Thursday, January 14, 2021

Let's Go Crazy

 Officially retired.

Monday, December 28, 2020

Growin Up

A lot of people I know are sharing this story about Bruce and how he's growing older. It is an excellent read. Written by David Brooks.

I think this guy is on to something.
As I sit here after signing up for Medicare over the weekend, I sometimes wonder how did this happen so fast?
I was warned by my mother many years ago how quick it goes.
One minute, I'm 18, wide eyed and awestruck, slowly getting into an occupation I had dreamed about doing, and now, I look around and find all my bosses and co-workers are ten, fifteen even thirty years younger than me.
At 18, I thought it was time for the old guys to go. Guess what?
Getting knocked to the mat several times in your life and then getting up again is the biggest teacher in life. It builds the character needed to survive while others fall.
I can tell you Bruce is right.
Life is too short for the bullshit. Life has taught me what's worth fighting for an what isn't. What I can change and cannot. I wish I would have known that 40 years ago. But, that's what life is. A series of events played out in real time that ultimately determines who you are and can be.
I appreciate courage. Anonymous courage. I have always thought the more scars you have on your heart, the better human being you can be. I admire empathy. Those who know the struggle know those who struggle. Recognize we are all struggling with demons, in whatever form they take.
I've learned kindness.
My favorite quote from the article is from Cicero..."“It’s not by strength or speed or swiftness of body that great deeds are done,” he wrote, “but by wisdom, character and sober judgment. These qualities are not lacking in old age but in fact grow as time passes.”

Good Lord, I've hurt people. I never meant to but sometimes we get so far off track, we can't see the track anymore. I wish I could personally tell those people what and why but maybe it's better if I don't.
The hippies were right. Love is a friendship set to music.
All You Need Is Love...Love Is The Answer.

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Life During Wartime

It was late summer 1978, I was working the 7-11pm shift for an AM radio program called "The Album Place" for WQUA Moline. 

Our town didn't have a "rock" station, so I put together a program on an AM station that normally played Barry Manilow, Anne Murray and the like during the day, but at 7pm, the switch was flipped and we played album cuts. The ratings were really good and that meant a new FM competitor had just signed on. Not a good sign.
I took a vacation that sent me to downstate Missouri where I grew up, then driving to Denver because I could. As I was driving to Denver I went through KC and first heard KY..
I went to Denver, visited a friend and while I was gone, my AM station changed the night time format to disco. It was at that time I put together an audition tape and sent it to a number of places I thought might be cool to work for. There was a station in Steven's Point Wisconsin, KSHE, a couple of others and KY102. I didn't hear anything back from anyone, so I started working part time at the Top 40 AM station in Davenport. Middays opened up at the new rock station, so, for awhile in 1979, I was doing overnight at the heritage top 40 AM rock station I grew up listening to and middays at the new FM station. I think Dan Aykroyd did a bit about that on SNL. I lived it.The morning man left on the rock station and I slid my way into mornings in May of 1979. Life was good, I was madly in love with a gal who worked at the station named Mary. We did everything together and working at the new FM station, when the concerts came around, you had the best gig. This was also the time Fredrocks and I became best buds and drank a lot of tequila. Freddy did afternoons at the FM top 40 station. Doing mornings on the rock station in my hometown, got a lovely woman, life is outstanding.
When working morning drive, the best way to sleep is in shifts. Getting up at 4am sometimes is not fun. Especially if Fredrocks had you out until 1am the night before. No one needs that. If you aren't careful, you are toast at 4pm. It was during one of the these shifts in the afternoon, I got THE call. At the time, I was living with my mom, Dad had just died, and her basement had a separate entrance, so it worked out well. I tried to sleep sometime in the afternoon and on one afternoon, the phone rang. Half groggy, I answered. The voice on the other end said something like hi, this is Max Floyd and I'm looking for Randy. "Who are you?" I said. Mind you, it had been over a year since I had sent that tape. My next response was "prove it." I had a friend who liked to punk me and I just knew this was him. "Excuse me?" he said. I then sat straight up in the bed and listened as Max said something about having an opening...would I like to come down...he will set up the arrangements...etc" and then hung up. WTF was that all about? Did I hear him right? Sure enough the phone call happened later in the week with flight arrangements, hotel, etc.
Wow. Just wow.
I had never been on a plane before and the Ozark Airline puddlejumper just about swore me off flying together. We left Moline, no bathrooms and there's about ten seats. As luck would have it, the pilot liked to play chicken with a thunderstorm on the way to KC. Awesome. I arrived in KC, I'm put up at the Marriott and Max says, go ahead and hang loose tonight, I'll come out and get you in the morning. Put a dinner on our tab. I went down to the bar, sat down, order a meal and I get into a conversation with the guy, a DJ for an after work party. He comes over says hello, asks what I'm doing in town and I tell him I am interviewing for the night job at the local rock station. "KY102?" he asked, I said, why, yes that's it. For the rest of the evening this guy buys me drinks, gets me shit faced. and before I leave, he says to me..."nice to meet you, I'm Katfish Kris Kelly." I'm your competition. I thought I'd buy you a few drinks before I kicked your ass."
We both laughed.
This place could be fun, I thought.
This was the first night even before I took the job, someone is trying to get me drunk. Welcome to the boomtown...

I'm in Moline, job offer in hand but it's not enough dough. I called Bob Garrett and we had a great discussion, he basically said that with remotes and personal appearances, I would go well above 500 bucks in the next year. OK. Now what?
I had to talk with the three people I trusted the most, my girlfriend Mary (who was ecstatic I got the offer), my mom and my Aunt Jane. Mary, in her infinite, too damned intelligent self said, "you have to make this decision for you, I cannot guarantee there will always be an us, but there will always be you." Damned common sense. She was about three years older than me and wiser beyond her years but that's not really what I wanted to hear, dammit. Too bad.
My mom was my mom. Saying stuff like how hard I've worked for this blah blah One thing she did remind me was ..."you've always told me this is like baseball, you start in the small towns and work your way up to the big city. Do you want the big city?" So, do I want to remain a large fish in a small pond in the Quad Cities, my home most of my life, or do I leave? Do I want the big city? Do I punk? Next was my Aunt Jane, who was more like a mom to me sometimes than my mom was. "I left my hometown at 18, and never looked back. This is what you've wanted since you were a boy. Radio guy, big city, making a difference." Aunt Jane without a doubt was the smartest person I've ever known or ever will know. She drove a car until she was 94.
Godammit. What to do? It's at that point where that inner voice, that gut feeling, that supernatural connection to your heart and soul opens the tumblers on the cosmic Masterlock. I gotta go.
"Goodbye Mary, Goodbye Jane, will we ever meet again?...feel no sorrow, feel no shame...come tomorrow, feel no pain?" That was the song of that summer, now eerily haunting to me.
I announced my decision to Mary, who cried and laughed at the same time (and sorry, but for some reason,we had the most incredible sex that night), to my mom, who cried and my Aunt Jane who hugged me like there was no tomorrow.
I called Bob and told him I was in. Now what? I'm 23 years old, never really been away from home much and I'm staring at leaving everyone I know, my family, my friends, co-workers, a girlfriend EVERYTHING I knew for Kansas City. A lifelong Chiefs fan, I really liked what the Royals were doing in the latter part of the 70s. Football, baseball, concerts, big time radio station. There was so much good on my side of the see saw of emotions, this was truly an offer that I could not refuse. But I knew no one. NO ONE in Kansas City. Not a soul. Was I as good as I thought? Someone thought so. It took balls on KY's part to hire a 23 year old kid who's biggest market was the Quad Cities. This was about August 20th or so and everyone agreed I'd do my first show on September 10, 1979.
In the next three weeks,my life resembled a clothes dryer as small town boy says goodbye.

