Friday, September 28, 2007

Come for the hotdogs...Stay for the casket

"That'll be $3.23, please."

Just another day of fine dining with my wife at one of our favorite spots for lunch.
The parking lot of our nearest Costco offers TWO delicious tube steaks and unlimited soft drinks for the two of us for a total of: $3.23. In fact, if they offered music and dancing, I'd be willing to duke them a whole $4 for the experience. (Not that I would actually dance, but it would make me appear to be a real "sport".) Just the look of respect and the prospect of romance in Linda's eyes would inspire me to lay out the four large.

I guess most everybody has one of these warehouse emporiums near them. Costco is our wholesale orgy of convenience; I know that Sam's Club and a couple of others provide basically the same experience. You buy a membership for a small annual fee and are given the privilege of toting out tons of BARGAINS in quantities roughly suitable to provision the Army's First Infantry Division. It's fun, but don't kid yourself...You'll NEVER use all that crap you're hauling out of there every week.

Costco has offered me the chance to put more than a lifetime supply of WD-40 on one of the groaning shelves in our garage. Hey...You never know when stuff is going to get squeaky! WD-40 is also good for putting on fishing lures, (fish can't resist it I'm told), buffing dings out of your car's paint job, and other stuff they haven't thought up yet. If you need any, I'm your guy.

How about Halloween candy? I'm set through 2010.
Batteries? I can run the whole house on my Costco supply!

If you insist on limiting yourself to food, may I recommend the jumbo package of pork? Why not slap both Porky and Petunia in your basket. You may last until next year's Pork Appreciation Day!

Toilet paper?? No problem. Whole forests have been harvested to keep you in tall cotton for the rest of your life.

They have it ALL at Costco. Why not join the rest of us spending thousands to save hundreds? It' the American Way! Our motto..."Nothing exceeds like excess!"

How about a casket? They have those at Costco too! (Eating all those hotdogs may earn you and early check-in to the Mahogany Hilton.)

If you need some WD-40 for those squeaky hinges in your new "box", just give me a call. I've got plenty.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Time Travel

The grave of "Wild Bill" Hickok

I can't take the pine trees.
Don't get me wrong. I love the smell of a pine forest but, for some unknown reason, lately my nose slips into mucus overdrive when I'm frolicking in the evergreens. Maybe it's age. It never bothered me when I was nineteen and working in the Black Hills.

That's where I've been, in case you missed me. Linda had some family business to attend to in her home town of Rapid City; so a couple of days in nearby Deadwood, South Dakota communing with the ghosts of "Wild Bill" and "Calamity Jane" seemed like a fine Autumn outing for the two of us. I love Deadwood. It is a wonderfully beautiful little burg that has so much history crammed into its city limits that you can spend days wandering the in the mists of Old West and Indian lore. To the Indians the Black Hills is sacred ground that was violated by the white man as he scavenged for gold during the rush in the 1800's. You can spend days soaking up the history of both Indians and whites, not to mention the Chinese, if you have the time.

We climbed Boot Hill to visit the graves of "Wild Bill", who was gunned down by the coward Jack McCall on August 2,1876 while playing poker at the Number 10 saloon, and "Calamity Jane" Canary who is often referred to as the Queen of the Wild West. The view was spectacular. The Aspen are turning to gold and the air was crisp and clear. The shadows left no doubt that Fall had begun and that frost was soon to be making a regular appearance in the forecast.

I hadn't been to Boot Hill in over forty years and the sense of deja vu was overpowering. There aren't many places left anywhere that show little or no sign of change in a stretch of that duration. I couldn't help wondering how much of the view remained unchanged from the 1800's.

Pete Dexter's book, Deadwood, does a wonderful job of capturing this area and the times of "Wild Bill". If you get the chance, read it. You'll want to make the same trek to the Hills. HBO used Pete's book as the basis for their mini-series of the same name and it was pretty good. The only thing they got wrong was the language. I'm no prude, but the words used in the television series were not the common vernacular of the old West. In the 1800's folks were more inclined to cuss utilizing the music of the scatological...not the sexual. That came later...mostly post World War II.

I like to think that I could one day live in Deadwood. But, I'm reasonably sure that it's just another pipe dream that the clock is running out on. I'm also fairly certain that I've spent too many years in cities and would miss the amenities they provide.

No, I'll just file away my memories of the view from Boot Hill and hope that "Wild Bill", "Calamity" and the other denizens of this garden of stone are resting peacefully and also enjoying the view.

