Tickets Torn In Half: JOHNNY WINTER @ B.B. KING’S

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JOHNNY WINTER AND…

   Haven’t tried to comp tickets in quite some time but I gave it a shot by contacting JOHNNY WINTER’s management. I informed them that I was considering writing a piece about JOHNNY WINTER AND (The McCoys) being the head bill at FILLMORE EAST the weekend the ALLMAN BROTHERS BAND recorded their live album. The management bit and comped two tickets for JOHNNY WINTER at BB KINGS in NYC. I arrived early, leaving a tix at the will-call for my buddy (former student) and am escorted by my server “Al”  to my seat at a table for 6, while walking there I gave him my drink order, “a double Grey Goose on the rocks with some olives”. Before I sit down and attempt to say hello to the couple already seated there, the hippie looking head banded chick said to Al, “No way, this will not do, we specifically asked to be seated alone as I am a certified claustrophobic”. She proceeds to retrieve paper from her purse but Al the ever cautious server said, “No problem” and asks me to move to the far end of the table to which I do. Her date looks at me with sad eyes as if to say… “Please kill me”.

   My drink arrives and I toast to the sky hoping this night turns out well. A few moments later Al brings another double “courtesy of the house for your inconvenience”. Later, The JON PARIS BAND is hitting the stage and my buddy arrives ordering a round of “whatever Mike’s having”. I have a feeling that this might not end well for me but I solder on and toast my partner in good health. 

   JON PARIS did a nice set and the stage is set for JOHNNY WINTER. The couple at the far end of the table are in conversation about their lives which we could purposely overhear. She was extremely loud trying to impress whomever was listening. We found out that besides being claustrophobic is a “psychic”. Her date is actually melting in the chair trying to hide. Then, as they discussed JOHNNY WINTER whom they have never seen before, the hippie chick asks me, “Excuse me Sir, have you ever seen Johnny Winter before?. No sure if it was the three double Grey Goose on the rocks with another on the way but I responded as nicely as I could, “You’re the fucking psychic, why don’t you tell me?”. My partner almost hit the floor laughing hysterically. Her date nodded.

   PS: Johnny be good…me thinks.

   PPS: Everything was comped. Left Al a great tip.

ONE YEAR and 725 CONVICTIONS

ONE YEAR and 725 CONVICTIONS:

   I feel asleep November 8, 2016 knowing that the Presidential Election results were close but felt assured that Hillary Rodham Clinton would be the 45th President of the United States. About 3 AM I awoke with the television in the background on mute. The Electoral College results were on the screen. I saw it but did not believe it…How could a former reality TV host become the 45th President? Did this really happen? Yes, it did. 

   Four years later #45 loses in his re-election bid and with the help of others attempts to overthrow the election results, thereby overthrowing our democracy. January 6, the day The INSURRECTIONISTS caused confusion, damage, and disbelieve to those of us watching the screen. Fortunetly,within one full year there were 725 convictions of those arrested. Yet THE BIG LIE continues.

to be continued…

THE LAST THING I REMEMBER (Part 5-): THE LAST THING I REMEMBER IS LIFE BEFORE…

   A new calendar has replaced the old one on the wall as we celebrate the start of a new year, 2021. My sentiments were positive and fortunately my COVID  symptoms were negative. In a few days time JOE BIDEN will be inaugurated as the 46th President of the USA.  Covid restrictions are being modified, in some cases eliminated.But the data remains.

   The following statistics are for 2021, except the last one.These numbers supplied by the NY Times are for New York State.

