Even in the urgency of a bar’s “last call,” a woman can smoothly counterfeit a sentimental landscape that will help her overlook the alleyway or the cheap hotel where she will wind up on any given night.
Women do not declare love at the last minute based on sexual hysteria as men do. They are more agile. They invent pardonable poetry to envelope their poor decisions.
I was bunching up the line for homemade rhubarb and cumin pies at the Farmers Market Wednesday while explaining to two friends that I was making real headway on this “diversity” thing. My tactic, I told them, was to invite people of “difference” over to my house for dinner, so we would grow to be more like one another and not so “diverse” anymore. Well, nothing, it seems, empties little minds like jealousy. They said I had “diversity” all wrong, and without missing a beat, my first friend meanly offered that I should go on her new diet, which had done wonders for her.
This exchange hurt me and made my dinners seem small. My other friend, now hobbled by her resentment of me AND her friend’s new diet, briskly offered that she has eaten nothing but beets for four years and was down twenty pounds. I snidely assured her that I hardly noticed the red stains around her mouth. I paid and left, feeling reasonably childish.
Feeling unsettled and wounded that my winning strategy on this diversity riddle was not at hand, I asked my friend P., who is incapable of being mean, what I was missing here. She softly explained that “diversity” meant conceding to people’s differences without interfering or adding pressure for them to change. “So, the aim is to keep people different?” I quizzed her, now crestfallen. ” “Why yes,” she said, “because different is better.” Nailing it like a edict on a tree. Well, knock me over with a feather!
Then I remembered a line I never really could figure out until this moment, “Let no man’s light be so bright that it casts a shadow on another man’s day.” I have gone back to the market the last couple of weeks looking for the “beet” woman to apologize for what I said, hoping she was still recognizable after all the hard soap scrubbing she indeed has endured because of me. Fortunately, the people I had invited to dinner called and canceled. Out of respect, we never rescheduled.
I never saw my father work. He processed checks all night, by hand, at Mellon Bank in Pittsburgh. Occasionally he would impress me by bringing home canceled checks from someone else’s account to show me the big number on it. My mother was a manicurist in a hotel. She worked all day. At night she would do my nails. It is why my wife works, and I do not.
One of the most fascinating bits comes early on when Flanagan asks Dylan about the time he and Bruce Springsteen were invited to a dinner party at Sinatra’s house and whether Bob thought Frank had ever heard his songs.“Not really,” Dylan says. “I think he knew ‘The Times They Are a-Changin’’ and ‘Blowin’ In the Wind.’ I know he liked ‘Forever Young,’ he told me that. He was funny, we were standing out on his patio at night and he said to me, ‘You and me, pal, we got blue eyes, we’re from up there,’ and he pointed to the stars. ‘These other bums are from down here.’ I remember thinking that he might be right.”
Most twenty-year-olds know nothing about Root Beer. To some of us, this is sad, but we are old and soon will die. My family was pretty poor, but because my parents went through the Depression, they thought they were rich just wisely cheap. I wanted for only two things growing up. Soda pop and to see up girls dresses. These were both tough to come by. My dad would not spring for the two-cent per gallon luxury of fizzy cola, and because I was a Methodist, staring into the darkest territory of a woman was rewarded with going blind. During the Prohibition years, I am fairly certain my grandfather honed his brewing skill on White Lighting, bequeathing my dad a knowledge of making carbonated root beer. He never shared his formula and, like with much of his affection, carried it into his grave. It was a dark science of yeast, root beer extract, huge metal garbage cans, fire, and turn-of-the-century quart bottles. He would let it ferment in the basement and would not buy any soda until it was gone. The explosive corks would humiliate any champagne. More than one of our dogs had only one eye and would not enter our cellar out of fear.
My mother and I would pour it, behind his back, into our lawn at night. Like dog’s pee it killed everything it came in contact with.
