So I began taking my player’s cellphones before we departed for games a couple weeks ago so they could ostensibly keep their minds on the task at hand. Not sure if it’s helped much but I figured it was worth a try.

Anyway, thinking about cell phones and our dependence on them got me to thinking about how we communicated back in my day. You know, 70’s and 80’s.

Upon retrospection, I have several observations regarding communication back then:

  • Do kids today even remember when landlines were all we had? Like when you were in a car and nobody could talk to you? There was actually something comforting about driving to Cincinnati and knowing you’d be totally out of touch with friends and family for 5-6 hours. Peaceful.
  • phone_booth

    Sanctuary.

    Phone booths are pretty much dead, right? In my time if you were away from home and needed to call somebody you began looking for these sort of upright coffin looking thingys. You’d pull over, slide open the door and a little light would come on above you. There’d be a big fat phone book there, you’d look up the number you needed to call, put in a quarter (once it was a dime!) and you’d make the connection. If you talked too long the operator would get on there and bitch at you, asking for more money. And sometimes it smelled bad in there but it was always safe, dry and kind of comfortable. I sort of miss phone booths.

  • Kids, when I was a youngster our whole street had one phone line. You’d actually pick up the phone and hear Mrs. Donahue down the street talking to her friend about her latest underarm abscess. Pure entertainment, man. And if you kept checking back to see if the line was free you got yelled at a lot. Plus, there was only one line! My sisters used to yell at each other to get off the phone so they could use it. Ah, the memories.
  • Old phones were beautiful. Cell phones are just these flat little technological devices. Old phones were a work of art, and the older
    phone

    The 60’s Buttercreme. Outstanding.

    the better. And no push buttons, man! The old rotary style phones were the best. They sort of forced patience on you, ya know? And the sound the dial made was heavenly.

  • People think the old telephone cords were a pain in the ass, but remember when they’d get tangled up and you’d hold the cord, drop the phone and let it spin until it became untangled? ‘Twas one of life’s little joys, lemme tell ya. Sigh.
  • And hey, there was no Caller ID when I was a kid. When that phone rang it was a crap shoot. It could be your girlfriend or your Uncle Cyrus calling to tell you about his halitosis. To answer or not to answer? Newsflash: Everybody answered.
  • I recall when I bought my first answering machine. It had to be 1980 or thereabouts. I remember the excitement I’d feel when I’d arrive home, look at my brand spankin’ new answering machine, and see the little light blinking. Somebody called and left a messsage! Who could it be?
  • Nowadays your phone is an endless source of communication, games, music, and information. Back then you used your phone for one thing – calling people. If you wanted to find out who the 23rd president was or the ingredients of a chicken pot pie, you went and got an encyclopedia and, you know, looked it up. Actual effort was involved.

Man, life sure was simpler then, wasn’t it? I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again. All things considered, where technology is concerned the negatives outweigh the positives.

Who agrees with me?

Well played, Coco.

conan

However, I vote YES.

boss

Really, Bey?

beyonce

Fun.

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living-to-116

Image  —  Posted: February 10, 2016 in Fun Facts
Tags:

Remember when you were a kid and the more dangerous something was the more fun it became? Isn’t that why we climbed trees or balanced on a fence post or rode our bikes really fast down hills?

Of course it was.

Kids today have zero idea what they’re missing, mainly because everyone is worried they might get hurt. Back in the day we had some amazing, fun toys, and they were fun because they could kill you.

Literally.

I guess our parents realized that getting hurt was a learning experience. Hey, if you’re dumb enough to shoot yourself with that pellet gun it’s your fault. Be more careful next time, dummy.

But back to the toys. Here are a few of my favorite toys from the past that could cause extreme pain or yes, even death if used improperly. Hey kids, be sure and read the directions!

JARTS

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Jarts were massive weighted spears. You threw them. They stuck where they landed. If they happened to land in your skull, well, then you should have moved more quickly. During their brief (and generally awesome) reign in 1980s suburbia, Jarts racked up 6,700 injuries and four deaths. Now there’s a fun toy.

BB GUNS

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When I was a kid, everybody had a BB Gun. You shot at birds, rabbits, the neighbor’s cat, and each other. I swear I didn’t know a kid who wasn’t shot with a BB Gun at some point. Good times.

ATOMIC ENERGY LAB

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Also known as little Bobby’s first Meth Lab! Good God. This toy had enough chemicals to kill a horse or build a small bomb.