January 10:       15956 new cases

March 17:           6964

July 4:                  329

Sept 4:               4459

Jan 4, 2022       66515 

 The ups and downs for the year as indicated on the actual NYT graphs are amazing to view, it represents a ski slope kinda incline. Each can make your head spin. Then, new variants arrive and more folks get sick. I’m what they call “max vax” that is fully vaccinated with a booster but I am still reluctant to travel, enjoy concerts, attend NY Rangers games or hang with some friends at the local tavern. My life has changed drastically since that fateful day in New York City March 10, 2020. Currently, I spend my home bound days reading five daily newspapers, and numerous online magazines. I have revived my stamp and coin collections, practiced new cooking techniques, and most importantly learned how to suppress throat clearing coughs while in the company of others.

“You can get excited about the future. The past won’t mind.”
~ Hillary DePiano

to be continued…

THE LAST THING I REMEMBER (Part 4): DAY 126 aka INDEPENDENCE DAY, I WISH…

THE LAST THING I REMEMBER (Part 4): DAY 126 aka INDEPENDENCE DAY, I WISH…

   WE, my family, usually celebrate INDEPENDENCE DAY at the “family compound” in South Carolina. Five families merged into what is now officially three families from marriages/relationships, etc,  totaling about 25 folks in five houses. In the past when other guests, neighbors and friends join in. well, it gets crazy. Things are starting to loosen up with Covid restrictions AND hockey has been rescheduled. Thank goodness.

    Life sometimes is not fair. I am quite upset as DAY 174, August  21: Day 174 of was my grand-daughter’s Sweet Sixteen party .A few months in the planning, down payments were made for the hall, the DJ, and all the trimmings. The dress ordered and fitted. Everything ready and then cancelled with a phone call from the hall. Covid restrictions still loom, no large gatherings allowed. We soldier on with a family gathering in the yard.

   DAY 189: THE KENTUCKY DERBY, AKA “the first Saturday in May” is moved to the first Saturday in September. A few days later classes begin in the schools and universities, most virtual in nature or a hybrid of face to face/virtual.

   NOVEMBER 12: THE MASTERS is held. Maybe, just maybe we are ready to resume life before Covid. Towards the end of 2020 going into 2021 we were hopeful and ready to rock. My wife and I even bought tixs for David Byrne’s return to Broadway with AMERICAN UTOPIA and The TEDESCHI TRUCKS BAND’s return to THE BEACON. Sadly, after three decades of having NY RANGERS season tickets we decided to opt out and let our seats go, just incase this “thing” isn’t truly over.

To be continued…

THE LAST THING I REMEMBER (Part 3):A DAY OF PRAYER

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THE LAST THING I REMEMBER (Part 3):A DAY OF PRAYER

   A former reality TV host, now considered by many as the 45th president of the USA has declared Sunday, March 15th of 2020 a  national “Day of Prayer”. Meanwhile the NBA shut down followed by the NHL. Selfishly, I question whomever might listen about  the fate of St. Paddy’s Day Parade and/or the NCAA Basketball Tournament taking place. Las Vegas resorts begin to shut down and folks are using the phrase “social distancing” too often for my liking. Land marks and museums are closing to visitors and NEW ORLEANS has a 9PM closing time for its restaurants. VP Mike Pence said more announcements will be made on Monday, March 16, the day after we all pray. Now I’m freighted.

   Then, the most crushing announcement came not from the Federal Government but rather from the Mayor of New York City in the form of EMERGENCY EXECUTIVE ORDER #99, Section 1:

“In order to avoid the mass congregation of people in public places and to reduce the opportunity for the spread of COVID-19, any large gathering or event for which attendance is anticipated to be in excess of five hundred people shall be cancelled or postponed”.

That means the St. Patrick’s Day Parade is cancelled. There were 234 marching units ready to go but only two showed, one being the FIGHTING 69th REGIMENT who start the parade each year and the other being members of the parade committee who felt that they must be there. And the same day my local Irish tavern closes.

