Darrell Vickers: How Bob Dylan Spoiled Me For Other Concerts and Turned Danny Devito Into My Bitch

darrell-vickersThe Easily Off-Track Intro:

I’ve lived in Los Angeles for almost 30 donnyosmondyears now.  To quote Donny Osmond, “And that’s a long, long time.”  Consider, when I moved to The City of Angels, curling still used actual brooms instead of those ultra-high-tech sweepy things.  Am I the only CURLING_BROOMS, MONTREAL_THISTLE_CURLING_CLUB, 20th_CENTURYtraditionalist left on God’s rapidly-warming Earth who misses the majestic “Flappa Dappa, Flappa Dappa” of the mighty besom as stalwart men of iron will guided their beloved “rock” (I really know the lingo) to its date with other rocks of a different color and destiny?

Curling_with sweepy thingsOh, I could wax on and on about these kids today and how they’re ruining a legendary sport, created eons ago by a couple of guys trying to kill sleeping ducks on a frozen drunken guitar playerlake, but no.  This blog is about mostly drunken men banging away on pieces of metal till some sort of sound comes out.

Where Was I?

6a0115703b6179970c016306015e06970d-800wiSo, back to Los Angeles, where hardly anyone ever talks of “Back 12’s” and “Draw Weights”.  Sigh.  But on the upside, this “Wood” we call ‘Holly” does offer a plethora of establishments dedicated to presenting musical divertissements of varying degrees of quality and fame.  Why, these aural treats are more plentiful than upskirt shots of famous young starlets (and if you think my record collection is extensive…).  Thus, it is nigh-on impossible to keep total track of every tuneful enticement on tap at any given time.  Thus and another thus, websites featuring the offerings of L.A.’s multitudinous venues sprang up like booze-sores on Shane McGowan’s nose.   One of these helpful concert conflators goes under the melodious moniker of Goldenvoice.com.   This fine site has been instrumental (pardon the pun) goldenvoice_bannerover the millennia in twigging me to dozens of exceedingly enjoyable deafness-inducing evenings.

My Story Finally Begins:

So, it’s 1997 and I’m getting home from a hard day’s slog, writing things that could have been a lot funnier for people who should be way, way smarter and a hell of a lot nicer and…well, you name it.  I flip on the old, trusty Hewlett Packard to take a quick boo at Goldenvoice.com for the latest club listings.

Technical Information:

Wikipedia-logoWikipedia describes cognitive dissonance thusly:    “In modern psychology, cognitive dissonance is the feeling of discomfort when simultaneously holding two or more conflicting cognitions: ideas, beliefs, values or emotional reactions.”

I had not really encountered a lot of Cog/Dis on Golden Voice (or Go/Vo for short) in my previous visits, but I did have to reread one specific entry several times.  I El Reykept checking and double checking that it said  “Bob Dylan” was playing the El Rey Theater and not “Boob Dylan” or “Boy Dilan”  or “Nana Mouskourri” if I’d really read it wrong.

But no, for once in my mistake-riddled life, I was not woefully incorrect.  Bob Dylan, according to this listing, was appearing at a little club on Wilshire Blvd. surrounded by a lot of Koreans.   The club, not Dylan.

elreytheatre_full of peopleI had been to this historic site on many occasions over the years.  Billy Bragg, Robyn Hitchcock, Joe Jackson, John Hiatt – all good solid middle-tier acts that didn’t have any trouble packing in the 700 hundred people the place holds.  Bob Dylan plays to more than 700 people when he brushes his teeth in the morning.  As I read on, it did say that he was performing for 5 consecutive nights but still, he’s probably banged Joan Baez in front of a bigger audience than that.

Even more Cog/Dis.

poster for bob dylan at El Ray mentioning Golden voiceAfter reading it just one more time to make sure that it didn’t say  “Bob DeLyn”, I quickly got out my credit card and dialed.  Ah, he really must be playing there because the recorded message informed me that if I wanted Bob Dylan tickets, he was all sold out and I can go fuck myself.  Any normal person would have hung up and gone back to searching for young starlet upskirt shots on the web, but the recorded message said if I wanted information about “other” concerts then I should dial 0.  I usually follow the rules but this one time I thought I’d be an absolute prick, like the people I usually work for, and just pretend I hadn’t heard what they’d just told me in very clear and precise English.  I press the button.

