Memorial DAY: A Day to Remember
Memorial Day 2011 has come and gone. The long holiday weekend is over. For me, as is customary, unforgettable adventures ensued.
I am a writer because, whether I want it or not, my life always involves much drama. Every question asked me can be answered with the same two words: Long Story.
My Holiday Weekend began after class Thursday night (there is no Friday class). I left class early. A pre-recorded tutorial video played while the Prof kicked it at his desk. I exited just before eight, quietly bidding classmates Wheelie J and Dan, Happy Holidaze! My holiday had begun and I was off to Chepe’s place to rock hard on drums!
At exactly 8:00 pm, the time I got into my car, and as is customary at 8 pm, 100.3 FM The Sound plays a selected album side in its entirety. Tonight it was 1975’s Fleetwood Mac, their second album entitled Fleetwood Mac – Fleetwood Mac’s debut album in 1968, the year I was born, was also titled, Fleetwood Mac – but the British band’s first album featuring Lindsay Buckingham AND Stevie Nicks. I heard from Monday Morning till the end of side one: two Buckingham songs, two Christine McVie songs, and two Stevie Nicks’ songs including Rhiannon. Chepe doesn’t understand why I rate Mick Fleetwood as one of my favorite drummers - after Keith Moon, of course - but I do.
The next day, Friday afternoon, I realized that I’d left my USB drive AND my cheap prescription sunglasses back at the college, in and on the computer, respectively. SO, instead of ‘staying close to home and NOT driving anywhere Friday’ as I’d planned; on account of holiday traffic, I instead ended up driving all the way out to Winnetka to the West Valley Occupational center Friday afternoon to retrieve my lost goods. At WVOC, uniformed security informed me they couldn’t let me in the classroom. “You can’t or you won’t?” It was Friday 4:30 pm and I had to wait till Tuesday, when school resumed.
On Tuesday evening, after the Holiday, when I arrived for class, the USB was still in the computer and my sunglasses were right there as well. What makes it laughable is that the previous Sunday, Chepe had taken me out for sushi and I’d left the sunglasses at the restaurant. I called the restaurant the next day. They had them. The next day, I went back to retrieve them. Two days later, I left them at school!
Days after getting my sunglasses back a second time, as I now write this, I’ve lost them again, this time at the house of St. Tommy’s. It’s Sunday and my sunglasses are nowhere to be found.
I’m always leaving things behind at friend’s houses and my brother’s house. It’s also not uncommon for me to ‘Surprise Attack’, which means, come over uninvited and without calling. I do that regularly at my brother’s and at St. Tommy’s. I used to do it at Pricko’s house, but we’re no longer friends. Pricko is now, again, my brother’s friend only.
I ‘Surprise Attacked’ Chepe the other day, but I didn’t mean to. I’d emailed Chepe telling him I was coming over, but he didn’t read the entire message. We still rocked out. My unannounced arrival did not become a tense situation, as it often is, with some people. Being able to ‘Surprise Attack’ at any time…that’s what a Friend is to me.
I rocked hard on drums with Chepe on guitar and bass in his Stone Street Studio Thursday night and again Friday night at the start of the Memorial Day weekend. We watched a documentary about the WHO called Amazing Journey, a movie that neither of us had known of, which is odd, since Chepe and I are HUGE FANS of the Who, and we stay pretty well informed. The movie played in the background as we went through our entire set, including the song, My Generation, which we’d never played before. We watched attentively with audio only when the story centered on Keith Moon.
Chepe and I are both real keen on Keith Moon’s drumming. I’ve kept the book Full Moon on my bookshelf for the last two weeks. I first read the Dougle Butler penned Moon bio back in 8th grade when I was 13 in 1981, the year the book first came out. I remember buying Full Moon in a little glass-walled bookstore near the Troubadour in West Hollwood that year, a bookstore no longer there.
For this Memorial holiDay (sic) Weekend I’d like to remember 30 years ago, 1981.