From a letter: written by Jackie Curbishley, (Bill’s wife) about me and Pete Townshend. “You’re right. He was easy to love, but so difficult to trust. I never quite knew whether he was about to spit at me or kiss me. He was totally in awe of you and so jealous of you that he could hardly articulate when you were around. I have vivid recollections of the night you poured the whole jug of orange juice over his head. I’m pretty certain that nothing like that had ever happened to him before. I had to admire the way he recovered – getting his stash out of his top pocket and with those big hands spread out in front of him saying “Look what you’ve done!” as he held out the dripping little package. It was in Salt Lake City. Remember that? Jackie
While bunching up the line for homemade rhubarb and kale pies at the Irvington Farmers Market Wednesday, I got into a heated exchange with one of my girlfriends. Innocently, I mentioned the headway on this “diversity” notion I was making in our village. My tactic, such as it could be flattered, was to invite people of “difference” to my house for dinner. This way, we would grow more like one another and not so “diverse” anymore. Problems solved. Well, nothing seems to empty minds like jealousy. She chirped that I had “diversity” all wrong. It meant accepting differences without interference. Things then frosted up badly between us. It hurt me that my diversity dinners now seemed so bungling. But before I could concoct a defense, my friend briskly offered that she had lost over forty pounds by eating nothing but beets for six months. Seizing the moment, I snidely congratulated and assured her that I hardly noticed the red stains around her mouth. I paid, collected my pies, and left feeling good and childish. I was unfixed. I had figured that a winning strategy for this diversity riddle was at hand. I had asked a black couple I barely knew over for dinner next week to lance our variations. Fortunately, the people I had invited to dinner called and canceled. Out of respect for each other, we never tried again. The beet diet is working.
I saw this picture of Bill Graham posted by Lisa Seckler- Rhode this morning, and it grabbed a memory from that section of my mind that is usually only aroused by drugs. We were doing a deal with him for The Who to play San Francisco sometime in the 1970s. He was bawling that we were cheating him. Predictably his negotiating tactics relied chiefly on shouting or screaming. When doing deals with him in the old day’s, Bill Curbishley, the Who’s manager, would be on his suite’s phone, and I would be in the bathroom on an extension. In Graham’s case, and there are pictures, we put the phone on a coffee table between us and still hear him screeching. He stubbornly believed he was singled out for disadvantageous treatment by God himself every minute of his day. He was a formidable adversary. Few promoters dared to stand up to certain bands — the Who had become too big to lose. That said, when I started with Genesis, he did me endless favors, which he did not have to do. The other variable was that the band (The Who) loved him, so we never really tried to fuck him. No doubt, he did them favors too, early on. We had settled on the particulars for one show, maybe the Cow palace in San Francisco. After the contracts were issued, Graham returned his signed copy. His shows represented at least 100,000 tickets per performance ( most likely far more, I can’t recall), to be sold at an agreed ticket price. Graham would get his percentage cut from that. He raised the face ticket price ( which he printed) one dollar, hoping to keep the money without telling us. When confronted, he responded, “but you were stealing from me” — We didn’t let him keep the money but with our admiration.
Between the years of 1972 and 1991, 78% of all rock shows used B.B. King as an opening act. I saw him perform at least 22% of those times. 99% of those audiences were white, and 99.95% of them were impatient to have him leave the stage to get to the headliner. Only 45% of the headliners had ever heard of him, and the remainder adored him because they thought he made them look cool and because he came cheap. B.B King would have played to a herd of sheep if he got paid and the sheep would have been the big winners. He was the greatest of all things. A happy man.
I find it impossible to have philosophical conversations with women. They are aggressively uninterested. Nearly all confuse crusted jealous aggravations with being profound. They use earrings to corner a man’s common sense then dagger it.