Deadwood, South Dakota...looking down from Boot Hill 2007

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Is it raining????

It's official.
I live in the dumbass capital of the world.

(Phil...he sure looks innocent to me...Spector)

Only in Southern California can you find a jury incapable of determining whether it's raining or if someone is peeing on their shoes. How anyone could question the guilt of this hopeless mental patient is beyond comprehension! In fact, according to my sources in the music industry, it was practically a miracle that the court was able to impanel a jury that didn't include at least a couple of people Phil had pulled a gun on.

(Is it Phil...or Elizabeth Taylor after a bad night?)

This guy is the stuff you scrape off the bottom of your shoe...A complete waste of air! Somebody should have backed the car over him long ago! According to a friend of mine at Court TV, even his own sons were hoping for a guilty verdict and a righteous police tasering of the Philster when he went ballistic over the jury's decision. It appears that there is no such luck.
Just another murdering bastard getting a walk from a SoCal jury too dumb to come in out of the yellow rain.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

On the road again...

Portland, Oregon

Been traveling...
It's one of those months. Out again for a few days and then October should be a month to hang around San Diego. Both of us had wanted to get to New England sometime this Fall, but it won't be happening this year. I really miss Autumn. Growing up in Michigan, I remember it as the best time of the year. The kaleidoscope of color in the trees; the smoke from burning leaves, and the delicious taste of fresh pressed apple cider from the the orchards that were everywhere live on inside me when pumpkins begin appearing in the grocery store.
Maybe next year.

I don't know about you, but every city I visit prompts me to consider living there for a few years. It has only occurred to me recently that the clock is running out on the opportunity for that to happen. Portland seems like a good city. Lots of bars, but that doesn't matter any more. Last year we were treated to blue skies and comfy temperatures. This time Portland reverted to form and offered a steel gray ceiling and a light mist. I was reminded of the year I worked in Seattle and why I vowed never to live there again. The Coppers require solar stimulation. Rain makes us crazy. Okay...crazier.

The reason for the Portland jaunt was to see an exciting new play that opens at New York's SoHo Rep this December. The show opened in Philadelphia; then segued to the West coast and has now begun its European tour. It is brilliantly funny and extremely profound. I can't wait to see it again in New York. If you get the chance, it's called "No Dice" and is the product of the writing and directing duo of Kelly Copper and her husband, Pavol Liska. They are the founders of one of the most heralded new theater companies in New York, the Nature Theater of Oklahoma.


You may have noticed that Ms. Copper shares my last name and concluded that perhaps there is a connection.
There is. She is my oldest daughter. And, after roughly fourteen years of struggle, she and her husband Pavol have become an "overnight success".

I couldn't be more proud.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Radio Reprobate Reunion

(l-r John Emm, and local blogger. Check out Emm's new caps!)

"You look good," we both said in unison.
By the way, when does that start? The "you look good" thing, instead of "hi", seems to kick in sometime north of your fortieth birthday. Like it's some big accomplishment that you are still on the right side of the sod and capable of chewing your own food. (Come to think of it, maybe it is.)
It was my old pal John Emm, with his new wife Arlene, standing at my door. He did look great. The last time we had seen each other we were both fairly well tanked and had probably looked it. Now we were sober and both of our wives looked happy about that. With Arlene, John finally appears to have gotten the hang of marriage and Linda has always been the best thing that ever happened to me. (Did I get that right dear? It's sort of hard to read your writing.)

We spent this past Sunday afternoon comparing the condition of our hairlines, (he still has one), the size and condition of our prostates, (his like a bowling ball and mine roughly equal to the oil pan from a '53 Buick), and how hard it is to suck-in your gut these days. Also, the deterioration of the major league baseball strike zone and the lack of any good popular music in the last thirty years came in for considerable discussion. It was an afternoon to remember.

John reminded me of a few adventures that had been erased from my frontal lobe including the one involving us setting up a Mint Julep stand in front of Ginsberg's Dublin Pub during Kentucky Derby Day 1981. It involved the two of us mixing juleps and selling them for charity for $1.01. This promotion had sailed by radio station management because we were promoting the station's frequency. Can you imagine trying to pull this one today? Though neither of us could recall, we decided that the whole stunt got out of hand before the race even started. We also remembered that the cops were involved.

