A day off. Or, a day in traffic, as this one was.
We had a request to visit a station on Long Island, and when a station reaches out to me, I usually offer us up. It’s a chance to get everyone on the air, and give fans an opportunity to hear what’s going on in our lives, and get to know some of the newer members. Unfortunately, rounding everyone up on a scheduled day off is tough, and the fact that we spent the night in a beautiful hotel in New Jersey, it was going to make for a much longer day for those who chose to go, when most likely they would rather sleep in on a comfortable mattress.
Randy, Lou and Joel are always up for it, so the five of us (Wheelz driving), hit the road at 9am to make the trek to Farmingdale, NY, on Long Island. 48 miles through NYC could either be 90 minutes or 4 hours, depending on the time of day, and I wasn’t, and don’t often take chances.
We arrived a good hour early and thought about hitting a diner for some food, but nothing was available around the station. No one had eaten yet, and we were all starving. Well, I’m pretty sure that Wheelz ate something, knowing he would have had to have been resuscitated somewhere along the L.I.E. had he skipped a meal.
94.3 The Shark was the station, and they seemed to march to their own alternative beat, which I appreciate. Their playlist seemed random, a welcome respite from the rest of the alternative stations out there, who spoon feed you the typical grunge fair. In fact, Rob and Orlando either play whatever the hell they want, or are governed by the coolest program director in the history of alt-rock radio.
Playing for the station was a terrific ego boost, having not only been asked to try an acoustic version of our new song Wallflower, but to sign Orlando’s hand for a tattoo, to be inked later that day. He wanted the word’s “We were merely Freshmen”, and I swear my hand was shaking as I signed his wrist. Orlando is a big dude, who’s arms are bigger than my legs, and the thought of spelling something wrong made me uber-cautious, to the point where I couldn’t remember how to spell ‘merely’. No matter how I thought of the word, I couldn’t spell it in my head, and I actually had to look out up on my phone. Even with a google confirmation, it looked wrong. I mentioned it to Orlando, who took it all in stride. “Don’t worry ‘bout it” he said in his thick Long Island accent, which by the way, sounds exactly like the New Jersey accent on the Soprano’s as far as this Midwestern Dutch boy is concerned. I might as well have been signing Tony’s wrist.
Here’s a picture of the final tattoo - you be the judge.
I think I spelled it correctly, though the poor penmanship helps my case immensely.
I love the comments beneath the photo on The Shark's Facebook page, especially the one that said “Every time Orlando beats off, he’ll have to give Verve Pipe credit.” You’re welcome, Orlando. Happy to oblige.
We played a short acoustic set for The Shark listeners,, and then made the long trek back through the city to our hotel in Jersey. The plan was to take the van back into Manhattan that night, but by the time we arrived the hotel three hours later, most of the guys were whipped. I was planning on going to see Jeff Daniel’s play called "Blackbird", and wouldn’t miss it, being the toast of Broadway. My only quandary was what to do about parking the Sprinter van in midtown, and came to the realization that anyone who would accept $60 to park and sit for 8 hours, would certainly park and wait for four hours for the same amount. Wheelz did just that, patiently babysitting the van while waiting for my sorry ass while I went to the play, then hung out at Jeff’s apartment after. (Like how I did that? Dropped the fact that I was hanging at Jeff Daniel’s apartment, all the while, self deprecating (calling my own ass ‘sorry’), while praising Wheelz participation (patiently babysitting).
As much as I try to, I can;t help ignoring the advice my friend Mark Wahlberg once gave me, “Don’t ever name-drop.”
BTW, Wheelz thought it best that I mention that he’s not all that patient, in fact, his impatient driving inspired 3 different birds being flipped at him on this particular portion of the trip. One of which came from a Betty White look-alike in a truck pulling a camper. Wheelz wasn’t texting at the time of that incident, btw. He was logging onto his bank account.
We got a pretty good picture of that lady.
Ok, that’s not the real picture - but I have to point out it’s pretty amazing that these days, you can just google ‘old lady flipping bird in car’, and delightful images like that one are at your disposal.
The following day was all about the enormous kid’s show at Lincoln Center. The center’s volunteers said they expected upwards of 7,000 people, a new record for our children’s performance. I thought it best that we do a few special things for this show, especially since it would air on Sirius/XM’s Kid’s Place Live. It seemed fitting to have Wheelz dress up as Elvis, and come out to sweep up the cereal poured from my guitar. I’ve been doing that bit for quite some time, filling my acoustic guitar with Fruity Pebbles and pouring it over my head at the end of our children’s set of songs.
After all, the song was called “Cereal”, (thank goodness we never recorded a song called “Hot Soup”), and since cereal cannons have been outlawed after the not-so-Lucky-Charm’s incident in the 70’s, where three kid’s were injured by the orange marshmallow stars, and one parent took a yellow moon to the forehead. Or was it a blue diamond? (No need to look up the incident, I’ve done all the research for you, you’re welcome.) The issue at the kid’s shows after the cereal has been poured out, is who will clean up this mess, dammit? One club owner in Indianapolis, an ex-punk rocker btw, was so pissed at me for pouring cereal on his little stage that he demanded the band pay him a $50 cleaning fee. I gave him the $50, plus an extra $20 for the time he should spend doing some research on the items (fluids) left on the stage by the Sex Pistols after their shows.
Regardless, Wheelz is always up for the challenge, and the chance to get on stage, so I bought him the Elvis suit. Here’s a pic.
He really nailed the fat Elvis Vegas years. The crowd loved him and his sequined push broom, and more importantly, the band had a pretty good laugh over it.
The show was a great one, and we were so relieved that the pressure was over that we decided to go to the bar across the street and have a ...snack... before we got on the road. A few snacks later, we were supposed to be sufficiently full of snacks to nap, while Wheelz, a non-snacker, drove us to Philadelphia.
BEFORE SNACK AFTER SNACK
As you can imagine, no nap would be taken; the combination of the high pressure situation of thousands at our kid's show, and the snacks we ate fueled a 90 minute laugh fest, and that was before we even got into the van. Everything was funny, including Channing posing with NYC’s finest, who were in full riot gear.
After the picture was taken, one of us yelled, “Well, that was certainly a RIOT!!” and another of us thought it best we get the hell out of the city asap, but not until we took a few new promo shots with a drunk man, passed out in the plaza.
I'm not exactly sure what made us think this picture could be used, but I like the casualness of it, so we had to make it work somehow. I'm a wiz at photoshop, so I fixed it:
Much better! (Sorry Lou)
Next Blog: OH MY GOD He’s not drunk, HE’S DEAD!!!!
Next Up: Philadelphia and Homeward (or How To Lose $3890 FAST!)