Smutty Smiff Gets His Bass Back

“It’s kind of restored my belief in humanity and karma,” said Smutty, who called from the homeless shelter in Reykjavik where he works. “I’ve heard from hundreds of people I haven’t seen or talked to in 30 years. Though I did feel bad for Manny. I told him I had no hard feelings toward him. He’s a good guy.”

The Rockats are completing a new album for Cleopatra Records, with Blondie’s Clem Burke on drums, which should be out early next year. Because they are planning a tour and will be playing in New York, Smutty decided to keep the bass in the metro area, rather than lug it back and forth to Iceland.

“Whenever we played here, Smutty always had to scramble to find a bass to use,” said Mr. Ryan, who lives in Hoboken, N.J. “It doesn’t make any sense to send it to Iceland.”

Smutty plans to visit the pawnshop when he’s in town and shake hands with Mr. Vidal, whom he called regularly over the last several weeks as the drama unfolded. On Monday, Smutty told Mr. Vidal not to hand the bass over to anybody but Mr. Ryan. “So many people have been calling him and telling him they’ll come and pick it up for me,” Smutty said. “But I don’t trust anyone. Next thing you know someone will be demanding $5,000 or you’re not getting it back. We are talking about Jersey City here.”

Smutty has every reason to be suspicious. On Tuesday, he said, someone hacked into his Facebook account and encouraged a well-meaning former roadie for the band to set up a Go Fund Me page to raise $3,000 to send the bass to Iceland.

After the Rockats’ gear was stolen, Mr. Vidal, who was 19 at the time and not yet working in the pawnshop industry, came across a man with the bass, with its unusual pink-and-blue trim, in a garage in Hoboken. A bass player himself, Mr. Vidal said he traded his own Fender Precision electric for it, unaware it was stolen. He kept it for nearly 40 years, but never tried to sell it.

Mr. Ryan, whose Gretsch Country Gentleman guitar was stolen along with the rest of the Rockats’ gear in 1982, plans to tell Mr. Vidal to keep an eye out for his instrument. “If you see my Gretsch, give me a shout,” he said, “and we’ll start this story all over again.”

Newyork timek

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