My first cane brought with it a lessening of pride, at least it did for me. It has made me nearly safe from my vanity.
I have become an opportunity for those around me to be kind. It’s my new hobby. I can feel their sympathy like breezes.
The world would be a better place if we all had canes. Pain is more visible with props.
PUBLISHED: January 30, 2019
FILED UNDER: Unnoticed in Clever Worlds
Nobody in their right mind says to a friend,”that person you love is not as pretty as you think.”
Is that because falling in love is the only art with no real right or wrong ?Perhaps.
My neighbor and my wife are “Deadheads.” That is, they have between them been to more than twenty thousand Grateful Dead concerts. I have been to two because they were the opening act for The Who, two times.
The deal between the bands to play those two shows took years to consummate because so little could be agreed.
The contract became the shortest one for this amount of money in rock history because everyone gave up quarreling in fatigue. It roughly reads: “The Grateful Dead will receive a guarantee of X and can begin anytime after sunrise but must vacate the stage by sunset.” We were afraid they would not get off. They didn’t always.
Wholeheartedly many believe the Dead is the best band in the world.
Do I think they are musical idiots? Sure. However, they are in love, so I let it go. I don’t tell them so. Often.
When push comes to shove, we are a beautiful species, killing each other regularly, notwithstanding. Mostly we regard that love is an authentication of a joy others have too, and that we need to respect this without commentary.
That said, The Who are a much better band.
Our music was round.
The records had grooves,
each different as the
concentric furrows on fingers.
Only our palms handled them.
Prints left skips
like little crimes.
We would hard blow unseen dust
and polish the needles
before injecting them
like fussy junkies,
nudging them forward,
encouraging their toddler first words.
Vinyl rivulets of invisible sound
came sheathed in cardboard art,
album covers carrying messages
meant only for us.
We built giant libraries
from which we would lend.
Music brought us together,
to be too honestly gay
when we sang along.
But old black recordings
from dead guys with funny names
like Dizzy, Jelly Roll, and Satchmo
would get us laid.
Their sounds made
the white women swoon.
None of us knew shit
about old black men.
And we didn’t care.
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!
Lately, I have been tempted to return to smoking just to fill the void created outside clothing stores while I wait for my wife. It would be good to tell the occasional complaining stranger to ” fuck off”.
What I did not expect most from Dolly Parton was being called Mr. Boff.
I explained that she could not fill the concerts I had for her without help. She took this in stride. I suggested Merle Haggard might be perfect as an opening act, and she dispatched me to get him with her approval.
Getting hold of him wasn’t that easy. He didn’t seem to have a manager or agent, so I had to go through his drummer.
Haggard was a convicted felon. He had spent a good deal of time in 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 big deals himself and I was a big deal for him. Not often a fool, I know that thieves attend pleasantly to people who have money. I did not expect this would be hard, so I was annoyed at having to meet him. I headed down to one of his shows in the South. It was a small show where he headlined.
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 partially hairless animal cuddled next to him. I suspected 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 stage. As eyes play on a face, his were the only participants that were not wrinkled and mean. I liked him instantly.
We both knew I was paying him too much money, so it could not have been called a real 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 says. “Not much, he just agreed after I told his guy that the “Good Lord” Dolly Parton was on the phone.”
“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
Drubbing? My recollection is somewhat different. Pretty evenly matched, and I had to lug huge volumes of Websters and The Collins everywhere we went to prove I wasn’t lying and neither were you about the spelling of certain words. (I was not popular with Dick Parry.) I even remember one of the words you came up with was ‘homey’, I challenged, Bill became very aggressive and that was why we carried the dictionaries ever after. I play Scrabble online with strangers now and would have loved to be able to play with you, but it’s not available in the land of the free. I’ve even ‘gotten’ used to playing in your language. I arrived in London today and it’s freezing here. I’ve got my coat wrapped around my feet as I write. Can’t wait to scurry off to Barbados in a week or so. When you say you ‘saw the boys’ do you mean you got to talk to them? xx
Women do not fight like men. When a man does fight like a woman, men will beat him up just because he did so. Men must fight and most often do exercise good sense when doing so but the media and the less veteran benefit by harping on our occasional mistakes. We are generally accepting nowadays of this unfairness.
Traditionally men can forge great friendships in the aftermaths of bad fights. We fight quickly and most times with little provocation. When a woman fights, the battle is already over in their minds. There can not possibly be reconciliation.
We are superior to women in this way. Men have been fighting longer and hence have vastly more experience tactically. Even while we are beating another man to a bloody pulp, we see a variety of endgames. The outcome, death, is most often way down the road for us.