Thursday, November 22, 2007

My Homosexual Ghost

I can’t remember if it was 1983 or 1984. My girlfriend at the time was either Lisa Sherman or Lora Steffen. I was living with Stephen Martin on Oregon in South St. Louis. We were living in a 2 family flat. His bedroom was at the back of the apartment. Mine was a large storage closet at the front of the house. I was just able to fit a single mattress and a large book case.

Between our rooms we had the rest of the apartment filled with a recording studio. We were doing audio for the St. Louis Hockey Blues commercials and various solo projects.

One night around 3 or 4 in the morning I was in bed in the dark about to go to bed. I could still see by the street lights that lit the room.

I heard my girl friend come into my room. I was happy to have company. My eyes were closed and my back was to the door. She crawled into bed and spooned me from behind. I reached around behind me and rubbed her ass. Something compelled me to reach around front. I grabbed what became an erect penis in my hand.

I am in no way homophobic or superstitious but I screamed, turned to find no one else in the bed, flew out of the room and jumped over all of our recording equipment. I woke Steve up and made him sit up with me for the rest of the night. “Do you believe in the paranormal now?” he asked. “No,” I coughed feebly.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Freefall Wedding

Early in 1993 my girlfriend Kim announced she was pregnant. Being that she was a good Catholic girl I suddenly found myself engaged. I always knew some day I would have kids but if we had waited until I was ready it never would have happened.

The first order of business was meeting her parents. Kim is 11 years younger than I am and her parents were shocked at my age. Her mother told her she didn’t know if she’d feel comfortable calling me son. The feeling was mutual.

Two weddings were planned, one for us and one for Kim’s folks. I’m going to talk about ours.

A friend of mine named Dennis Jett was a Viet Nam vet and an ordained minister. I always suspected he was ordained through the mail from some psychedelic San Francisco church. He was also a very experienced skydiver and offered to marry us in freefall.

I was tending bar at the Venice CafĂ© at the time and my friend Jeff Lockheed knew John Pertzborn. There’s nothing a skydiver loves more than a camera. Pertzborn was supposed to show up and put us on the news.

The big day came on a chilly, overcast day in October. I taught the first jump course that morning and the wedding would be in the afternoon. The weather was so nasty Pertzborn blew it off but we were determined.

Kim’s parents and a lot of our non-skydiving friends showed up at the Vandalia, Il. airport for the first time. There were 15 people in the wedding party and Sam Johnson was our camera person.

We had a formation planned that had the minister, maid of honor, best man, bride and groom in a circle. The rest formed an aisle behind us and we were supposed to turn after the kiss and fly through them.

At 14,000 feet we exited right into an ice cloud. Everyone was flying with their hands covering their faces. It was like being sand-blasted. My best man, Bob Mudge, gave up and Dan Wright flew in to take his place.

We went through the ceremony motions, I kissed the bride, we turned and got out of there. Kim landed and slipped on ice. She did the most spectacular tumble in front of her parents. I thought her dad was going to kill me for making her jump when she was pregnant.

Bob must have thrown the ring down in disgust. I found it on the ground as soon as I landed.

The ice pellets actually drew blood through our jump suits. My buddy Rob Walsh would talk about it for years as his worst skydiving experience. He died in a terrible plane accident 2 years ago with another good skydiving buddy of mine Scott Cowan.

A great thing about skydivers is they’re easy to please. I bought a half barrel of beer for the reception and that’s all it took. Kim brought a cake but no one touched it.

Sam left his camera helmet on and video taped the whole party. He got drunk and forgot he had it on. He was busted by his girl friend later when the tape revealed an awful lot of girls’ asses.

For the next eleven years I became a family man. The kids are a fantastic experience. They both took to music immediately. Dylan plays piano and trombone. Chloe plays piano and flute. They’re both picking up guitar right now.

The pictures show Chloe’s first piano recital, she is playing Franz Liszt’s Piano Sonata in B minor, and Dylan’s first incarceration.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Found Pics

I found an old box of photos. I've added and will be adding to previous posts. Check them out.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Escape from New York

I think it was in the spring of '79 that Danny talked me into to going to a cattle call at Talent Plus to audition as extras for the movie Escape from New York. We showed up at the last minute but they let us in. We were both scruffy long haired boys. I also had a full beard at the time. They chose me immediately.

I was in the Grand Central Station fight scene with Ox Baker. They placed me ringside, on a balcony on the second floor, and up in the rafters.

The first day of shooting I picked up my wardrobe from a truck. They were rags from the siege of Atlanta scene in Gone with the Wind where the wounded lay at the train station. I was very impressed.

