Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Mea Culpa

So the Pope arrives at JFK, comes down the stairs of his private jet and walks up to his limo driver. He says to the guy,"Hey look, I never get a chance to drive anymore. Whaddaya say you let me take the wheel for the way back?" The driver's a litle taken aback and says,"Gee, Your Holiness, I don't know....I could really get in a lot of trouble here.......and it's been a while for you......I... don't think so." They go back and forth and the driver gives in. Sure enough they take off and the pope's a little heavy on the foot and not a great driver in general. Coming down the Van Wyck Expwy, they get the attention of one of New York's Finest. The cop approaches the car and notices who's driving. He excuses himself, goes back to his car and calls in to his Sergeant. He says, "Uh, Sarge, we got a situation here a limo stopped on the Van's a VIP. Not sure what to do...... I don't want any incidents, if ya know what I mean." The Sarge says,"What, an actor, politician...?" "Bigger," says the cop. "Well, Elvis and Sinatra are dead big is this guy,?" says the Sarge. "Look, the cops says, I don't know who it is, but the Pope's drivin !!!!!!!"

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Ahhh, They Can't Hurt Ya'

This day started off a little differently. Almost checked out. Got your attention? It was a really nice morning. Got up around eight. Blue sky. Plenty of sun. A couple of hours to kill before work. I was all set to paint the deck.... at least the part Lucy left, and looking forward to the experience immensely. I used to paint for a living.....houses, garages, rooms, carports....decks. Painting's very therapeutic...soothing. It was also a good gig to combine with playing music at night. Good hours, plenty of sunshine, a day off when I needed it. So I was pumped. Did a few sections and was ready to move on to the bulk. Arranged some furniture and plants and was giving the deck a sweepdown....when it happened. Did I mention I'm allergic to bees?
I was doing a gig last Sunday with a country band I play with now and again. It was a company picnic in a grove behind a bar. As we're setting up this bee keeps hounding the drummer.......I mean... on him. So he's asking me for some help and I'm explaining as I'm snapping a towel at him that I really shouldn't be doing this.....allergic and all that. During the break I'm relating the story of when and how I discovered this peculiar allergy. But I digress.
I'm giving the deck a sweepdown and realize I'm taking a few stings here and this could be trouble. I jet into the house, out the back door and to my car to grab an Epi Pen that I hope is in there. This is a self injectable, whack yourself in the leg setup that's supposed to pull you through these episodes........adrenaline or something. I get back in the house and sit down on the couch.....starting to recognize the symptoms....hard to breathe........things getting...."slow". This is where it gets weird. I'm looking towards a part of the room where I have my recording equipment. Watching guard over the stuff is the Carole King album "Tapestry". I leave it leaning on the recorder in the hopes that some magic will jump from the grooves into the osmosis kind of thing. She's got a great new cd out, by the way. So as I'm bonding with Carole and forgetting about injecting.....everything stopped. I don't think we realize it but there's really no such thing as total silence. You........ I........ can hear (feel) our heart pumping, blood rushing through our veins, and that abstract kind of ear hum. I always thought that was the sound of the universe. When it stops, man it's quiet. And there I sat. A peace fell over the room. And then. I don't know. Did I pass out? Leave the planet? The next thing I felt...heard.... was a whack on the side of my head. Kinda like my football coach would give me. Not painful, just an attention grabber. A thud through my helmet. Or kind of like that jump you get when you start to doze off in a chair. Always embarassing if somebody sees you. Now I'm back, I grab the Epi Pen and jam it into my thigh. OUCH !!!!!!!! Within three seconds I have a headache to beat the freakin' band. And those sounds? They're baaaaaack !!!!!!
I don't move for about forty five minutes. The head stopped pounding, the vision cleared and a dull hangover type feeling sets in. I recognize this feeling. I had it the last time I cheated the bees out of their ultimate revenge. At that time the doc said I was lucky to still be here. Next time could be different. Location of the stings apparantly makse a difference. Both times in the feet.....long way from the heart. Got an additional one in the hand this time. Nasty little buggers. Ya know, I'll go out of my way to throw an ant out of the house...alive. But I've gotta admit, I enjoyed unleashing a load of Raid on the bastion of the bees.
A couple of hours later I was getting ready to walk to work and picked up the trusty Epi Pen. I couldn't help but notice what it said on the side.....exp Aug /2003. Oops.