1981 was the year I went to my very first rock concert, Cheap Trick at the LA Forum with my neighborhood friend Stew, and my older sister and her then friend Lourdes. Stew was then and is now, 30 years later, more my brother’s friend than mine. In 2011, my brother still talks to Stew. I only ever see Stew if I’m with my brother. My sister still sees Lourdes, who lives in a different city now, as does Stew.
Later that same year, 1981, I would see Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers with my brother and our then school chums, Geddy and Pricko, also more my brother’s friends than mine. For Memorial Day Weekend, 100.3 The Sound was playing, in order, the top 100 albums of all time, not the entire album, just one side, but still, for the first time in endless, the radio was playing B SIDE hits.
I listened to Tom Petty’s Damn the Torpedoes. I heard the songs Complex Kid and Century City, neither of which I’ve heard in decades. And I’d never heard them played on the radio before. What memories listening to those songs brought back! Like moden man, modern girl, we’re gonna live in the modern world.
In the song, Complex Kid, Tom Petty rhymes the world Kid with Bed so he says Complex Ked and I don’t know why that is so cool, but it is. And it’s not just me that thinks so. It’s millions of people, including my older brother. And the majority of us like watching the character, Lucky, on the animated sitcom King of the Hill.
Sunday came, a three day Memorial Day weekend – I found myself driving to the LA Forum to see Prince. I was driving alone. I had no ticket. It was Prince’s final show at the Forum, formerly the Fabulous Forum, then Great Western Forum. Now it’s just the plain old Forum. Prince was to play the final show of a 21 Night Stand. It was 7:00. I’d just left my brother’s house. I had $40 cash, no ticket.
My plan was to park for free on the street near the Forum and somehow, get into the show. The show was sold out. There were people trying to get tickets, but I didn’t see anybody selling tickets. There were a lot of people; sold out show; I walked around the perimeter of the Forum, inspecting all the entrances until it became clear that I was not going to buy a ticket and the only way I was going to get in was to sneak in and the best way to do that was the Smoking Area.
Since the Forum is a non-smoking building, there is an unguarded entrance/exit for patrons to come and go to smoke cigarettes. This area was fenced off, but the under area was 18 inches and I could shimmy under. I could, but would I?
I stood there. To my left AND to my right were guards admitting people, searching bags, taking tickets. Behind me were smokers, drinkers, people inside the venue. Surely one of THEM would see me shimmy under the gate. Would they rat me out?
The real question wasn’t COULD I do it. There was no question. I’ve snuck into concerts before. WOULD was the real question I’m a 43 year old man. What am I doing sneaking into rock concerts?
I’ve snuck into a lot of concerts in my life: Neil Young and Crazy Horse at Catalyst in Santa Cruz in 1996, James Brown back at the Greek in 1993. But I was kid then.
Then again, I did sneak into Jerry Seinfeld in Beverly Hills just last year. I waited till many people were in line and the guards were all busy and then I slid under the fence and ran inside up to the Colonade section and sat down in an empty seat at an empty row. My heart was beating a mile a minute, like it did when I got off that ride at Universal, total rollercoaster rush.
The stage was a giant symbol, the symbol that Prince called himself, when we went by “The Artist Formerly Known as…” I walked around a great deal before the show started. I had no weed or pipe and I had no desire to drink so I was basically sober the entire time. I would have to exit the Forum to smoke, and since that was too close to the crime scene, I didn’t smoke cigarettes the entire time either.
When the opening band started, I was in a Riser seat, the front, lower section of the Loge area, about 8 rows up. An R&B trio of Singers with a keyboard/synth/drum machine played in an upper area, away from the stage, where an announcer might be during a sports event. The stage was reserved for Prince. I was quickly on my feet and would remain on them for the duration of the show.
After a short set of nice deep bass RnB vocal numbers, Prince started. One drummer, one bass two keyboardists and Prince on guitar and vocals was the band’s core. They ran through numerous numbers old and knew and a few medleys and covers like Everyday People and MJ’s Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough. After the crowd got thick and I lost my seat, I moved up to the back wall, to the furthest distance away possible and there I stood and watch the duration of the show. Cream, get on top / 1999 / Let’s Go Crazy into Delirious back into Let’s Go Crazy. It was crazy, on hit after another.
