Writing to Rock: Imagined Postcard Adventures (Inspired by Pearl Jam)
by After School Tutoring Students / Mar 6, 2012
These stories were written by students of the after school tutoring program as part of a week long writing workshop called "Writing to Rock: Imagined Postcard Adventures (Inspired by Pearl Jam)." Students learned about the history of the band Pearl Jam, picked a place they'd played on tour, and wrote an adventure story related to someone/thing in the band. And all of this in postcard form! At the end of the workshop, they read their stories out loud at the nearby Couth Buzzard Book Store. The next week at tutoring they were able to share their tales with Pearl Jam bassist and long time 826 Seattle supporter, Jeff Ament ! Here are a few examples of the stories:
Dear 826 Seattle,
You’ll never believe what happened to me! When I was at 826 Seattle, a band called Pearl Jam came and asked for a drummer to go to Peru with them. We took a Learjet because it was the fastest way to get there. We climbed the mountain to Machu Picchu because that was where the concert was.
On the way up, the ground rumbled. But our guide said not to worry. We reached Machu Picchu and started the concert without any trouble.
After we finished the song, everybody asked me to do a drum solo. When I hit the down beat with my right hand, the mountain shook. It really, really shook! People thought I did it! Then, the ground started cracking between my legs! A big crack opened up. I saw an ancient bow and arrow. I reached down to get them but I fell in. I thought to myself how do I get out of here? I was scared but I knew I would get out.
I grabbed onto one of the arrows and tied a rope to it. I shot the arrow up to a tree above. It stuck! I pulled myself up out of the crack. When I got out, the crowd was amazed and cheered.
Pearl Jam said that I was the first drummer to cause an earthquake. They said I could be their drummer for life. When I got back to 826 Seattle, the story was written up in the local newspaper and Rock & Roll Magazine.
Author Bio: Yonase is eight. He enjoys listening to hip-hop, pop and rap music via the radio or the computer.
Dear 826 Seattle,
Greetings from Asmara! You’ll never believe what happened! It all started at the Expo site at Asmara, Eritrea. The Expo site is one of my favorite places in Eritrea because there is a lot to do there. I go there a lot with my uncle and cousins to watch movies, eat fish and bread, drink coffee with milk, and watch knife dancers perform.
Anyways, I had gone to the Expo site this time to see Pearl Jam play. The opening act was the Chipmunks singing “Single Ladies.” I was eating some kitcha fit-fit—a spicy bread—with a spoon and trying hard not to spill it on my new pink dress. All of the sudden, it started to rain very heavily, and a big wind came and blew the lead Chipmunk away! He was so little, and the wind was too strong for him. He blew right past a Gabaza set up in the Expo site. (Gabazas looks like igloos made out of straw, and they are traditional houses in the Eritrean countryside).
Just then, 190 bicycle riders zoomed past the Expo grounds. They were racing in the Tour of Eritrea. The Chipmunk was blowing right toward them.
“Kes belie!” I yelled in Tigrinya (“Watch out!”). I didn’t want the Chipmunk to get hit. I had been hit by a bicycle one time when I was seven, and I knew how bad it hurt.
They were about to crash, when all of the sudden, the Pearl Jam bass player, Jeff Ament, who just happened to be driving to the Expo Center to perform next, slammed on the breaks, jumped out of the car, and picked the Chipmunk up. He was just in time.
“What kind of animal is this?” he said, holding the Chipmunk in his arms.
The Chipmunk tried to answer, but he was still too scared. His heart was pounding, boom, boom, boom. Jeff wrapped the Chipmunk in a scarf, and put him in the car. Jeff was a part-time doctor as well as a musician, so he checked the Chipmunk to make sure he was OK. The Chipmunk’s heart was still beating strongly, so Jeff called the emergency workers just to be safe. The emergency workers came and gave the Chipmunk a shot.
“He’ll be OK,” they said. “Just give him space.” They took him to the hospital where he could rest.
Because the Chipmunk was going to be OK, Pearl Jam decided to go ahead and play the concert. There was a parked Boeing 727 plane in the Expo Center, so Jeff said, “Let’s do the show on top of the plane!”
I clapped my hands. That’s an awesome idea to do the show on the plane, I thought.
For the very last song, Pearl Jam started to play “Oceans,” because we were near the Red Sea. At the last minute, the Chipmunk came back from the hospital, climbed up on the plane, and sang with the band! The people in the crowd were screaming because they were happy to see him again.