21 days and counting to blast off to Kansas City. I apologize if I don't remember much about these days, it was like a blur, a hurricane that came through my life. I had accepted the job in KC. Now, the saying goodbye to everyone I knew and moving to KC was on the launch pad.
T-minus 17 days...
I went into my boss' office at 97X and said what had happened. Mary knew, but no one else did. I think it kind of caught everyone a bit off guard. Wait, you're the guy that grew up here, graduated from high school here and you're doing what, again?
Wow. Really? You're going to Kansas City? Wait. What? Where?
Good old Mary. "We need to make a list of the stuff we have to do. Let's take a road trip and go down there next weekend so we can scope it out." So, we load it up and bowl it up and go exploring. The weekend before the big move, we spent that weekend looking around, grabbing any information about Kansas City we could find. Wow, River Quay looks nice. It was a great weekend, but, she made it seem she was coming with me when I knew and she knew she wasn't.
Wait, had we discussed this? We hadn't yet, I knew we hadn't progressed that far in a relationship where anything was taken for granted. It was an unspoken communication between us, the question would never be asked because I knew what the answer was.
The week before the move, I got cold feet. It was overwhelming. What the fuck did I do? What had happened was exciting but also a bit terrifying. So, I went to the person with the most common sense I knew, my Aunt Jane. "Are you kidding me?" was her response. "let's look ahead six months. Not today, six months from now. I think you're going to be the king of your universe. There will always be you. What will you do if you turn this down? How soon do you think a another chance will come along?"
The last song I played on 97X the day I left was a song Mary wanted to hear (that's when you could do that stuff on the radio) "The Famous Final Scene" by Bob Seger.
Damn. Hatches batted down. T minus one day and counting.
All of the things on Mary's list had been crossed off.
It was Sunday morning, the UHaul is loaded, I've said my goodbyes. I grew some ditch weed and I had a garbage bag filled with joints the size of cigars. This was a six hour drive and I needed something, anything to dull the pain I felt that day. Don't get me wrong, I knew where I was going but the last train stop hurt as Mary stood me up on our last meeting.
One of the things etched into my mind was when I looked in the rear view mirror, waved and saw my mom who was waving, smiling and crying at the same time.
“Sweet devotion (Goodbye, Mary)
It's not for me (Goodbye, Jane)
Just give me motion (Will we ever)
To set me free (Meet again?)
In the land and the ocean (Feel no sorrow)
Far away (Feel no shame)
It's the life I've chosen (Come tomorrow)
Every day (Feel no pain)
So goodbye, Mary (Goodbye, Mary)
Goodbye, Jane (Goodbye, Jane)
Will we ever (Will we ever)
Meet again? (Meet again?)"
to be continued...
In the photo, taken two weeks before the phone call, myself, Mary, Sue and Mike Keneally at one of the summerjams on Credit Island Davenport. This was the time where Ann and Nancy Wilson plucked me like a banjo. They were very sweet very high, and smelled great as they tried to distract this 23 year old young man. They succeeded. When Nancy Wilson put her hand on my leg during an interview, I called them the Heart sisters. They just thought that was so damn funny. Good times.
Image may contain: 1 person, standing, shorts and outdoor

Uhaul is packed, all goodbyes have been said, it's Sunday at noon and it's time to go. September 9th, 1979.
A couple of years before this, I lived in a house with some acreage right next to the Mississippi River with my ex-wife and somehow we got some magic "seeds" to try and grow a beanstalk  . We got out all the High Times we could find and attempted to grow magic plants. We carved out a plot about 20 feet by 20 feet and proceeded to follow instructions. We were a bit successful but all of the plants turned out to be male but two. After harvesting, I turned the plants upside down and sprayed them with sugar water every day (that's what we were told to do.) and when they dried, the result was just ok. We got almost two garbage bags full of a higher level ditch weed really. You could get a buzz but it took a lot. I'm mentioning this as I had one garbage bag with me on my trip and probably seven or eight joints rolled that were the size of my arm.
Weed at the ready, I slowly pull away from my house and I see my mom, forever tattooed in my memory waving goodbye, smiling and crying, which is what I was doing. Mary was nowhere to be seen. (There was a letter from her at the station on Monday when I got there.) I had my radio station play "Goodbye Stranger" a little after noon and that song set me on my way. Goodbye old comfortable world, doing the morning show on the rock station in my hometown, starting to develop a name for we go...onward through the fog that was rolling around my brain. Heading west, the tears start to recede about Iowa City and the excitement of starting a new life starts to come over me.
It's hard to explain what happens when you pick up everything you have, say goodbye to everyone and just start over. Terrifying but exciting at the same time. The trip through Iowa was pretty uneventful, but for some reason, I've always had anxiety when it comes to Sunday nights, and I think it happened sometime in my childhood. I still sometimes to this day have trouble with Sunday afternoon/nights. I headed south on I-35 and the final half of the trip is now ahead. I start pulling into KC and there it is, that skyline, my new home. There was no GPS back then and I was a map whiz but I'll be damned if I can find the hotel. The Howard Johnson hotel in downtown KC. After getting frustrated by not finding it, I just pull over and break down and cry. The whole day just washed over me. I sat there and prayed.
I looked up and there was the hotel, right in front of me.
Thanks God. I made it, checked in and called collect so my mom knew I was there. I called Mary, no answer. I had so much to do in the morning. Get a place, return the truck and go on the air later that night.
"Life moves pretty fast"...when you are now in the big city. And man did I step from the country road to the interstate with this move. From sleepy river town Quad Cities, to the hustle and bustle of the big city, overnight. It was almost hyperspeed the next day.
But, for that one Sunday night, I made it. Emotionally and physically , all hands and feet were in the ride and I was tall enough to ride it. I was next in line to get's my ticket...
Sunday night September 9th 1979...
It's been a long emotional day, those who have moved away from home understand that during that first day, you are just wound so tight, sometimes it's difficult to unwind. Hello insomnia. Not good.
I made it to the next morning. I have about 19 things to do on my list and the most important one was going on the air at 6pm. I have to find a place, return the Uhaul (I had a couple of days) and prepare for the show.
I found some literature about an apartment leasing place on the plaza, so, I make a list of things to do, go outside and drive my car off the trailer. I get in the car, start it up, drive it off the trailer and it catches on fire. Not really on fire, but the electrical wiring catches on fire. Not good. I get the phone book out and call an import mechanic and explain my deal, I told him I was new in town and needed his help, he asked what I did and I told him I was the new night time guy on KY. He sent a tow truck and towed it to his shop on main street.
Now what to do? Small town boy, first day in the big city and things aren't quite turning out the way I would like.Tried to figure out the bus routes and so I hopped on a bus that took me to the plaza and I found the place that Max talked about. Rent was pretty high. $250 a month was pretty steep but there was a very nice little place at 4510 JC Nichols Parkway that I liked. If you remember 1979 at all, you'll remember sometimes gas was hard to find. I took this place because it was on the main drag, had bus service and if things got bad, I could actually walk to work. Dad didn't raise a dummy.
Now what to do with my car? I wish I could remember the name of the shop right there on main street. I think it was called Main Street Imports. Dunno. Anyway, the guys were willing to work out some stuff. I was the guy on KY, they had never heard me and are willing to work stuff out. I like this place already.
Signed a lease and I've navigated the bus routes pretty well. I went back to my hotel room, took a shower, put on my overalls and a T shirt, that's what I feel comfortable in and get on the bus to Signal Hill, it's about 4:30. I get to the station and I didn't realize that there was a welcoming party in my honor. There were all these professional sales people dressed to the nines, waiting to meet the new guy and Eb from the turnip truck shows up to his own party in coveralls and a Tshirt. I didn't know.
That's the night Jay Cooper told me about the "Nightime Rule" that's been discussed before. Jay pulled me aside at the party and said, "hey, don't worry, you can play anything you want after six oclock. Max doesn't listen, so hell, you can bring some from home to play if you want, Max doesn't care."
I could just see myself kind of bowing and saying "Gee, Mr. Cooper, what ever you say, I'm Eb from the turnip truck." With the party going on and all, I had no time to prepare for the show. That's not me, I like to know where I'm going when I get in there. At 5:55 on September 10, 1979, I opened those big, heavy studio doors for the first time during "Nighttime Magazine". Max, Ray Sherman and a couple of other people were in the studio and when the show was over, Max left me with "I'm Gonna Crawl" by Led Zeppelin.
The photos are of very first night on the air. That's Lauren Lyon helping me find my way.

