Unnoticed in Clever Worlds

The clearest description I have managed so far about my blog is that it is not about cats. In general, I find predators pretty predictable while prey on the other-hand, because they live in universes of anxiety, develop more textured personalities. I also have as a writer a deft hand when it comes to making matters worse, so of course , the already panicky are ready made for me. I will try to grow this blog into an assortment of laughs, because that is what my life has mostly taught me to do. I will use the famous people I have known to get your attention and then tell you small but many times wonderful things about them. I will never name the ones I say ugly things about but I hope you will guess who they are.

Month: January, 2014

Regret

I don’t want to write so well that I regret the life I have led. No , my sole purpose is to make others regret theirs.

Keith Moon Sleeps with the Fishes

4903_1175795075582_6055903_nJohn Entwistle, the bass player for The Who, would always demand a long stop over in a city that offered good deep-sea fishing when touring the United States. Phil Collins would drag everybody to the Alamo whenever the tour came within 550 miles of it.

John would rent a boat and take whoever wanted to come, out fishing for the day; he naturally controlled nearly all the poles. John was a very, very good guy. He stuffed and sent back to England practically everything he ever hooked. He was stone faced impervious to the un-uniqueness of his fishes. The amount of money he spent on this was staggering.

One such trip featured Keith Moon, who was helped that particular morning ceremoniously onto the boat by his butler. He had been outfitted somehow in a full dress white admiral’s outfit, with the hat, shoulder tassels and a monocle. Moon liked his outfits to be appropriate to the occasion although he rarely even roughly guessed where the fuck he was going. He was routinely out of sync with dress codes so one had to appreciate this particularly successful coincidence.

Keith was drinking heavily before the boat even began dawdling out toward deeper seas. The drinking was medicinal in his mind, a sensible rebuttal to the drugs and their effects from the night before.

Anyway, the fishing was going poorly and Moon, after only a couple of hours of faring the seas began crying and baring his soul to anybody who would listen, and certainly you had to listen because everybody on the boat effectively worked for him except for John. Listening to Keith was always a dangerous mental bear trap because he was very clever and it was easy to find yourself neck high in personally embarrassing shit.

He seemed to have internally manufactured a rocker’s epiphany of sorts. He told John he wanted the boat turned around and put to port as near to the finest hospital in Miami so in the three days remaining in the “layoff” he could “purify himself” under the care of “master physicians”.

It was not abnormal to have to cancel a show because this drummer had passed out on stage, so this plan was greeted with support. We found the hospital by phone from the boat, enticed, (paid off) a doctor to take command, said our goodbyes to a teary Moon in his hospital bed, and set off for lunch and then back to the hotel feeling pretty damn clever about everything.

At our hotel, the receptionist nearly fell running over to the Who’s manager with an urgent message from the doctor at the hospital. The hospital was demanding that Moon be picked up immediately because he was on a pay phone in the hallway in his dressing gown doing interviews with the local radio stations. He was inviting the kids to come over to the hospital for a party. When we got back to the hospital there was already a crowd.

Rock’s Most Embarrasing Moment

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Rock’s Most Embarrassing Moment by Regis Boff

I was the tour manager for Genesis during the years that Peter Gabriel was with them. I was also largely responsible for what was arguably rock’s most embarrassing moment.

This was how it the show’s climax had been planned and rehearsed so long ago.

Peter Gabriel, showman that he was, would be dressed in his “Gods of Magog” outfit , consisting of a long, velvet black cape and a giant triangular headpiece . Through this helmet, only his green iridescent eyes could be seen because of the black light. At the very climax of the set, he was to be made invisible to the audience by a combination of controlled explosions coming from metal pods on the front lip of the stage.

This would temporarily blind the audience!

These canisters were filled with a martini of flash and gun powder, which would be criminally outlawed today, whereas back then they were simply banned. It was a matter of don’t ask and don’t tell”. We never told anyone we were going to do it. One of our roadies , Goeff Banks, filled them a couple of hours before the show and would set them off electrically.

