August 26, 2020:

We have a little class band. It's fifth or sixth grade, we're making a tape to send to our sister class somewhere foreign, I don't remember where. My brain is telling me Spain, but that could be confusion with one of the songs we're recording, "Blue Spanish Eyes". The other is "Those Were the Days", the Russian folk tune which is a huge hit at the time for Mary Hopkin. Typical of me to remember the songs but have no recollection who they were intended for. Some kids somewhere else.

I play my little Vox 2/3 size kid's acoustic with nylon strings, the one that can't be tuned. Predictably I hate the songs, although they're a step up for sure from "On Top of Old Smokey" from the Mel Bay books. The main thing is to be allowed to play guitar — a legitimately righteous reason if ever there was one for turning up at grammar school.

It's my first ever recording and we rehearse it to death. Over and over and over while our teacher, Mister I-Endorse-the-John-Birch-Society, gets his Phil Spector on. While writing this I hear the originals in my head radio, not our recordings, but at the time I feel satisfied with them. Fuckit anyway, that's my guitar on tape!

One of the kids is a fine musician. Bob, a drummer. He's a La Jolla kid, older than me, typically a bit stand-offish yet still nicer than many of the others. He's playing drums, which is what I want. I have to settle for acoustic guitar because in our apartment world with its prime directive of Thou Shalt Not Be Heard By Neighbors, that's what works. Bob lets me sit at his kit, tapping out paradiddles. I'm in heaven.

This is for me the apogee of the grammar school gifted program. The one thing that makes me want to be there. There is nothing else there with meaning for me.