Renegade – 1978 to 1979 – Chapter 7 – Youth Group Show

The Jets were a punk band that practiced in the basement of a church in our neighborhood. I think Larry knew them. We went to check them out one day and were asked by someone at the church if we wanted to do a concert for their youth group.

We were down.

I remember the night of the show I was super nervous. Stage fright is about as close as you can get to what having an anxiety disorder feels like. But with anxiety it can strike at anytime. But that’s what it feels like most of the time. Can you imagine having to walk around feeling that way every day? That was my life. So the stage fright hit and I just identified it as anxiety and dealt with it by not eating before I went onstage for fear of throwing up in front of the entire audience. Not going to happen on an empty stomach. Besides, we’re not the Sex Pistols.

Here’s how low rent our band was: Someone wrote the band’s name on a chalkboard behind us. My friend Michael had a silver reflective artificial Christmas tree in his attic. We had no use for the tree but there was a little lamp on a stand that you pointed at the tree. On the lamp was motor attached to a color wheel. It rotated the wheel and made the tree appear to turn different colors. Red, yellow, blue and green. So we took that lamp and put it in the corner of the stage and it bathed the walls in different colors while we played our set. My other friend Steve was backstage and he would work the other lights onstage. Which was basically flicking the switches on and off for effect.

My other pal, Jimmy was a wiz with gadgets. He was the only kid in the neighborhood who had business cards. He worked kids birthday parties as a magician and got paid for it. He was the most entrepreneurial kid I ever met. He had two magic persona’s The Great Hundini and Jimbo the Clown. He could play either character and was awesome at doing makeup. He built his own tricks and once built a wooden go-kart that was amazing. He wanted to make some effects for our show. here’s what he did. He took a soup can or a coffee can and cut a hole in the bottom of it. He ran an electrical cord through the hole and then filled the can nearly to the top with plaster. When the plaster dried the two metal point of the plug were the only part stick out of the plaster. The cord and an off an on switch on it. Jimmy ran a wire between the two poles on the plug-in the can. Then he took a small sheet of flash paper. (Flash paper is a paper the magicians use. When touched with fire or heat it bursts into flames but leaves no ashes. So it’s just a flash of flame and then it’s gone.) He put some gun powder in the wad of flash paper and attached it to the wire between the plug poles. He placed the can at the center of the stage at my feet. The gadget is wired to a battery. So when we hit the stage and opened with our first song, Jimmy throws the switch. There is a small explosion and a flash of fire that shoots up out of the can in front of me and I start singing through a cool cloud of smoke. Genius right? He wired it up for a second go when we performed God of Thunder by the band, Kiss. Jimmy loved Kiss and had all of their albums. You’ll soon find out how much he loved Kiss in another post.

My dad was probably down the shore doing his thing and my mother didn’t attend the show either. When I later asked her why she told me she didn’t want to witness if we fell flat on our faces. Meaning: if we failed or got booed or fucked up the songs or whatever. I didn’t really care and I understand. When ever I played music it was always for me. People enjoyed what we did but the music was always for the guys playing it. We just got off on making music. I loved doing that show. Playing live in front of people and them and hearing them cheer and clap was wonderful.

This is a backstage pic of my buddies Stephen and Michael

I also loved that my sister Janice was there. A guy she had gone to school with since first grade was also there. (She always loved him) He was President of our high school and quarterback on our championship football team. He was tall and very good-looking. Just a beloved student at Frankford. I sat across from him in art class and found out he was a super cool dude. Even though he was a jock, he was sensitive to the arts as well. Just a true renaissance man. The guy you wished you could be but happy to have as a friend. Because of him I got to eat at the cool kids lunch table. Yea! Huge!

As renegade blazed through their set onstage, he turned to my sister and said the following words: “When I’m on the gridiron I’m never alone. I’m surrounded by a dozen big guys that all have my back. What your brother is doing takes real guts.”

I never forgot that he said that about me, the meek and mild kid at school trying to make his way. For him to say that about me gave me such an incredible boost.

The show went well and we had everyone on their feet by the time we closed with the song Train Kept a Rollin’. I’m glad my friends and Sister were there to bear witness to what was the band, Renegade.

It was an incredible night and now I’ve immortalized it on the internet forever.

Sadly by the time school let out for the summer my family would be moving to the shore. I wouldn’t graduate with my class at Frankford. I would have to quit my band, and leave all of my friends in Philly. Janice would go off to college, and Me and my other two sisters would go to school in Wildwood, NJ.

I would have a glorious summer just like always, but when Autumn fell on the island, everything would just stop. I was about to enter a dark time in my life.

But maybe the light at the end of the tunnel would be me!

 

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Church – 2013 to Present -Seizure Salad

I’m sitting in my go to bar with Church. It’s our spot and it’s what we do. He’s sipping a Sailor Jerry and Coke, and I’m having my usual Chardonnay with a side of ice. He orders a salad and I go with the sliders. There is a couple a few seats down from me to my right. I know the guy, his name is Brian, but I don’t know the lady he’s with so I wave but don’t approach. He could be working.