SIXFINGER GUN

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Did I have one of these? You bet I did. As you can see, it looked like a finger and shot out little missiles that looked as if they were specifically designed to pierce a cornea or an eardrum. Cool!

AGENT ZERO M SONIC BLASTER

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This thing put the boom in baby boomer. It shot a massive blast of air and made a sound like an airplane breaking the sound barrier. It may very well have led to deafness in thousands of kids like me. Anyhoo, check out that future terrorist in the photo. Hey Billy, let’s shoot down a 747!

CLACKERS

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Clackers were essentially two acrylic balls on each end of a string, with a loop in the center. You began slowly clacking the balls together until you got to really fast speeds. Like many toys from the 70s, these were deemed dangerous and taken off the market. According to my research, they were banned because they were being used by gangs as weapons. Maybe I have a sick sense of humor but I find that hilarious. “Bro, that dude’s goin’ down. Go get my Clackers.” As for me, I usually whipped them in a circle over my head and threw them at my sisters.

SLIP N’ SLIDE

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Basically a water slicked length of vinyl. You were supposed to lay down, but that was no fun. Of course we stood up. Can you say spinal cord injury? And I bet myself and all my friends had at least one concussion because of these things. But hey, we knew how to take a fall back then.

CREEPY CRAWLERS/FRIGHT FACTORY

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Because nothing says safety like an open hot plate. I burnt the living hell out of my fingers with this thing. Creepy Crawlers were awesome. You had these little metal molds that you’d plug in and they’d heat up to like 1000 degrees. You’d then pour this disgusting, smelly stuff called Gobbledy Goop into it. This would turn the goop into spiders, snakes, bugs, snails, whatever the mold’s shape resembled. They even had glow in the dark goop. Bottom-line, I must have burned my fingers a 1000 times on those molds. Not only that, if you accidentally left them on they’d start smoking, which I did on purpose just to watch. And I can’t tell you how many times I scared my sisters with the fake bugs.

PERFORATED ROLL CAPS

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Anyone over the age of 40 is smiling right now. The caps were made for toy guns but we’d just lay them out on the sidewalk and hit ’em with a rock. Or even better, a hammer.

SPARK GUN

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Yes, it actually shot real sparks. As in tiny, hot flames. When I was a kid, if we got bored somebody would invariably yell this: “Let’s burn stuff!” And that is why the Spark Gun was such a hit. What could possibly go wrong?

JOHNNY REBEL CANNON

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These things were awesome. You know, if you ignored the fact it sort of glorified the Confederate Army. They could reach up to 35 feet and seemed perfectly sized to lodge into an eye socket, down an open mouth, or through the toy slave’s quarters. Oddly enough these were a big hit in Mississippi. Hey, there’s nothing more satisfying than pretending you’re shooting those equal rights-loving bastards up north.

Not only did we enjoy these dangerous toys, if mom and dad wouldn’t buy them for us we made our own. Hell, I made many a slingshot in my day from tree branches and a rubber band. Grab a handful of ball bearings and you were ready to drop somebody like a bag of hammers. And hey, if we didn’t have time to fashion a slingshot we’d just throw rocks at each other.

Hey, it beat sitting in front of a computer all day, amirite?

 

 

terpsNote: Relax, everyone who worked camp with me back then. I’m not going to speak out of turn here.

From 1989 t0 2002 I worked basketball camps at the University of Maryland for the legendary Coach Gary Williams. I respect Gary Williams more than just about anybody, putting him right up there with Bob Huggins and Billy Hahn. After all, the man took a program at Maryland that was in shambles and led them to a National Title in 2002. Amazing really.

Anyway, I started coaching at Maryland because of my friendship with Coach Hahn, who’d been the head coach at Ohio University back in the 80’s. The first year that Gary (who’d left Ohio State to take the job at his alma mater) had camp at Maryland there were only about 100 players there the first week, and 38 of them were from little old Paint Valley High School in southern Ohio. I also took 11 coaches with me to help out. Bottom line, Paint Valley was a big part of camps at Maryland from the beginning.

I was the Camp Commissioner, which basically meant I didn’t do much but sort of oversee everything that went on during the week and make sure everyone showed up and taught what Gary wanted taught.*

*There are some who may say I didn’t do anything and was paid because of my friendship with Gary and Billy. Don’t listen to them. On a related note, they may be partly right.