As described before, the studio at KY was like a closet. A closet that had carpeting on all the walls, claustrophobic as hell and is still the best studio I've ever worked in. Outside the two huge thick refrigerator doors was the hustle and bustle of WDAF AM and TV. 61 Country had a full staffed newsroom and my buddy working evenings was Frank Haynes.
An older gentleman, Frank was very funny and sometimes would run into the studio with "breaking news" and then it would be some stupid shit. He drove an old VW bug to work every night. Score points for that. He'd be there until 10pm, I would venture out of the studio once in awhile. I always enjoyed talking to Frank. He served under Charles Gray so he took the news shit pretty seriously. 61 Country was live 24/7 365 and so was the TV station downstairs. The back door of the building was where the vans and news people from the TV station would continually be leaving and arriving until after the 10'oclock newscast. But, when you walked up the stairs, took a right, then a left down the hall, closed those doors to that closet where it all happened, there was this magical feel about it. The phones never stopped ringing. Ever. Four lines coming in and always blinking. This was my fortress of solitude. I ruled the world from that box.
One of the first people I met when I started there was Harry Thomas. Harry was Steve Thomas'(Shooting Star) father, a lovely man who was a camera man for WDAF TV and very proud of his son. I went on the air at 6, so at five thirty, I was usually in the lounge in the basement eating or reading the newspaper. That's when the 5 oclock newscast on Channel Four would take a break to go to the national newscast and Dan Henry seemed to always find me while having a smoke. We became pretty close. "Randall? How ya doing buddy?" "Living the dream, Dan." "Ain't we all?" was his reply. The lounge was where the smokes and vending machines were. Phil Witt came from Iowa right about that time. He came from Sioux City and I came from Davenport, so we always were kindof kindred spirits. Just sitting in the corner of the lounge was a trip. I heard some very interesting conversations with all sorts of people as I sat there and either read or ate my show prep.
At 5:45 or so, I'd head upstairs with basic idea of where i wanted to go with the show. At 5:50, it was Night Time Magazine with a 10 minute wrap up of stuff happening in the city. A daily talk segment on rock radio? What? On Friday's it was "Jack Goes To The Movies" which sometimes would make it under ten minutes but barely. Night Time Magazine was with Ray Sherman when I first got there so, I just watched and contributed whenever pointed to. May and Ray had this down. Max would leave the show with the "Most Requested Song of The Day." Riiight. It was a song Max wanted to hear, I think.
The song rotations were in a shoe box. You got a sheet of paper that had a series of letters on it, which aligned with the categories of songs in the shoe box. Before your show, you matched the letters with index cards, sometimes in packets with other cards, sometimes on their own were supposed to be pulled from the front, written down, played and then rotated to the back of the category. The problem with this is that Max HATED people in the studio with him that weren't supposed to be there. I felt like shit whenever I was in the room with Max, so, I'd fill out a quarter of the list while Night TIme Magazine is going on and then fill out the rest after that show .Max was pretty strict about following the format and if he saw a card or two that looked that they hadn't been played or messed with, he usually caught it (or so I've heard).
The studio would empty out, I'd pull the albums I needed for the first hour and do my damndest to sprinkle magical dust over the unsuspecting people listening to the 100,000 watts of holy light known as KY 102.

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Bicycle Race

I have a "new" bicycle.

Mine was stolen right outside my door in a locked building. Apparently, for the three years this place has been open, mine is THE only crime ever reported.

So, my friend Jano rebuilt a bike and gave it to me. Bikes are like horses. My Giant was my trusty steed. It fit perfectly through seven years and about 2,800 miles.

I have a new horse and it's hard to get used to. It's an old bike and a bit heavy. I can't find a seat adjustment that works well, so this one chaffed me serious yesterday while I took it out for a decent ride. Somewhere along the way I lost my higher gears which allowed me to move quickly on flat or inclines. For some reason I only have about four speeds and that won't cut it for a long distance ride.

I could take it to the bike shop for repairs but I have a feeling I'll have to trade in this one for a a type much more suited to what I was used to.

I had an Appaloosa, not trading that for something else only makes the ride harder.

Yesterday's ride was "meh."

