I arrive in the year of Rubber Soul, Highway 61 Revisited, and My Generation: 1965. My Journalism major mom and guitar-playing Marine dad divorce before I turn two. Mom retains custody of my elder brother, Britt, and me. We come of age in Atlanta, in the waning days of the hippie dream and the onset of disco; arts festivals, backwoods, communes, the golden age of Top 40 radio, and a house stocked with books and LPs.
My father dies driving drunk a couple weeks after my seventh birthday. Mom returns to school to study medicine. Maternal grandmother, Gammie, steps in to help raise my brother and me. Her husband, my grandfather, Sam F. Lucchese, is the retired entertainment editor of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and a stringer for Variety. He still taps furiously on a manual typewriter in the basement of their home, the percussive clickety-clack-BING rising from below while we watch All in the Family and the Carol Burnett Show. My writing gene comes from the Lucchese line.
I pen stories and poems and co-edit a newspaper for teens, but in those early days, Dad’s musician genes hold sway, and I focus most of my energy on music. I pick up a bass at fourteen and devote myself to it. Within a couple years, I start a band with my longtime best friend, guitarist Todd Butler. Our singer is superstar-in-exile RuPaul. We call ourselves Wee Wee Pole. We write and perform Prince-inspired material. From Gammie’s kitchen, I book us a tour to Manhattan. I am eighteen.