“Hello?  El Rey Theatre, how may I help you?

“Hi, I’m calling about Bob Dylan tickets,” I say in my most pleasant pre “What?  Sold out? No I’m sorry I didn’t hear that part of the message” voice.

“What night would you like?”

phonescamSo, right now I take a small pause.   I’m pretty sure that if I were to say “Tuesday”, she’s immediately going to respond with, “Well Tuesday, like every other fucking night is fucking sold out.  Didn’t you fucking listen to the fucking message, you fucking douchebag prick!?”

So, thinking very quickly I say, “Wednesday?”

“Just a second.”

It worked!

Within minutes I had secured four tickets to see The Voice that Came From You And Me!  I immediately call Steve B. and tell him about our musical bounty.  My wife phones her best friend Christie in San Francisco who instantly books a flight to come on down.

BeckEgad!  This already overflowing goodie-pot just got even sweeter.  Apparently all kinds of luminaries were going to warm up for him.  Willie Nelson, Van Morrison and Beck were mentioned.

A cunning plan was quickly devised.  The El Rey is first-come, first-served.  Usually, Steve B. and I would go and stand in line about 45 minutes before the show and we’d always be in good position to get one of the tables that surrounded the standing-room-only dance floor.  If we’d have done that this time however, we’d have been watching the concert from the roof of the theatre with Mitt Romney’s dog.  No, Steve and I would arrive at 5 p.m.and the girls would join us half and hour before the doors opened at 8 p.m.  It was a stellar plan.  When we arrived, we were about 50th and 51st in line.  A good, if not sensational position.  It was only later that we discovered the small flaw in our cunning plan.  Every-other-man-Jack in that line had long line of asian peoplehad the same cunning plan.  The 50 people in front of us slowly swelled to about 300 as scores of friends of these assholes showed up and joined them in queue.  The fucking nerve.

long line up of people from 1940'sFinally, the girls arrive.  We are now in a line longer than Napoleon’s retreat from Moscow and it is getting dark.  This is especially tough on Christie because she suffers from retinitis pigmentosa and macular degeneration and without very good lighting, her vision goes from considerably impaired to practically blind.  She will use a white cane on these occasions.

Another ten minutes go by and yet more people join their bastard asshole friends ahead of us.  We are on the verge of becoming more despondent than a New England Patriots fan, when a woman comes up and asks whether, “Anyone has offered us accommodation yet?”  Right away, I think she’s a prostitute.  Unfortunately, I’m with my wife and I’m in line to see Bob Dylan, could I give her my number?  What I don’t understand and Christie does, is she means accommodation for her handicap.  “No!” she declares.

And that’s when it happened.  That thing that never happens.  Except in Disney  movies perhaps.  Or in stories about little children with unspeakable Blinddiseases who may not survive long enough to ask Santa for a coffin for Christmas.  This saintly woman (who is in no way a prostitute) tells us to follow her.  Well, it would be rude not to.  As we blithely stroll past the poor pathetic peasants who have been standing in line for over three hours, I lean over to Christie and tell her to look as blind as she possibly can.  Just for safety’s sake.

The next thing we know, we’re standing in the theatre — by ourselves — trying to pick out the perfect spot to stand.  Hmmm, there are so many.  And then it happened again.  That thing that never happens.  Maybe on the Hallmark Channel or in stories about little feet-less children who were born in countries so poor that no one can afford to sit down.  View of El Ray from StageSomeone came up to us and asked if we’d like chairs.  Would we?  There wasn’t a single chair in the entire room.

El Rey historical fact:  There’s a semi-circular railing separating the sunken dance floor from an area where people used to dine.  Those days are gone but the little wall and railing remains.

