Fairy God Rocker

“I’m sorry to hear about Chris Cornell,” our friend Denise texts Theresa, a day after Cornell’s death. “I know he was your Fairy God Rocker.”

The story, which has earned us a lot of Awws, goes like this.

Fall 2013, I was living in Westchester, working in publishing when I learned Cornell was playing the Beacon Theater in New York City, solo acoustic. I made note of the day tickets go on sale, and that morning I pounced online. But I did not pounce fast enough. Ticketmaster sold out in a mere hour.

“Well, that fucking sucks,” I thought. (Cornell, it seems, was an inveterate pottymouth, and I write this post in tribute to him.) “I won’t be seeing Chris Cornell in New York City.” I hadn’t seen him since Lollapalooza 1993. But I still had my framed promo print from the “Carry On” album hanging on my apartment wall.

His face was one of devilish good looks. He was handsome and his eyes captivated. Of course, he had the locks of glory: to be anointed a rock god you must have them, and Cornell did.

A few weeks later, Ticketmaster emailed me what I recognized as an automated promotion. I had starred Cornell as a favorite artist in its system, and the email said that seats were available for one of his shows. I clicked and clicked until I was looking at a seating chart of the venue, seeing a single available seat: F14. In Brooklyn the F train had been my local train, and 14, being my birthday, was my favorite number. I snatched it up, checked out, and printed my confirmation.

“Woo hoo! I’m going to Cornell after all!”

But the printout in my hand bore some strange acronym: UPAC. I googled that. Ulster County Performing Arts Center. Not the Beacon Theater? No—this was a theater in some place called Kingston, New York. I Google-mapped that: 90 miles away.