Anyway, I fostered some lasting relationships there, meeting many amazing coaches who have gone on to success since then. Guys like Jimmy Patsos who is now at Siena College (Siena beat Ohio State in March Madness a few years ago), Mike Lonergan, now at George Washington University (played in the NCAA tournament last year), and successful high school and college coaches such as Mike Glick, Josh Pratt, Louis Twigg and many others. I also met Coach Paul Coughter, who was the National Coach of Greece at the time. Coach Coughter was instrumental in getting me involved with basketball on the Caribbean island of Montserrat, and for that I’ll always be grateful.

In addition, I was lucky enough to meet future NBA players like Joe Smith, Steve Francis, Lonnie Baxter, Steve Blake, Walt “The Wizard” Williams, and many many more. Guys like Manute Bol and Chris Webber used to show up for evening workouts back then, so that was cool as well.

Some of my greatest experiences involved meeting former Terp legends like Mo Howard and Len Elmore. Those two gentlemen in particular couldn’t have been nicer to me.

I even have a huge Maryland flag that the cheerleaders used to carry around the court as the team took the floor. How I got it is another story for another day, but it’s in my coaching office as we speak.

Yep. That one. Don't ask.

Yep. That one. Don’t ask.

I used to sit behind the Maryland bench often during those times, and since College Park was near Washington D.C. a lot of celebrities would be at the  games. I distinctly remember a guy sitting down beside me once and I thought he looked familiar, like maybe a distant uncle of mine or something. Then it hit me . . . it was Johnny Unitas.

I could go on and on with stories from camp and attending games but I won’t, mainly because what happened in College Park needs to stay in College Park. Trust me on that one.

And hey, the Statute of Limitations has probably passed but I still wouldn’t implicate someone that wouldn’t want to be implicated. So breathe easy, camp coaches of the 1990’s.

But hey, maybe that blog will come later, who knows?

I will, however, recount a story that I think is pretty funny. You have to remember that Cole Field House was a legendary basketball arena. All the ACC greats played there, from Michael Jordan to Tim Duncan to Grant Hill, and in 1966 the famous National Championship game between Texas Western and Kentucky took place in Cole. Texas Western had an all-black starting line-up and Kentucky was all-white. Led by the legendary coach Don Haskins, Texas Western beat the Adolph Rupp coached Kentucky 72-65. Bottom line, it was a storied, historic arena. Knowing that makes the following story more relevant . . .

It was the last day of camp, the parents had arrived to pick up their kids, and I was announcing the championship game. The contest was nearing its conclusion when I said the following:

After the game all parents and visitors need to go to the tunnel end of the gym so they can watch the awards ceremony.”

Believe me, I said this with all sincerity and honesty. Never gave it a second thought. But then, all of a sudden Gary Williams is looming over me screaming:

“Does this look like a GYM to you, man? Michael Jordan did his first cradle dunk here! Lenny Bias played here! An all black Texas Western team beat an all white Kentucky team on this court in 1966! This is COLE FIELD HOUSE, MAN!”

I’m paraphrasing but that was the gist of it. At this point I was laughing so hard I couldn’t breathe. I mean, I’m pretty sure Coach was serious but it was so funny at the time I couldn’t help myself. I’d insulted the sacred grounds of Cole Field House by referring to it as a “gym.”

Believe me, to Gary Williams that was sacrilegious, man. 

Being the good guy that Gary was we laughed about it together later, but at the time I thought I was gonna get coldcocked by one of college’s all-time greatest coaches. Whew.

I think about those days often, the good times and the relationships and friendships I developed with so many great people. Since Gary has retired and Billy is now at West Virginia with my old friend Bob Huggins, my allegiances have shifted there.

But still, although I don’t really know the staff out there now, I’ll always love Maryland.

Lots of red flags here. Good Lord.

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Let the xenophobes cringe.

mapwww

Honestly, I understand what’s happening here. A lot of coaches instruct their players to bring down an opponent if they fall down on offense so there won’t be a 5 on 4 at the other end. Big deal. Still, this is so Coach K it hurts. It’s such a juxtaposition with the public image he tries to cultivate. Just be honest about who you are and what you teach, coach.

grayson-allen-trip-ftr-020816jpg_ad1mk9juuf3k13guvsqcabpis

zipper

Yeah, this photo will make sense in a minute.

To be honest, I’ve never really understood how the phrase “blow your mind” originated. It really makes no sense when you think about it. “Mind blown, man!” Weird. That said, here are some true facts you may find interesting, stimulating and just plain surprising. H-e-r-e we go . . .

Anne Frank, Martin Luther King and Barbara Walters were all born in the same year – 1929.

This is a little jarring, isn’t it? I guess the oddest thing about that is that Anne Frank and MLK would have only been 87-years old had they survived. Seems very sad.