Friends of mine have been renting the movie for years insisting they could make me out in the scene. To be honest I was just able to make out the poncho I was wearing freezing the frame on a friend’s giant screen TV.

There was a shot we did 3 takes of where we fled the building with stunt car drivers driving 50mph+ right at us. In 2 of the shots a car just stopped at my legs and I had a genuine look of terror in my face. I was right next to Kurt Russell in 2 of the takes. I thought for sure I was going to be larger than life next to the star. They scrapped the whole scene.

In contrast to my thuggish look Reed Nesbit was there. He was very fashion conscious. I’m sure they chose him for his futuristic appearance.

Reed and I have been on several music projects together. In fact he named and was co-founder of one of my bands, Delay Tactics. A great name considering our over use of digital and tape delays. I have never actually met the man.

Between takes I was getting pretty chummy with Ox Baker, Isaac Hayes, Isaac Hayes’ stunt double, Donald Pleasence, and a local actor named Dwayne. Dwayne was a friend of my parents and had a speaking role. He was walking around like he owned the place. The only part they used him for was the beginning shot in New York where he came out of a manhole. All these guys were totally bald.

The only people on the set that weren’t incredibly friendly were Kurt Russell and Adrienne Barbeau.

Ox Baker was huge but had an incredibly gentile and effeminate demeanor. I kinda thought maybe he was gay.

When shooting was over we had 2 great cast parties. I brought my brother to the second one at the 141 drive-in. He was very impressed to meet Isaac Hayes. I believe this was just after Hayes’ financial problems. He was very famous for his pimp mobile limos and had to sell them all. He showed up at the drive-in in the dystopian pimp mobile that Cadillacs by Jed put together for the movie.

Years later I tried to get a part in White Palace. All of Soulard had an agent and they got in as a group. I didn’t make it. I did get to know Glenn Savan before he died.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Dave Gebben R.I.P.

Our good friend Dave Gebben died the day before Halloween. He had been fighting cancer for some time. From what I understand he was slipping in and out of a coma and finally died peacefully in his sleep. There was a beautiful wake at The Shanti in Soulard and a parade in his honor. I saw people there I haven’t seen in years.

Dave use to sit in with all the bands at The Oyster Bar playing a washboard. His washboard always reminded me of an electric guitar complete with guitar strap and psychedelic paraphernalia attached. He was a member of The Geyer Street Sheiks, a band filled with a lot of great Soulard characters. I consider Tom Hall, Mike Prokopf, Charlie Pfeffer, Steve Mote, and Kevin Keegan friends. I don't really know Alice Spencer but I think I may have met her when I tended bar at the Venice Cafe.

Steve taught me Travis picking on guitar when I was a teenager. This is a style that did me absolutely no good considering my taste in music. Kevin, an old drinking buddy, flew an airplane we use to jump out of in Greenville, Il. He also gave us a place to stay when we stayed too late and got too drunk.

Dave married a beautiful woman named Anita and in the early 90s they bought a small general store/bar in Dutzow, MO. Anita’s brother Tim was probably Dave’s best friend and was there at the end.

After the split with J I used to ride my bike up and down the Katy trail stopping at every winery. Dutzow was the end of the trail and I’d get there just in time for happy hour and 90¢ long neck bottles of beer.

The Washington Airport was right next door. I was able to talk the owner of an old open cockpit biplane into giving me a ride. All it took was cash. Knowing I was a skydiver he did everything he could to terrify me. We did loops, barrel rolls, and screaming plummets to earth. The only thing that scared me was flying a mile or so up the Missouri river. We were a foot above the water. I was in the front cockpit and could hear him yelling,” You know this is totally illegal!”

We all used to hang out at Sue and Jim “Rib Tip” McClaren’s farm in Clover Bottom. We’d have all night poker games. 3 philosophies were always represented; Jack Daniels, George Dickle, and Jim Beam. Jim and I were always searching for the cheapest booze that was palatable.

One morning their plumbing went out and I found myself squatting at a tree in the woods. It was bad enough that their dog Blue wouldn’t get his nose out of my ass, but what sounded like hundreds of wild turkeys were laughing at me. It made me self-conscious!

The males at these parties would always try to out-stupid each other. One January 1st (complete with New Year’s hangovers) we chopped a large hole in the ice of their pond and jumped in. We were going to make it an annual event but the following year the drill bit didn’t make it all the way through the ice. “Thank god this tradition was nipped in the bud,” we all secretly thought.

We still have the annual New Year's Day party out there. But now it’s at Dennis and Noel Connolly’s farm.

When I got married and moved to the county Rib Tip was the only person who volunteered to help. I have never felt good asking people for help moving.

Anyway it’s always about me. I wish I had more to say about Dave. We’ll miss him.

Photo supplied by John Gorsky