   DAY 78: May 17,2020:aka 62 days of being locked in our house. Life has changed drastically from the month of March. I have become well versed in having wine or beer delivered to the house. Groceries are ordered on line for “non-contact” pick up in the parking lot of the supermarket. My remaining NY RANGERS hockey season tickets are in limbo. Visits to the doctor are at a scheduled time with the proviso, “when you arrive please wait in your car, call the office and await a return call before you enter. You must be wearing a mask”.And, I’m tired of turning my TV on at 11:30 AM to listen to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s death count.I haven’t seen my friends in weeks.

   June 8: Day 100 and I’ve mentally had it as I pack the car and head south to our hide-away in South Carolina. The Covid-19, while running rampart in NY is not so bad but still dangerous in the less populated areas of SC. When we arrive we still order our groceries and alcohol for delivery/pick-up but at least we get to head over to the beach to relax. The beach is not as crowded as it will be in a few weeks.

To be continued…

THE LAST THING I REMEMBER (Part 2): THE CORONA THING

THE LAST THING I REMEMBER (Part 2): THE CORONA THING

    March 10, 2020 I, with two cronies spent the evening at THE WORLD’S MOST FAMOUS ARENA to celebrate FIFTY YEARS of ALLMAN BROTHERS music. Strange night as we were forewarned from our news hound wives about this “corona thing”. “Be careful, wash your hands, avoid crowds, use the sanitizing gel”, etc, etc. On the LIRR ride home our conductor who was in the process of collecting tickets yells, “Every body move to the car in front of us, NOW”.  It seems some guy was getting or was very ill a few seats behind us.The lady from our car said,“I hope he didn’t have Corona and it didn’t spread to us.”

   After a great night of sleep I woke up late the next day to the news that New York City might be cancelling the annual ST. Paddy’s Day Parade, NYC was in the process of shutting down. From that moment on the news of Corona got worse and scary. In the afternoon (March 11) I am watching/listening to CNN and hear a report from the WHO (World Health Organization) labeling this corona as a virus, the coronavirus. The speaker claims that this “pandemic” was sparked by the coronavirus, a first in medical science And the WHO have never before “seen a pandemic that can be controlled”. “We have rung the bell loud and clear”. Me thinks, “What the hell is this knucklehead talking about?” He finishes with, “ready your hospitals”. The other news that morning over my coffee was HARVEY WEINSTEIN was sentenced to 23 years in prison. 

   The 6 O’Clock Evening News leads with a story about #45 President tweets in the afternoon pertaining to the coronavirus. Later that evening #45 addresses the nation banning travel from European countries to the US beginning Friday, March 13 at Midnight.

“to keep new cases from entering our shores”.  A few minutes later The Oklahoma Thunder cancel their game against UTAH JAZZ after confirming one of the Jazz players has tested “positive”. Tom Hanks and his wife Rita while in Australia test positive. At 9:46 p.m., the NBA season was suspended until further notice. I’m pinned to the television like never before. What the hell is going on? Then, the crusher for me “In light of ongoing developments resulting from the coronavirus, and after consulting with medical experts and convening a conference call of the Board of Governors, the National Hockey League is announcing today that it will pause the 2019-20 season beginning with tonight’s games,” Commissioner Bettman said in a statement. Followed by this tweet:It is my great honor to declare Sunday, March 15th as a National Day of Prayer. We are a Country that, throughout our history, has looked to God for protection and strength in times like these….— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) (March 13, 2020)

To be continued…

THE LAST THING I REMEMBER…

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THE LAST THING I REMEMBER (Part 1)

