Everybody came even the wire services whom Wasserman had vowed
passionately to exclude. No one recognized anybody until it was all over,
with Jagger having "walked" just as Wasserman said he would."
Gil. Do you understand what I'm trying to tell you?
If there's one reporter there too many, or one too many camera lenses
in front of him, he'll just walk straight through all those people and
out the door. He'll
I'm telling you."
"But, Paul," I said, "we owe favors to people. There's Chris
Springfield who knew before anybody else, and who didn't say a word.
There's the kid from Spencer, and the three TV stations in Boston."
"Leave the TV stations to me, Gil," Paul said.
"What about Channel 27 in Worcester? What about the
about my skin once you're all in Philadelphia in your bright, new Long
View satin jackets?"
"I haven't been sized for a jacket yet."
"You're a men's large, Paul," I said. "Keith got his in
about a men's large in black?"
It was now 11:30 AM on Thursday, the day of the Stones' departure for
Philadelphia. Paul Wasserman had done his stint on the phone the night
before, and at my urging had accepted frantic phone calls from at least
a couple of dozen hysterical news reporters. He had gone back to the
Copper Lantern Motel during the wee hours, and said he'd hand down all
decisions on the farewell party press invites at eleven o'clock the
next morning. (The event was to occur only two hours later, at 1 PM.) I
started ringing his room at 7:30, and sent a car over for him at 9:30,
and had already fielded some twenty-five morning phone calls from area
media sorts before he arrived at the Farm for breakfast. I had given at
least one good radio interview to a station in Turners Falls,
Massachusetts, saying things about the tumult at Long View, our
feelings of responsibility toward the media and our clients alike, and
not knowing sometimes exactly what to do.
Wasserman gave a sign to Solveig, and Solveig set about frying up his
usual order of eggs & sausage, and fussed about looking for the morning
edition of the
which Wasserman always took
with his eggs.
"He'll walk, Gil. I promise you that. I don't care what I said last
night. We've got to cut it down to under twenty."
"Maybe not. Who's the girl at Channel 27?"
"Katie Cowdery, Paul. She knew early, shut up when we told her to, and
could use the story. Her plus one, her cameraperson, Maxine. It's 16
"Only if Channel 4 plays cutesy, or sends that guy, what's-his-name...
Why are they still using 16 millimeter?"
I called Katie myself a few minutes later and told her to come, with
Maxine. It was now nearly noon, and she'd have just enough time to get
there. As it turned out, no one was ever on top of who actually came,
and who didn't. Everybody came even the wire services whom
Wasserman had vowed passionately to exclude. No one recognized anybody
until it was all over, with Jagger having "walked" just as Wasserman
said he would.
"Look, Gil," I heard over the din, and over the click-rewinds of the
motor-driven Nikons, and over the waiting whine of the Fokker F28 on the
tarmac just outside. It was Wasserman.
"Look at him eyeing the door. He's going to walk. I told you." Mick was
in fact looking nervously toward the door, then back toward a reporter
who was literally shouting a question in his face. Mick shook his head,
and gave Ronnie Wood, who was standing just next to him, a sharp jab in
"Let's go, Ronnie, we're leavin'."
Ronnie was in the midst of a confession to the effect that he liked all
other rock 'n' roll bands equally, but he broke it off in mid-sentence,
without apology, and followed Mick out the door, jaw set firmly. Ronnie
"That's it," Wasserman repeated. "He's making his move. You did all
right, Gil. It would have been my throat instead. You did great."
Wasserman looked around frantically for his large overstuffed
briefcase, saw it, and grabbed it up.
"Thanks, Paul," I said, "too bad we couldn't have . . ."
"See you later, little partner," Wasserman interrupted, lunging at the
door, briefcase first, propelled by his right knee. "Men's large?"
"Black," I shouted to him, through cupped hands, thoroughly startling
Bill Wyman, who happened now to be close to me, on my left, in the
company of a large AM radio disc jockey whose face was red from asking
the same uninteresting question too many times, with no answers to show
for his time.
"Gil," he said. "Thank you, Gil."
"What for, Bill?" I taunted, knowing that we had done more to make him
and Astrid comfortable than we had done for the rest of the band put
together. A new Sony TV set, wired for cable,
satellite maybe, if we could arrange it. A new bedroom set for Astrid,
picked out by her and Geoff Myers at the local antiquaire in North
Brookfield. The bedroom painted per Astrid's specifications (twice),
blackout curtains on all windows, and across all cracks. A private
press conference for Bill at the home of Mrs. Langevin, who collects
china and antiques, and who lives in town, away from the Farm. Personal
telephone answering and call forwarding. Parts for Bill's Apple
computer, blank VHS video cassettes to record movies off the TV, and
mainly, our silent assurances that we saw that he was different a
cut above your average brawling Stone. A man with a career of his own,
a recent book about Marc Chagall, and a hit record of his own in three
European markets, Si Si, Je suis un rock star. A gentleman.
"What for, Bill?" I laughed.
And then Bill Wyman laughed, right at me, and we chuckled for a moment
together, as the crush of Stones photographers and hangers-on proceeded
from left to right, jostling us not a little, on their way to the
waiting jet. Mick was already on board, and there was thus the distinct
possibility that someone might now get left behind.
"Get on the plane, Bill," I said. And he did, still laughing as I had
not seen him laugh at any time during his six weeks at Long View Farm.