Monday, September 05, 2005

Reminiscing With Glenn

So, getting back to the day I was briefly in Disneyland meeting up with an old friend of mine who was in town on business. The last time I saw Glenn was back in the spring when I was visiting family back east for Easter. At that time I had met up with him and my good friend Paul (he and his twin brother, Phil, were the founding members of the first band I worked for) at the famous Pica’s Restaurant in Upper Darby (affectionately known to the regulars as “Frank’s” - one great Italian restaurant!).

So, there we were. Two guys in their 40s in Disneyland. Granted, we were in the non-amusement-park area, kinda like a large outdoor mall. But there we were. Very odd. Anyways, we just walked around before dinner and caught up on things. Reminiscing about old times. I first met up with all my old buddies when I was in college, back in the 80s. 1983 to be exact.

I remember sitting in the front row of my Western Civ II class in early January – the first day of the winter semester – when this inquisitive guy named Phil sits down beside me and asks “What’s that?” (pointing to a notebook on my desk with some of my poems and lyrics handwritten in it). Turned out that he was putting together a band and he could use a songwriting collaborator. We’ve been best friends ever since.

My finding out that he had an identical twin brother (who was also in the band, and who also attended the same college) was very surreal. Later that semester, I’m walking across campus when I see who I thought was Phil walking in the opposite direction, heading toward the Connelly Center. I yell out his name and wave. He waves back with this strange look on his face, and keeps right on walking right into the building.

“Now that was odd,” I thought.

Phil wasn’t in class that day, so I waiting until the following Monday to approach him about the incident. Come Monday, I see Phil in class and give him hell for how he acted on Friday. Phil tells me he was home sick on Friday.

I said, “Well, that’s bullshit. I saw you on campus just before class.”

Then, in typical Phil fashion, he says, “Oh! That was probably my twin brother Paul.”

“Yeah, right! You just happen to have a twin brother who also goes to Villanova?” I snarked.

“I didn’t tell you I have a twin brother before?” he said obliviously.

“Uhhh, NO!” I exclaimed, realizing he was serious (and Phil is rarely serious. It’s not in his nature). “Well, that explains why your brother gave me that ‘who the f*ck are you?’ look when I waved at him the other day.”

“Yeah, he’s in the band,” he says with a chuckle.

“He’s in the band??? Phil! I’ve known you for two months, and only now I’m finding out that you---?”


We spent a good number of years together with the band, which started off as a cover band, but slowly changed to half cover tunes and half original music. I did some songwriting with the brothers (some good, some not so good, and a few that were really, really good), as well as promotion, stage managing, occasional stage lighting. The band went through countless band members: at least six different guitarists, four drummers, two saxophonists, and God knows how many lead and backing vocalists. Paul and Phil were on keys and bass, respectively.

The very first gig they performed (under the second of many permutations of the band) was a dance for incoming freshman at Cabrini College (a small, all-girls Catholic college at the time). Glenn was doing the sound with third rate equipment. He had two large fans going full blast trying to keep his equipment from frying out. I was handling a makeshift lighting panel which was nailed into a bunch of 2x4s.

The place was packed. Everyone was dancin’. Angelo was too afraid of making a mistake, so he’d turned his amp down and just pretended to play guitar through half the songs. The lead singer was reading song lyrics written on the palm of his hand while on stage. And the circuit breakers kept on tripping. It was my task to wad my way through the dance floor and flip the breakers back on within four beats. I had to do this at least a dozen times throughout the night. I got quite good at it, while Dan kept the drum beat going and the crowd sang accapella until the power came back on in perfect 4/4 time.

The following Monday while on campus all the guys christened me with my new nickname (“Madman”) for running around like crazy at the gig three nights earlier. Try as I might, I could never shake that nickname. But only a select few are allowed to call me that nowadays. Six years with that band. And another three or four with another band after that. Countless gigs at local joints in southeaster PA, south Jersey and northern Delaware.

We kicked ass at places like the Rusty Nail in Ardmore, PA, the Stone Balloon in Newark, DE, La Costa in Sea Isle City, NJ, and Margarita’s in West Chester, PA (our old lighting equipment is still there). Of course, there was also the countless nightclubbing, too. From the old Pulsations in Glen Mills, PA, to the Oasis in Wildwood, NJ, to Scandal’s and Samantha’s in Ocean City, Maryland. Summer rentals in Avalon, NJ and OC, MD. And more alcohol than I’m afraid to remember even if I could.

Our years in our 20s were a magical time. Yet, after awhile, that lifestyle starts to get really old. By the time I turned 30 I was pretty much done with the whole scene. While various friends started tying the knot, and others continued to cling to their fading youth, I turned a leaf of my own and headed west. And that happened exactly 11 years ago tomorrow. But that’s for another blog post.

Glenn and I started off reminiscing about the old times and the gigs, the night clubbing, the summers down the shore. And then we started talking about politics, and businesses, and families. Comparing aches and pains, medications, grey hairs and expanding waistlines. My, my how times have changed.

In two days I turn 42. Forty-two! SH*T! There are times I feel younger than that, and there are times when I feel older than that. And there are days when I feel exactly that age. Time has flown and the past has receded like Phil’s hairline (heh-heh).

Twenty years ago I graduated from Villanova and spent most of that summer with sand between my toes, embroiled in the “Great Plastic Pink Flamingo Raid of 1985” (complete with loaded water pistols and numerous pints of beer). I also spent two and a half weeks as an alternate juror on a murder trial (true story). Oddly enough, tomorrow I’m stuck with jury duty again (ugh!). Hopefully I won’t get picked for another trial.

Maybe I should stick a plastic pink flamingo on my balcony for old time’s sake. Instead of a beer, I’ll salute it with a glass of red wine.

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