The YKK on your zipper stands for Yoshida Kogyo Kabushikigaisha.

It’s a Japanese company that makes most of the world’s zippers, not a center fielder for the Seattle Mariners. On a related note, how many of you just looked at your zipper? Never mind. I don’t wanna know.

Vending machines are twice as likely to kill you than sharks are.

I get this, and I understand why it is so. I’ve seen too many kids shaking vending machines and hanging off the side of them. As for me, a shark will get me way before a vending machine will.

Studies show that people who stay up late at night are likely to be more intelligent than those that go to bed early.

Well, der. I rarely go to sleep before 1:00 am so this makes total sense to me. Hey-O!

There are 8 times as many atoms in a teaspoonful of water as there are teaspoonfuls of water in the Atlantic ocean.

Atoms are little, man.

Mammoths went extinct 1,000 years after the Egyptians finished building the Great Pyramid.

Absolutely stunning to me. I had no idea. Mind actually blown over here.

Maine is the closest U.S. state to Africa.

Not kidding. Look at a map, man.

The probability of you drinking a glass of water that contains a molecule of water that also passed through a dinosaur is almost 100%.

So that’s where that odd taste comes from.

A pig’s orgasm can last for 30 minutes.

I won’t touch that one with a 10-foot, uh, pole. On a related note, you can make up your own pork joke now.

You can’t breathe and swallow at the same time.

You can’t. I tried it, just like you’re about to.

Have a wonderful evening.

Cool.

[For the love of God click to enlarge]

mapsss

Who ya gonna call?

1wq

Wait for the big ending.

nashville-drummer-e1454203823788

Because of course they do.

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Almost there!

stunning-photography-17

This was a quick encounter but special nonetheless since it involved one of myTodd Rundgren musical heroes, Mr. Todd Rundgren, once known as “Runt.” Read on . . .

I was casually walking through City Center in C-Bus a few years ago (City Center was a cool mall, amirite?) when I literally ran into a musical legend. My hands flew to my face as I yelled this:

“TODD RUNDGREN!”

Because I’m quick like that, ya know? Immediately his hands flew to his face as he responded:

“YES!”

Bastard was mocking me.

Anyway, after a couple minutes of my blathering on about his music and what it meant to me and him realizing not only that I wasn’t a lunatic but I in fact knew what I was talking about, we had quite the in-depth conversation about the state of music in general. Finally, I moved on to get a corndog and he left for parts unknown.

And that was my brief encounter with Todd Rundgren. Nice life-moment for me, I must admit.

I guess it was around 1977, and a friend of mine named Omar was a roadie that worked shows around the midwest. He never traveled with a band, but rather was hired out as part of a group of guys to help set up shows and whatnot. Anyway, he got to know a lot of bands, had access to backstage passes and included me occasionally. I told you before about my encounter with Aerosmith in the acclaimed blog Stroh’s with Steven and Joe, a Beach Boy Tries to Steal My Girl, Plastered Kansas and Getting Out Alive, and that happened because of Omar.

One night I get a call asking if I wanted backstage passes to the Electric Light Orchestra Show at St. John Arena in C-Bus. Well, hell yes. I was a big fan and still am to this day. It’s well known how I feel about Jeff Lynne and his absence from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. With his work with ELO, The Traveling Wilburys, George Harrison and others it’s a damn shame he’s not in there, an absolute travesty.

But as I’m prone to do, I digress.

I eagerly snatched up the backstage pass and looked forward to the show. To say I was amped for this one was an understatement of the highest variety. I couldn’t wait for the show, but more importantly getting backstage and meeting the boys themselves, in particularly Jeff Lynne. The day finally arrived and I headed over to the arena. By the way, I was living at 178 West 8th Avenue, Apt. C, just south of campus, which is not relevant but is nevertherless burned into my brain forevermore. Alas, when I got there I found that I never had a ticket to the show, just a backstage pass, and it wouldn’t get me in at any of the regular gates. What the hell? I was flummoxed. Just when I was at my lowest, in despair and ready to head to High Street and drink away my pain, I heard a voice . . .

“Shoe! Hey! SHOE! Over here!”

I look around, and there walking towards a side door was my boy Omar. They had those portable iron fence things blocking people, and it formed a path the band took from their bus to the arena. I ran over and told Omar of my plight, and at that point he just told me to hop the fence and follow him in with his group. A guard started to object but a long-haired guy waved him off with the classic, “He’s with us.”