Saturday, July 27, 2019

Home Sweet Home

I live in a rehabbed Catholic school in downtown Topeka. It's very odd place, or you could say it has character. They left some of the original school lighting that I can control with a fader. Impractical (I don't do fluorescent well)

The spiral staircase of death. If you don't find my body for days, this is why.

One of the nicest places I've lived for sure.

They left the original cork and chalk boards. 

Aesthetics aside (those will be dealt with), everything works. (DVD, Laserdisc, etc) yay.

My recliner is my latest addition. The room is now full.
The second floor is where the convent used to be, so each bedroom has two doors. The nun's quarters were half of each bedroom. The doors on the left both go to my bedroom, on the right is the laundry and bathrooms

Looking back, the planet radio room is on the right with, again two doors. The second door's first step (rear) would be a serious mistake, so it's kept locked.

We Can Go Downtown..

After I set up all of my media yesterday, I decided to just hang and  watch some favorites last night. I have Plex which is hard to understand I guess. I am signed into another account and I get his movies apparently through the wonder of the internet. I guess he gets to choose which one's he wants to share.

Anyway, I went browsing through his collection and I found an  "old" favorite Valley Girl from 1983. I remember it was a cute movie back then and I think it was Nicolas Cage's first or second role. I got about 15 minutes into it and it gagged me with a freaking pitchfork. Talk about not aging well. It was annoying.
So I kept searching and decided to stop an another old favorite "Moscow On The Hudson" with Robin Williams and Maria Chaquita Alonzo. I remember seeing this at the movie previews we did at KY 102. Just about every week, we would preview the major movie coming on that week. We'd give away the passes at remotes or on the air. I got see so many movies for free and before anyone else did. So, I stopped on this movie and it still was great. Ms. Alonzo count NOT have been cuter and of course Robin Williams playing a Russian defector? Still entertaining.

I finished my night wrapping up the first season of "Good Girls."
This is a netflix series about good girls who get way over their head in gang like activity.

I found the series very entertaining. I've been a fan of Ms. Hendricks since Mad Men but the other two are quite entertaining also. I've become a huge fan of Mae Whitman who plays the young "very white" woman. The series is very well done and eagerly await season two.
So, now on Netflix, I'm waiting for the next season of "The Crown", "Ozark" and "Good Girls."

I woke up for the first time in a long time on Saturday morning with a clear head, so I decided to walk to the post office and mail a package to a friend. It seemed downtown was very Zen like with it's emptiness. I got to the post office and was listening to some great soul music on someone's radio. So I then I rang the bell. I found out it belonged to Edith and we talked about Smokey, Diana and the great soul music of all time. I told her my dad's  saying about me being so ugly I had better learn to dance. "Did you?" she asked and I told her I did. "I'd dance with you anytime" she said.
I smiled. So Edith, an older black woman who has three years left before retiring and I are buds.

As I was walking back to my apartment downtown, I took a detour as Jackson Browne's "Before The Deluge" came on planet radio in my pocket. That song has always made me pensive, but this morning, for some reason, I got lost in my thoughts and drifted considerably. It's the usual stuff, "why I am here?" "What the hell am I doing?" kind of thing and for some reason, calmness entered my consciousness.
Maybe, just maybe I'm supposed to be somewhere I'm at. I am unable to process thoughts like that at this time. My consciousness is very stubborn. I'm looking forward to being sober.
The competition has a big street party right in front of our stations today. Of course I will stop by (1 1/2 blocks away) just to be sure they are being good stewards of the business. :)

On my way home, I noticed a Jeep with an International Harvester front license plate stopped at a red light so, I went over and told the driver my dad worked at IH for 30 years in the Quad Cities. He told me the license plate was in honor of HIS father who just passed and worked for 35 years at IH in the QUAD CITIES.  He went to Moline, graduated in 1977 and has lived in Topeka for 20 years. Two strangers who damn near cried stopped at a stop sign in downtown Topeka Kansas.
Complete kismet on a Saturday morning.

My boys in Thunderhead play tonight about 45 minutes away. There are my favorite tribute band without a question. They play Rush songs true and note for note. I am looking forward to seeing Mike, Billy and the rest of the troop later today.

There will be a lengthy bike ride preceding that as I've found a nice trail running through central Topeka. I won't get much speed on the trail but the distance is nice.

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Please Mr. Postman

 The postman was very good to me today.
All remastered and everything with all the demos, too.

You Can Get Anything You Want...

Well, here I am post Facebook.

I think I've gotten more done than ever before. But, in order to function on my company's social media platforms, I must have a facebook page. So I made up one. But it is what it is and right now, no problems.

I went to see Night Ranger tonight, while not one of my top ten bands, I've always enjoyed their music. I think the first song KY102 played back in the day was "Sing Me Away" in 1982 I believe.
There were four out of the five original guys and the "replacement" was in Alice Cooper's band for 8 years, so he had some chops, too. Very tight songs played with great enthusiasm. Jack Blades has a great stage presence. I wanted to get to Jack tonight and chat with him about the interview I did with him and Tommy Shaw at KSHE's Real Rock Cafe about 25 years ago.

KSHE had a restaurant in Union Station that was pretty freaking cool. The food was very good and we spared very little expense. We hired good people who knew how to run a restaurant. The Cajun Chicken Pasta was my favorite. I remember asking to be in charge of the music and they let me. I was also in charge of videos on the various screens around the cafe. I had a Laserdisc, DVD and VHS all hooked into a video mixer and put the videos on 6 hour VHS tapes that actually for what we were looking for, did a pretty good job. So, I put something from Tom Petty's Greatest Hits from laserdisc and I'd mix that with something from "The Wall" from VHS and maybe something from a Dave Mason DVD. Then on VHS, the KSHE logo, then, well you get the idea. I recall spending hours and being up all night getting these tapes ready for the grand opening. I wanted to make sure they all looked great and blended together well which they did. A couple of problems arose however when I didn't edit well and that allowed a bare breasted woman to slip thought during the "Gimme Shelter" video. Leaving in the rape scene from "The Wall" wasn't too smart either. Heh. I used the video editor on the music too. I thought I had a great mix, but seems there was a problem with the licensing companies after awhile. The restaurant was in business about a year I think before the Hard Rock across the parking lot sued us. It seems the names were a bit similar.

John Entwhistle's band Ox played one night at the Cafe.
He was absolutely livid when he got inside the place. I don't know what he was expecting but, it wasn't a "cafe." I did an interview with him previous to the show that night, he was just fed up and took it out on me. Every other word was "fuck" and he had such a bad cough, I literally could not understand what he was saying. He gave a very uninspired performance.

Myself, Slash and band at the Real Rock Cafe.
Me and Jesse James DuPree of Jackyl, right before he takes a chainsaw to a wooden chair.
And that's where I interviewed Jack Blades. Slash and Jesse James Dupree of Jackyl, too. He was shocked that a radio station also had a restaurant. The place was packed for him and Tommy and they were very cool signing everyone's stuff. I wanted to say hi tonight and see if he remembered.