It was an afternoon that seemed far too brief. We had about seventy-five diet Dr. Peppers and it was just like old times. Even without booze. God, what a relief. I had hoped that we would still be good pals...and we were. Unlike some people, with John Emm it's not necessary to stir in alcohol to drink him interesting. He's a radio legend...and my friend.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Radio Daze...St. Pat's Day 1982

It seemed like genius to us at the time.
My radio saddle pal, John Emm, and I dreamed this up over morning cocktails at our San Francisco "show prep" headquarters the Iron Pot. The "Pot" was a restaurant and bar just across the street from our radio home, K-101 FM. The food was cheap, plentiful and really good but Tito, Italo and Louie made their bones on the bar crowd that consisted of the local North Beach residents and lots of thirsty bankers from the financial district. John and I were "the boys" from the radio station; sort of the Cliff and Norm of the saloon that looked an awful lot like the Cheers bar. We ambled in daily at approximately 10:04 AM after finishing our morning show broadcast and would proceed to relax ourselves into something north of a coma until it was time to catch the train to the rest of our day. We knew everybody in the place. We were "oiled", happy and well loved by the staff and most of the regulars. We came up with our best ideas here. Hell, we could have saved the world if only the world had listened...or was as drunk as we were.

It was early in 1982. I had come to San Francisco in late 1980 to do the morning show on K-101 for Charter Broadcasting. John had been there as the morning newsman for, I think, around a year or so. He had a storied radio career that began in Miami and had blown up in Los Angeles a couple of years previous when his drinking had gotten him fired and bounced into rehab. He had been sober for several months when I met him. (I knew none of this at the time.)
We went for drinks the same day that I met him. There are some people that, I think, have "cocktail eyes" for each other. You meet them; like them and immediately know that the both of you love to drink. "Hi, you seem like a lot of fun...Let's get boiled!"

So, there we are in the Iron Pot having "a few" and spit balling ideas for promoting the morning show and it came to us... St. Patrick's Day is coming! Both of us are Irish and love to drink. Let's see if we can con our program director into letting us do a "K-101 St. Patrick's Day Pub Patrol"!!! It was brilliant! We would get a green limo to take us around to the major San Francisco Irish bars. We would be decked out in green and would have prizes for the bars we judged to be the best Irish bars in the City. A phone report would be done from the various establishments each half hour and it would be great fun for all involved. PLUS...we would spend the whole day drinking FREE. God, we were good!

The station bought the idea. St. Patrick's Day arrived and as we finished our show the green stretch limo pulled up outside the station to take us to our appointed rounds. We, of course, began with the Iron Pot. It was Italian but it was OUR promotion and we loved the place. After doing a "phoner" from the Pot we headed for Ginsburg's Dublin Pub a Jewish/Irish place at the corner of Bay and Mason. That stop went well. We were already certain that Herb Caen, the beloved columnist of the San Francisco Chronicle would be all over this story in tomorrow's paper. We were happening!

Ginsburg's was the last stop I can recollect. We did go on to other joints but somehow it all went wrong. The limo driver quit somewhere on Geary street. Something about one of us throwing an empty bottle from a moving vehicle... And, I do remember crossing the Golden Gate bridge at some point. The rest has been reported to me by others over the ensuing years.

The next morning after finishing the show the general manager, Fritz, wanted to see both of us in his office. This couldn't be GOOD. We were both feeling a little, no A LOT, woozy and were in no mood to be yelled at. Not that we had any choice in the matter. Fritz, who had a high pitched voice, was screeching in registers that made my head hurt even more as he waved a fistful of telephone message slips containing "complaints" regarding our conduct during our mission of the day before. "Here's one from the manager of Houlihan's in Sausalito wanting to press charges on the two red-faced guys who harassed his kitchen staff last night." I wanted to deny this one, but couldn't be sure. It was a tension convention around the radio ranch for the next few weeks, although we did survive. Maybe they would forget about this by next year and we could do it again. Then again...probably not.

Six months later I was fired in a purge instituted by a new program director. Emm stayed a few more years and actually became news director for awhile before moving on to KGO, the news-talk station. I went to Seattle, Las Vegas and then back to San Diego in the ensuing years leading the life of the typical itinerant disk jockey.
Both of us continued to drink.

I've been thinking about John and all the good times we had probably because he is coming to see me and my wife, Linda, tomorrow. He has a new wife that neither of us have met. I was lucky that Linda had more staying power than any of John's earlier wives. John is working in Denver these days, doing the news on KOA radio. He hasn't had a drink in over ten years and is doing great.
I haven't had any booze in nearly eight years.

