Sam and I spent the weekend in New York, mostly so we could see musicals that end with the shows’ titular characters dying by gunshot wounds. We also went to our favourite bookstore, the Strand, on three separate occasions, and during the second visit something genuinely surreal occurred.
Some context. We were staying at an Airbnb on St. Marks Place, just down from #96-98 – which feature on the cover of Led Zeppelin’s Physical Graffiti record (as well as the Rolling Stones video “Waiting on a Friend”). We’d actually sought the buildings out during a previous trip, and when we walked passed them on Friday we wondered aloud why Zeppelin had chosen those two seemingly nondescript apartments from the tens of thousands of other ones in New York. Later in the Strand, perhaps subconsciously searching for an answer, I made my way to the music section and…
I ran into Jimmy Page.
Again: I ran into Jimmy Page. The context made it even weirder, but…I mean, it was Jimmy Page and he was book-browsing at the Strand like a normal person, which he is not, because he is Jimmy Page. I very casually walked upstairs, found Sam, put my arms around her neck, gazed deep into her beautiful eyes, and whispered: “Sam. Jimmy Page is downstairs.” Are you sure? she asked. Two thousand percent, I told her. And so back down we went–and sure enough there he was, now browsing in (I’m not making this up: it’s too perfect) MYTHOLOGY & OCCULT – Divination – Mythology/Folklore.
Sam and I spent the next fifteen minutes mulling over the appropriate move. In the end we decided no move was the best move: he was with his girlfriend, and it would’ve been obtrusive, and besides which neither of us is the world’s biggest Zeppelin fan (although her dad might be). And then Jimmy and his girlfriend – Scarlett Sabet – ambled over to the record section…and he pulled out a copy of Physical Graffiti and inspected the cover.
We were both too flabbergasted to react.
I’m usually able to play it pretty cool around famous people: they are, after all, just people, and I’ve worked around them off-and-on since I was 21. Of course, only three people on earth were in Led Zeppelin. One of them was standing next to me on Friday, and for one of the few times in my life I was rendered completely speechless.
And we still don’t know why they picked those two buildings.