I did not expect Dolly Parton to call me Mr. Boff. She couldn’t fill the venues I had for her without the help of a strong opening act. She took this in stride. I suggested Merle Haggard, and she dispatched me to get him with her approval. Getting hold of Merle wasn’t straightforward. He didn’t seem to have a manager or agent. I had to go through his drummer. Haggard was a convicted felon. He had spent a good deal of time in the San Quentin prison. His band, “The Strangers,” was irregularly populated by musicians who happened to be on parole when his tours began. Asked once what his biggest mistake in life had been, he blurted slyly, “Pulling my jobs in small towns.” Merle did his own deals. The money I was offering him had his attention. Not often a fool, I know that thieves attend pleasantly to people who have cash. I did not expect the negotiation to be hard, so I was annoyed at meeting him first. I headed down to one of his shows in the South. It was a small show where he was headlining. After he finished, he sent a guy who put me on his bus. The drummer introduced me, and there it was again, “Mr. Boff.” We sat in his living room. A hairless animal cuddled next to him. I assumed it was a dog. It growled and snarled non stop at me. He wanted to make me feel he saw through me. It was the same look he projected from the stage. He had removed his black hat, so it did not work. Everything about him was wrinkled and mean. I liked him instantly. We both knew I was paying him too much money, so it could not have been called an authentic negotiation. What he said to me caught me off guard, “I’m sorry, Mr. Boff, I would like to do it, but I can’t.” I needed him, and I pressed for why. He said,” I don’t believe the Good Lord means for a man to open a show for a woman.” I went home. I called Dolly and told her what happened. She said she would call me back. She got back to me quickly to say Merle would do the dates. I asked what he said? She said, “Not much, he just agreed after I told his guy to tell him that the “Good Lord” Dolly Parton was on the phone.”
I am unnerved. Shortly after publishing a stinging rebuke of kale on FaceBook, a giant off-stage hook removed the picture I had nailed to it. Someone clearly wishes to be paid handsomely for its usage. (See below)”Certain people fume when I malign kale. Some attack me, not cleverly identifying themselves to me as simpletons. These same people vote in general elections. They raise children not much unlike themselves.”
I have worked with and loved vegetarians. They are not better people and are easily frustrated by irregularities like leather belts and shoes. On rock tours, they grow weak during the midwest portions in America because they can’t find anything to eat but mutton, gizzards, and rhubarb. They can not play Germany.” ( 1976 ) Regis Boff
I grew up with Polkas playing on my dad’s radio. Unlike rock, Polkas, never benefited by having its own signature drug. Having traveled through old Czechoslovakia, I tied one or more on with “Slivovice,” that transparent brain reducing eastern European alcohol. But it is neither heroin or LSD, let’s face it.
Remember, I spent twenty-five years going from one concert to another where bands played the same set. Drugs, for me, were a way of taking that music out of my head, not enhancing it.
There is only the hum of being alive. Nothing affects this even handedness. Certainly not how long you are allowed to sing. Eternity is a grooved spinning record, and we go round and round, forever guessing if we are a song or simply the melody.
Women neither invent nor love machines. If you put a woman in a garden, she will grow what she needs—enough zucchini to feed her family, for instance. A man in that same garden will concoct a harvester to pick the vegetables in a number that the garden will allow. He can’t abide by just a few zucchini. She doesn’t have the time or inclinations for abundance—a tidy arrangement.
Only gay men can be kind and talented. Heterosexual men can be either one or the other, but never at the same time. Young girls always enter a clumsy period of ambiguity regarding themselves. This is triggered because they are all attractive for a while. It holds them back. But it is fun and sells cosmetics. Beauty loses interest in itself after children or more than two husbands. Lesbianism is the obvious sensible choice for most after these events.
Men scarcely communicate unless the subject is vast, like the universe or the Pittsburgh Steelers. Women have no big themes. They are not philosophers and never allow silence to invade their relationships. Just watch them during football games. Lesbians generally are better at office football pools. This fact has forever puzzled me because I know a very wise explanation is hidden somewhere just beyond my reach.
Poetry is the last thing That would occur to letters that were mulling around hunting for something to say. Words would testify that gathering to rhyme is only for holidays. Good writers are uncomfortable leaving only a verse, one that is unsure of where it’s period might fit in. But I prefer this short shit, cause I mostly don’t like the reader anyway.