I'll find the picture of Jack, Tommy and myself and add it as soon as I can.

Sunday, July 14, 2019


Can we put a price, a value on childhood memories?

I come from a long line of St. Louis Cardinal fans.
I joke that I'm a ?th generation DNA infused Cardinal fan.
It goes back to the generation before my grandfathers dad.
I lived with my mother, my sister and my grandfather on a farm four miles from a town you wouldn't know in the middle of the southwest Missouri Ozarks from 1966 to 1970.
Prime Cardinal country.
My mother had the "holy" trinity of Hank Williams, Patsy Cline and Stan Musial.
My parents honeymoon was spent at Sportsman's Park so she could say she saw Stan play.

One of my very first recollections is of the 1964 Cardinal World Championship.
Deep in the synapses.

From then until 1975, Bob Gibson was the baddest man on the planet for me.
Jeez, if he played now, he'd be tossed out of every game for retaliating.
Flip that bat one time, and I'll send one under your chin at 95 mph.
No one ever charged the mound with him, not ever, he was a bad ass.

Why do our regular heroes get old?
Does Spiderman ever get old? Doesn't seem so.
Batman? Superman?
How does Bob Gibson get to be 85?

This guy broke his leg in a game and continued pitching.
The Cardinals won the World Series when I was eight and eleven.
Certainly formative years for anyone.
In the 1968 World Series, Gibson put them on his back but it wasn't enough.
1968. Hard to fathom for me that was 51 years ago.

His last game was in 1975 and they retired his number immediately.
I drove almost five hours to be there.
But, I was there for each game.

I met Mr. Gibson on an elevator one day, and as he walked in, I got tongued tied like never before.
I guess I made the mistake of saying something he wasn't fond of, (I grew up worshiping you or some stupid thought that came to mind) he grunted at me when the elevator door open and walked away.

Didn't matter, it was Bob fucking Gibson, and whatever a Chris Farley moment it was, I got to tell him what he meant to this awestruck 33 year old who was 12 at that time.
I'm not big on sports people as "heroes" but damn it, he's mine.

He's 85?

No, can't be, it'll be like if a Beatle died.

Pancreatic cancer has no idea what it's up against.

Sunday, July 07, 2019

Finish Whatcha Started

Every once in a while, a friend along the way can be a friend that actually decides your way...
Case in point.
It's late 1985 and I'm helming the airwaves at KSHE 95.

I met Kitty in late 1983 in Kansas City. She really wanted to get into the business and somewhere down the line, I passed along an opening at the Source network in NYC and allowed her to use the station's facilities in KC for her audition.
The Source was the NBC network for "young people" back about that time. By the next round of auditions, Kitty had just enough experience to make it to the next level.
Right before I left for KSHE in 1985, Kitty got the gig in NYC for next to no money. She rose quickly through the ranks and became a full fledged network anchor very quickly. I knew she had the goods and so did they.

One night, as my shift at KSHE is winding down, I get a call on the hot line. The "hot line" is the direct number into the studio and only a few people have it. When it rings, you answer it.
Only a certain amount of people had access.

"Hey Randy, it's Kitty."
"Hello Miss Kitty, how are you?"
"Have you heard the latest with Van Halen?"
"What, did Eddie fall of the stage again?"

"I just witnessed a conversation in the hall here. Are you ready for this?"
"It looks like David Lee Roth has been dismissed from Van Halen and replaced by Sammy Hagar."

"Are you fucking kidding me?"

"No, I'm serious, I just heard this and I know what a big deal Sammy Hagar is in St. Louis."
"Do you know what this could mean to me good or bad?"
"I owe you," she said. "I would never be anything but real with you, go with this..."

So I did.

I announced that night that Sammy had replaced DLR as the singer.
On the air.
Sammy central.

I woke up the next morning and heard MY morning show completely tear me shreds over this.
 How dare I announce this without confirmation.
"We're looking into this, and I don't think we can confirm this..."
He took calls from people ..."he's from Kansas City, that's how they do it there, no sources, he's just running with this without checking them out."
This was on MY station..  "How can we let someone on the air who says stuff like this..."
This was on MY station.
In morning drive....MY morning guy was ripping me to shreds instead of at least calling me and checking this out.

It wasn't long before I got the phone call at home..."what the fuck is this about?"
It was Rick Balis, the program director, my boss.
I said that I had full faith in my source.
He wanted to know my source.
Ain't gonna happen.
If this was untrue, I was done at KSHE. Over.

The next 8 hours were filled with finding Sammy's people and Sammy's manager Ed Leffler particularly.
If this was not confirmed, I was done, laughed out of St. Louis and back to teaching American History in high school.
I had faith.

I was on the air about 4:45 when Al Hofer came into the studio and said that Sammy was on the line. At that time at the KSHE studios, you could lose a call for no reason.
Jeessus, not now.
As Al left the studio, he said, "I hope you are right."
"Me, too." I replied.

It was Sammy. His first words to me were..."how did you know? Who do you know?"
He then said yes, it's true and referred to that fact it was poetic justice that KSHE broke the news.
"I owe my record company one more album and when that commitment is satisfied, I will be a member of Van Halen for as long as the eye could see. I am so looking forward to working with these dudes. Eddie and I see eye to eye on a lot of stuff."
"You guys in the studio?"
"Not yet but Eddie and I are writing stuff. I am so happy, dude, tell my fans I'll see them soon."

I lost track of Kitty not long after The Source closed up.
Thank you love.

At no time did I get an apology from the morning man, Rick or anyone in the chain of command. I knew then, I was on my own. And that was OK.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

My God

I tried to find God in church today but failed.

On the anniversary of his resurrection, I wondered why he didn't protect those kids from those priests
Why has God allowed this to happen?
I've been having this communication break down with him lately and today only proved to me that God isn't necessarily in the church, God can be anywhere. I certainly don't feel close to him in the Catholic Church.

Here is where I looked for God today. I caught a glimpse of Him but I am looking to communicate with him at a later time I guess.

lazy day, dream your life away...

this tree looked like it knew it was going to die. Panic stricken.

awesome, let's go fishing...

uhhhh, let's wait

some equestrians embarking on a journey

one hell of a trail, I'd say.

I have no problems with horses, I love them, two were my best friend growing up but the damage done to the trail is hard to figure. The hooves of the horses dig so far into the mud, it makes the trail impassible. like this one.

Friday, April 19, 2019

Father and Son

"Well I walk the road of life among the strong, among the weak 
And I ask them for the shortcut to the answers that I seek 
But it seems nobody understands what is and what will be 
Oh, the questions of my childhood weave a web of mystery..."      Kansas    1976 

my father and his mother

Hard to believe my father would be 113 this year. 
I've decided to post a few things this father's day to rid myself of the stink I've put on him. I don't think my father liked kids much. The impression I get when I talk to my older brother (who is in his 80s) is that dad didn't like him much either. I know one thing, I didn't know him. 
At all.

