Thursday, August 6, 2015

Nurse the Hate: The Trailer Story

I was in a grocery store today.  A pregnant woman stood at the checkout line with a smile on her face.  It was the smile of satisfaction that said, “I’m pregnant now.  It is my life’s dream.  Now everything is right with the world.  I have finally realized my destiny.  Ahhhhhhh….”.  She did not care about anything but the limitless future as she held her hand on her swollen belly.  It seemed she had no nagging thought that said, “what if my child becomes a fuck up rock and roll drummer?”.  Frankly, it’s irresponsible not to plan for all eventualities.  I walked out of the store with my fruit and tea.  I climbed into my car.  I took a left.  I got behind a Buick.

I have become fairly certain that all Buicks come with a driver’s manual the rest of us don’t get.  Tips inside include “Get to the left lane as soon as possible.  Settle in at whatever speed is below that of traffic around you.  You are in a Buick now.  Basic road systems no longer apply to you.”.  Also included is “When turning left, wait as long as possible before action.  Though the road may appear clear, look upon this situation as if you have never gazed upon it before.  Wait.  Wait.  Wait.  Now turn.  Take your time.  No rush.”  It is very hard to explain the Buick driver.  I hate them.

I turned on the radio.  By chance, a classic rock hit from 43 years ago filled my car.  I recognized it immediately.  I’m going to tell you a story.  I don’t know if I am 100% on the facts.  I’m just going to tell it to you the way I remember it happening.  The fog of war.  That sort of thing.  Trust me though.  I’ve got a good memory.  I think I am right on target with it as it went down.  Here’s what happened…

In the late 1990s I worked at a classic rock radio station.  In the evening we had a former rock star (loosely speaking) doing a shift.  He was the drummer of a big deal band for a few years in the 1970s called Humble Pie.  These guys had big radio hits, their own plane, and God knows what lifestyle.  I think that when folks project the rock star lifestyle and wonder how awesome it must be, the basic fact that for most that drink from that golden chalice for just a few sips.  In the end they are left with a wheezing bank account and a shift on a sorta crappy radio station. 

Every year the station I worked for had a charity effort called “30 Days In The Hole” based on a Humble Pie song.  The idea was that the drummer would live in a mobile home for 30 days until a tractor trailer was filled with food for the unfortunate.  This turned out to be a great promotion for the first few years.  Food was gathered for the needy and the station positioned itself as a caring corporate neighbor.  It was like clockwork. There was plenty of backslapping to go around.

I don’t recall what year it was that the drummer fell off the wagon.  I mean, really…  How can anyone depend on a drummer in that type of a situation?  If you have played in a band, the fact it had stayed together this long was unbelievable.  The disconnect really appeared to be that people that work in a radio station have no idea of the true character and limitations of drummers.  The drummer jokes have a firm basis in reality.  Drummers just aren’t right. This thing was doomed from the start.

So there we were in the middle of it.  It didn’t seem right.  Things appeared to be getting shaky in the 30 Days In The Hole Trailer.  Disconcerting reports filtered back.  The strategy back at the station appeared to be “Hopefully the dude can hold it together until this fucking on air promotion is over and then we will maybe deal with it”.  Hey, it was as good a plan as any…  People dropped off food hoping to meet the drummer but he wouldn’t leave the trailer to greet them, leaving hapless interns to make excuses.  Imagine if you will some working class woman from Parma OH bringing by bags of food, hoping to participate in the on air excitement and also meet a genuine celebrity.  Instead some sullen kid would take the food and mumble something about the guy “being on the shitter” or some other bullshit.

Things really appeared to come to a head when a college intern showed up to the trailer one early evening.  With no activity outside, he rapped on the door and yelled the drummer’s name.  When he opened the door to the trailer he found more than he expected when he was met with the sight of the drummer shoving by what was by all accounts “an enormous dildo that required two hands” in and out of the vagina of what appeared to be a prostitute standing with ass perched majestically outward.  The drummer then turned to the boy and said in his inimitable accent, “’ello Bloke!  Have a go?’.  The boy, clearly not ready for such a fucked up scene, closed the door stunned.  He drove back to the station to report how out of control things had become.  I don’t recall seeing that kid again.

One would think that a publicly owned company as we were would have swooped in to shut this crazy ass scene down.  However, sponsor dollars were at stake, and the decision was made to attempt to limp in to the end of the promotional window.  He can keep it together for a few more days, can’t he?  This was when things went wildly off the rails beyond repair.  The drummer was a wild comet streaking across the sky.  There was no stopping this thing at this point.  Everyone needed to buckle up and settle in for the ride.

I don’t remember how shortly after the dildo incident I saw the drummer slink into the station early one morning.  A couple of days maybe?  It was rare to ever see this guy as he worked a shift that started after business hours.  Hell, he had gotten clipped for taping his show in advance and paying another intern to roll the tape.  Some of my co-workers had NEVER seen him in the flesh.  To see him in house with a cadre of what appeared to be corporate lawyers was a big deal.  What was going on?  It was all hush hush to the max.

In whispers the tale began to emerge.  The drummer had called the police at 330am claiming the 30 Days In The Hole Trailer had been robbed of cash donations.  Oh no!  That’s terrible!  Wait a second…  The police had been there earlier that night when noise complaints had somehow emerged in the shopping mall parking lot that housed the trailer.  The police had dropped the hammer on the drummer and his pal with what was obviously two paid escorts.  Well, that had nothing to do with the robbery officers!  The drummer claimed the escorts had left and two thugs had come in a robbed him.  I hope he said it was “black guys” as that what all fake robberies are pointed towards.  Anyway, the police deduced in approximately 13 seconds that he had called the hookers, not had any money, and either paid them with the charity money or it had been stolen by the prostitutes after the drugs had kicked in on the boys.  Either way, it was bad.  Real bad.  The lawyers got called in to try and figure out an escape plan for everyone.  No one wanted any part of this mess.  An agreement was made very quietly.

In the end the corporate parent company replaced the stolen money.  The drummer got fired.  The food got delivered to the needy.  The staff members never got told the truth from anyone.  No need to look here!  Nothing happening!  Go back to your officially designated work stations!  It was the last year of the promotion.  Though a complete disaster, it was pretty “rock and roll” actually…  I think the drummer sued the station for $10 million dollars for unlawful termination, though I can't imagine he got paid off.  I will bet you anything he claimed "amnesia" about that event.  Ah, good times...

I miss those days.           

By the way, I passed the Buick to the right and listened to the end of the Humble Pie song. 


At August 8, 2015 at 3:02:00 PM EDT , Blogger Ken in sunny Florida said...

I went to OCB with that intern. His name was Bob and he told me the whole story when we interned there. Bob went on to video production for Channel 19 after WNCX. That story was a real gas. I forgot about it until now.

At August 9, 2015 at 11:24:00 PM EDT , Blogger Greg Miller said...

That guy has had some colorful work experiences I'll bet...


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