My favorite little leather motorcycle jacket has been possessed by a wild spirit for over a year now. It has traveled the world, flipped off cops and just generally been the most bad-ass article of clothing ever.
Wednesday night, however, the jacket returned to me — via the possessor himself: punk rock cult legend and all-around hero, NOBUNNY.
Allow me to tell the tale.
I was already all dance-y and covered in sweat, waiting for the second opener to go on at Brooklyn venue Baby's All Right, when I heard my phone chime somewhere in the depths of my purse.
Digging it out — while narrowly avoiding being bowled over by a crowd of NOBUNNY devotees, one wearing ears and a tail — I was surprised to see the following tweet on the screen:
@BrennaEhrlich there is a gift for u at our merch table :)— NOBUNNY (@NOBUNNYLOVESYOU) February 6, 2014
Figuring that Buns had seen me tweeting obsessively about the show, I figured he had left me a sticker or something. I was immediately ashamed that my rampant fandom had somehow been noticed, but headed to the merch table anyway because, hey, a gift is a gift and you don't look a gift bunny in the mouth. Or something.
I showed the tweet to the woman behind the table and watched a strange wave of recognition sweep over her face.
"Ah!" she said, reaching into a tub of shirts and things behind the table, then presented me with a large plastic baggie containing something black and heavy — I could also see some stickers and buttons and whatnot glinting through the bag.
"What is this?" I asked, squinting through the darkness of the venue to ascertain what the dark — rather fragrant — object was.
"Your jacket," the merch woman said. "He's been wearing it for like a year now. He put together a whole package for you."
And now it's time to rewind.
About a year and a half ago I attended my first-ever NOBUNNY show at a deli-come-music-venue in Bushwick, Brooklyn. I don't remember what else I wore to the show, but I do remember that I had sported my favorite, broken-in pleather jacket that I had scooped up for no more than $20 at a local thrift store. I remember because that's the night we parted ways.
Being a massive fan of NOBUNNY — the stage persona of musician Justin Champlin and a childlike rabbit that was born on the day that Joey Ramone died — I stood at the front of the stage through all the openers. I staked out my spot with elbows of steel, as I am 5 feet tall and notoriously easily wounded in moshpits.
Until NOBUNNY took the stage, his face wrapped in electrical tape in lieu of his trademark bunny mask (the mask had been yoinked the night before), I was totally copacetic. "Bruises" was my middle name, but I didn't care.
But when he burst into the first chorus of "NOBUNNY Loves You," a massive man flung himself at me from somewhere in the abyss and my face apparently sprouted a "Park Elbows Here" sign, because that's what happened.
Admitting defeat, I retreated through the crowd, only to drop my jacket and have my necklaces torn from my neck. Carnage! Spilled beer! All-ages kids gone wild!
Despite all that, I had a pretty rad time as NOBUNNY shredded through his set — but when I went to go retrieve my jacket later it was in a sorry state: damp, pungent and battered beyond recognition. Even intensive therapy wouldn't mend its broken soul — or so I thought.
So, holding the garment with two fingers, I carried it toward the trash, only to be stopped by the doorman. "Is that Justin's jacket?" he asked. NOBUNNY frequently wears tiny leathers on stage, so it wasn't an insane question — even though I am way super small and he is a taller man.
"No," I answered. "He can have it if he wants, though. I was gonna throw it away."
The doorman then shrugged and took it. I always assumed he had trashed it, but I remembered thinking (head-smackingly) that I had left a ton of business cards in the pocket from my last trip to SXSW.
I also remember hoping that if NOBUNNY did end up with it he wouldn't think I was being a creepy fan or anything — leaving him all of my contact info in triplicate. Even though I am a creepy fan, I prefer to exist thusly in quiet desperation (that's the New England way).
Well, apparently the doorman did give Justin the jacket that night, because on Wednesday evening I was holding it once more — albeit in much worse shape than I had left it.
Still, it had lived.
Since it had parted ways with me more than a year ago, it had been on quite a journey: clicking through NOBUNNY's Facebook page I caught a glimpse of it giving the finger to the cops and rocking out in Chicago, Berlin, Memphis, Fargo, Italy, Reno, Warsaw and more (more cities than I have ever been to in my entire life).
Yup, my jacket — one that I had had roadtrips and first kisses in — managed to take on a life of its own for a year, racking up a cadre of experiences that I can only imagine occurring in my most-fevered fantasies.
I have not yet opened the bag — a wash is imminent — but I know one thing for sure: I will not be throwing this jacket away any time soon.
Thanks, NOBUNNY, for the secondhand memories.