Monday, July 25, 2005

The Bell Has Tolled

My friend Carol died over the weekend. Things are in full swing for a "celebration" on Sunday, with a more private service for the family on Mon. I want to put together some kind of....tribute......remembrance..... for my radio show this week. These are always kind of touchy. You try to have a reverence without being too maudlin. I usually find what happens...... happens. You can't plan or fake She was way too young

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

"It Tolls For Thee"

A friend of mine is lying in bed dying of cancer. Carol's the wife of the keyboard player in my band. The band I'm leaving. Tom and I have played together on and off for about twenty five years. I actually knew Carol before Tom. She used to work at a convenience store in Piscataway, NJ in the 70's. I'd pop in from time to time and some casual flirting would ensue.
This is Carol's second go round with Cancer and it's really starting to piss me off. I saw her a couple of weeks ago and she was not doing well. A group of us shared some food, beverage and songs and Carol really seemed to be enjoying herself. About a year ago she came to a gig and at the end of the night I gave her a hug and told her we all loved her. She seemed so touched I almost felt I was saying hey, we all know...It'll be ok. We knew it wouldn't be ok and now she's in bed with a morphine drip waiting for the light. I've always been a good listener, and Carol was an enthusiastic communicator. I rarely saw her these days, but when I did I'd pull up next to her, ask her how she's been, what's going on...and sit back. She had such an innocent way about her.....beautiful eyes. .......the last of the hippie chicks. It's been a tough go for Tom and their two kids. I was talking to Tom today and pre-arrangements are under way. Some old friends and lots of music. I hope I can to bring something appropriate to the table.
I've lost a few friends in the last ten years or so. Always strange....reflective. I'm no spring chicken but 40's/50's seems too soon. I fear it less and less. I'd still like to make a bigger mark.....but......wouldn't we all. The over riding, all important, mamma jamma, kingfisher, hit you between the eyes message seems to be............. "Be good to each other." Brilliant, huh? Did anybody else ever say that?

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

The Name Game

Here's a limmerick I wrote in ninth grade English class:
With Ron on drums and Mike on bass
And me on rhythm guitar,
And George who sings while Rock plays lead
The Plague is going far.
The plague was my first Piscataway band. I moved from Plainfield, NJ to Piscataway, NJ in 1966. The Plainfield bands all had a hard musical edge.....Stones, Animals, Yardbirds etc. The Piscataway bands were more instrumental, lighter......Ventures, Jan and Dean, Surfaris. My job was clear.....conversion. We met somewhere in the middle. I always dug that name....The Plague. Our drummer's father volunteered to get us five hundred business cards. Oooooweeeee!!!! One day at practice the dad showed up with the package. And there they were....five hundred band cards with "The PlagueS" emblazoned on them. "No!!....the Plague....not Plagues." He didn't get it, but we went through them quick enough and he got it right the next time. The best of intentions.
I think a band name is important. In a word or two you should get an idea of what the band's about. By the time I was with the plague at the the ripe old age of thirteen, I'd already been through The Esquires, Bobby and the Bandals, Teddy and the Teabaggers and a few that didn't make it to the name stage. I was never in a band with a name that I could get %100 behind. Just too damn particular. Some later band names were Society's Child, The Best of General Milz, Wichita Straw, Freewheelin', Sundown, Firecreek, Whiskey Lane, Freight Line, Sidewinder, Walking Wounded, The al. One of my favorite names was my drummer buddy's band, The Split Worm Hibernation Day Band. Ahhhh,the 60's were a wonderful era for monickers. All these names convey the era or style of music/ If they don't....they should. For the last year I've been doing a solo gig in addition to band stuff. It's weird seeing your name on a poster, marquee, in the paper........especially if you're not a look at me kind of guy. I used to hide under the table when "Happy Birthday" was directed at me. Frightening!!!!
But the playing's what it's all about. For fun or profit, being able to pick up a guitar and noodle is ..........spiritual.....contemplative........ fun. I also realized early on that girls pay a little more attention to the musicians. Why everybody doesn't do this is beyond me. Of course, then I'd be out of a job.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Daze Gone By