Only then did I realize the long-haired cat was none other than Bev Bevan, ELO’s drummer. Seems Omar had been sent to get the band from the tour bus and I happened along at the right time. I recognized a couple other guys, but my hero Lynne was nowhere to be seen.

I made my way in and ended up at the side of the stage and was never told to move, evidently due to the pass I had hanging from my neck. The show was great and the view was interesting to say the least. Let’s just say some of those girls in the front will do, well, almost anything to get the attention of the band.

However, it was after the show when the real fun began.

I really had nothing to do immediately following, and Omar was busy doing what roadies do, so I just wandered around looking for the party.

Lucky for me I found it.

It was basically a curtained-off area with some tables and chairs scattered about, along with a boatload of various types of boozes and appetizers. I also remember candles and a lot of incense.  There were also a couple of tables with some other stuff on them that I really don’t feel comfortable mentioning here. I’m sure you could guess pretty easily. Hey, it was the late 70’s after all. I grabbed a beer and took a seat on a comfy little loveseat type of thing that was positioned in a good spot and prepared to watch the festivities.

After a half hour or so the man himself walked in, Mr. Jeff Lynne. He was shaking hands and people were generally fawning over him, so I decided to hold back and play it cool for a bit. A couple of times I could have sworn he actually looked over at me, but I figured it had to be my imagination.

A little later my buddy Omar came walking in, looked over, did a double-take, and did the old olympic speed walk over to me.

Omar: “What the hell are you doing? Jesus.”

Me, offering him a beer: “Thanks, but you can call me Shoe. What’s wrong with you?”

Omar: “You’re in Jeff Lynne’s chair, dude. Get the hell up.”

Me: “Really? Nobody’s said anything.”

Omar: “Get. Up. NOW.”

Me: “But it’s a really comfy chair.”

Omar: “Good God, man, you’re going to get me fired. Get up. Why do you think this chair is at the front of the room and on a raised platform?”

Me, glancing around: “Wow, it is in a good spot. And I never noticed the raise platform thing. Damn. Are you sure I can’t stay here? Nobody’s said a word.”

Omar: I’m saying a word! Oh God, here he comes.”

At that point I was done messing with my friend and thought the best course of action might be to actually get up. Lynne came over and stopped right in front of us, I’ve no idea why. For a second I thought I was going to get yelled at for sitting in his chair but as it turns out he had a question, and for whatever reason he thought I might have the answer . . .

Jeff Lynne: “Mate, do you know where we might find some tarts?”

Me: “Pop Tarts? I’m sure somebody could run and pick some up for you.”

Jeff Lynne nods approvingly. He was looking at a man of action, a go-getter, a quick decision-maker of the highest order. I was impressing Jeff Lynne! How awesome I was!

But he was still staring at me.

Me: “Oh, you want me to go get them?”

Jeff Lynne: “That would be fine. How long will it take?”

Me: “Well, there’s a 7-11 nearby. It should only take a few minutes.”

Jeff Lynne, my hero, again nods approvingly. I only learned later that he had no idea what a 7-11 was.

At that point, as I’m walking out, another roadie dude comes running up to me with a weird look on his face.

Roadie: “Dude, do you understand what he wants?”

Me: “Sure, he wants some Pop Tarts. Do you guys have a toaster in here?”

Roadie: “No, no, no. Dude, tarts are hookers. He wants some hookers.”

Wait. What? Pop Tarts I was good for. Ladies of the Night? Hey, I was good but not that good. Who did he think I was, a pimp?

Good God.

At that point, as you could imagine I was in a bit of a pickle, because, well, I’d just promised I’d supply the leader of the Electric Light Orchestra with some hookers. Not exactly my specialty.

In retrospect I probably could have run over to High Street, gone into a bar, told some girls ELO wanted to meet them, taken them over and hightailed it out of there before the the confusion ensued. As it happened though, I only did one of those things.

I hightailed it out of there.

What can I say? I had no idea what to do, I was pretty sure I’d never meet Jeff Lynne again, so I vamoosed. Cut and ran. I scrammed.

I never heard exactly what happened after I left. Omar had gone on to load some trucks or something so he had no idea. Maybe somebody else took care of the band. Maybe something else grabbed Jeff Lynne’s attention.

Or maybe, just maybe, he sat there for hours in his special chair, watching the door, waiting for the tarts that never came.

Aerosmithpic29

Yeah. Those guys.

Back around 1978 Aerosmith was on a bit of a downward spiral. Something about drug addictions and whatnot. Anyway, it was after “Dream On” but before the album “Permanent Vacation” marked their return to prominence. A friend of mine was a regional roadie, one of those guys who doesn’t travel with the bands but works a certain area where he helps set up shows and the like. Well, he had backstage passes to Aerosmith and asked if I wanted one.