This should be interesting.
Honest, and I hope, fun.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

OPEN WIDE...It's time to check the weather

Just to make conversation, which is difficult when you're getting your teeth cleaned, I asked my dental hygienist a potentially expensive question.
"Alex, is it normal for the crowns I have on my pearly whites to sometimes feel like there is a party going on inside them?" She didn't miss a beat as she continued to chisel the plaque...
"Absolutely," she declared.
"Lots of people notice a change of pressure in their dental work when they are in an airplane or even when there is a change in local barometric readings."
" own NOAA weather station right inside my mouth," I thought.
I'm not so much taking care of dental hygiene when I visit the dentist...I'm investing in a very reliable weather prognostication system.
What a relief! No more watching the Weather Channel which daily proves that there is indeed a bottom-of-the-barrel to be reached in the nation's ready supply of TV anchor material. All I need do now is consult my molars when planning an outing.
Hmmm. There seems to be a bubbly thing going on under that bi-cuspid; we'd better forgo that trip to see the in-laws. Try this with your dental work! I'm betting that you'll soon be a believer. It would appear that listening to your body is the key to a long and healthy life.

This just in: My mouth is sensing a Pacific high heading toward this area sometime tomorrow. And, judging by the pain in my ass, I am also predicting fourteen months of incessant political B.S. heading toward ALL of us.

Kill me NOW!

Monday, September 3, 2007

The End is Near

"At the tone the time will be...8...43...and 50 seconds."

How many times did we call AT&T's Joanne Daniels to hear her nasally old bag voice tell us just what the hell time it was? Truthfully, for most of us we NEVER called her for a time check. We dialed her number to fake out somebody nearby:
"Hello, boss?"
"Hey...I'm wondering if I can get out of working this week-end?"
"My neighbors need me to help them move...What? OH, I see...very
important that I be there."
"Okay...I understand. I'll be there." the tone, 2...57... and
twenty seconds.

Let's face it. The time lady was one handy dame to have around. Now, as of September 19, she will no longer be available in the state of California. Supposedly, by discontinuing the time calls in California, the phone company will gain 300,000 new phone numbers previously reserved for the service. Other states lose the time lady on the same date or shortly thereafter.
Who ya gonna call???

Other signs that the END IS NEAR:

Remember when the great athlete Jesse Owens was revered for giving Hitler the ultimate "up yours" at the Olympics? A world class runner making the U.S.A. proud by accomplishing something no other athlete could.
Now, we have the likes of Joey Chestnut taking bows for jamming enough wieners in him to feed a third world country. And, let's not forget the latest crowning achievements of the "Black Widow", Sonya Thomas the 105 pound woman who just the other day scarfed 173 hot chicken wings at the National Buffalo Wing Festival in Buffalo, New York.
She holds competitive eating records for several events including: 35 bratwursts in 10 minutes, 11 pounds of cheesecake in 9 minutes, 44 lobsters in 12 minutes, (I'll bet she didn't eat the guts!) 250 Tater Tots in 5 minutes, over 8 pounds of Vienna sausages in 10 minutes, and my personal favorite...8.4 pounds of BAKED BEANS in 2.47 minutes! (And we're worried about North Korea have the bomb????)

The largest untapped pocket of natural gas known to man.

Saturday, September 1, 2007


When my brother and I were kids we were often treated to conversations between mom and dad regarding the "living or dead" status of certain people. Some were folks of the famous variety and others were just people that they had known earlier in their lives.
Steve and I would laugh like hell about it when we were out of "swift kick" range for dad. Neither of us could believe that anyone capable of walking upright wouldn't know whether someone was still operating on the right side of the sod or not.
Who were these morons??!! It was embarrassing.

Naturally, as the years have slipped by and brain cells have fled, I now find myself having the same imbecilic conversations with my wife Linda. Often we are completely blown away when someone mentions that a famous movie star has been dead "for over ten years". It's hard to keep track!

So, with that in mind, I thought it might be fun to see just how your trivia banks are holding up on this holiday weekend in the year 2007.
Four of the ten famous people pictured here have checked in to the Mahogany Hilton. Do you know which ones are still alive? (If you don't even know who some of these people are you are way too young for this blog. Feel free to laugh behind our backs.)

The four who are "tap city" are:
Don Knotts, Dennis Weaver, Hugh
Beaumont and Phil Silvers. Senator Ted "Fatty Arbuckle" Kennedy, though appearing to be dead and in advanced bloat, remains alive and dangerous.