Thursday, May 22, 2014

Bests ... and Wursts [May 22]

Jest a li'l compendium of bites, bytes, laughs and ephemera. In no particular order.

Best Big City: Vancouver, BC.

Worst Food Substance (and Pizza): Chuck E. Cheese. Best Pizza: Modern in New Haven.

Funniest Person Other Than Kevin Nealon: Spent a week on a TV shoot for CBC with Rick Moranis. Drop-dead, knockdown, virtually endless sidesplitters.

Biggest Head Rush in Public: Sitting in with James Brown. In Private: [unprintable here].

Almost Fainted (But Didn't): (one) Late night. Walked into a room. Hadn't eaten. Low blood sugar. Looked behind door. John Travolta sitting there. Knees weakened. (two): Sitting in OB/GYN Dr. Sal Pace's office while he examined my wife for the first time. He came out and held up two fingers.

Best Wurst (And Sandwich): Weisswurst on a charcoal grill at a gig in Basel, Switzerland. Fresh hoagie roll. Stalwart, manly mustard. Heaven.

Worst Standup Comic: Me, at a small club in the San Fernando Valley. Went with a friend. Emcee came up to me and said, "You've got eight minutes." Eight minutes of a languorous, somnolent death.

Most Intense Person: Peter Weller. Met him twice. He skewered and grilled me with direct, pointed questions. Brilliant, incisive, focused, memorable.

Smartest Person: The late, great Roy Baker. I may do an entire essay on this wonderful man. I could do ten.

Dumbest Move: When first married, I couldn't get used to drumming while wearing a (wedding) ring. Pinched my palm/finger joint. Took off ring before gig and left it in car ashtray. Did not retrieve ring upon returning home. Guess who found it the next day? Outcome: less than good.

Best Single Gig: With Bobby Peters (sax), Tony White (guitar), Jay Stollman (vocals) and Scott Spray (bass). Remnants of the Black Rock All-Stars. Patrick's Day, 2003. McKenzie's in BR. Band and venue: incendiary. Irish songs played: none.

Best Kiss: See link at right to my piece from May 3. 'Nuff said.

Best Roomies: (college) Joe "Okie" Clark. (afterward) Johnny Dateless.

Best Beer: A Coors Light, marinating in ice and water, after I umpired a doubleheader on a Saharan day in Norwich, CT.

Funniest Moment: A face my brother made at me at Midnight Mass, circa 1980. You hadda be there.

Celebrity Death That Most Affected Me: Phil Hartman. A gentleman and friend.

Best Appetizer: A crawfish gratin at McCormick's Fish House. In Denver, no less.

Best Date: Thanksgiving Eve, 2012. It's never too late, gang.

Bravest Woman: Laura Houck Holleran, especially on June 19, 1993 and March 9, 1995, also coincidentally, the two Best Days of My Life: the birth of our children.

The Gang:

Favorite Gracie Moment: Driving back home after picking her up in grade eight. She had played with her middle-school band at an amusement park that day, where they won top honors. Late at night on the Turnpike. I could barely see her, riding shotgun, chased by the road lamps. She allowed the smallest smile and said, looking straight ahead, "It was a good gig."

Favorite Dennis Moment: My home in PA. He sat down on the sofa next to me and placed his head on my shoulder. He pointed at the TV and quietly said, "Baseball."

Favorite Ellie Moment: Too many. My youngest is my funniest. Also the most incendiary, ballsy, opinionated and wonderfully stubborn. Witness her patented "Care Face" at left. Flashback to Stop 'n
Slop. She must have been all of nine. She waited until enough people were around our cart and said, just loudly enough, "Grandpa, please don't send us back to that orphanage. PLEASE!"


  1. Maybe there IS something to astrology. I have the same birthday as Peter Weller (not same year), and freely acknowledge that I drift, far too often, into intensity. Gotta work more on staying a bit looser more of the time. However, I like the description of Mr. Weller as "Brilliant, incisive, focused, memorable." -- and will try to read more, think more clearly before I speak so I can achieve incisiveness, listen harder to become more focused, and leave better impressions so that the memories of others are positive. Btw, that's not the only nugget I'm taking from this piece. There are plenty, and each one about The Kidz is fabulous.

  2. Great essay. My dad was so smart. He just got it. I remember countless times sitting at the kitchen table and him trying to explain something to me. He just could not get what I "did not get". In retrospect, it is funny and weird how our brains function. He will always be a huge part of my being and I honestly think that if he were still alive, he would be one hell of a happy, grateful, smart, kind and compassionate man.