Prince did 4 encores, leaving the stage entirely and returning. For one encore set, Prince performed solo at a grand piano that was also a synth/drum machine. It was like Prince at Karaoke. He did When Doves Cry like this, which would have been cheesy, except Prince wrote all the music so it was fitting.
At the end of the show – there was a dance floor around the stage – many hot, sharply dressed ladies were granted access to the stage and about 30 of them were dancing on stage for the final numbers. Maceo Parker from the JB’s came on to blow his sax for several of them. Numerous dancers and backup singers, mostly female and hot, shared the stage for the majority of the show, leaving to change clothes only to return looking even sluttier. All in all, two hours of non-stop rock.
At one point Prince began speaking, “I remember back in the 80’s when I was just getting started, I would come to see bands here at the Forum. This place should be designated a place for live music. I remember seeing Fleetwood Mac here back in the 80’s.” Of all the bands he could have mentioned, he said, “Fleetwood Mac.” I thought of what I’d heard recently, that because of the show Glee, that FM’s song Dreams is now back on the Billboard charts. Maybe it was a plug. Prince also mentioned seeing the Jacksons and James Brown and Prince and the Revolution! Everybody cheered at that. Perhaps Prince IS a fan of the Mac, as am I. Maybe that’s why Lindsay Buckingham is always on What Up With That?
To think that 30 years ago, in 1981, at the LA Coliseum, Prince would get booed off the stage by rock n roll fans. It was October 1981 and I remember cuz I was too young to go, but not really. The Rolling Stones played the LA Coliseum with the opening acts: J Geils Band, George Thorogood and the Delaware Destroyers, and Prince. I so wanted to go…
It wasn’t so much that I was too young – it was that I had no friends and no one to go with and that my brother wasn’t interested in seeing the Stones. Pricko went to the show with his older siblings, but me I couldn’t go. I remember years later, hearing that while Prince performed his hit from Controversy, Jack U Off, he was booed off the stage.
Any whosafudge, as a musician, there are certain artists that have changed my life, some forever not for better, and I have seen most of them live in concert. Not John Lennon, but I did shake hands with George Clinton before he took the stage at the Coach House in Orange County; and I have seen James Brown numerous times, and the Meters and Carlos Santana and The Who and Neil Young and so many others.
The Evolution of Funk is one that I’ve followed religiously in that I have studied the scriptures and learned all words.
I remember 1981, Prince was wildly popular with Little Red Corvette, which he performed Sunday night. I never got it back in 1981, or should I say, I never gave it a chance. I was a rocker. I didn’t like Prince cuz I never listened Prince and I wouldn’t have liked it even if I had. Or would have I? Had I been at the Stones 1981 show – it was the Tattoo You tour – would I have been one of the hecklers throwing tomatoes at Prince? I wonder. The only Black musician I listened to in 1981 was Jimi Hendrix! Funny how Jimi had to go all the way to London England and play with a British rhythm section just to get known in the USA?!?!
Then came college. Then came Chepe Escondidio. Then came PE and BDP and John Coltrane and Miles Davis and James Brown and Macka B.
I did my senior thesis on Bebop Jazz.
I remember in 1989, I was at Berkeley and this African American dude a few years younger than me: he was telling me that I was born on a cusp. That people born after me, younger than me GET rap; but that people older than me DON’T GET rap, they think it’s noise, the way parents thought RocknRoll was noise. That same African American youth, then a Berkeley student like me, he also told me something else. “Rap killed funk,” he told me. He was right, except it really didn’t die; it just evolved.
My older brother by one year and Geddy and Pricko are all one year older than me. None of them like rap music much. On Memorial Day Monday 2011, I went to a barbeque at the house of my brother and Pricko and Geddy were there as well. And other than Pricko’s mother and brother and my brother’s son, no one else was there.
I wanna end with a quote by Prince. Prince, the evolution began with Lionel Hampton, then James Brown, tyhen George Clinton, then Prince, then PE. Rap killed funk. Public Enemy.
I hate to see an erection go to waste. I’m just rock hard in a funky place.