Monday, May 18, 2015

Ernie Marrs and the Dashboard Jesus

In playing a little Facebook make believe game you were to make up something  untrue about the person you are verbally dueling with.  Marian Wagner made up that I worked with her at THE GREAT SPECKLED BIRD.  I jokingly said, "I thought you was Ernie Marrs!"

Let me tell you about THE GEAT SPECKLED BIRD and Ernie Marrs:  If you are young  or new to the area, you might not heard of either.

THE GREAT SPECKLED BIRD was an Atlanta underground newspaper in the late 1960s and 1970s.  It bravely took on the establishment in stories,  political cartoons,  and editorials.  Hippy-looking people on street corners peddled the newspaper.  It was well done and very informative.

One of the editors was the late Ernie Marrs.  Earnie was a song  writer, singer, poet, philosopher, and roofer, which was his day job, that he did not quit.  Ernie wrote several songs that made it high on the charts.  The one that comes to mind is "DASHBOARD JESUS."

A co-worker, Pat,  knew  Ernie well.  They were regulars at the Stein Club on Peachtree, just south of 10th Street.  One time, I think it was a Sunday  Anna and I were driving around with Pat and  she was telling us all about Ernie Marrs.  She asked if we wanted t meet him and we said yes.
He lived in Little Five Points in a garage apartment.  When we got  to the steps leading to his apartment I had been drinking some, and had to pee.  I thought I would use Ernie's bathroom.  I couldn't hold it much longer.  I was the first one up the stairs knocking on the door.

No one came.

Ernie was not at home.

Like I said, I could hold it any longer, so I urinated off the top landing of his steps, facing the big looming buildings of Atlanta.  Anna and Pat were waiting in the car.

Then I heard footsteps running  up the stairs.  I introduced myself to Ernie Marrs  and shook his hand with my only free hand. 

We had an instant party.  He played some good music and poured the booze.  He was glad to see us, or I suspect he was glad to see Pat.  He pulled out correspondence he had with Bob Dylan and  other nobles of the topical folk world and read and pointed out things in the letters.

I think we had a party and invited him once and if I remember correctly, he had to work late, those roofs don't put themselves up, you know.

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