View of El Ray from Back balconyBack to things that never happen:  Four chairs are set up just behind the semi-circle, not 15 feet from the edge of the stage, thus forming a big private space for our coats and beverages.  People came up to us and just gawked, dazzled by our bounty.  Where could they get chairs?  Could they have our chairs? (yes, someone actually asked)  It was like we were flying Singapore Air and everyone else was on United.

jewel 210908Jewel (who was not Willie Nelson, Van Morrison or Beck) turned out to be our warm-up act.  She may have played a few tunes while we sipped on our imported beers and stretched our feet out, I don’t really recall.

During the short intermission when we may have stood up, you know, just to get a little circulation back in our legs, Judith informed me that she’d heard that Danny Devito was on the VIP balcony having a party.

Disclaimer:

danny devito and rheaNow, I have nothing against the diminutive Mr. Devito.  I’ve worked with his possibly ex-wife and I’ve even attended a party at his swell digs in Bel Air.  He’s a fine actor and he may very well be an exemplary father and member in good standing at his local Kiwanis club.  His featured role in the “You’ve Got to Put Down the Ducky” video on Sesame Street will DannyDeVito in partrying moodforever be the highlight of his long and illustrious career.  Plus, he’s Italian.  Throughout history, several Italians have been known to be quite nice people.   So there, I have nothing whatsoever against Danny Devito.

FYI: (Here is the “Put Down the Ducky” video – Mr. Devito can be viewed giving his terpsichorean all at 3:32 and 4:25

Back to the story:

danny devito in sunglassesI craned my neck and strained my eyes to see way, way back to the balcony at the far, far rear of the theatre where that bald little turd was getting legless on Chivas and toot in private.  (To be fair, a normal standing-room-only ticket would have had him staring at asses and inhaling beer-farts all night.)

Sure “Mr. Star” gets to ride around in private jets and smoke cigars as tall as he is, but on this one night, he was that little bit of uneaten Cheerio-dust at the bottom of my cereal box.  My title is wrong.  He wasn’t my bitch, he was someone else’s bitch who worked part-time for my bitch.  Fuck you, you pudgy, shrunken orangutan!  Just take a gander at the seats I’m sittin’ in!!

These good thoughts were cut short when the band walked on stage and the electrified-folkster hit the first chord to Maggie’s Farm.  The weary crowd rose up in spite of their aching backs and strained calf-muscles and went ape-shit.  We as we casually returned to the comfort of our seats to rest our fully blood-re-circulated legs.  A luxurious few feet from the stage, the show was amazing with a capital “fucking!”  I don’t know what Danny was doing or whether he could even hear that the show had started.

Among the incalculable delights that evening:  Bob played One Too Many Mornings, Blind Willie McTell, Tangled up in Blue, Highway 61 Revisted and ended with Rainy Day Women.

It was glorious.  It was transcendent.  It may have even been Fahrvergnügen.

No, we didn’t have the cuter El Rey waitresses offer to piggyback us back to our cars after the show, but that was only a minor cavil.

Of course my problem ever since has been “How do I top this major fantastical epic concert-going experience?”  The answer is, I probably can’t.  Curling RockAll musical events in my life from now on will be like curling without the brooms.  It’ll have the ice.  It’ll have the questionable clothing and the stocky women but alas and alac, it will be missing that special little “Flappa Dappa, Flappa Dappa”

Danny Devito probably doesn’t have that same problem.

=DV=

Darrell Vickers appears here every 4th Friday 

Contact us at dbawis@rogers.co

DBAWIS_ButtonDarrell Vickers started out as one half of Toronto area band, Nobby Clegg.  CFNY fans may remember the cheery song “Me Dad” which still gets airplay.  From there, he valiantly ventured to L.A. and eventually became head writer for The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.  Since then, he’s created numerous sitcoms and animation shows in Canada and the U.S.  He still writes music and has an internet band called Death of the Author Brigade (members in Croatia, Canada and the U.S.)   Mr. Vickers also had a private music mailing-list where he features new and pre-loved music.  Anyone who would like to be added to his daily mailing list, just write him at Radiovickers1@gmail.com .

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