   The last thing I remember was walking the streets of Manhattan, down 8th Avenue to the corner of 35th Street, being seated with my two friends at a restaurant when Fausto the greatest waiter in NYC formerly of CAFE 31 served me a double Grey Goose on the rocks without me even saying a word. The place was strangely empty. My usual order of fried calamari was placed on our table followed by veal parm over pasta. Fausto brings over a bottle of red wine to help us celebrate our meal. We pay the tab leaving a generous tip and proceed to THE WORLD’S MOST FAMOUS ARENA, strangely finding the surrounding streets and area almost completely void of humans. This is unusual, it is Midtown Manhattan for Christ’s sake. A few hours earlier my bride told me about a virus that was making lives difficult. Could this be related to that? Before I left home she loaded my jacket pocket with a pack of tissues and a small vial of hand sanitizer while informing me to be careful, to wash my hands with the gel regularly and avoid crowds. “Impossible”, I told her. It’s March 10, 2020 and what is left of the Allman Brothers Band AKA THE BROTHERS @ 50 are playing THE GARDEN to a sold out crowd.This after many, many years starting back in March of 1971is/was an annual event for me and my friends.

   But, this night March 10,2020 proved to be the last time I traveled by train or had contact with non-family members for a long, long time. The ride in was not as populated as the 4:08 PM Express out of Babylon usually is. The conductor, the regular on that train, the same train I take to NY RANGERS games, is usually chatty but tonight he said, “Tickets please” and that was it.I should have sensed something was amiss in the universe when Jim didn’t ask about THE RANGERS or “Where you going tonight,Mike?”

   In THE GARDEN there was extra security in the entrance atrium. Lines mode quickly. All escalators were working, the lines for food and drink appeared to have normal wait times, Marvin, the bartender from our hockey section was in fine form flirting with the very few young girls in this male dominated crowd. The pre-show discussions overheard though out the sold out house included, “Why just THE BROTHERS? Who owns “the name ALLMAN’s?”, “What will they play?”, “Who will do the vocals?”, “Where’s Dickey?’”,“Who will sing “Blue Sky” and s strange one, “Will we catch this Corona thing?”

   The lights dim precisely at a very professional 7:30 PM with a slight moment or two to plug in, tune up and  then they hit the opener of THE ALLMAN BROTHERS BAND debut album, the SPENCER DAVIS tune “Don’t Want You No More” which tonight just like on the album morphed into “It’s Not My Cross To Bear” complete with a portrait of Gregg on the large screen in the background AND his (recorded) lead vocals looped in with guitarist/vocalist WARREN HAYNES. The applause at the end of the selection(s) was deafening, but not as loud as the whoops and yells when we heard Warren say, “ 1,2,3” the intro to the BLIND WILLIE MCTELL song “Statesboro Blues”,a signature tune for the original band.

   A fellow next to me is smoking “a Marley”, that is, a blunt that Rasta Bob would have been proud of. He taps my shoulder and offers the brown concoction to me. In my brain I quickly evaluate the situation as explained to me before leaving home, my wife said something about a virus, something about Corona. Now the moment of truth, Do I get high or risk Corona? Corona or high? High or Corona? I pass, shaking my head politely but smile accordingly. What the hell is going on???, I thought. 

  Just about Midnight we exit the hall exhausted but truly satisfied. The show was amazing. We descend down to the train depot, await our track announcement and proceed accordingly to an almost vacant, empty passenger platform. We enter the train, listening to the never ending proclamation “WATCH THE GAP” which should actual be “AVOID THE GAP”. We three grab a six seater and the train has about 7 to 10 others in our car. A mother and daughter are talking about Corona this, Corona that, Corona, Corona. We are sipping bottles of water, quietly, until an unseen gentleman about four seats behind us makes a horrible noise. He is either dying or violently vomiting. Our conductor who was in the process of collecting tickets sees this and yells, “Every body move to the car in front of us, NOW”. We gather our belongings and do as we are told. A few stops later our express reaches its destination. We wonder if the guy died or was just sick. The lady from our car said ,“I hope he didn’t have Corona and it didn’t spread to us.” What is she talking about?

   After a great night of sleep I woke up late to the news that New York City was cancelling the annual ST. Paddy’s Day Parade, NYC was shutting down. From that moment on the news of Corona got worse and scary.

