Sunday, March 25, 2012


Eighteen years ago this past Friday, I hunched over a small table in a dark room, rubbing the head of a small, wet, bloody creature that changed my whole world. It seems like last month.

Dylan and I are going to Chicago next Friday. He’s always wanted to visit the Art Institute.

Most of my friends who lived there moved away years ago. I’m not really a big fan of Facebook, but there’s no arguing its good points. I’ve found friends I haven’t communicated with in years.

I simply posted, “who still lives in Chicago?” on the wall and got a lot of responses.

Dylan and I will be staying with my old buddies, Terry and Marion Boyd. (Thanks Suzy!)

The first time I went to Chicago was for my 8th grade graduation. I sat on the bus with my friend Ronald. At about 3:00 in the morning he pulled out a shaving kit (like he shaved!). He produced a can of warm beer which exploded upon opening. I thought we were going to be busted for sure.

My old girlfriend Pam used to argue this point with me, but Lake Michigan was my first experience of the ocean. The water’s horizon stretched across the whole skyline and was over my head. I fell backwards on the beach thinking the water would come crashing over my head.

Our class spent most of the day at the Museum of Science and Industry. It had taken on mythical proportions in my mind because I remembered stories my dad told me about the captured German U- Boat.

The submarine lived up to my wildest expectations!

My son has those same expectations of the Art Institute from my stories.

I’m pretty sure Terry worked at the local store in Laclede Town where I spent 8th grade, though I didn’t know it at the time. I got to know Terry years later when I tended bar at the Broadway Oyster Bar. His wife Marion invited my girlfriend Joanie and me for dinner because she wanted to test her cooking prowess on a couple of vegetarians. I remember we had black bean chili.

It seems like every time I’ve been to Chicago as an adult I looked up my dad’s old buddy Bob Koester. He a big deal record producer up there and he’s always been good for a great time. I’m sure I’ve posted about him earlier. He started in St. Louis with Delmar Records.

By the time I was 18, I’d already gotten into most of my trouble. Maybe Dylan skated past all that.

I can only hope!

Pics are my 8th grade graduation class and the card Valerie made for Dylan this year.

Sunday, March 18, 2012


I finally got an acoustic guitar I’d been waiting for this week. It took 2 months of shopping to settle on it. It ain’t easy finding a $500.00 guitar that’s worth recording.

There are a lot of cheap guitars that play well. Seagull, Simon & Patrick and Alvarez really stood out, but they all used composite woods that just didn’t really have the tone. For that matter, even Martin makes a cheap composite.

Epiphone makes a dreadnaught with a solid mahogany body, spruce top, and rosewood fret board for $500.00. I did something I swore I’d never do; I ordered one from Guitar Center. These supermarkets cater to parents who want t o spend a fortune on their kids, but have no idea how to do the necessary research.

I didn’t want to buy one on EBay because I wanted to play it first. Sure enough the strings buzzed when I ran through a few scales. I had their tech adjust the neck and all is well. The D string is a hair flat at the 12th fret, if anyone knows how I can adjust this, please comment! I think it’s only noticeable with a strobe tuner though.

My search began when I transferred my old 8mm films to digital. I found footage I took of my girlfriend Lora in the 70s.

Last year when we did the Wax Theatricks reunion, I dedicated the song Conversations to her. After the show Dominic told me he didn’t know I’d written it for her. Fojammi jumped in, “He sure did!” Danny was there during that whole period.

At that time, Danny, Dom and I were taking trips out to Sullivan to visit. She was dying.

The great thing was, we all had a chance to tell her how much we loved her. I just went through that experience with Danny, but Danny said it first.

Last fall we had a service for Lora in Forest Park. My friend Kay gave me 2 books I’d made for Lora as birthday presents. I posted The Oddity earlier and uploaded a flip book that ran through it on YouTube.

In the back of the book were the lyrics to Conversations. There are a few differences from the version the band did that were interesting. We recorded it for our last LP, but it was too fast. The band had a very excitable chemistry. Sometimes we wouldn’t even notice how fast we were playing. The performance was great though.

We’re thinking about rerecording it, if we do a studio CD. I’m in the process of recording a personal version for the film. That’s where the guitar comes in. I wasn’t happy with my guitar, I borrowed Danny’s daughter’s guitar, and I even borrowed my son’s Alvarez. Nothing worked!

My plan today is to finish the song. Tony Patti has agreed to help me finish the video. Danny was going to, but he’s dealing with other things at the moment.

Pic of Lora by Matt O'Shea

Sunday, March 11, 2012


Last night Valerie and I drove out to Old Town St. Charles to go to a surprise party for my old boss at Quantum Leap Skydiving. I was swept back into a family I had almost forgotten about.

There’s a Quantum Leap FaceBook group. The pictures everyone posts are from back in the day. In my mind, everyone still looks that young. In person, I almost didn’t recognize a few dear friends.

I’m constantly amazed by how much can change in a few short years. From 1990 to 1993 my life was a total adventure. There was never time to look back. In 1993 I got married and my whole skydiving world changed.

I remember being invited to a hot tub party by a couple I was jumping with. It didn’t occur to me I couldn’t bring my infant son. Looking back, I’m embarrassed by how incensed I was.

I think the best way to illustrate the effect is to look at how much the Beatles changed from 1965 to 1967.

Right now my friends and I are facing a lot of looking back. We’re asking ourselves if our lives meant anything really. Some of us are gone and some of us are going. The important thing is we’re still there for each other. Maybe this will pass and we’ll start looking ahead again, the next round.

Something in me feels guilty for living on. I almost want the rest of my life to fizzle into emptiness so I can say my friends didn’t really miss anything.