As I danced, I thought, this is the best day ever.
Wish you were here!
Author Bio: Edom is nine years old. She is from Eritrea. Her favorite song is the Chipmunks cover of “Single Ladies.” She likes to listen to it on CD, sometimes while sitting down, and sometimes while dancing for her mom. One day, she will be a famous dancer, performing in the Pacific Northwest Ballet’s performance of Don Quijote, or, she will be a karate master.
Dear 826 Seattle,
Greetings from The Big Apple! You’ll never believe what happened! One sunny day in New York, I got a call from a New York operator, who had a message for me.
“Pearl Jam is going to come to Brooklyn Bridge to see The Bookworms play!” He said. Quickly I hung up and sent an email to all of my friends, because I was the band leader for the Bookworms and all my friends were in the band. Even though I had sent an email to all my friends, I called them as quickly as I could and I told them what I had just been informed about.
Soon my friends and I were getting ready for the concert at Brooklyn Bridge. We got the food and new rocking clothes. Then we called every single person we knew: family members, cousins, friends, and other relatives. Soon everyone knew that we were going to open for Pearl Jam at the Brooklyn Bridge. We practiced five hours a day, every day until we were perfect. But even though we felt we were perfect, we practiced some more, because we were really nervous and we wanted to get even better!
It felt like only an hour of practice but soon the big day had arrived. We drove to the Brooklyn Bridge, pronto. But when we got there, people were in front of the Bridge, holding Pearl Jam signs instead of the Bookworms! We got out of the van and asked the person nearest to us, “Why is everyone holding Pearl Jam signs, when they should be holding our signs?”
The person turned around and said, “Pearl Jam is going to play at Brooklyn Bridge, not you!”
It had turned out that what the operator had really said was that Pearl Jam was going to play at Brooklyn Bridge, not The Bookworms! But it wasn’t my fault because the operator was a New Yorker and New Yorkers talk really fast, so it’s hard to tell what they are saying. In the end, though, Pearl Jam let us play for them and the crowd.
Wish you were here!
Your rock star,
Author Bio: Melat is ten years old. When she’s in her room, she likes to listen to hip-hop, R & B, and rock and roll. When she’s in her dad’s car, she listens to Ethiopian music. She went to her first concert when she was five to see the Wiggles. In the future, she will famous for being an author, a scientist, and the Best President Ever.
Dear 826 Seattle,
Greetings from the Las Vegas strip. You’ll never believe what happened. I just had one of the best cases in years. It all started at a Pearl Jam concert. The band was playing, and everybody was having a good time. Lights glowed and giant light-up poker chips illuminated the stage.
Then it happened.
For the grand finale they were supposed to spray poker chips out into the crowd, but instead there was a powerful explosion. Chips sprayed the crowd, one of which hit a gentleman in the eye. His name was Brooks Gelato. He was taken away quickly via an ambulance to have his eye examined.
Pearl Jam hastened to the hospital to apologize to him. They said they hadn’t meant for it to explode so hard. The doctors said his eye was going to be okay but the medical bills were going to be explosive. As Pearl Jam prepared to leave, Brooks called them over and said, “I’m going to sue the rock star pants off you, Eddie Vedder. I’ll get you my pretty, and your little band too.”
Eddie and I have been friends since the old days of high school. In college, I went off to law school and he went to an arts college. He knew I was a very successful lawyer, so he promptly called me. As well as a lawyer, I was a pretty good private eye. A PI is a person you call if you don’t want the flatfoots getting involved, and Eddie smelled something rotten. He thought foul play might’ve been involved. He didn’t want Brooks getting angry though, so he called me.
I reviewed the case. It was all in Brooks’ favor. The pumps that shot out the poker chips appeared to have been tampered with, and this legal eagle didn’t like the smell of it.
I talked to the man who had been in charge of loading the pumps. He seemed quite nervous under my shrewd and powerful gaze and he soon cracked like the egg he was. He said an unknown person had bribed him to add extra pressure. When I asked him about this anonymous villain, he said he didn’t know. “He was wearing a wide-brimmed hat and a dark overcoat. It was night,” he squealed.