To be continued…

QUICKLY,OPEN THE DOOR…

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QUICKLY, OPEN THE FREAKIN’ DOOR…

   Superstitions are an integral part to my Irish family upbringing. As children we learned early on about having good luck decent upon you after a bird poops on you (if you have ever been to Ireland, it’s a land of birds, they are everywhere en masse, someone will get pooped on for sure). Also, never, ever, ever put new shoes on your bed. How about the one, if your palm is itchy money will be a comin’. Or the one where specific cutlery accidentally falls to the floor it signals a visitor will be arriving shortly. An itchy nose is the sign for a fight.They go on and on. Whether or not you have the slightest belief in any of the above OR if you just consider each part of an “old wife’s” tale, I bet you don’t cross the street when you see a black cat in front of you. Then there is the “fairy trees” in Ireland which we saw.Hey, I believe.

   My paternal grandmother had what was known in our family as “the O’Flanaghan eye”, that being the ability for her or the possessor of “the eye” to turn your life to shit if you wronged a loved one. I always thought it was a family joke that my family spoke about until she announced on night that she did it to a family in-law soon to be a family out-law. The curse worked big time and in short order. That poor sucker never saw it coming. Geez, scared the bejesus out of me. Before she left this earth for parts unknown at a ripe old age she told me in private that I now inherited “the eye” or so she said. I have NOT used it, as yet. I don’t even know how to call upon the spirits to use it but I’ll warn you, BEWARE, if I ever find out how, well, enough said. Growing up we children learned from early on that, “you exit from the same door you entered”. When questioning about this idiosyncrasy one quickly learns from the elders, “It’s a bad sign, the only time you arrive and then leave through a different doorway is in the funeral home” (interpreted as “When you are dead”). My favorite as a child of two Irish families, paternal and maternal, when in large gatherings was “Never sit at a table of 13”, to which we ask “But why, Nana?”. “Because someone, usually the oldest or wisest dies, didn’t you ever hear about THE LAST SUPPER, child”. I still count before I sit down, not that I am the wisest but lately I am the eldest.I am not testing that one.

   What’s all this gibber-gabber have to do with anything you ask ? It’s NEW YEARS EVE, at the stroke of midnight, The Irish are instructed to open the front door to let the old year out and welcome the NEW YEAR in. Hmmmm. This year in my happy abode we opened the front door, the back door, all the fuxxing windows, and even turned on the exhaust vents to get 2021 out as quickly as possible. 2021 was supposed to be a better than the lousy 2020 year. Well, someone, not me, must have at some point given 2021 “the eye” because up to then COVID fatalities were declining, restaurants were re-opening, bands were touring, things were moving along, until…wait…did someone harm a “fairy tree”????