My father was much older than most kids fathers.
My dad was confused for my grandfather on many occasions (that is when we ever did anything together.)
My dad had a family many years previous to the second family he raised but he didn't raise them. According to my older half brother (who is now 86), my dad walked out on them very early in their lives. Apparently he was told some story about my dad needing to move to the southwest due to his allergies. 
Anyway, it was many years before they saw each other again.
my father as a young married man (top row)

I know for a fact however, how much my father loved the women of his sons. He adored my brothers wives and mine, too. I remember when I first decided to leave the factory and follow my dream to be a "DJ". It was something that my father couldn't understand.
Follow your dream?
I think my dad in his early life did what his dad told him to do. A lot. He expected the same in return and when he got me the job at the factory, I think he thought it was going to be a forever deal. But, I wanted to be on the radio and he was absolutely furious and when my wife and I split over this decision, I swear to God, he sided with her.

One day, somewhere around 1930, in the middle of the depression, my dad took off from Chicago to LA to "find himself" as my brother told me. He left behind a family(a wife and two kids) in Chicago. He never went back to them. My older brother, who I visited in Spokane a few years ago said his mom told him my dad left for Arizona because of his "allergies". My father was allergic to poison ivy and that was it. When I went out to visit my brother Adam, (who as a priest fell in love with a nun and they both received personal dispensation from the Pope), his first remark to me was, "I hope you're not here to learn about dad, because I didn't know him, either".

Meanwhile the story of my mother and father getting together is pretty silly and involves a very drunk Friday night at the Little Cow Bell tap in downtown East Moline.
According to my mother, he was at the bar getting a cocktail after work (my dad was a machinist at International Harvester which was right down the street). My mother thought he was gorgeous and after a few herself walked over and said hello. For the few of you that knew my mother, this is not unnatural for her, she always had very large balls. After a bit of small talk, my dad said something about having to use the restroom and my mother offered her pocket. (?) She said she was feeling no pain at that time and well, apparently wasn't.
He accepted her offer.
She went home with him that night, 6 months later they were married and 9 months after that night, my brother was born.
Fertile combination.
According to mom, it didn't go very smoothly after that and they split for awhile, but reconciled.
8 years after my brother made his entrance, I came along and three years after that, so did my sister. 

My dad was raised by a pretty tough guy in rural Kentucky, where I am sure it was a sign of weakness to show emotion. He showed very little.
I saw him cry only twice, once when my brother left for Vietnam and the other time was when my sister told him she was pregnant at fifteen.
He was a very responsible man with a great deal of common sense. He managed the finances so well, there was a mortgage burning party well before the mortgage was due. He did the same job, night after night after night from 3 pm  to 11 pm. He never called in sick. Ever.
Working those hours suited him fine and I think he actually turned down opportunities to work days. See, he would have to be a father and actually make up excuses on why he couldn't spend time with his kids. Through all five of his kids, I think the underlying thought was my dad probably should not have had kids. We're very glad he did of course but it just seemed like he couldn't be bothered by the whole thing. He never went to any of my brothers extracurricular activities, nor mine, nor my sisters. He had to work, which became a great excuse.
dad in LA
When my dad left his first family, mom told me he went west, to L. A. he was a bit of a wanderlust in his early years as he was a port detective and a longshoreman  among many other jobs he held. He was also a very fine amateur golden gloves fighter there too.
I can only imagine my dad as a young man, because I didn't "know" him until he was 51.
His family harvested hemp in Kentucky and did very well by it. They lived in a very antebellum type setting and had black people for servants. My father made sure everyone new they were NOT slaves, as they could come and go as they pleased, had their own quarters and were very well treated, almost like members of the family. He was quite fond of a young black man that took care of him and his siblings. 

Hemp was outlawed in 1937 and sent my family into a tailspin financially. Too bad it was outlawed back then, I certainly would be in a different tax bracket now.
Oh well.

My father's family hated my mother, too. She was a "floozy". She lacked the proper attributes for being a "lady". She did, however get along with my fathers mother, who, in her day was a stunning woman. Granny did not come from wealth but married into it. She could see the tough, scrappy person in my mother and maybe recognized her as being of a familiar ilk.  I think my mom and my dad's mom were tough, stubborn southern broads who took no shit from anyone. I only remember her as being very old. She died in 1967 at the age of 88.
Charles, Bette, Wilbur and dad surrounding Granny. I adored her, Bette, not so much.
I also think my grandfather was extremely hard on my dad. I think grandpa (who died in 1953 of a heart at the age of 65) was a stern, serious man. There was very little humor in that household as each of my dad's siblings were dry as toast, except his sister, who was one of the most hateful, profane woman I have ever known. She showed outward disgust for us kids. She was a smoking, drinking, swearing almost evil person who was married to the person rumored to have been intimate with my mom. Hell, I don't blame him. I hated Aunt Bette and dad's brothers were...old.
my grandfather and his sons
When my dad came back to the Quad City area from L. A., he came back to a much different reality. Things were not as he left, so he went to work at International Harvester and stayed there for almost 30 years.
Enter my mother and her pocket.

One of my very first and most vivid memory of him was when we lived on 2rd street court in East Moline. The street was a court where it would connect to third street (later Kennedy Drive) on the north and south sides. There was a small grocery store that faced the road. This was where the bus stop was and for some reason the local hang out where kids would gather. When I was about 6 or 7, I got a brand new bike and was quite anxious to go ride it.
My father assembled it and said, "whatever you do, don't go out on the highway." "Understand?"
I nodded my head in agreement and made a beeline for the highway (Kennedy Drive). I was free and therefore, I was going to ride to Carl E. Mitchell Park and ride down the steep hill that was there with the big kids. I got to the park, waited my turn and rode the bike straight down into a ravine, then proceeded to hit a rut and take a head first dive over the handlebars going really fast. Even at that early age, when I did that, I knew that I was about to get really hurt.
I did.
I saw the black lights that Muhammad Ali talked about seeing and I will never forget them. 
I remember being very woozy and having the older kids stand over me and ask if I was alright. One girl wanted to take me to the hospital.
Oh no, that wouldn't be happening. I dusted myself off, grabbed  my bike, which was all bent up and decided to walk home while collecting my wits about me.
When I came in the front door, he was waiting for me.
Apparently, he looked out the window and saw me head straight for the highway.
I had never seen that look on his face before.
Blind rage.
He grabbed me, took me downstairs in the basement and proceeded to beat me mercilessly.
He pulled my pants down, took off his belt and beat me so hard with the buckle that I couldn't breathe. After getting hurt in the fall on the bike I came home to this. He kept hitting me until I bled. My mother grabbed him and screamed at him hysterically..."Guy, Guy…Stop...Stop..."
She took the belt from him, stuck it in his face and screamed at the top of her lungs..."YOU WILL NEVER! EVER! HIT HIM AGAIN LIKE THAT! NEVER! and just exploded with rage and frustration. My mother was on the other end of those beatings by her father and that was it. No more. After had been defeated first by my bike and then by my father, I went into my room and stayed there for the rest of the day. I still remember how incredibly humiliated, how hurt I was mentally and physically  defeated I felt.
At 8.
It shaped the rest of my life.