I wondered, Hmm, who would’ve done this? Somebody who had a grudge against Pearl Jam. So, I pondered and pondered. Then, something about what he said came back to me. He said someone had bribed him with three million dollars. That meant the villain had to be a multi-millionaire. It also meant the villain had something to gain from having Gelato sue Pearl Jam.
I looked at the case and thought about who would gain from Pearl Jam being sued. There was A: Brooks Gelato--He’d get a lot of money. And B: His lawyer--He’d get a big fat payoff for winning the case. I thought we could count out Brooks right away. He got hit in the eye with a poker chip. He obviously didn’t want that to happen.
That left the lawyer. I sent out one of my scouts, a certain John Bond. He reported back to me saying that the lawyer seemed as innocent as a newborn baby. That left Brooks. I thought and thought. Maybe he had a pain tolerance and he just wanted the big fat payoff? But still, it seemed a little dangerous. He could’ve lost an eye. I sent Bond to talk to the security people from the concert. Maybe they knew something. He came back with a tape.
“Sir, I have a video of what happened that night at the concert. It shows people being pelted,” Bond said.
Brooks was in the front row. I reviewed the tape and found him. I slowly played it back. It showed the poker chips exploding out of the pump. They certainly hit many parts of Brooks’ body, but they never hit his eye.
“Curious,” I muttered. “Good job, Bond. You deserve a reward. I have a friend over in England who needs a spy. I’ll call her. You should change your name though. Maybe, James?” I went back to the tape. The next bit really took the cake. I saw Brooks take a packet of ketchup and slap his eye, causing it to pop. The red liquid looked remarkably like blood. I put two and two together. It was pretty easy to see what had happened.
At the courthouse the next morning, I showed my tape to the jury and explained what had happened. I played the tape in slow motion. It showed Brooks pulling the ketchup from a concealed pocket from inside his jacket and crushing it against his eye.
“AHHHH,” he yelled on the tape, clutching his face. I restrained myself from laughing. (It looked funny in slow motion--So sue me! On second thought, I don’t advise it. I’m the legal eagle).
Suddenly, Brooks panicked and ran out of the courthouse.
“After him!” I cried, and eight policemen followed me in the ensuing chase. Brooks’ private car took him to the docks of Lake Powell where his yacht awaited him. I leapt onto the ship and barely made it. The police were left on the dock.
“Give it up, Gelato, you’re about to get licked,” I said. “See what I did there? Gelato. Ice cream? Lick? Get it?” I laughed for a minute.
Gelato was not amused. “I haven’t heard that one before,” he said sarcastically.
I jumped and pinned Gelato to the ground. We wrestled for a moment. He slugged me; I slugged him. He stuck his finger up my nose. I flicked him in his supposedly injured eye. That’s when he went for his slingshot and poker chips.
“These poker chips are filled with blinding poison!” he said. He shot a few chip at me. I dove into the expensive lavatory, and locked the door behind me.
“What can I do?” I muttered to myself.
I saw the toilet seat made out of gold. Then, it occurred to me. I broke off the toilet seat, smashed down the door and ran at Gelato with the toilet seat affixed to my arm like a shield. He shot at the golden target, but the chips bounced off harmlessly. I rammed into him knocking him out, stole his slingshot and dragged him along behind me. I went up to the control room and told the captain to turn the ship around. We went back to the dock.
Gelato was swiftly put behind bars and he admitted to the whole thing. He had bribed the pump man to increase the pressure of the pumps. He had also bribed his doctor to say he’d been hit in the eye.
Pearl Jam had several more concerts that week. I went to several of them.
After the final concert, I went to the jail to see what had happened to Gelato. To my astonishment, the guards told me that just hours before, Gelato had knocked out a guard, and smashed through a window.
Apparently, as Gelato had jumped, he’d laughed maniacally, “See ya, imbeciles! Tell the Legal Eagle he can go sit in a tree and sue the pigeons for all I care!” Then he jumped.
Except, he was five-stories up. So let’s just say he got the death penalty.
I got a heavy payoff from Pearl Jam who thanked me gratefully for helping them and gave me an unlimited pass to all of their concerts. My family and I are fans, so they were happy as well.
This is Rowan Murray, signing off. And remember, if you ever need a lawyer, the Legal Eagle is here.
Author Bio: Rowan is twelve and enjoys listening to rap while in class. Once he saw The Flaming Lips in concert. In the future he will become famous for his many talents such as song writing, poetry, and singing.