I stayed home with my children when they were born. I got fat. It took twenty-five years to slim down. Women have been working on staying slender after childbirth for fifty thousand years. I was unprepared. I handled the problem like a man. I had a heart attack. Tidy
I spent hours chasing ants on my hands and knees, trying to burn them with a large magnifying glass angled to the summer sun’s rays. I had built fires this way in Boy Scouts. I used twigs, not ants, for th The ants often adopted a “clump together” stratagem in their insect terror, which was a bad move. In retrospect, there is cruelty in children that blends agreeably with innocence.
My wife and I have substituted the daily relationships we had with our now college rooted children with a revivifying blend of Netflix, Amazon Prime, and a splash of HBO and Showtime.
We are revisiting our initial dating patterns from now long ago without any of the thoughtful incorporation of each other’s feelings. If viewed from a distance and with a cold eye, our marriage is now dependant on how rapidly a new season of our favorite programs come available.
As a fatalist, I constantly fret that Hollywood will not keep pace with our romantic hybrid. My ever-optimistic wife concerns herself only with “which” and never “if” new shows will come along,
By the time we had finished “Game of Thrones,” I had bought a long-handled, two-headed ax and had our dog scared shitless that I was coming for him. I had also knitted a flattering hair shirt. My wife had chained our cat in the basement for random and destructive fire-breathing , ( it incinerated the parakeet).
The twenty-three-year run of “Breaking Bad” provided three extensions to our house from the windfalls from my sale of bright blue methamphetamine to my now high strung neighbors.
This month we are watching “The Tudors”, so I am guessing it won’t be long before I take on a couple of new wives and spend my days ripping bodices.
The life of a woman consists of one adventure which can be multiplied by coupling with one or more men. This product, in and of itself remains essentially unvarying except for the occasional very unexceptional children or, perish the thought, dangerous ones.
All else is filled with chatter and worry. The life of the man is an continuous exploration for avenues to be competitive without killing or being killed prematurely each other.
This only applies to men who are Steeler fans. All other men are actually women.
Always that same LSD story, you’ve all seen it. ‘Young man on acid thought he could fly, jumped out of a building. What a tragedy.’ What a dick! Fuck him, he’s an idiot. If he thought he could fly, why didn’t he take off on the ground first? Check it out. You don’t see ducks lined up to catch elevators to fly south—they fly from the ground, ya moron, quit ruining it for everybody. He’s a moron, he’s dead—good, we lost a moron, fuckin’ celebrate. Wow, I just felt the world get lighter. We lost a moron! I don’t mean to sound cold, or cruel, or vicious, but I am, so that’s the way it comes out. Professional help is being sought. How about a positive LSD story? Wouldn’t that be news-worthy, just the once? To base your decision on information rather than scare tactics and superstition and lies? I think it would be news-worthy. ‘Today, a young man on acid realized that all matter is merely energy condensed to a slow vibration. That we are all one consciousness experiencing itself subjectively. There is no such thing as death, life is only a dream and we’re the imagination of ourselves’ . . . ‘Here’s Tom with the weather.’”- Bill Hicks
I was the tour manager in the early seventies for a band called Genesis. Those years when Peter Gabriel was with this band.
I was additionally responsible for what was arguably rock’s most embarrassing moment.
Every other night the show would end this way. Gabriel, dressed in his “Gods of Magog” costume (a black velvet cape, and a giant triangular headpiece), throws off his hat and cloak, revealing himself in a silver jumpsuit. He finishes the song done.
During the climatic changeover, we made him momentarily invisible by the detonation of a cocktail of flash and concussion grey gunpowder. The controlled explosions came from metal pods on the front lip of the stage. The audience was blinded and dazed, an excellent early rock finale.
We never told anyone we were going to do it. One of our roadies, Geoff Banks, filled them a couple of hours before the show and would set them off electrically at the right moment. Today this would be criminally outlawed, whereas back then, one of our guys distracted the fire marshall while we filled them.
This incident took place somewhere between 1973 and 1975, either in Cleveland, Ohio, or Berlin, Germany. In my world, this is terrific accuracy.