Peter was to be further camouflaged by smoke machines (they looked like leaf blowers) and an intense fog that bubbled up by dumping blocks of dry ice, by hand (gloved), into huge buckets of water by the crew. They would explode with vapor, filling, if the prevailing winds permitted, the entire stage. Synchronous with this, Peter was to throw off his hat and cape while keeping a grip on his microphone, as he was “shot,” (hoisted) fifteen feet into the air by nearly invisible thin metal wires, “ called flying” in those days. He would finish the song, in a silver jump suit, as the curtain closed. End of show.

This incident took place somewhere between 1973 and 1975 either in Cleveland, Ohio or in Berlin, Germany. Believe me, in my world, this is terrific accuracy.

I think had Genesis attempted to do more shows than they did during my years it would have required time travel. I can pin it with such exactness because at that time we would only play proscenium arch stages which allowed for curtains and flash pods, as well as the overhead latticework necessary to hang wires for the flying equipment.

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 was harnessed to the wires which were connected to Gabriel and 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 very important job of literally running around hallways closing doors so no breeze would alter the course of our stage fog.

I sweated the cue because if I got it wrong, Peter would be mid-song and everything else would fall to shit. Well, I thought I nailed the fucker, but I was maybe a second too soon and all hell broke loose. Peter went up fast and sadly, crookedly. His left shoulder was at least a foot and a half higher than his right. In his surprise, he launched his live microphone forward, onto the stage and into the preternaturally loud explosions of the gunpowder pods, sending the blast sound through the mic and into the giant audience speakers deafening Lord knows how many of the punters.

Meanwhile some asshole had clearly opened a door so all my smoke was blowing backward towards the dressing rooms leaving the mayhem clearly visible. The flash pods ( we were later to learn from the fire dept.) had been way over loaded becoming perhaps the first incident of actual cannon fire ever, during a show, in the history of rock. 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 hitting Geoff, the explosion roadie, over the head with a tambourine, (of all things) screaming “I am deaf, you made me deaf”. Now all this was happening within a nightmare zone of about ten seconds.

So let me recap, seeing as we both 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. I have the keyboardist in the middle of the stage pounding a roadie as the roadie is desperately trying to extinguish the residue flames pouring from the canisters. I have an audience in a state of deaf mass shock and I have smoke filling up the dressing rooms. So what was the absolute last thing this 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 get Peter down. It took such a long time.
Regis Boff (from his blog early 2013) – used with permission.

(Steve Hackett confirmed it was 19.2.75, The Ekeberghallen, Oslo, Norway!)

In the 1991 Documentary Genesis A History where Tony, Mike and Phil remembered it differently with Phil Collins saying “I turned around to the tour manager and said YOUR FIRED! “

 

Concrete Fields of Play

Dark grey winters would finally unclench into light grey springs in Pittsburgh Pa where I grew up and went to high school in the middle sixties. I played football.

Our field was enclosed with black cyclone fencing. It was built entirely on concrete and was attached to our school like an athletic bedpan. Every other spring a caravan of heavy loaders filled with dirt would enter through a special gate that was theirs onto this field to refill it.

People who lived in the neighborhood would show up and sit outside this fence on the cement spectator stands connected directly to our field like a giant stone Legos.  These folks came because it was something different. We would steal peeks from our windows when the teacher had his back to us.

We did not get new dirt every year, as erosion was nearly impossible, it being jailed in the field’s cement encasement and besides, dirt was not cheap. The pitch must have lost some of its volume from the unavoidable adhesiveness of our uniforms, cleats, and eyes and ears. A lot of the valuable dirt went down our mother’s water drains at home every night.

We would start practice for football in the hot and dry late Augusts before the school year started.  Oil trucks had come the week before to spray the dirt dampening its dust. Through the first few weeks of practice we would come home much stained and slick.

Many of us grew what the coach called “carbuncles” on our backs. I remember them as sort of elephantine pimples. It had to be from the oil of course. I still remember my coach telling me to tape a raw slice of potato over them at night to draw out the bad stuff. It did work just so you know.

Is to Apologize

Your first instinct when you at last admit to yourself that you are getting old is to apologize.

Cheese and Pickle

It is crucial to cast your enemies in a light that allows them no reflection. Once I  typify someone I want it to stick. When I tell someone they are stupid I want to hear the sucking sound of their vocabulary leaving their brain. If I say you are evil I need you to have no alternative but a noose. But most of all when I order a cheese and pickle there had better be biscuits.

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