Thursday, May 12, 2011

Move Along, Nothing to See Here

Film director Paul Morrissey

Unless I really have nothing to do, I probably won't click on the "next blog" spot atop the usual BlogSpot page. For some reason, I only get (1) mommy blogs, (2) Christian religious stuff, (3) odd young Asians who seem particularly scatterbrained, and (4) gardening blogs, which I'd normally like, but actually manage to be boring.

I guess the bulk of blogs are like FB posts about what's happening in the author's life, or what they wish would happen because nothing is. Very occasionally you will find some interesting autobiography -- I mentioned one a while back by a feisty middle-aged South African lady who was scandalously humorous and quite insightful. Unfortunately, you would have to click away most of the day to find one like that. At the other end of a spectrum spanning comedy to tragedy, I read many installments penned by a depressed writer in New England who lived alone but definitely had something to say; the last one was very dark and after that, nothing. I wonder about him. If he's gone, at least someone remembers him.

I've enjoyed telling my sparse little story and putting down ideas that have been floating around in my goldfish bowl head. As Buffalo Springfield put it, for what it's worth.

Here are some (mildly) amusing leftovers that didn't fit in with previous narratives:

Almost Famous

In New York, near Grand Central Terminal, I passed former football player Jim Brown on the sidewalk. Coincidentally, I'd just read his book and was going to tell him that when someone else brushed by and engaged him. So Jim doesn't remember me but I do remember him. By the way, he's a lot smaller and more compact than you'd think. Today's NFL line would have made his career about an hour long.

On one of our many trips to play in North Carolina, the members of Morning Disaster and I were enjoying breakfast in an iHop (we usually didn't stay the night, so it must have been a long weekend mini-tour), when in the booth in front of us the duo Peaches and Herb were not enjoying theirs but were in a fierce little argument instead. This was the original and first of three Peaches. We could see why she didn't stay until the next hit song about twelve years later.

When I briefly lived near Cambridge, MA during the winter/spring of 1967, a roommate somehow knew the film director Paul Morrissey (known primarily, but erroneously, for his association with Andy Warhol), who stayed the night once. He had made Chelsea Girls the previous year. He left behind a chocolate brown, military-style shirt which I wore when back at RPI/VCU, but it did nothing to boost my celebrity status.

Cracker Paradise

The three of us rented a three-story townhouse nicely situated between ocean and bay on skinny Topsail Island, North Carolina, one summer. Unfortunately, it was the same weekend a hurricane came that way. Before all the horizonal rain and disappearance of the road, however, we used the crabbing gear in the garage, along with some rank-smelling chicken necks from the Food Lion, and caught a big tub of crabs off the pier on the bay side. It's just like bringing goodies in from the garden: growing or catching your own food is an exciting experience. And oh, do fresh boiled up crabs taste good with mass quantities of beer on ice. With the Beach Boys playing loud on the boom box, that, my friend, is about as good as it gets.

We Were at Animal House

The Morning Disaster's agent pretty much booked them in Richmond, Raleigh/Chapel Hill, and Carlottesville. College towns, si; fraternity houses, no!

We were in the basement of an oh-so-typical frat house full of future John Birchers. They didn't particularly like the music (except for Joe's "Great Balls of Fire," of course) and they didn't like the look of us, either. We packed up quickly, sensing the mood turning sour, and unlike every other time when we could just leave them all passed out, a group of the crew-cut morons followed us out through the dark, tree-shaded parking lot. Not being inebriated gave us an edge, and we took a roundabout route to the car, which was a large Pontiac we had rented that did not look like it would be ours. We made good our escape back to the Bat Cave!

Spy Kid

The fellow I replaced at the Pentagon as his enlistment was ending was one smart cookie, and trained me well. He had come to D.C. as a staff member of a Wisconsin representative and had a job lined up with the Tavern Owners Association trade group for when he became a civilian again. He seemed to have it together, but toward the end he told us his home life was a mess and his wife was going to leave him and go back home. Good riddance, we thought, but he was still in denial. Soon after he left, several of us were interviewed by someone who flashed a badge and I.D. card. It seems a KGB agent had somehow (how?) noticed his distress and had tried to recruit him with promises of money he could use to convince his wife to stay. He had immediately gone to the FBI who let the agent know to beat it. We only held Secret clearances in our office, which is pretty low by Pentagon standards, so how useful his intended victim could have been seems questionable. I guess our Boris Badenov just had a monthly quota to meet.

I tried a little undercover mission, too. A cousin worked a couple of basements below in computers (back when they used FORTRAN and such), so using a visit to him as a cover, I went to the map supply room which was nearby, where obviously I had no legitimate business. I'd heard there were amazingly detailed maps of the U.S. (not highly classified) and some really cool ones of the USSR and Vietnam. I wisely decided not to try to get one of the hot ones, and found one of this area. I took it home in my briefcase (the way all us spies do) and found they were detailed indeed: my grandfather's house and garage were clearly marked with little black boxes. Many years later when we lived south of here near Lewisberry, I used it to find the remains of old farmhouses and outbuildings, as well as a very long-forgotten cemetery in the brush.

Princess in the Tower

A person who had worked in theatres and hotel/casino entertainment venues told me these tales:

Present for the opening of one of the early Trump resorts, Ivana noticed that the grass plot the searchlights were stationed on was ruined, probably by leaking diesel from the generator. Since it was visible from the higher rooms on that side, she became upset and demanded something be done about it at once. With the opening ceremonies about to start, there was no time or personnel to replace the sod, so my acquaintance told someone to wipe the dead grass down and paint it green. That actually worked!

He had dealt with a whole range of celebrities and I remember two of his characterizations: he said that Dolly Parton is even nicer in person than in public and he'd gladly work with her anywhere, anytime. Whoopi Goldberg, on the other hand, he found imperious and nasty. Of course, it could have been tight shoes or a bad cue. I'll bet Dick van Dyke would be great company.

1 comment:

  1. Nice snippets. Keep them coming. I love stories of how you steal stuff like maps from the Pentagon. Oops, gotta go. There is some guys here with a badge and an ID card.