In the mid 90s I didn’t have a computer and had to rent time on a box at an internet cafe on Broadway. It was dark, small and felt sleazy: four or five of us with our backs to each other, picking away at the keyboard, on the clock.
I entered a chat room for my favorite band, The Fall. I didn’t know what else to do.
I met a guy named Jon Cook. He had tapes, bootlegs, shows available for a small fee, the cost of postage. I gave him my address and the package came within a week. My name in the middle, his name at the top. Two tapes, handwritten details on the outside, careful verse. A letter, describing the music, signed J Cook. He even sounded English.
I wrote back, and mailed him some tapes. Back and forth it went, for a few years. The package came, I got a beer, put the tape in, sat down and read his letter.
I didn’t know anything about Cook, outside of what Fall music he owned, or what shows he had seen. He was faceless, ageless, just Jon Cook, on Victoria Street.
In August of ’98 I traveled from France to London, then on to Liverpool to see my friend Loren perform at an electronic music festival. I took Cook’s address with me and made my way to Victoria street: a line of apartments stuck together in a gray pocket of town, mid-afternoon.
The name on the mailbox didn’t match his, but the address was the same. I rang it, but no one answered. I wrote a note and put it in the mailbox, but I didn’t have any contact information so there was no way he could get back to me even if he wanted. I realized there were probably many Victoria streets throughout Liverpool, throughout the UK.
He re-emerged some time later with a story about writing to the band The White Stripes, with a proposed image for their next album cover. I think I’ve found him online, but I can only communicate with him via Twitter, and I’m not interested in feeds about what soccer matches he’s betting on. Because we never met, he can be anyone now.