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San Francisco Weekly Interview

March 27, 2011 by  
Filed under peter

Here is another article, from the San Francisco Weekly, Jan. 15,
1995. This one about Peter Tork:

A LEGEND FOR LUNCH (Hey, hey, he’s an idol: Dining and dishing
with Peter Tork) by Caryn Louise Leschen:

To tell you the truth, when the phone call finally came, it
didn’t really sound like Peter Tork. The voice sounded so
‘normal’. It seemed like he should at least have an accent. A
fantasy-world one, perhaps: “Dah-ling! I’m so glad you ahsked!”
Instead, he did old Victor Borge rountines (you know, the ones
where he goes, “I nined dinner,” instead of ate, or “I went three
the store”) just like a regular person. I became convinced that
this was an elaborate hoax from a twi sted Aunt Violet fan.
But as I sat drinking my tumbler of cheap wine, I spotted him
on the street. It was definitely him. I recognized the bouncy way
he moved from just a glimpse of the back of his head. You see, I
had watched The Monkees a lot. Sporting a black turtleneck and
leather jacket accented by a peppy, hot-coral muffler, Peter was a
sight to behold. A very attractive man for any age, at 53 his
cute-boyish looks have been tempered by a few wrinkles and a couple
of faint eye-bags — but, of course, these just add warmth and
sophistication. His eyes, I noticed, were exactly the same hazel
as mine.
His face was so familiar to me. It was as if all those nights
from 1966 to 1968 — when I lay in bed confiding myt deepest
secrets to the glossy cover of Tiger Beat posted wideways on my
wall — had worn a perfect Peter’s-face-size impression into my
brain. Now, finally, I was soaking up the only contours that could
fill it: The Real Peter. Sitting so close, drinking a double-
honey. I ‘knew’ he’d drink those. I had to remind myself to get
my elbows off the table, close my mouth and sit up straight.
Right away, he started in talking about dysfunctional families
and self-help groups. I was delighted with his openness. He was
proving to be a real BWT — that is, a “Boy Who Thinks” –the
ultimate compliment from the 12-year-old me. Still, the 40-year
old me was a little disappointed. He wasn’t laughing at my jokes.
He was so busy with his own stuff that he barely noticed ‘me’.
Sniff. Yeah, I know he was the interviewee, but I still wanted to
have an effect on his life. Okay, okay: I wanted him to try and
kiss me.
Anyway, the guy’s a little eccentric. I ‘like’ that. He
writes all his expenses down in a little journal. He says grace
before he eats. He’s prone to quoting Christian and Buddhist
aphorisms. This came as no surprise. After all, Peter was the
spiritual Monkee; the George Harrison of the Prefab Four. Any fan
knew that when you scratched Peter’s dopey TV persona, universal
truths dripped out. He developed that character, he said, to deal
with audiences while performing in Greenwich Village fold clubs in
the early ’60s. “I was actually shy, putting up a loud facade,”
said Peter.
Regarding the other Monkees, he “loves, likes and respects
each of them in different proportions.” He has great love and
respect for Davy; Micky, he feels, is more difficult to reach
emotionally. But he is full of admiration for Davy and Micky’s
witty improvising. “I just couldn’t keep up with them,” he said.
So, did he remember throwing his love beads at me and his
other adoring fans while he held court on the second-story window
ledge of the Warwick Hotel in 1967? He remembers the ledge, but
not the beads. A lot has happened since then. He’s got two grown
children, three ex-wives and a girlfriend, he’s toured solo,
teaches guitar and has taught social studies in Southern
California. “I’d give them 20 minutes at the beginning of the term
to get over the Monkees thing; then we’d get to work,” he said.
He’s taken some acting workshops, and he “has an agent,” as I guess
they say a lot in L.A., which is where he lives.
I wanted to take some pictures, so Peter suggested a sweet
little musical-instrument shop nearby, with lovely photogenic
checkerboard tiles out front. He posed in front of a windowful of
guitars and banjos and mugged for the camera as he might have done
27 years ago for Tiger Beat. Then some long-dead brain cell of
mine perked up, and I asked him if he still played the banjo.
“Yes,” he said. “Would you like to hear me play?”
The shop was crammed with strings of alll kinds, and Peter
sprang delightedly from one to another, playing and singing various
riffs and snippets of songs. “They’re right, you ‘don’t’ play your
own instruments,” I quipped. “You play other people’s!”a
There. A really clever joke.
He didn’t laugh.
A few days later, I realized that perhaps Peter wasn’t meant
for me after all. It was hard to take, so I went out and got a
nonfat hot chocolate, very, very hot, with no foam and no whipped
ccream and a ‘whisper’ of cinnamon. I thought about my fantasies,
and how they mutate grotesquely when I try to stuff them into my
stubborn realities. It’s depressing. But still, at least now I
know Peter a little bit, and Peter knows who I am. And that’s kind
of neat.
I even have his phone number. Stranger things ‘have’

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