To be continued…

IN THE BLINK OF AN EYE…

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IN THE BLINK OF AN EYE: 1977DECEMBER 30: THE PATTI SMITH GROUP with RICHARD HELL and THE VOID OIDS/THE ERASERS at the newly re-named “CBGB’s Theatre” on Second Avenue, the old Anderson Theatre. My brother and I, with a growing angry crowd, spent a very cold night outside waiting to get in. I had my usual pack of Marlboro Reds and we shared a bottle or two of wine. After an unusual delay the doors finally opened to find the theatre had limited if any heat, poor(no )plumbing and limited services, none. The usher led us to a nasty looking broken seat but it was close to the stage on the right. WE, my brother and I were primed and ready to go. The ERASERS a band we saw a few times at CBGB’s and MAX’s opened and did not disappoint. Funny note: you could see frost coming from the singers mouth, it was so cold in this freaking dirt hole. Then RICHARD HELL and The V.O’s hit the stage with “Blank Generation”. This is going great, but I’m still freezing. Then the PATTI SMITH GROUP ripped it up opening with The Velvet’s “We’Re Gonna Have A Real Good Time Together”, “Ask The Angels’,”Kimberly”(my bro’s fav), “We Three”. “Till Victory”, we are rocking now, this place is nuts. Then, a Ronette’s cover, “Be My Baby”,”Pumping My Heart”,Patti slows the pace with “Ghost Dance” and I’m getting so excited knowing this is going to be a blast as we get closer to the end except for all the NYPD officers and NYFD uniforms suddenly walking about the place. Patti addresses the crowd talking about a new song she recorded and then she introduces BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN who joins the band to perform “Because The Night”. This is followed by “25th Floor” and then the crowd, we, collectively sing HAPPY BIRTHDAY to our host, Patti Smith. But something is amiss as the NYPD and NYFD are now on the stage, not joining in the chorus. As we conclude the birthday song the NYFD closed the place down by announcing the numerous fire code violations. Patti, the diplomat, beseeched the courtesy of one more song, really two “Radio Ethiopia’ and “RnR N” if everyone promised to leave in an orderly fashion, which we did, slowly. She invited everyone to meet her over to CBGB’s to continue the party which was a mob scene so we headed home as my brother had a doctor’s appointment the next day.December 31: We, my brother, his date, my wife, and I had tickets for NEW YEAR’s EVE at My Father’s Place in Roslyn featuring ROBERT GORDON. Earlier in the day my brother had a procedure in North Shore Hospital. At about 6pm he called me to tell me he had cancer and had to stay for testing.In the blink of an eye…everything changes…

IN THE BLINK OF AN EYE

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IN THE BLINK OF AN EYE: 1977,DECEMBER 30: THE PATTI SMITH GROUP with RICHARD HELL and THE VOID OIDS/THE ERASERS at the newly re-named “CBGB’s Theatre” on Second Avenue, the old Anderson Theatre. My brother and I, with a growing angry crowd, spent a very cold night outside waiting to get in. I had my usual pack of Marlboro Reds and we shared a bottle or two of wine. After an unusual delay the doors finally opened to find the theatre had limited if any heat, poor(no )plumbing and limited services, none. The usher led us to a nasty looking broken seat but it was close to the stage on the right. WE, my brother and I were primed and ready to go. The ERASERS a band we saw a few times at CBGB’s and MAX’s opened and did not disappoint. Funny note: you could see frost coming from the singers mouth, it was so cold in this freaking dirt hole. Then RICHARD HELL and The V.O’s hit the stage with “Blank Generation”. This is going great, but I’m still freezing. Then the PATTI SMITH GROUP ripped it up opening with The Velvet’s “We’Re Gonna Have A Real Good Time Together”, “Ask The Angels’,”Kimberly”(my bro’s fav), “We Three”. “Till Victory”, we are rocking now, this place is nuts. Then, a Ronette’s cover, “Be My Baby”,”Pumping My Heart”,Patti slows the pace with “Ghost Dance” and I’m getting so excited knowing this is going to be a blast as we get closer to the end except for all the NYPD officers and NYFD uniforms suddenly walking about the place. Patti addresses the crowd talking about a new song she recorded and then she introduces BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN who joins the band to perform “Because The Night”. This is followed by “25th Floor” and then the crowd, we, collectively sing HAPPY BIRTHDAY to our host, Patti Smith. But something is amiss as the NYPD and NYFD are now on the stage, not joining in the chorus. As we conclude the birthday song the NYFD closed the place down by announcing the numerous fire code violations. Patti, the diplomat, beseeched the courtesy of one more song, really two “Radio Ethiopia’ and “RnR N” if everyone promised to leave in an orderly fashion, which we did, slowly. She invited everyone to meet her over to CBGB’s to continue the party which was a mob scene so we headed home as my brother had a doctor’s appointment the next day.

December 31: We, my brother, his date, my wife, and I had tickets for NEW YEAR’s EVE at My Father’s Place in Roslyn featuring ROBERT GORDON. Earlier in the day my brother had a procedure in North Shore Hospital. At about 6pm he called me to tell me he had cancer and had to stay for testing.In the blink of an eye…everything changes…