My father and mother never showed any kind of affection. I never saw them kiss each other and never can remember them holding hands or dancing or...anything like that. The old guy was 51 when I was born and 53 when my sister arrived. Needless to say, we had very little in common. I think he deliberately chose the second shift because it kept him away from us. He never attended a sporting event that his kids were in, never went to a play, never showed much of an interest in anything that concerned his kids. I remember one little league game where I caused the winning run to score. I was crying about it when I got home and his response was ..."well, quit then, shit." So, I did. 
He never pushed me to be good in school, never inquired about my grades. I never got it.
I wonder if having kids so late in life caused him to be disinterested or what. I know for a fact that my mom cheated on him. We were cruising along one day and then, out of the blue, when I was ten, we move 500 miles away to a farm. And stay there. 
Something happened and my theory is this. My father got to an age where he couldn't perform. My mother, being 21 years younger than him, is not going to go the rest of her life without sex. She was a very sexual woman and even as a kid, I could sense that. I also think it was with a family member (by marriage) and my dad found out. So, we were sent away, which seemed to be the way my dad dealt with stuff. Just leave.

My dad was a fair man although his definition of fair is still being debated. He had an underlying feeling that us kids were pretty much unable to be much. I think we were in the way. He didn't have much patience for the nuances of everyday fatherhood. He didn't understand the passion and love I had for a)radio and b)basketball, even though he had to have applied the same principles in boxing. He forced me to quit going to radio school when I was sixteen because he thought there were better ways to spend my money. I was even paying for it. I worked steadily and regularly through high school with sometimes three jobs going on at once. I got that from him. I've always worked hard and have his work ethic.

I never ever saw him look at my mother the way a husband should look. I never saw them go out to dinner. I never saw them do something fun together. I never saw them laugh. I never saw them connect. I never heard him tell her he loved her.

One thing my father gave me was toughness. I have walked through some of the more dangerous, more terrifying mine fields this life has to offer. I've been sick, I've lost everything and gained it back, I've broken hearts and had mine broken. I've lost just about everyone in my family. And I'm still here. So, while my father never really showed much emotion, he seemed to have answers to everything. He could figure out a way to get something done and if that didn't work, he would have a plan B set up.

My father loved to bowl, but at best he was very average. He was consistent with about a 163 average or so. He was the treasurer of his blowing league on Sunday nights and I became fluent in finding averages at a very early age. He was the guy that posted the up to date league standings and current averages of every bowler on the league.
Damn those Sunday nights. 
little mascots for my dad's bowling league

Every freaking Sunday night during the league we went to Sam's Highland Park Bowl in Moline where my father and his friends would drink, bowl and cuss. There were guys like Smokey Baugher whom I hated because every damn time I saw him he twisted my nipples. What the  fuck was that about? Why did guys do that back then? I hated that. There was "Red" Green. His last name was Green and he had freckles so... There was no option of a baby sitter then, so my sister and I would go EVERY Sunday night during the winter and almost choke to death on cigarette smoke. But there was dad, chugging away always somewhere in the middle of the pack. These guys were my Dad's age and my dad was just about the only guy who had his kids come with them, I'm guessing the other guys' kids were already on their own.

My mother's family didn't care for my dad. I used to win trivia by saying I have a father older than my grandmother. How does that happen? Usually the kids would wonder and not come up with the answer. My dad was 9 months older than my mom's mother. I don't think her or my grandfather ever got over that. My mom's brother Ray especially didn't care for my dad and he was a bad ass who has probably, no,  has certainly killed someone.

We moved a lot between Ava MO and East Moline.
When we first moved there in 1966, the farm was myself, my sister, my mother, grandfather and grandmother. Four miles east of Ava, Mo off county road FF. My older brother was there for a short time, became small town restless and bored and got caught breaking and entering into the drug store in town. That's one early Saturday morning I'd like to forget. What to do? Dad's 500 miles away, so they make a plea deal where my brother went into the Army. Shit. Great. It's only friggin 1966. Viet Nam was getting to be a pretty popular name back then. 
After being on the farm for a year and a half, we moved to Campbell's Island, probably inhabited by some of the most feared, bad ass guys ever. The Cannibal's Island" moniker was no joke. We went from the sprawling farm to an 800 square foot bungalow pretty close to the river. We stayed there long enough for something to happen again, and for us kids along with mom, to be shuffled off to the farm for our second "tour of duty." We had a 159 acre farm 4 miles outside of Ava on a winding dirt road. When my dad decided to retire, he finally bought the house in Ava and we moved back there in early 1968. I never felt so isolated as I did on that farm. It was a working farm, too. We had cows, pigs, chickens, sheep, horses and acres of planted food. August and September were "canning" months and us kids worked like dogs in the field for no money other than an allowance each week. He bought the house, but allowed my uncle Ray to live there for awhile before we took possession. Ray destroyed the house. I remember walking into the house to take it over and there was human shit everywhere. The place was a wreck, I remember specifically because it made my mom break down in tears.
We cleaned it up, dad rehabbed it (as always) and we made a home of it.
before dad got a hold of the house

his "after" work

One afternoon, I was in the kitchen, Ray and dad were having a discussion out in the front yard when all of a sudden, Ray cold cocked my dad. Out of left field, out of nowhere, Ray hit him right in the face. My dad went down and all of a sudden, I had empathy for him. He didn't deserve that. I ran out but there wasn't much a 13 year old kid could do but keep him off my dad. About two weeks later, my father had a massive heart attack and in the middle of the night, we had to drive the 60 miles to Springfield to get him help. I didn't want my dad to die.
About a month after that, since an hour's trip to the hospital was unacceptable, my parents announced we would be putting the house, all the animals and equipment up for sale and uprooting us all to go back to East Moline.
I was ready.
I tested out of my freshman year in Ava and we moved in the middle of May.
I think we were all ready to go.
My father took it easy from that point on, only remodeling part of this new house on Oaklawn Ave. I installed central air and that was the first time I lived in a house with air conditioning. At fifteen.

I, for the most part, am glad I spent a great deal of time on a farm, it taught me that work goes on day after day, no matter the weather, no matter the circumstances. The basic principles of hard work were taught to me during that time.

By all accounts, my father was an honorable man, paid his bills on time, had great, long lasting friendships with people from the shop and the bowling league we went to every Sunday night. My dad worked hard, too. 