Well, yeah.

I watched the show (not so good actually – something about drug addictions and whatnot) then headed backstage for the festivities. I don’t really know how to explain it other than saying it’s exactly what you’d expect it to be. Lots of girls, drugs, alcohol, and things I didn’t recognize and haven’t seen since. Rock and Roll decadence at its highest form. Back in those days I blended right in. My hair was as long as theirs and I looked like a taller Charley Manson, minus the God complex and murderous intentions (well, maybe just the God complex).

I worked my way over to Steven Tyler and struck up a conversation, probably saying something witty and insightful like “nice show” which incidentally would have been a complete lie. He looked at me through glazed-over eyes and offered me a beer (for the record, it was a Stroh’s – dead serious). One thing led to another and I ended up on a couch sitting between Tyler and Joe Perry.

Kids, there once existed a picture of me, between those two, all three of us holding up a beer for the camera with half-crazed smiles on our faces. Later, in one of the dumbest moves of my life, I gave the picture to a girl I was dating, who displayed it proudly on her apartment wall. Sadly, when we had an ugly break-up, she hit me where it hurt most – she burned the picture.

For years I waited for her to show up and say she had really kept the picture, then hand it to me with a smile. That moment never happened, but there’s still hope, right? Right?

Damn it.

For some reason I’ve had more than my share of random encounters with ojaysfamous people over the years, both from the rock world and elsewhere. Hell, I was once standing at an airport urinal, looked to my right, and there stood Mr. Soupy Sales. For you kids under 50 out there Mr. Sales was Peewee Herman before Peewee Herman was Peewee Herman. Sort of. Anyway, my friends seem to enjoy hearing about these random encounters of mine so I thought I’d share them from time-to-time.

It happened when my late friend Jigger and I were heading to Vegas back in the early ’90s. You’ve got to remember that I’ve always been quite the Motown/Philly Sound fan and am pretty knowledgeable about a lot of the groups of that genre.

We’d been in the air for a few minutes when I thought I recognized a guy a couple of rows in front of me. Was that Eddie Levert of The O’Jays? I loved The O’Jays!

What the hell, I thought. I went up and sat by him (keep in mind there were only about 30-people on the plane). Sure enough, it was Levert and the rest of the group along with about eight roadies sitting here and there. Throwing caution and common sense to the wind,  I started singing “Love Train” and begging the guys to join in. What can I say? I was overcome with joy at meeting the O’Jays and I’d never have this chance again.

Long story short, in a few minutes all three O’Jays were singing backup to yours truly on lead vocal. One of the guys (Walter Williams possibly) actually got up in the aisle and was doing the dance moves as I stood and sang beside him. Surreal. About halfway through I forgot the words and Levert took over. I then attempted to join the dancing but failed miserably, to the delight of the crowd.

I then took a theatrical bow with the group as the crowd went wild (at least in my memory), the stewardesses applauded and Jigger sat there shaking his head. I believe I even followed up by trying to start a rousing rendition of “Backstabbers” but my moment had passed. The group got off at our stopover in Minneapolis, bro hugs were shared all around, and they went on their way. To this day I can’t watch that Coors commercial and hear “Love Train” without getting a big grin on my face. If only camera phones were in existence back then. Damn.

By the way, my buddies The O’Jays were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004. I wonder if they remember me . . .

Seriously?

I’ve had several random encounters and run-ins with rock stars over the years, and most have been documented on this site at one time or another. Just type in “random encounters” in the search box and several blogs will pop up. Mike Love of the Beach Boys got down on one knee and sang to a girl I was with once, and afterwards sent a roadie down to ask if she wanted to meet him after the show. That particular girl laughed it off, but on another occasion it never went down that way. Here’s the story . . .

It was the late 70’s and a bunch of us went down to The Natti to catch a Chicago concert. This was back when Chicago was cool, still using horns in their songs, long before they went all schlocky and sappy with the lame ballads. Sure, they did slow stuff like “Color My World” before, but unfortunately Peter Cetera sort of took over with tunes like “You’re the Inspiration” and “Hard to Say I’m Sorry” and it all went downhill from there. It would have never happened had guitarist Terry Kath knew that gun was loaded when he put it upside his head, but that’s neither here nor there. Well, maybe to Terry.

But I digress. And maybe there’s another reason I don’t like Peter Cetera.