Remember in the late 60's/70's when hitchiking was a legitimate form of transportation? It made every trip a little more of an adventure. My buddies and I would do the one guy hitchin', three guys in the bushes routine. If we all got out there together we had a little temptations step that seemed to move things along......or at least raise a smile. In my college town of El Paso, Kelly and I turned it into a sport. We called it "Hitchin' For Chicks". Politically incorrect I know, but it was a different time. We'd actually turn down rides from anyone except, well.....chicks. One night we got to our favorite corner and there were four different groups of guys lined up to start thumbin'. Damn degenerates. Another era comes to an end.
Another pretty cool Texas hitch was Easter break.......EP to LA. The guy I was going with didn't have much hitchin' experience. I kept telling him what a grueling trip this could be....hours.....days crossing the desert. He didn't seem fazed. We got picked up in about five minutes by a guy going to LA. Really made me look bad. We were going to see his girlfriend in Hollywood. I was telling him...ok ...this is where it gets by our wits and guile. The girlfriend got us into a mansion in Laurel Canyon for a week. Skunked again. One day the three of us were hitchin' in downtown LA. A taxi driver stopped to pick us up. Even after we explained that we had no money he still insisted we get in. He was a Mexican gentleman and seemed like the happiest guy on the planet. He took us to a small restaurant somewhere in LA, where he was apparantly well known, ordered lunch, bottles of wine, cigars. yeah....CIGARS!!!!!!! We kept insisting we had no money. He finally looked at me, gestured around the room and asked me if I ever heard the phrase,"Mi casa, su casa". He didn't leave any money and none seemed to be expected. I've since used that phrase many times He finally took us where we had to go, dropped us off in our drunken stupor and didn't take a dime. Which was good....'cause we didn't have a dime. I like to consider myself pretty streetwise. That cab driver knocked some of the wise out of me. I sure wish I'd gotten his name. Now we were broke. Things were sure to get nasty. We got jobs as gardeners in our mansion for a couple days and flew back to EP first class. So much for a tough lesson.
Back in Jersey the hitchin' school, to work...for fun. After I had a car for a few years, I tried it again...but it wasn't the same. A bygone era. In this day and age hitch hiking's taken on a grim aura. People sometimes don't come back. I had a couple of dicey calls, but nothing too serious. And I'm sure my college pal has nothing but rosey memories of his experience. At least we got a ticket from a Texas state trooper...but even he was friendly!!! For some reason I can't really remember the rain or the cold.....the long wait between rides........sometimes not getting rides. Thank God for selective memory, and age. It's much more romantic this way.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Another fine mess.......

Ya' know how everybody says we all complain about the weather, but nobody ever does anything about it? Many things in life are like that. I had a great set of friends in high school. A group of girls and guys who.... sometimes "hooked up"..... most of the time, not. Lots of experimenting, concerts, surfing, music, and conversation. A lot of the conversation seemed to revolve around how life sucked in New Jersey and we couldn't wait to get out. My griping was half hearted. I kinda liked Jersey. But to prove some kind of point I applied to the Univ. of Texas at El Paso during my senior year. And......uh........I got accepted. Whoops!!! I don't feel real good about that decision now. I left my mom in kind of a bind with a disabled husband and my grandmother. But she went along with the plan and got some insurance cash every month to boot. She'd even dribble me out some now and then. I say that with love and affection. The woman could stretch a buck.
So I'd get that proud feeling in my chest when the topic of my leaving would come up. The girls seemed a little more buddies seemed a little.....awed....unbelieving. We'd been through a lot since I moved to Piscataway in 1966. I was nervous, excited and wanting to get on with it. It sunk in once I signed that loan for $1000.00 . That was a lot of cash in 1970!!!! But it happened. One last bash the night before and I was on a bleary plane ride to Texas. Culture shock? Whoa!!!! Driving somewhere you get a gradual sense of where you're headed. A four hour flight snaps your reality. From the greenery of Jersey to the mountains and desert of El Paso. Stunningly beautiful but.....different. I was suddenly thrown in with guys from all over the country; and a pretty cool group from El paso who couldn't wait to get out and go some where interesting like....New Jersey!!!! It was an interesting few days as hierarchys and cliques evolved. And all in a very natural way. An even more interesting semester followed and I'd be honored to tell you ....some of it. But not now.
We are adaptable creatures. You know that feeling when you're in the car or walking down the gangway. Those last looks, goodbyes....trying not to let anybody see the redness in your eyes? But then you turn your head around're gone. On to the next adventure. It's an amazing feeling. We've all had it. It's a lot like the feeling you get on that last call to your sweetheartart...and you know it's done. That big sigh comes out and it's....frightening, lonely, sad and.....liberating. A new day dawns.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

I Was Only Kiddin'

The more I reflect on it, the more I'm convinced I had a really great childhood. I can hold my own in any conversation regarding the Stooges and Rascals, cartcon dialogue, 50's/60's TV shows, and movies of the day. Remember Million Dollar Movie? I don't know if that was an east coast phenomenon or not. The same movie would play Mon through Fri and twice on Sat and Sun. My poor aunt had to sit through Rodan, King Kong , The Crawling Eye, and The Thing more times than she'd care to admit. But as much tube time as I had, the other side of my brain remembers baseball, in all it's neighborhood forms , football, beaches, bicycle adventures, fishing, home made rafts. a scrape or two, friends , solos, libraries and, of course, music.
So which was it? I've gotta thank my parents for the amount of freedom I was given. I learned to ride a two wheeler at age three and it was all over, baby. Had an interesting mix of friends....geeks, shady, smart, jocks. I could always relate to anybody, on some level. Hell, we're all here at the same time. What're the odds of that? And in the words of Jim Morrison,"No one here gets out alive."
Plainfield, NJ was an evolving town in the 60's. Racial tension, the beginnings of flower power, garage bands on every corner. All of these segments impacted me in one way or another. Man, there's a lot I wish I could do over. Adolescence should really go on for about twenty five years. There's just too much happenin'!!!!! Thank God we'll get another chance. What? don't believe that?
A wknd off coming up. No gigs, no commitments, no nuttin. Hope to kick back with a friend or two, put the finishing touches on some tunes, and..... who knows.... maybe rent Rodan for old times sake. Later.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Summertime Bluze