My dad could be quite comical in his own right. After he retired, he would lay on the couch, smoke cigarettes and watch TV. Since there was only one TV in the house, his viewing habits became ours and so did a couple of customs we had. Dinner was ALWAYS served at the conclusion of the second football game of that particular Sunday. On the nose.
God forbid if a game went to overtime with the food on the table.

My father could make a symphony out of farting. On command, he would try to see how many different notes he could pull off at one time. Some were like thunder, others a horn toot. He could launch acre trembling, loud, cannon farts. I swear sometimes the room would shake. Friends would be in awe of this man, because he loved to show off (embarrass) my friends.

My father was very loyal to the women in his life and would routinely take the side of my girlfriends or my brother's. My brother's wife got pregnant when he was in Vietnam. My mother busted her, my father defended her. I cannot tell you why he did that.

We lived in relative peace in that very tiny house on Oaklawn Avenue while I was in high a school until I quit high school, got my GED and started working at the local box factory Miller Container in Milan.
I worked third shift and my boss was the owner of the company's son who really worked me hard loading flat cardboard into a machine that printed and cut it so that it would become a box made to specifications. There was a bit of down time when Tom reset the machine but during the running time, we would kick ass and he pushed me so much, I started making a good living out there. We would routinely beat first and second shift and a couple of times would move through more pieces than those shifts combined. Even though I wore gloves, I would always come home with sliced up hands that healed into callouses. Tom beat me like a rented mule. I took all he had and then some. At the end of my shift at 7am, I would be exhausted from that shift and driving about 15 miles to home where I would eat breakfast that mom made, chat with her for awhile and then go to bed.
One day, I got up for dinner and dad was being a complete dick. It must have been a Friday because I had left my paycheck on the table and he saw it.
"You're making a lot of godammed money, aren't you?"
"Yeah I guess so, we've been more than hitting our goal out there."
Here is where I thought he was going to compliment me
"I think I need to start charging you rent."
"Yeah, you can afford to pay rent here, we're not your slaves" and he kept at it.
"How much should we charge him Loraine?"
"Guy, he's seventeen, he's giving me a few bucks now and then..."
"Not good enough," Dad said and then he looked right at me. "One hundred dollars a month."
"What? You're nuts old man, I'm not paying you that to live here, I'm not 18 yet." I was about six days away if I remember right.
"OK, one hundred twenty five." he was really being dickish now.
"Screw you, old man, I'm not paying it, you can go take a hike."
And with that statement, I balled up my fists. That was a mistake.
"You want to go?" It was on and with great confidence; I took a swing at him.
The next thing I remember was laying on the floor looking up at him, he was standing over me yelling about getting it one more time. "Stand up", he said. I did and he hit me again. 
Again, I didn't see it coming.
"You dumb stupid shit." "I want you out of here as soon as possible."
My mother was inconsolable, but I was done.
One too many times...I couldn't even take him when he was 67, again I was humiliated.
I moved out that weekend and wished my mother well. She was a wreck and sobbing uncontrollably.
Thanks, dad, for making me have to choose.

Soon after I left, my sister got pregnant at 15 with a guy I despised.
This shook my father to his core. It rocked his foundation.
This was such a surprise and a remember being there when Vickie told him. He was mortified and broke down in tears. I had NEVER seen him cry like that. He loved his girls and my older brother but, for some reason, he never felt that way about me. I was just someone who lived in his house once.

My parents moved out of the house on Oaklawn Avenue right after my sister got married. They found a nice place right along the Mississippi above the lock and dam in Hampton. I think this was the first time my parents actually got to spend some time together by themselves, but my mother's drinking frustrated him very much.
This was about the time I decided to quit my job at John Deere foundry and try my hand at radio. My father was furious. "You are throwing all of this away for a pipe dream!"  That scenario is still in my head today. He rallied my wife at the time to try and talk me out of it. "I worked in the factory for 30 years and made a good living, you can do the same,” he said. It was at that time I said something to my father that I immediately regretted. 
"Yeah, but I don't want to end up like you," was my reply.
I think that hit him as hard as he hit me that fateful day. He was stunned, turned around, walked away and we rarely spoke from that point on.

One of my last memories of my father was actually a good one. Funny thing about the radio deal. After it was all said and done and the pieces of my life were being picked up after having my wife leave me for choosing a radio career, my dad mellowed. We were sitting on the porch of his house on the river and it was late summer of 77.  
He was reading the paper and just turned down the page to look at me and he said, "what's this Randy Lee shit?" After doing a shift on one of my very first radio jobs, I came over after and found him on the back porch with my country station on. That was odd, he didn't care for that kind of music. He was reading the paper and he said from behind it…"was that you on earlier today?" "Yes, that was me". At the time, I needed a "radio" name, so I called myself Randy Lee. “Well dad, I don't think anyone uses their real name on the radio, so at least I used my middle name."
"Use your real name; I want people to know that's my kid."
Now, I was stunned. He actually listened.
That was as close as I would ever get to getting a compliment from him and he seemed to be more at ease with it from then on.

There wasn't much of a "then on" as not too long in the future, he came into the extra bedroom while I was taking a nap, kicked the bed and said "get up, I'm having chest pains".
Shit. It was 30 minutes to the hospital, we made it in 17. Maybe the ride to the hospital killed him, but he never came home. As they wheeled him in, I heard over the loud speaker ”code blue, code blue in Emergency.”
I knew what that meant. He died about two weeks later, after waiting for one of his kids to get to the hospital. For a person who didn't seem to care much about kids, we all knew he waited for Carole to get there. 

He's given me my DNA and as I get older, he appears to me more and more when I look into the mirror. Physically, I'm becoming him. Mentally, emotionally and spiritually, he's not the man I am, but ironically, I wouldn't be this way without the not normal childhood I went through.

While yes, he was a very cold person who really never said or did much, he was a man of great character and when my father gave you is word, it was done. While growing up was incredibly uneven and mostly disappointing time, the only thing I can do is filter out the bad stuff and keep the good. And while the bad was more than the good, hanging on to the good has blessed me with having walked through the minefield with three kids of my own.  

Jess is so tough and is such a great mother. She has faced the hardship of raising an infant while finishing college by herself. Her day is yet to come. Paul has the mental discipline to do anything, as first diagnosed by his refusal to put the Nintendo game down until the enemy was destroyed. He's now working for Google in San Francisco. Emily has such an old kind soul but has her grandmothers "fuck you" attitude. When she finds her niche, she'll rule at it.

This exercise will hopefully eject the bad juju I have had for my father for years. Couple his aloofness and unemotional behavior with my mother's alcoholism, and it was a very lonely place to be. But, I made it. 

Ultimately, I tip my hat to him and say..thanks, Dad.

And what I wouldn't give right now, this instant to say hello to you and ask you how I'm doing.
I'd only need a heartbeat to know.

Are you proud of me?

Blog Archive