One day in the early 90s I came home to find my answering machine blinking. Not unexpectedly as an original art ad had just broken in the Comic Buyers Guide and calls would be starting to roll in. I hit the play button and heard, “Hi Scott, this is Graham Nash of Crosby, Stills, & Nash and I want to buy some art from your ad. I can’t leave a number because I’m on tour. I’ll call back later.”
The next message came on, “Hi Scott, this is Graham Nash again, from Crosby, Stills, & Nash. I’ll call back later.” The following two messages were pretty much the same, and in each he said “Crosby, Stills, & Nash.” I had just finished listening to the final one when the phone rang. The voice coming over the line asked for me and then said, “Scott, this is Graham Nash, from Crosby, Stills, & Nash, I want to buy some art from you.”
It was one of those moments when you just have to look at the phone. I said, “Okay, who is this really?” The voice came back, “Really, this is Graham Nash!” I asked him which band he had been in before CSN and he replied, “The Hollies." I told him everybody knew that. I said if you’re Graham Nash sing something. I was actually pretty sure at this point it was Graham Nash but I thought it would be funny to have him do a few lines of “Our House."
So the person who was apparently Graham Nash tells me he wants to buy a number of originals from my ad. But there’s a catch: he won’t be home for a couple of months because of the tour. And he’s anxious to get the pages. He tells me that CSN will be playing in New Jersey in a couple of weeks and asks if I could deliver the art to him there. He’d arrange for tickets and back stage passes to be left at the Will Call window and we’d complete our transaction before the concert. Oh, and he wanted me to bring along more art.
I hung up the phone and started to get a nagging feeling. Maybe this wasn’t what it appeared to be; maybe one of my friends was playing an elaborate prank on me. I had no number for him (in those dawning days of cellular) and no payment was en route to me. But, what the Hell, the worst that could happen was I schlep a portfolio out to New Jersey for a few hours.
So on the appointed day my girlfriend and I take a cab down to the Port Authority and are herded onto a bus bound for Holmdel, New Jersey, home of the Garden State Arts Center. When we arrived it was still a couple of hours before the concert and the crowd wasn’t too bad yet. We found our way to the Will Call window where…my name wasn’t on the list.
I was stunned. All I could think of was that depressing bus ride back to the city, what a drag it was going to be. We started to walk away and then I stopped. Screw it, they were going to have another look. This time the lady checked a different list, the one that had backstage passes. Voilà, we’re on the sheet. Guess we didn’t fit the standard VIP type.
So we headed down towards the stage, showed our passes, and were escorted to a waiting area inside. There were a lot of people standing around; some who I presumed were with the band, some with the Arts Center, and some who looked out of place (just like us). They had won a radio station promotion. The guy who ushered us in goes to tell Graham we’d arrived and a few minutes later Graham Nash comes out to meet us. He says hello and tells me he has to take care of something before we can talk art. He walked over to the contest winners and introduced himself. He’s a charming fellow, polite and funny, and he treated them like people. It was a nice sight. When he’s done he walks over and says, “Okay, Whattaya got to show me?”
I heft a large portfolio onto a table and open it for him. First he looked at the pages he called about and then puts them aside. Next he scrutinizes the three-inch stack of art he requested I bring. He started separating art into two stacks, one short, the other tall. When he was done he looked at me and asked, motioning to the larger stack, “How much for these?”
After adding it up I gave him a number. He asked if I could do any better. Soon we had a deal and he wrote me a check. In the background there was a guy who had been leaning over now and then to check out what was going on, he seemed very interested. When Graham and I were done he stepped up and pulled out one of the pieces that remained, a Beetle Bailey comic book cover. He asked how much it was. I told him $90. He said, “I’ll give you $75 bucks, cash!” I laughed and said sure. He was positively giddy as he walked away.
We said our goodbyes and walked out to be with the paying customers. The Garden State Arts Center is an open-air venue and it was a pleasant evening. We enjoyed the concert, it was my first time seeing CSN, and then headed out towards the parking lot when the show was over. Buoyed by a lighter portfolio and a fat check, I decided to spring for a cab back to New York and home…paid for courtesy of Stephen Stills’ $75 bucks, cash.