Someone imaginatively, (I can’t remember who), had the notion to “fly” Peter into the air while the audience was blinded. It was most likely Peter himself.
He was to be “shot” (hoisted) fifteen feet into the air by nearly invisible thin metal wires, “called flying” in those days. He would finish the song, floating in a silver jumpsuit, as the front curtain closed, end of the show. Nice.
Gabriel was to be further concealed by smoke machines (they looked like leaf blowers) and an intense fog that bubbled up by the dumping of blocks of dry ice, by hand (gloved), into huge buckets of water by the crew from behind the speaker stage bins. They would explode with vapor, filling, if the prevailing winds permitted, the entire stage.
Here’s how the “flying” was to work. I had brought in an “expert” who had flown Elton John and his piano into the air a few months earlier. This guy harnessed himself to the wires which connected over the truss to Gabriel. He climbed to the top of a tall ladder on stage left, out of sight, and waited. On my cue, he would leap off the ladder, and because he was the counterbalance, up our artist would go. I did the cueing only because I had no other real job, having finished my critical job of literally running around hallways closing doors so no breeze would alter the course of our stage fog.
I sweated the cue because I am not particularly musical.
Well, I thought I nailed the fucker, but I was maybe a second too soon, and shit began scattering everywhere.
Peter went up fast and, sadly, crookedly. His left shoulder was at least a foot and a half higher than his right. In his shock, he dropped his live microphone launching it forward, onto the stage, where it rolled into the explosions from the gunpowder pods.
The blasting sound shot directly into the fifteen-foot audience speakers. Many of the punters, who had the misfortune to have been standing near them, are no doubt deaf today.
Meanwhile, some assholes had opened an outside door. So all my smoke was blowing backward towards the dressing rooms leaving the mayhem visible.
The flash pods, we were later to learn from the fire dept were so overloaded there was speculation it was the first actual cannon fire, during a live show, in history ( except for Beethoven in the 1800s).
Peter’s mic sound, as my luck would have it, also went through the band’s stage speakers. Tony Banks, the keyboardist, I saw out of the corner of my now tearing eyes, was in the center of the stage hitting Geoff, the explosion roadie, over the head with a tambourine, screaming, “I am deaf, you made me deaf.” All this was happening within a nightmare zone of about ten seconds.
So let me recap, seeing as we have come this far.
I have Gabriel nearly horizontal, fifteen feet in the air, with no microphone and a black cape dangling from his foot. The keyboardist is pounding a roadie as the hapless bastard is frantically trying to extinguish the residue flames still pouring from his canisters. I have an entire audience in a state of stunned mass trauma, and all my smoke is filling up the dressing rooms.
So what was the absolute last thing God could think of to do with me? The front curtain would not close.
In my mind’s eye, even today, this was not a tidy episode. To their credit and my forever resentment, most of the audience hung around to watch us try to cut Peter down. It took such a long time.
Steve Hackett confirmed it was 19.2.75, The Ekeberghallen, Oslo, Norway!
In the 1991 Documentary, Genesis A History Tony, Mike, and Phil remembered it with Phil Collins saying, “I turned around to the tour manager and said YOUR FIRED!
“Can I have a word?” Townshend says by hotel phone around midday.
Like some rare birds, Pete was rarely sighted before late afternoon. It was not an inherently settling experience to talk to him one on one before then. In fact, it was fair cause for dread. He made me uneasy and I him at first. It took years to work that out.
A couple of us were having fun working out a logo/poster for the upcoming Canadian leg of a Who tour when his call came.
Canada is big and mostly settled by moose. So far we had a drawing of a frog with a big piece of Canadian bacon in its mouth hopping from city to city outlining where they would play. He was dressed in a Royal Canadian Mounted Police uniform. He appeared to be chasing a beaver. The bacon was my touch because I grew up eating it.
But that phone call had dampened me, so I headed down to his room.
He did not look well. He had his tea.
”Did you give me money last night?” he said without really looking up. I got the feeling that if I lied to him he would be pleased. ” Yes”, I said.