On the left of Church, is a brunette in her thirties and an older gentleman. Looks like a lawyer. We don’t really pay any attention. We’re chatting and doing our thing.

Daphne rolls behind the bar and says hello. She tells me it’s a slow night. Not much happening. She goes back to her hostess stand and it’s just another night in paradise.

Suddenly, the woman who was sitting to Church’s left, goes off the bar stool and hits the floor. Normally, I’d call that Thursday night.  We see so many banged up people around the city losing their shit. But this woman was having a seizure. People within visual range are shocked and the bar goes quiet.

I point to the phone on the wall, because the bartender on duty didn’t see one of her patrons suddenly vanish from the bar. “Liz, call 911.”

She starts dialing. Church, with his cat-like reflexes, springs into action and goes from sitting next to me sipping a drink to all the way around the other side of her on the floor holding her head to keep her steady. I get down there and untangle her leg from the lower rail of his bar stool. I have the legs. Church is focuses on the poor woman’s head. She’s thrashing about, and Church is barking commands to those around him. He’s literally single-handedly coordinating the effort to help save this poor woman, and keeping her from injuring herself further.

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this before, but Church was formerly a Corpsmen in the United States Navy.

A Corpsman works in a wide variety of capacities and locations, including shore establishments such as naval hospitals and clinics, aboard ships, and as the primary medical caregivers for sailors while underway. Hospital corpsmen are frequently the only medical caregiver available in many fleet or Marine units on extended deployment. In addition, hospital corpsmen perform duties as assistants in the prevention and treatment of disease and injury and assist health care professionals in providing medical care to sailors and their families.

They may function as clinical or specialty technicians, medical administrative personnel and health care providers at medical treatment facilities. They also serve as battlefield corpsmen with the Marine Corps, rendering emergency medical treatment to include initial treatment in a combat environment. Qualified hospital corpsmen may be assigned the responsibility of independent duty aboard ships and submarines; Fleet Marine Service, SEAL and Seabee units, and at isolated duty stations where no medical officer is available.

Yea, pretty bad ass. That’s the guy you want next to you when somebody takes a header at your favorite bar.

She’s making what almost sounds like barking sounds, and staring wildly about. He’s got a good hold on her. He’s talking to her. But mostly he’s trying to keep her from bashing her face into the wooden wall of the bar. The bartender comes around, and some others have gathered. I grab a cloth napkin and ask if we need to put it in her mouth. I always heard that epileptics could bite or swallow their own tongues. Church says, no. He knows what he’s doing and has the situation well under control.

She seems to be calming down. I look over at the guy who was with her. He’s just standing there staring, and looking uncomfortable. The paramedics come and stabilize her. I feel so bad for her. It’s the holidays, and she’s out for a drinks and this horror befalls her. They get her onto the gurney and roll her out. The police are there and also ask some questions. Church is on point, he gives law enforcement the full report.

They also speak to the guy she came in with. He says he doesn’t know her very well. He met her over at DelFrisco’s steakhouse, and then brought her over here for a drink. That’s a big lawyer hang out. Not my scene. This guy didn’t do anything to help or comfort her when she had the seizure, and he didn’t go to the hospital with her. I don’t care if you just picked up the chick in a bar. Lady falls down, you go to the damn hospital with her. I’m thinking that weasel was married and didn’t want any problems. How would he explain to his wife that he was at the hospital with some other woman? I may be wrong, but I got the vibe something was definitely shady about that guy.

We go back to our seats at the bar and have another drink. Church is pissed because somebody was telling him to turn her head when she was foaming at the mouth and that’s not what you’re supposed to do. Me, I was just glad the lady was okay.

Daphne came over to chat and get a recap. I tell her what I know, and tease her.”You had to say it was a slow night and that nothing was happening, and look what you did, Daph…”

“I know, right? Me and my big mouth.”

Indeed…

 

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Sarika -The Return of the Stone Fox

I reached out to Sarika, not because I like her, but I wanted to find out what she was up to with her life. I was just going to meet up with her for a drink, but my buddy Rocco hooked me up with two VIP tickets to Taste of Philly. So I decided to take her to that.

Taste of Philly is a big event that two large publications put on each year at the Crystal Tea Room. The Crystal Tea Room is a big event spaced owned by Finlay Catering. It’s actually on the 9th floor of the building Macy’s is in on Market Street. They gather a large group of food and beverage companies together in a few big rooms. They sell tickets for $35 a piece and hundreds of people come and stuff their heads, and drink their faces off all night. It’s a fun event and I always run into people I know. It’s nice to see and be seen. VIP is invited to arrive at 6pm and then at 7pm they let the rest of the animals in. Normally we hang for two hours and then bolt. Where else can you drink and eat that much food and booze for $35 in Philadelphia?  But we did it for free and VIP thanks to my man, Rocco. (See: Rocco – 2015 to Present – Amanda Peet)

I go to Square 1682 and wait for her. She arrives shortly thereafter. She looks absolutely beautiful as always. Her skin actually looks a little darker. I comment about it and she says she’s been traveling. She says when she’s not working she takes little trips. So she has obviously been going to places that have lots of sunshine. But even with darker skin she actually looks more exotic and even hotter. Just a stone fox.

