Ms Smith goes to Washington (State, that is)

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Years ago, I used to live on Cape Cod — Wellfleet, to be specific — on Long Pond Road. Stuck back in the woods, a mile from the highway, Route 6, the house overlooked Long Pond, a gorgeous body of water. A man named Philip owned the house and I lived upstairs.

Philip, who had worked for the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC, seemed to know everyone. And if he didn’t, he’d probably been around him or her. As proof, he had, in his study, a photo of him at a concert somewhere, standing off to the side, while in the foreground the rocker Patti Smith was in the process of smashing a chair to smithereens by hurling it to the ground. Watching the whole thing go down, Philip had a little smile on his face.

I loved that picture. Oh, did I love it. Looking at it, I always thought, Wow, she’s awesome. And, Damn, I want to meet Patti Smith.

I thought that in 97-98. Now, it’s 2010 and, somehow, that thought came true.

Just this past week, on Jan. 25, Patti Smith came to Seattle, to give a reading from her new book, “Just Kids,” about her relationship with Robert Mapplethorpe. (Yep, him, the photog who took some unapologetically S&M-themed queer pix that drove Sen. Jesse Helms batty.) I’d contacted Seattle Arts and Lectures, to see if I could interview her. Unfortunately, she was too busy. But, I was asked, what about attending a champagne toast with Patti? I would have been a fool to say no. So I didn’t.

And let me tell you: Patti is just about the sweetest person you’d ever wanna meet. She walked right up to me, all nonchalant, and said, “Hi, my name’s Patti.” Like she needed an introduction. Then she posed for pix with me — and everyone else there — and, when she found out I worked for Real Change, she said, “The homeless, they’re our people.”

She went on stage a short while later, read from “Just Kids” (which, I gotta say, sounds great), did a Q-n-A with rock journalist Charles R. Cross, then sang. And since she can only play six chords on the gee-tar (?!?!), she led the audience in a rousing a cappella version of “Because the Night.”

And seeing her, listening to her, it was hard not to feel that the does indeed belong to us. All of us.