Had a good gig over the wknd. A Private party at Union Gap condos. (Central Jersey) Good crowd, good food, some libations and a good rockin' dance floor. Just when I think I'm too old to play Midnight Hour one more time...... This shot is of a solo gig I do now and then. Not as much fun as the band but a lot more challenging.
The mid summer blues are kickin' in. I think some shore time is called for. Don't misunderstand. I'm not a depressing guy..... I just get a little reflective now and then. Never lasts for long. And so it goes. Some body surfing, a sausage sandwich and a ride on the Wild Mouse....I'll be in the pink. I've been going to Seaside Heights, NJ my whole life. My mom's bridge club used to get a week down there when I was a kid. It was actually right down the road in Ortley Beach, but you could see the ferris wheel from the porch. Had some of my best times at Ortley. As I got a little older I developed a fondness for the quieter beaches. But it's always nice to be within driving range of Seaside. Nothin' like the sights, sounds and smells of the boardwalk. Years later I'd play at a place about a block off the boards. I'd run up between sets , spend a little cash and make it back in time to play "Amy ".
Water's alway played a good sized role in my life......Pisces and all that. Oceans, ponds, lakes , pools, rivers. They're invigorating, healing and a hell of a lot of fun. All this talk of water is making me thirsty. Later

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Skewed Look At Life

Grasshopper walks into a bar. The bartender looks at him and says,"Ya know, we have a drink named after you. The grasshopper says,"What, you have a drink named Murray?"

A termite walks into a bar, sits down and says to the guy next to him, "Hey, is the bar tender here?"

A guy walks into a bar. He's got a parrot on his shoulder. The bartender says, "Cool, where'd you get that?" The parrot says,"I don't started as a wart on my butt !"

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Life Off The Fast Lane

So up until a few months ago I was a Limo driver in the NJ, NY, PA area. I'm now doing an office gig for the same company. After ten years on the road ........set hours are.....challenging. Nice folks, fairly interesting work....but the freedom of the road is gone. This is exactly why I left the corporate world some years back.
You know that search for contentment we're all on? I realized early on mine couldn't be found in $ s. Maybe the old hippie mindset wouldn't allow me to see past a lot of the ridiculous insanity of the corporate world. Again, a lot of great folks., but feigning desperate interest where there is none ain't easy.
But life goes on and contentment comes in many forms. A rock garden...watching nature......wet kisses......and playing my bass. It always comes back to playing my bass. A private party this wknd....and about 100 yards from home. How good is that? Playing two interesting Jersey clubs next wknd. Somerset Hills Hotel with The Movers and at The Landslide with a country band called Sidewinder.....some more old friends. The Landslide's where I first laid eyes on Lucy about two years ago. I wasn't even gonna go out. Did an afternoon gig at a cocktail hour.....some celtic music with another old pal......and got a call to come out to The Landslide to see a hot pedal steel player later on that night. Went, met, and life took another unexpected turn. I'd just been out of a long term relationship for about six months and wasn't even looking. Ain't that the way it always is.
Radio show tomorrow morning. Not feeling real great. goes on.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Welcome to my blog?

I don't think I even heard the word "Blog" before about a month ago But it sounds like good therapy .....and it's what the hell.
I've been a musician since Feb of '64. Hmmmmmm....what happened that day/night?? Two words. Ed Sullivan. I really haven't been able to concentrate since. Guitar through junior high, high school and college. A late nite visit to a music store on Rt 18 turned me into a bass player around the age of 21. Full time for about eleven years. Still at it part time.
I play with a five piece 60's stlye dance band called The Movers. Mainly around central Jersey. Do some moonlighting with a country /bluegrass band. About a year ago I started doing a solo gig....playing guitar and using some home recorded background tracks. During the day/evening I'm in an office gig with some fine folks moving people from here to there. More about that later.
Thursday mornings (6am - 9) I do a radio show on WDVRFM, 89.7. Streams at I've been doing this for about twelve years. Another good group of people and....good therapy. Lots of music......... 60's, country and southern rock, folky singer/songwriter and the musings of an aging hippie.
That's about it for now. So...HELLO!!!!!! And let's do this again real soon.
Your Pal,
Damn...this is cool. I look forward to pouring my guts out on the page. Anything to help deknot de brain.