She has a really good job as an engineer for a scientific research company. She has been there for over a year now. She had a romantic affair with one of her co-workers at her last place of employment and it didn’t end well. So she ended up leaving and having to switch jobs. Super hot, but can’t keep a man.

She tells me she moved from her crappy apartment on 19th street. She now lives in a really posh high-rise in Rittenhouse. Initially when I asked her to meet for a drink she invited me over to her place. Now I know why. She wanted to show me her awesome new apartment. She showed me some pics of her views, and they are spectacular. It’s a one bedroom and she’s only paying $1500. Which is a great deal for the location and the amenities of living in that building. I bring her up to speed on my life and she tells me what she’s been doing.

It sounds like she has a bit of a lonely life. Works all the time, and has to travel extensively for that job. Traveling for work is exhausting. I’ve lived that life. She makes great money, but instead of coming home and resting, she’s taking these little vacations all of the time. It’s almost as if she is running away from her life. Always trying to escape something. Maybe she’s trying to forget something. All of her past brief relationships have all ended in heartbreak.

She always comes off very blunt and honest. She’s extremely bright but she’s also cunning and a bit mean.But that wasn’t the case tonight. She is perfectly well-behaved. I asked her what ever happened to that guy she was seeing. (The one she wanted to bring as a date to the $80 a plate New Years event I invited her to last year.) She dismisses me, saying, “I don’t want to talk about it.” She always says that when her relationships end badly. So he probably dumped her or cheated on her and then dumped her. It happened to Halle Berry and Jennifer Anniston. It always just amazes me that a young woman who is beautiful can’t keep a man. (Sarika is definitely one of the most gorgeous women I know) I am sure they are captivated by her beauty initially, but once her best representative falls away, she reveals her true self. A vacuous, mean-spirited girl who cares for no one but herself.

Rocco arrives with the VIP tickets. It’s great to see him because it’s been awhile. I am sipping my signature chardonnay with ice. Sarika is sticking with water because she says she’s trying to lose weight. She’s smoking hot and doesn’t need to lose any weight. But it always seems like she is on a diet. What woman isn’t? It’s kind of sad.

Rocco pounds two martinis into himself. Which surprised me, but then I thought to myself, he still works for one of the companies that puts on tonight’s event. They have recently been bought out by their distributor, and I hear the new management are a bunch of assholes. So maybe Rocco needs a little medication before he faces all of those clowns that will be there tonight.

We head over to the event. We get there around 6:20pm. But there is a huge line outside waiting to check in and get up the elevators. Apparently they are not ready upstairs and they missed the 6pm VIP opening. That is not good. But being the arrogant punks we are, we just blaze by everyone and go to the front of the line. We didn’t even get out little paper bracelets to say we were VIP. We tell the angry mob that we are VIP and work for the company that puts on the event, so technically we weren’t lying. Sarika is delighted by our attitudes.

The event was good and the food and drinks were delicious. We just kept going back to the VIP bar and getting refills. Sarika was drinking and stuffing her head with delicious treats. So there goes that supposed diet. But we’re all having a great time. I run into many people I know and we are all getting a solid buzz on. Then something extraordinary happened.

I’m walking along with Sarika by my side and I see someone I haven’t laid eyes on since 1979.

If you didn’t see someone for 35 years you may not recognize them. The same would go for you. 35 years is a long time. But with the advent of social media, I recognized him. If I hadn’t been connected to him on Facebook, we would have walked right by each other like strangers.

I say his name and he recognizes me as well. I hug him and I am so happy to see him. He was the bass player in my first rock band. I remember him as a skinny, awkward teen with long blonde hair, who wore glasses and had a shaggy little beard.

Now he’s a big fat guy with a full grey beard and short grey hair. At least he didn’t go bald. He introduces me to his average looking wife who is in her 50’s as well. I’m making a big fuss over him, and start singing lyrics to a song that he wrote. I have that kind of memory. He’s smiling and laughing. His wife asks who I am. He tells her I was the singer in the group Renegade back in the seventies. She’s amazed. He says I look the same, just a little older. He then says that he now looks like Santa Claus. (He sort of does resemble that jolly old elf) I tell him he looks great. He glances over at Sarika, and I introduce her. He looks back at me and says, “I see you haven’t changed.”

That sly compliment is better than money to me.

We go on our way and keep munching and drinking our way through the event. Michelle would have loved an event like this. We run into a few more people we know and it’s a fun night. Sarika is very well-behaved and I’m having  good time with her.

After awhile we’re getting tired, and decide we have seen everything that we wanted to and we head out. We thank Rocco for the tickets and say goodnight. I walk Sarika back to her place but don’t go up.

Sarika has redeemed herself… for now.

 

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