The big question everyone was asking last night was, “when’s the last time you jumped?”

Archway Skydive Centre is closing because of legal problems. I started with them in Sparta, Illinois. I worked there for years. My skydiving wedding was there when they moved to Vandalia.

We’re having an Archway reunion in Taylorville, Illinois in August. My buddy Dan Cunningham is organizing it. He’s had to warn everyone there that will be a bunch of old timers who aren’t current. There are going to be some crazy large formations!

I earned my Jump Master rating up there. I’ll never forget the wild dancing around a bonfire as a pretty girl poured schnapps down my throat. The following night, I partied with her at the local bar and found out she was 17.

Everyone I knew in Taylorville is dead now.

The surprise party was for Jim Cowan. He and I got our J ratings together in Taylorville. He and his brother Scott were in the world champion CRW team Quantum Leap. They were world champs for years. From that, they were able to get the first SBA loan for a skydiving operation. They made skydiving legit.

Their dad Curly was also an old friend of mine. He was a regular when I tended bar at the Broadway Oyster Bar in the 80s. He used to run a drop zone in Washington Mo called Ripcords West. I know quite a few world champs and they all grew up on DZs.

I’m 54 and feel like I’m just now middle aged. I’m looking ahead as much as I’m looking back.

Pic is Quantum Leap over Busch Stadium back in the day.

Saturday, March 3, 2012


Last summer I was at a birthday party in the Central West End. The conversation turned to “where are they now?” and the subject of David Parker came up.

David was one of the Laclede Town kids I grew up with. His stepfather Jack Parker ran O’Connell’s Pub in Gaslight Square. Now it’s at Shaw and Kingshighway.

The Parkers lived in the first circle on Lawton in Laclede Town. My family did, too.

David’s older brother Tommy was my age and I ran with him. David was my brother’s age and they ran around together. It seemed like most of the Laclede Town kids came in pairs like that. Dominic and Benet were part of that.

The Parkers left town once, and my brother and a bunch of his friends got into their house. They somehow caught a rug on fire. He must have been 5 or 6. Geo Ramsey was part of that group. David’s mom Pat decided my brother Patrick was the ringleader and banished him from their home. I’m not sure why she thought Patrick was their leader, but several years later when the Parkers moved to the Central West End, he still wasn’t allowed in the house.

She would always refer to him as “that troubled child of yours” to my mother.

Tommy is a vet now. Years ago, he put down my brother’s dog Saloon who had a severe case of heartworm. My brother ended up with the dog when my dad died.

The day it happened, Patrick bought Saloon a steak and played with him all day before he took him to Tommy. It was heart breaking.

Anyway, when we were talking about David at the party, it came out that he was in prison in Nicaragua. It had something to do with psychological abuse involving his wife. Knowing David, it didn’t seem that hard to believe his behavior might have been taken that way by someone who didn’t really know him, but his wife?

There has always been a bit of arrogance on David’s part. First of all, what’s he doing in Nicaragua? I guess it might be a natural place for an old lefty like him, but you take your chances in a foreign culture.

Before I moved away from home, he was visiting my apartment in Soulard. To show me how meaningless money was to him, he tore up a twenty dollar bill. I could only think about the rent we were having trouble paying.

Local televangelist Larry Rice was preaching late one night on TV to the homeless people at his New Life Evangelistic Center. I saw David in the audience. I’m pretty sure David’s a trust fund kid, at least he’s not hurting financially. He was there to be part of the cause. I myself have sent Larry money for attorney’s fees for certain causes.

I left a phone in my name when I moved out of an apartment in the 70s. Dominic and David moved in. David ran up a bill calling his biological dad in Europe. It was hundreds of dollars and I had to pay it off. Right about that same time, he fronted us money to complete our first LP!

He used to wear half a mustache, completed by half a beard on the opposite side of his face.

He became a jazz pianist and I ran sound for his group once at St. Louis’ City Hall. It was on a landing of a huge cascading set of stairs. It sounded like they were in a cave. It seems like every sound gig I’ve ever had was like that. I had to run sound for Patty Thomas’ benefit at the Casa Loma ballroom. The place was not meant for electricity!

So here’s why I’m recalling all of this; I got a call from a prison in Nicaragua two days ago.

David told me he wanted to find my brother. He had heard he wasn’t doing well. He didn’t have time to go into the details of his incarceration because his phone card was going to run out at any minute. We had quite a lengthy conversation anyway.

He wants everyone to know he’s innocent of the charges and that he loves and thinks about everyone in St. Louis.

I asked him how long he’s going to be there. He said they won’t tell him anything until he goes in front of the judge. He can’t see the judge until he gets an attorney. He says Nicaragua is so riddled with corruption, he can’t afford an attorney. The U.S. Consulate is corrupt, too.

When he gets out, he intends to expose everyone. I hope he’s being quiet about all of this right now or he’s never getting out. I can’t imagine he is though.

A couple of weeks ago, when Fojammi was still capable of talking about anything, I told him about Pat Parker still holding a grudge against my brother. He told me Pat had died, but she had married a second time. He was some kind of Celt and an unapologetic folkie. I love that description. Apparently he’s dead too but Danny really loved him.

Anyway, this is the public announcement I promised David.

I couldn’t find any pictures of David. This pic is from Parade Magazine circa 1966. It’s the first circle in Laclede Town. My house was the first, just off picture to the right. The 2 story behind the VW was my friend Raymond’s place. The 3 story next to it on the left was where the Martinez’ lived. When my friend Rommy was being bathed as a baby, I learned the difference between boys and girls. To the left is where Geo Ramsey lived. The 3 story to the left of that is where the Parkers lived. This is the place my brother and his pals set on fire.