I first heard of the Rolling Stone magazine in the early 1980s. I was 14 and listening to pirate Radio Free Europe, behind the Iron Curtain in communist Romania.
It took 10 or more years before I held a RS magazine in my own hands. It was handed to me with a ritual gesture: one of my hometown mentors, the beloved late Dorel Racolta, had been traveling to USA extensively following the fall of the communist regime in 1989, and he brought me one. Back in my Northern Transylvanian town, I was playing music at the local FM station, including Dr. Hook’s “Cover of the Rolling Stone”.
I can vividly remember those first minutes holding the magazine, soaking in the ink, the colors, the cover, smelling it and then reading it end to end, including the publisher’s credits and address!
So here I am, a hot Thursday in June 2011, on 1290 Avenue of Americas in New York: the Rolling Stone headquarters.
It’s my first time in New York and a pilgrimage to the Rolling Stone was on my top 3 list. I AM EXCITED!
Knowing Rolling Stone as a beacon for freedom-thirsty Eastern Europeans like myself, I didn’t care planning my visit. I called them in the morning before heading from the Newark Airport hotel to Manhattan, but when the receptionist put me through I reached a voicemail.
“Heck, I’ll just drop-in” – I said to myself. “These are the guys that taught me about freedom, about the untamed spirits of Hunter, Dylan. They’ll see me. I’ll just show up, take a picture at the door and leave. Or, best case scenario, I’ll get to chat over a beer with one from their current ranks.”
With that mindset, I was disappointed to be stopped at the security desk in the main lobby of their building. Couldn’t even make it to the second floor, where their office is.
I called upstairs from the security desk and told my whole story to the receptionist. She put me through to “someone”, and the someone expressed her regrets: “if you don’t know anyone, we can’t let you in, sorry.”
“But, madam, I am a Rolling Stone fan for 30 years.”
“Sorry, you need to know someone to come up here.”
“I traveled from Eastern Europe to see you.”
“I realize this is unexpected, but…”
“Sorry mister, bye.”
In a post 9/11 America, this is la règle du jeu.
The Cerberus at the door probably doesn’t even bother telling anyone in the office about a sucker who traveled half the world to see them.
In my world, I keep the doors wide open, as I did at my local FM station back in the 199o’s in Northern Transylvania. You wanna see me, come in, we’ll even have a beer.
And trust me, I was a radio star, and new people wanted to see me every day.