Back to the concert. This was before those 11-people got crushed to death at The Who concert, so it was still General Admission at the gate. Trust me, when it was General Admission I always ended up right down front, and that’s where this all started.

The show was great, Robert Lamm and Cetera and the boys were rockin’, and my date and I were having a good time. Keep in mind I’d been dating this girl for about 2-years, which will become relevant shortly. Anyway, after a couple of the obligatory encores the lights came up and we’re sort of standing there talking to friends, waiting for the crowd to thin. At that point some guy comes walking up to my girlfriend and asks to speak with her. Hell, I thought something had happened, an emergency or something, and he had been sent to find her. He sort of took her elbow and walked her a few feet away to have a private conversation. She listened intently and nodded her head a couple times, the guy did the same, then she turned and walked back over to me.

The guy stayed where he was. I was getting a bad vibe.

What followed was a conversation that basically ended a relationship.

Me: “What was that about? Is everything OK?”

Her: “Yes, it’s . . . fine.

Me, senses on high alert: “So. . . what’s up?

Her: “W-e-l-l . . . that guy told me that Peter Cetera wanted to ask if I’d like to come out to his bus.

Damn Cetera. Lotta nerve, huh? But my girlfriend was just looking at me.

Me: “Uh, you know what he wants, right?”

Her: “Yes.”

Next came the words that are etched in my mind to this day.

Her: “What should I do?”

Wait. What? What should I do? What should I do?

Me, after about 15-seconds of stunned silence: “What should you do? Well, do what you want, but Mr. Cetera better be ready to give you a ride back to Chillicothe because if you get on that bus I’m not waiting on you.”

At this point she actually thought about it for a minute and discussed it with her friends. Then, she decided she’d stick with me. Boy, did I feel special. Did I mention we’d been dating for 2-years?

Turns out she probably should have gone to the bus. And stayed there.

As you can imagine, we had the “How could you have even considered going off with Peter Cetera like that? How?” conversation about 173 times over the next couple of weeks, and naturally she had no reasonable answer. What was she supposed to say, “Well, I thought it would be nice to boink a rock star?” After that it was all downhill. I couldn’t get past it.

Yes my friends, fame and money are a powerful attractions indeed.

Then again, could I resist if Kate Beckinsale saw me somewhere and sent an assistant over with an invitation to board her bus? No freaking way. Probably not.

Wait. So I would do the same thing I was mad at my girlfriend for considering? Something’s wrong here.

Maybe it’s a double standard?

Maybe I should have just laughed it off?

Maybe I made a mistake?

Maybe I overreacted?

Crap, the more I think about it now the more I think I’m guilty of all of the above and was being a jackass. Or maybe I wasn’t? The mind reels. I’m so confused.

So I come out of this little self-therapy session realizing three things. The first is that I’ll never fully understand the whole dynamic between men and women. The second is that I still hold a grudge against Peter Cetera. The third? I really need to let this go.

Sigh.

His life was in my hands.

A few years ago I had a rather interesting experience involving Beck. Here’s how it went down.

A buddy of mine used to work for a company in C-Bus that provided concert workers. You know, to take tickets, stuff like that. He asked if I’d be interested in working one of the shows and I said sure, what the hell, might be fun. So, he talks to the folks in charge and they make the approval. Didn’t know me from Adam but that didn’t seem to bother them. A couple of weeks later I get the call – Beck is playing Veteran’s Auditorium and they needed extra workers. Cool. I mean, at the time Beck was one of the biggest rock stars on the planet, a darling of the critics. Anyway, we get there, are given the yellow T-shirts with Security on the back, and then the head guy comes in to assign jobs.

He goes down the line, grabs my buddy and his wife, and tells them they’ll be assigned rows to help people get seated. Awesome. They’d get to stand there and watch the show. He looks me up and down and says, “I’ll need you in the back” then walks away. Damn. My friend looks at me and says, “Sorry dude. Looks like you’re out at the back door or back gate or something. Sorry you won’t get to see the show.”

Oh well. I took a shot, right?

Finally the guy comes back for me and says to follow him. I do and we end up in the “back”, as in “backstage.” He says, “I want you to stand right here. Under no circumstances do you let anybody through this door.” I look up at the door that says “Beck” on it and ask rather wittily, “You want me to guard Beck’s dressing room?”

And he sure enough did.

Just me, who’d never guarded anything in his life, as the only thing between Beck and the hordes of lunatics wanting a piece of him.

