She doesn’t really let other people get in her way or have other people define what kind of artist she is or isn’t. This is more or less what I’m striving to be in my own artistic endeavours, I’m more than just an actor. I’m more than just one box. I’ve also dabbled in writing, producing, I can sing and I’m really not the best dancer but that doesn’t mean I don’t try to be. I want to do all the things and be in all the boxes.
I’ll leave with a fave quote of mine from Just Kids
“I had no proof that I had the stuff to be an artist, though I hungered to be one”
On a daily basis I wonder what being an artist means and what it entails. Some days I feel like I have no proof that I am one, but the hunger is real.
Here is a picture if you don’t believe that Patti Smith signed my book:
And a link to one of her songs:
She’s also written her second book which I love called M Train, which you should also check out.