“How much?” He actually gutturally groaned when I told him.
“Fuck,” was all he said
“Who was here?” I asked.
It doesn’t matter I didn’t know them. I must have passed out.” He was hard to read as he answered.
“Want me to put Jim on it,” I said.
“No, it’s gone, thanks.”
And I left.
All that remained of the band’s all-night security detail was Jim Callaghan, who was shifting nervously from foot to foot in front of me. He was wearing one shoe. I ignored him. Keith Moon was stretched out in black nylons and a blue silk kimono behind a tea service set for him on a small Victorian table. His hotel suite window showed whichever lake was next to Chicago. It was early morning, sometime in the late seventies. He was wearing Callaghan’s other shoe. At mid-tour, he was worn and beginning to look like an unshaven Judy Garland during her last difficult years, but I kept this to myself. “Spot of tea, Regis?” he offered, not caring there was not a second cup. “Did you take in some theater before you rushed here to help me?” he jabbed. “I wanted to pick up more cash,” I offered, working to deflect him. The band still made me nervous in my first years.” I learned early that rock stars had no concrete understanding of cash, they liked it, but it stalled and confused them. This drummer viewed me as a magically tall money fountain and understood vaguely that I needed a refill on occasion. It was our primary working link. “We have disturbing confidences to consider you and me,” he began slowly, almost like an accusation. “I have met the wrong woman.” He paused here, investigating our faces for sympathy. None came. But we didn’t laugh either. Days seemed to pass as I was blank for any response. Callaghan cracked first,” He’s got the clap.” “Quiet!” Moonie shot at him in a shrill hiss, “this is a grave intrigue; no one can ever know.” ” I’ll find you a doctor,” I swiftly convinced him, and then after brief but genuinely stupid pleasantries, I headed off to solve the problem.
I could make anyone do anything for Who tickets and cash. An Indian doctor arrived at his suite in under an hour to take a culture. Soon after, Keith understood he had an especially hateful strain of Vietnamese gonorrhea. That afternoon I headed back up to his room with the doctor and his bag in tow. We found him with his intimate friend Dougal hunched over the suite’s dining table with pens and paper resembling Hitler and Goebbels plotting a North African tank campaign during WW11. I made my first mistake while the doctor got ready. I asked: “Should we let the girl know?” “Girl?” he sniffed as though I had demanded the definition of a two hundred letter word. They both snickered at me; he said, “Reg, there are constellations of girls, and we are connecting those dots as you can see on our chart, pointing to the table. With that, he turned back to his diagrams with Dougal, who was now so stimulated about the probable sexual connections he was practically drooling. They were tracing who they had slept with and who else had been there. The enrollment grew and grew like a virus. No one, at least in the imaginations of these two, could be innocent. ( Except me, of course, because I would be paying the doctor.) There is nowhere on earth like a rock tour when it comes to women. And yes, occasionally, the odd girl might have a condition of one kind or another. It did happen. But groupies get a bad whack in music mythology. Commonly they had far higher IQs than the road crews, the traveling staff, and the band members they coveted. Most of the famous ones are ambitious, conniving, and breathtakingly forward advancing. Sometimes it is sad, but only rarely. I understood that innocents were fingered, caught up as they were in Moon’s fabulously infectious net. Many were wrongly doomed that afternoon. Dougal and I called nearly everyone on tour that day, and the glum suspects marched in to get their shots. Even some of our lawyers succumbed to the flimsiest of evidence. Still, the English are reliably the last to guess at a lie. They will nearly always misjudge what to do in favor of caution. It was just good unclean fun, after all. With sick looks on their faces, they dropped their pants. This doctor was now working for me full time. He made a small fortune and walked away with enough tickets to start another Ticketron in Chicago. Everyone hung around all day and into the night—a major party. A photograph exists of everyone standing or kneeling together in that suite at night’s end. It resembled a U.S. baseball team card. The Indian doctor was sitting in the center, holding a lap-full of Who tickets and syringes. I don’t know who has that photo today. I would pay for it.