I stood there for a couple hours trying to look menacing, the opening act started, and finally some guy walks out the door – Beck’s drummer. He sits on the floor across the hallway from me and we proceed to shoot the breeze. A few minutes later another band member comes out and sits down as well. Long story short, pretty soon the whole band was out there, including the man himself, Beck, and his three backup singers.

I eventually sit down because they asked me to and I figured it was OK. The only time I froze for a sec was when the drummer asked me what I was currently listening to. I really didn’t want to look like an idiot so I said The Eels. I breathed a sigh of relief as that answer was met with approving nods all around. Sweet. At that point I believed, perhaps irrationally, that I’d earned instant credibilty.

Eventually they all went back inside to get ready, and upon their return I was invited to stand at the side of the stage and watch the show. Very cool. To top off my evening, afterwards Beck requested that I escort him safely to the bus, which I did. Dude must have thought I was a trained professional or something.

Maybe the best part was later, when I met up with my friend and he asked how it was in the back. “Well,” I said. “Let me tell you about it . . .”

Originally published on November 12th, 2012.

My regular readers will know that I have a habit of running into famous people, most notably rock stars and their ilk. In fact, sometimes their ilk are more fun than the rock stars, if you know what I’m sayin’. My encounter with Soupy Sales in a Cleveland Airport bathroom is legendary, but that’s been blogged to death already. Anyway, here’s another of my many rock star run-ins.

It was late summer 1999, and I was in Cleveland with my late, great, good friend Tim to see the Cleveland Browns open their new stadium. We were staying at the Renaissance downtown and I rose early on the day of the game to go down to the lobby and find a drink newspaper. As I was heading down, the elevator doors opened and a guy with shades stepped in and leaned against the wall opposite me. After about 30-seconds of awkward staring from me and nervous avoiding eye-contact from him, the following conversation transpired:

Me: “Man, you look just like David Crosby.”

David Crosby: “Mmrumph.”

Me: “You are David Crosby, aren’t you?”

David Crosby: “Yep.”

Encouraged, I babbled on for a few minutes about his music. At some point I think I wore him down and he realized I actually appreciated and knew his work. I believe that because he proceeded to open up and actually began a nice, intelligent conversation with me regarding the state of rock music, as it was, in 1999.  The fact that I may have mentioned him providing the sperm for Melissa Etheridge’s successful attempt at motherhood didn’t seem to bother him at all. Hell, at one point I didn’t think I was going to get rid of him. He finally walked with me through the lobby, wrote me a nice note and autograph, and actually gave me a bear hug that went on j-u-s-t a smidge too long before he left.

All in all a nice, albeit somewhat weird, encounter that I’ll never forget.

Anyway, David Crosby and I?

Buds.

Originally published on April 25th, 2012.

Well, it’s a legend in my circles anyway. And yes, kids, I have circles.

Anyway, as many of you know I have a jean jacket that 1once belonged to James Taylor. For you younger readers there was a pretty good singer known as JT before Timberlake. Here’s how I got the jacket . . .

I went to see JT at Blossum Music Center back in ’78 with friends Tom E and Chris B. After the show we ambled down to the side of the stage, just getting a look at the setup really. The roadies were tearing down the set, wandering around doing this and that. At some point I look up and say, “Hey, look. He left his jacket hanging on the mike stand.” He’d worn it onstage and had taken it off during the show.

Anyway, one of us (probably Tom) gets the bright idea to try to grab it. Nice plan but the place was crawling with security and roadies. I turn to Chris for ideas, turn back around, and Tom had already jumped the railing and was halfway across the stage. He was just casually walking like he belonged there. A couple of guys glanced at him but didn’t say a word, either because he looked like he belonged or because he was 6′-3″, 280 lbs and looked like he could rip your heart out and show it to you before you died (which by the way he could have but that’s another story). He casually grabs the jacket, throws it over his shoulder, and hops off the other side of the stage as Chris and I run frantically around to meet him. We walk away without looking back, expecting at any moment to hear, “Stop them! Thieves! Thay have James Taylor’s jacket! For God’s sake stop the bastards!” Except it doesn’t happen, and we make it to the car.

At that point Tom tries it on. Obviously too small. Chris grabs it. Too big. Heh-heh. Fit me perfectly. Apparently, in ’78, James T and I were exactly the same size.

And that’s how I came to own James Taylor’s jacket.

By the way, later I woke up wide-eyed in the middle of the night, realizing I hadn’t checked the pockets. The possibilities were mind-boggling. Carly Simon’s phone number possibly? Alas, nothing. Damn . . .

 

James Taylor's Jacket

James Taylor’s Jacket